tv U.S. Senate CSPAN June 27, 2013 9:00am-12:01pm EDT
[inaudible conversations] >> massachusetts senator mo cowan delivered his farewell speech yesterday. he's been filling secretary of state john kerry's former seat since february until the special election. massachusetts residents this week elected representative ed markey as their new senator. this is 20 minutes. >> mr. president, i rise today in my final full workweek and not just 150 days into my senate career, yet at the precipice of the close of that career. on january 30th of this year,
governor deval patrick sent me to this chamber to represent the people of massachusetts and their interests. yesterday on june 25th, those same people took to the voting booths and called me home. and in doing so, they called senator-elect ed markey to the high honor of serving in this august body. after 37 distinguished years in the house, senator-elect markey now has the opportunity to offer his voice, wisdom, accumulated experiences, humor,'s prix decorp. and tireless commitment to justice and equality to the united states senate. and i, for one, believe that massachusetts and the country will be better for it. like the majority of massachusetts voters who expressed themselves yesterday, i am quite confident that a senator-elect markey will serve with distinction and act in the best interests of the citizens he is now privileged to represent. and the senator-elect bested a strong candidate who brought a new voice and, yes, a new visage to the massachusetts political scene.
i applaud gabriel gomez on a well-run campaign, and most importantly, his willingness to sacrifice so much in an effort to serve the people of the commonwealth. he started this journey as a relative unknown, but i suspect we have not heard the last of mr. gomez. i thank him and his family for their sacrifices and their willingness to engage. mr. president, when it comes to farewell speeches, few will top the words offered by john kerry on this floor a few months ago. after viii years -- 28 years of distinguished service to the people of massachusetts, now secretary kerry spent nearly an hour reflecting on his service to this body. by the same measure, mr. president, as merely an interim senator serving but a few short months, i probably should have ended my remarks about 45 seconds ago. but before i yield, mr. president, i will take a few minutes to reflect on my brief time in this body and extend my gratitude to a number of folks. first, i want to acknowledge and
recognize the outstanding staff members in boston and d.c. who have helped me serve our constituents to the best of my ability. when governor patrick named me as interim senator, a few people -- okay, more than a few -- openly questioned whether i would be up to the task and whether i was capable of accomplishing anything other than locating the lavatory during my temporary assignment. but i knew something those doubters did not know. i knew i was going to be able to do my best for the folks back home because i came to the senate armed with the knowledge of the issues by didn't of my time in the patrick/murray administration, and i planned to make a few key hires and convinced the bulk of secretary kerry's senate staff to stay on and help me do the job the governor sent me to do. in other words, i knew what i didn't know, but i knew enough to hire the people who knew the considerable rest. and, boy, have they proven me a genius.
if you work in the senate but a day -- and i suspect the same is true in the house of representatives -- you will learn quickly that good staff make all the difference in the world. i hope my team will forgive me if i do not list them all by name, thereby avoiding the sin of mission. but instead, all of the staff will accept my heartfelt appreciation for their willingness to join my team, show me the ropes, teach a new dog some old tricks, educate me on all the rules that matter -- which seem to be written nowhere. their exhibition of degrees of service to the country that the public too often thinks is missing in their congress. my entire staff, i have been in awe at your greatness and forever in your debt for your immeasurable contributions to our work in the interest of massachusetts residents. and i look forward to your many successes yet to come. and to two of my team in particular, val young, my chief
of staff, and lauren rich, my scheduler, who have known and worked with me for years, thank you for your continued willingness to partner with and trust in me. and if i am being honest, mr. president, about the people who helped me look like i belonged here, i must spend a moment or two acknowledging the wonderful women and men who comprise the senate staff. from the capitol police who protect us every day, and somehow knew my name on the first day, to the subway operators who always deliver us on time and unfazed to the elevator operators who excel in the art of cutting off reporters and awe nowing questions. -- annoying questions, to the cloakroom staff who field every croixing call about voting schedules and presiding hours to the clerks and parliamentarians who discreetly tell you what to say and do as presiding officer while the public in the gallery silently wonders why everyone addresses you as mr. or madam
president while sitting in that chair. who the general food service staff who look the other way when you go back for seconds and sometimes third, and to so many others who are the oil that makes this engine hum, each of you has shown me such patience, support and grace that i know your love for this institution may trump even the members' affections for this place and will sustain the institution long after any one or all of us leave this chamber. you are tremendous resources for every new senator, and i suspect great comfort to even the longest-serving among us. the mix may not know you by -- the public may not know you by name or know the importance of your work, but now i do, and i have been honored to serve with you. the next folks i recognize are the youngest and most silent among us. of course, i speak of the pages, the young women and men who spend part of a high school year drenched and acting in the formal traditions of this body. i have yet to speak with an uninteresting page or a page uninterested in the senate and
our government. these are dynamic young people who could be doing so many different things with their time, but they give their time in service to the senate and its members. and they areago follow in the footsteps of these outstanding young people. friends who supported my family and me during my short tenure. we often say that it takes a village to raise a child, but i can attest that it also takes a village to help an interim senator meet his duties in congress and at home. whether offering me a spare bedroom in silver springs or agreeing to last and both could celebrate black history month at the white house, our village is vast and generous. and, of course, every village needs a queen, and the queen of my village is my wife, stacy. i was able to serve because she
was willing to be mom and dad and sacrifice in ways known and unknown while i have been in d.c. over the past few months, i've missed many homework assignments, some birthday dinners, pediatric appointments, school performances and parent/teacher meetings. but our sons never felt that their dad was absent and unaccounted for because their mom, a supermom, more than made up for my absence. stacy has been my rock and salvation for nearly 20 years now, and i am better every day for it. and let the senate record show for now and all time my love and dedication to stacy. mr. president, in january of this year i planned to leave deval patrick's administration and transition back into private life. i was looking forward to more conventional hours, a reprieve from working under the public scrutiny of the press and in spending more time with my wife and our young sons.
so i came to the united states senate. go figure. i was surprised but deeply honored when governor patrick sent me here to represent the folks back home. and i'm eternally grateful for the governor's faith and trust in my ability to serve. this floor on which i stand today and with which i have become so closely acquainted over the past five months, has been occupied by some of the most dynamic and greatest political figures of our nation's history. from my own state of massachusetts alone, names like adams, webster, sumner, brook, kennedy, all who have held a seat in the chamber before me are enough to make any person feel daunted when assuming a desk on this floor. and i was appointed to the senate to fill the seat of another great senator, john kerry, and work ahongside another great senator, elizabeth warren. thank you for being here, elizabeth. with my work here, though my
time was short, i sought to uphold not only secretary kerry's legacy in this body, but the work of all those esteemed senators who have dedicated their service to the commonwealth of massachusetts, and i pledged to be the best partner i could for senator warren. i entered the senate at a vexing time in this body's history. as we all know, congressional approval levels are dismally low. political pundits everywhere believe that partisanship is a bridge too wide to -- excuse me, a divide too wide to bridge, excuse me, and a wall too high to overcome. yet despite the overwhelming public pessimism, i came to washington with two achievable objectives. to serve the people of massachusetts to the best of my ability and to work with any senator willing to implement senator, sensible and productive policy to advance the ideals of our nation. from the outside the prospects for bipartisanship may seem slim. party lines are the norm. the threat of the filibuster
demands a supermajority to pass meaningful legislation. and the american people have come to believe congress is more committed to obstruction than compromise. to the everyday observer, we have reached a standstill where partisanship outweighs progress and neither side is willing to reach across the aisle for the good of the american people. but what i have encountered in the senate is not a body defined by vitriol, but one more defined by congeniality and common respect. and that began before i even started here, mr. president. on the day the governor announced my appointment be, i was pleasantly surprised to receive calls on my personal cell phone -- still don't know how they got those numbers -- from senators king, hayden and carden, and i had the pleasure of receiving warm welcomes from the majority leader reid and republican leader mcconnell among so many others that first day. one of the first persons to congratlate me after senator
warren and secretary kerry was my colleague from across the aisle, senator tim scott. since then senator rand paul and i have recounted our days at duke and our affection for college basketball. on a bipartisan and congressional delegation to the middle east, i traded life stories and perspectives with senators klobuchar and hoeven and discussed the comedic genius of willer if ril with senators gillibrand and -- [inaudible] senator portman stopped by my commonwealth coffee last week to wish me well as i leave the senate and encouraged me every day during my time here. senator burr, my next door neighbor in the was el building, has always been good to remind me that i came from north carolina before i had the privilege to seven in massachusetts. serve in massachusetts. senator mccain invited me to co-sponsor my first senate resolution, and senator manchin has shown me more kindness than i can count. the freshmen senators on both sides welcomed me to the class and offered never ending
encouragement and, indeed, one of them concern heidi heitkamp -- has become the north dakota sister i never knew i had. i wish i had time to recount every kindness each of the other 99, including the late senator lautenberg, gifts me while here. but i don't. but even has been recorded indelibly in my memory and is returned with gratitude. in april i experienced the very best of this body's character in the wake of the boston marathon bombings when members from every corner of this nation extended their sympathies, their prayers and pledged their assistance and support to the city of boston and all those affected by that tragedy. in the aftermath, all came together as americans to honor those killed and to support the wounded during their time of recovery. and we saw the same in the wake of the terrible tornadoes that swept through oklahoma. upon closer inspection, it is clear that all of us here have common bonds and share similar goals.
if only we are willing to seek out those bonds and focus on the goals that are in the best interests of our nation. while we may not agree on every policy, every line item or every vote, we have each embraced the role of public servant, committed to improving the country we have pledged to support and defend. and as i have discovered in my time here, there is more opportunity for cooperation than the american public might believe. and this cooperation has led to some noted successes. thanks to the bipartisan work on the agricultural committee and on the senate floor, we were able to send a farm bill to the house. through the joint leadership of the so-called gang of eight, we are debating comprehensive immigration reform. we are confirmed five cabinet secretaries, and in what will remain the most memorable all-nighter of my senate career through a marathon session and more votes in one night than most interim senators have in a career, the senate passed a
budget, and now we anxiously await the urgent opportunity to conference with the house. i've seen progress, and i remain a true believer in the democratic process. the core functionality of our government and debt to us by our founding fathers so many decades ago. and i remain a true believer in our system of government and the senate's role in that system. if i have been asked any question more frequently than what are you going to do next, mo, it has been is our system of government broken, is congress broken? and i have answered truth any each time, no. our system of government is the greatest ever known and the best example of democracy in human history. the genius of our founding fathers is on display every day on capitol hill and every state capitol and every city and town hall across this nation. and part of the founders' genius was the birth of a government designed to funk as the people need it to -- function as the people need it to but only as
effectively as the privileged few empowered to work within it want it to work. or as secretary kerry himself said when he said it best a few months ago right on this floor, and i quote: i do not believe the senate is broken. there is nothing wrong with the senate that can't be fixed by what's right with the senate. the predominant and weighty notion that 100 american citizens chosen be -- by their neighbors, or their governor in my case, to serve from states as different as massachusetts to montana can always choose to put parochial or personal interests aside and find the national interest. what an awesome responsibility and privilege. and in my scant five months, i have seen the promise of those words realized in more ways and in more interactions that the public, unfortunately, has had occasion to witness. so i believe in that unlimited promise still. i have also been part of history while i was here. with my appointment and quips
dense the -- coincidence the appointment of senator scott, two african-americans serving in this body concurrently for the first time in our nation's history. senator scott and i are, respectively, the seventh and eighth black senators to serve in this body. while i believe this number to be far too few, i am also hopeful that it is a sign that these united states will soon be represented by a more diverse population that more closely reflects the diverse country that we are and diversity of opinions that exist across and within our diverse nation. with different perspectives, different background withs, different races, religions and creeds, we are better equipped to confront the issues that face our vast and changing nation. america has been and always will be a nation of immigrants where religious freedom is in our dna, where more and more we are chipping away at the barriers from achieving true marriage equality and where people worldwide still yearn to reach our doors toen joy our freedoms.
and a congress that is more reflective of this america, as this congress is becoming, will be good for america. finally, mr. president, i often my heartfelt gratitude to the people of massachusetts. not one person was given a chance to vote for or against me, but i have gone about my work every day as if they had. i came to this body beholden to massachusetts, her residents and the country only and leave confident that i have stayed true to that honor. and, ladies and gentlemen of the commonwealth, it has been a true honor and privilege to represent you as your junior senator in the united states senate. with that, mr. president, and for what will likely be the final time, i yield the floor. >> mr. president -- >> mr. president? mr. president? mr. president? >> the majority leader. >> mr. president, i will be brief. i appreciate very much the
remarks of senator cowan. the only thing he said that i disagree with is no one had a chance to vote on him to get here. there was one big vote that was very important. a man by the name of deval patrick. and once he made that decision, you were our senator as long -- as well as you were the senator of massachusetts. mr. president, i, of course, know deval patrick. we all saw him at the convention giving his brilliant speech. and he was swarmed with people giving him advice as to who he should select to replace senator kerry. but he called me and said don't worry about it, i'm going to select the best person from the state of massachusetts to represent senator kerry for the be interim. and he was right. and i have told governor patrick on the telephone, and i've -- a
couple weeks ago i said you make sure that you call governor patrick for me, pause i know that they're -- because i know that they're good friends, and you tell him that i told you to tell him how much we all admire you. in the democratic caucus yesterday, this good man didn't get one standing ovation, he got two. that's rare. and he got that because he's a genuine person. he came here just now and talked about the goodness of this body. we need more of that. so, senator cowan, thank you very much. i admire you, and i know in the paper today you said that you're always going to be mo. but to me, you're always going to be senator senator cowan. >> mr. president? >> senator from massachusetts. >> mr. president, for four months -- >> mr. president? if you'd interrupt for a parliamentary inquiry? >> certainly. >> mr. president, first of all, we are operating under a
unanimous consent request, and i would ask if we could modify that to hear from the senator from massachusetts and then revert back to the unanimous consent request that has been granted. >> be without objection. >> thank the senator from oklahoma. thank you. i will be brief. mr. president, for four months i've had the privilege of serving alongside my good friend, mo cowan, in the senate. from the time he was sworn in, mo hit the ground running. even though his time here was short, has been a committed and strong add advocate for the peoe of massachusetts here in washington. as a former chief of staff to governor patrick, mo brought to the senate a deep knowledge of issues facing our commonwealth. through his committee work and his outreach to his constituents, his careful consideration of important national issues, he has worked tirelessly to insure that the interests of the people of massachusetts are well represented and the people of
america are well served. he has built great relationships and earned the respect of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle. i very much enjoyed getting to know mo's wonderful family, his smart, talented and patient wife, stacy, their two young boys. i'm sure grant and miles are looking forward to having their dad closer to home again. mo has been a dedicated public servant, and his time in the senate only adds to his fine record of service on behalf of the people of the commonwealth. it has been an honor to work together with mo, fighting for massachusetts families, and i wish him, and i wish his family the very best. it that has been an honor to be a partner of senator cowan in the united states senate. thank you, mo. thank you. thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> and joining us is fawn johnson, congressional correspondent for national
journal. so tell us how the debate is going on the senate immigration bill. >> they are on a glide path toward passage at some point before they go home and do their fourth of july recess. it's only a matter of when the people who are opposing the bill are going to give up and allow everyone to go home. that may sound trite, but it is, in fact, what's going on. after the senator corcoran and senator hone put together this big omnibus amendment that included a lot of border security, they knew that was going to be more or less the last piece that went through. and so now they're just trying to tie up the loose ends and make sure if there's any other straddling people out there who might vote for it if they can figure out a way to give them a little floor time, they might. but for the most part, we're dope. >> are there any straggling amendments? when the debate started, the talk was everybody's going to get a chance on amendments. why don't they yet have an agreement to wrap up amendments? >> right. well, i mean, this is typical as i think you know and anybody
who's been watching the senate for a long time that by the time you get close to final passage, you have to cut off the debate at some point. there are a couple of amendments that are still outstanding that people say they want votes on. one of them is particularly of interest, senator rob portman of ohio, has an amendment that would tighten up the electronic verification system. it has been vetted and approved by everyone on both sides of the aisle. people, i think, are a little nervous about it. it's not like they're thrilled about it, but they do, they would support it. and portman has indicated that he would support be final passage of the legislation if the amendment was put in. but he also asked for a separate vote. and in, as you're trying to count down toward legislation, asking for a separate vote is kind of a big deal. that means if there's somebody else on the democratic side who wants a separate vote on their amendment, they have to get that, and the next thing you know you've got somebody else raising their hand saying i want a vote on my amendment. so it's really a procedural
issue. but they're still trying to figure it out, as far as i know. >> you wrote that electronic verification is an essential part of the bill. why is that? >> right. we have to back up a little bit. this is what is in the underlying bill which is it's a mandatory electronic verification of people's names, birth dates and social security numbers for everyone, not just immigrants, who are being hired into new jobs. it's, essentially, a way of checking to make sure they are who they say they are. right now a lot of employers just use a paper i-9 form, and that's subject to a lot of fraud, and there are employers who actually use the e-verify system which is currently voluntary. but it's not entirely fullproof because if you actually have someone's name, birth date and social security number, you can say you're that person, and it will pass through the electronic verification no problem. but only a small percentage of employers are actually using e-verify right now. it's far more effective than the current system, and everyone
from president obama to chuck schumer to lamar smith of texas in the house of representatives has all said that in order to do anything to actually stop illegal entry and employment in the united states, you have to have everyone use withing e-verify. >> well, what's the president, what's the administration said about the bill that's emerging from the senate? >> they're happy with it. my understanding is that they've been really careful about looking at the latest border security piece that has received final approval earlier today. this is the one that would add 700 miles of border fence, and ld it would have something like $46 billion injected into the border, another 20,000 troops. all of that has been vetted thoroughly by the white house, and they have assured democrats who are a little concerned that they can make sure that ten years from now such that the first provisional immigrants be, getting a green card at that
point, can actually go through that process. >> will harry reid hit the mark and get a vote before the recess? >> oh, sure. yeah, no problem. i think, you know, the clock is running out no matter what, it's just a matter of whether or not, you know, the senators get to leave in the morning or in the evening, you know, which barbecue they get to attend. it's, and, you know, as we know, he always threatens to keep members in over the weekend to try and work things out. that threat is never carried out. but it's just a way of making sure people know they have to make a choice. if they want to stay and debate amendments that may or may not get passed or that will most likely get voted down, they're free to do that, but they're also keeping everybody else from going and being with their constituents at home, and usually that's a pretty strong draw towards having people say, okay, let's vote on final passage. >> well, switching gears, what's up with the house since their immigration bill will be next in the spotlight? >> well, the bill -- i would call it bills. there are several on their plate. the house judiciary committee
has, is as we speak marking up a, their own e-verify bill, it's mandatory e he was verify, and they're also going to be, before they leave, they're going to be passing a bill to increase the number of h-1b visas. they have several of these bills that they've passed over the course of the last couple of weeks. no indication yet, though, on whether they're going to get floor societies. it's certainly possible, and that's certainly something that the committee is preparing for. but one of the big issues that most benefits of comprehensive reform have pointed out is that the house judiciary committee bills are passing only with republican votes. democrats generally -- some of the provisions they have passed they don't like at all. for example, last week they passed a bill to give local police officers the ability to apprehend and detain illegal immigrants which is far and above, beyond what the current law allows, and democrats will not support that in any fashion. but they're also passing legislation that democrats think should be part of a bigger
package. so that's going to cause a little trouble when they think about putting it on the floor after the recess. remember what happened on the farm bill? counting on only republicans to pass something can be a dicey prospect. but i'm told by, you know, by the speaker's office what they really want to do is go home and see how cop stitch wents react to the -- constituents react to the senate bill because that's in the news. if they're saying, hey, why don't you do something like that, the house might change their tune. most constituents are telling them to stop the senate bill from going into any kind of enactment. >> with fawn johnson, you can read her stories at national journal.com. thanks for the update. >> you're welcome. >> u.s. senate about to convene on this thursday morning. the senate may be moving towards the end of debate of the immigration bill today. when senators vote at 11:30 eastern whether to close off debate tomorrow at the latest. senators will also vote on the
nomination of charlotte, north carolina, mayor anthony fox for transportation secretary. he's nominated to replace republican ray lahood who's stepping down can. senate's wrapping up weeks of work on the immigration bill creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants allowing additional high and low-skilled workers. now to the floor of the u.s. senate. the chaplain dr. barry black will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. now unto you, o heavenly father, be all praise and glory, for you have filled our lives with wonderful blessings. give to our senators the blessings of an inward calm that will enable them to thrive
during days of gloom. fill their minds with noble thoughts, energizing them to persevere in fulfilling your purposes. may your peace, passing understanding, dwell in their hearts and minds. with deliberate intentionality, help them to seek your answers to our national problems. we pray in your mighty name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., june 27, 2013. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable brian schatz, a senator from the state of hawaii, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: following leader remarks, the senate will resume consideration of the immigration bill. the time until 11:30 will be equally divided between the two managers of the bill, senators leahy and grassley. so at 11:30, there will be three roll call votes, one on confirmation of the secretary of transportation anthony foxx. the next vote would be on adoption of the committee-reported substitute amendment. and then we would have cloture
on the bill, final bill. as amended, if amended. so we hope to complete action on this immigration bill, and i'll talk about that in just a minute. everyone knows, mr. president, we're poised to pass a historic immigration bill. it's landmark legislation that will secure our borders and help 11 million people get right with the law. i've indicated we have three votes this morning. now, mr. president, i hope to be able to work something out, we hope to be able to work something out so we can have a vote sometime late afternoon or evening. there is no reason after these votes today to delay this. if people want to delay it, they can. it will point toward the inevitable which will be about 6:00 tomorrow evening. so we can either wrap this up today, have some final speeches, vote on it or wait until
tomorrow because during this 30 hours postcloture, nothing can happen procedurally. i once again applaud the gang of eight for their work, which is commendable and really important for this institution. with their diligent efforts, we would have never been able to come this far. i commend chairman leahy for the work he did in the committee with the markup that took place over many weeks. i commend him for his work on this bill as manager during the weeks it has been here on the floor and my friend charles grassley. senator grassley and i disagree on occasion about substantive issues but never on a personal issue. he is a very remarkably good senator and a fine man, and i have enjoyed my relationship with him all these many years. now, mr. president, whenever the vote is scheduled, whether it's tomorrow or today, i'm going to
ask the senators be seated. this is a vote -- i want votes to take place, and i have had a number of requests from democrats and republicans that we do this, and they're absolutely right. this vote is important enough, no matter how you feel about the legislation, it's important enough we should do that. now, when it comes time for the vote, whenever it's worked out, we're going to have senators here on the floor. if not, i'm going to have a live quorum to get everybody here. this is not a vote where people should be straggling in and raising their hand at the chair. we should have this in an orderly fashion. so again, i repeat, whenever we're able to schedule this vote, we're going to have people here before the vote starts or we'll have a live quorum and get some activity over here in the senate so we can do that. my friend, the republican leader, is not here, so i would ask the chair to announce the business of the day. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved.
under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of s. 744, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 80, s. 744, a bill to provide for comprehensive immigration reform, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until 11:30 a.m. will be equally divided and controlled between the two managers or their designees, with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each.
the presiding officer: we are not. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, at the outset of the debate we have been engaged in, i expressed my hope that we could do something about our nation's broken immigration system. millions of men and women are living among us without any documentation or certainly about what the future will bring for themselves or their families. many of those who come here legally and end up staying here illegally. we have no way of knowing who or where they are. and current law simply doesn't take into account the urgent needs of a modern rapidly changing economy. beyond all this, it's long been a deep conviction of mine that from our earliest days as a people, immigration has been a powerful force of renewal and national strength. most of the people who come here
over the centuries have come as dreamers and risk takers. looking for a chance for a better life for themselves and for their children. i can think of no better example of this than my wife who came here at age 8 in a cargo hull of a ship because her parents didn't have the money for a plane ticket. when she entered the third grade at a public high school in new york, she didn't speak a word of english. and yet in just a few short decades, she would be sworn in as a member of the president's cabinet. an honor and an opportunity she could hardly have guessed at when she was just a little girl. this is the kind of story that has made this nation what it is is -- legal immigration makes
that possible. so yes, i had wanted very much to be able to support a reform to our nation's immigration laws. i knew it would be tough and the politics aren't particularly easy either, but the fact is our constituents didn't just send us here to name post offices and pass mother's day resolutions. they sent us here to tackle the hard stuff, too. broad bipartisan majorities agree that our immigration system needs updating. in my view, we had an obligation to our constituents at least to try to do it, to try to do it together, and in the process show the world that we can still solve national problems around here. and reaffirm the vital role that legal immigration has played in our history. so it's with a great deal of regret, for me, at least, that the final bill didn't turn out to be something i can support.
the reason is fairly simple. as i see it, this bill doesn't meet the threshold test for success that i outlined at the start of this debate. it just doesn't say to me, at least, that we've learned the lessons of 1986 and that we won't find ourselves right back in the same situation we found ourselves in after that reform. if you can't be reasonably certain that the border is secure as a condition of legalization, there is just no way to be sure that millions more won't follow the illegal immigrants who are already here. as others have rightly pointed out, you can all -- you also can't be sure that future congresses won't just reverse whatever assurances we make today that border security will occur in the future. in other words, in the absence of a very firm results-based border security trigger, there
is just no way i can look at my constituents, look them in the eye and tell them that today's assurances won't become tomorrow's disappointments, and since the bill before us doesn't include such a trigger, i won't be able to support it. it doesn't give me any pleasure to say this or to vote against this bill. these are big problems, and they need solving, and i am deeply grateful to all the members of my conference and their staffs who have devoted so much of their time and worked so hard over a period of many months to solve these problems. i'm grateful to all of them, and while i won't be investigate for this bill, i think it has to be said that there are real improvements in the bill. current immigration policy which prioritizes family-based immigration hasn't changed in decades. this bill would take an important step toward the kind of skill-based -- skills-based
immigration a growing economy requires. through new and reformed visa programs, for instance, this bill would provide many of our most dynamic businesses with the opportunity to legally hire the workers they need to remain competitive and to expand. some industries like construction could and should have fared better, but on balance, i think the improvements to legal immigration contained in the bill are very much a step in the right direction. we've learned an important lesson in this debate. one thing i'm fairly certain about is that we will never resolve the immigration problem on a bipartisan basis either now or in the future until we can prove, prove that the border is secure as a condition for legalization. this to me continues to be the biggest hurdle to reform. frankly, i can't understand why
there is such resistance to it. almost entirely, of course, on the other side. it seems pretty obvious to me and i suspect to most americans that the first part of immigration reform should be proof that the border is secure. it's simply common sense. hopefully democrats now realize that this is the one necessary ingredient for success, and they will be a little more willing to accept it as a condition for legalization, because until they do, i for one just can't be confident that we have solved the problem, and i know a lot of others won't be confident either. so this bill may pass the senate today, but not with my vote, and in its current form, it won't become law, but the good news is this -- the path to success, the path to actually making a law is fairly clear at this point.
success on immigration reform runs through the border. let me say that again. success on immigration reform runs through the border. looking ahead, i think i.t. safe to say that that's where our focus should lie. now, mr. president, briefly on another matter, another day has passed and the majority leader has still not confirmed that he intends to keep his word, which was given back in january of this year with regard to the rules of the senate. just to refresh the memory of my colleagues, we had a big discussion at the end of the year about the rules and procedures here in the senate. on a bipartisan basis, out of those bipartisan discussions came two rules changes and two standing orders that were passed
consistent with the current rules of the senate. and in the wake of that bipartisan agreement, the majority leader gave his word to the senate that the issue of the rules under which we would operate this year was settled. regretfully, he continues to suggest to outside groups and occasional listen the floor here as well that maybe he didn't really mean that and that if our behavior -- meaning the minority's behavior -- doesn't meet his standards, he's still open to i can practicin to breaf the senate to change the rules of the senate. we all know how that would occur, if it did occur. the parliamentarian would advise the occupant of the chair that the way to change the rules of the senate is with 67 votes, and the majority leader, under that scenario, would move to overrule the chair and with 51 votes establish a new precedent that would turn the senate into the
house. now, i.t. been suggested that maybe that would only apply to nominations, but senator alexander and i pointed out last week that that would not be the case. the next time the other shied a majority -- my side -- the next time the other side has a majority -- my side -- i'd have a hard time arguing to my members that we should confine 60-vote thresholds to simply nominations. and senator alexander and i laid out what some of the top priorities would be that he would recommend to me -- and many i agree with -- for an agenda that i would be set being instead of the majority leader. things like the national right to work, things like repealing obamacare, things like establishing yucca mountain tanker the national nuclear repository. you get the drift, mr. president -- many things that the current
majority would find abhorrent. so i hope this crisis will be averted. all it requires from my friend, the majority leader, is simply an acknowledgment that he intends to keep his word. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: mr. president, july 1 is less than one week away, and we need to reassure students that will be taking out loans for school this fall that their interest rates will not double, and it is safe to say that moves us on both sides of the aisle want to see a long-term approach to setting student loan interest rates, rather than a temporary extension of the current rate. we've been working, and i know senator harkin and senator alexander, senator king, senator manchin, senator burr, senator coburn and many others -- senator warren, have been engaged in serious discussions about finding a way forward.
unfortunately, the proposals that are on the table today would leave students worse off in the future, frankly. worse off than simply allowing the interest rates to double. there is a year or two perhaps where interest rates would stay below the rate of 6.8%, but then, looking at rate trends, it looks quite convincing that these rates would surpass the fixed rate and go beyond. and we can't enact a long-term solution that's going to be bad for students. in fact, student groups and advocates have urged us to reject the so-called deals that are circulating around with variable rates that are not capped that could lead to very, very high interest rates for students in a very short period of time. because one thing we've all been aware of for the last week or two is the dramatic movement of rates based on comments by the federal reserve with respect to
their elimination of the quantity arquantityquantitative. the future looks likes we're going to see increased right raitts and if we let them rise on students without any type of cap, i think we're going to regret that we didn't take more time, be more thorough, look at issues of not just rate structure but also incentives in college, look at refinancing options -- because it is a staggering debt load already on students -- and we haven't done any of this. so, as a result, what i have -- will do today is introduce along with many of my colleagues the keep student loans affordable act. i want to thank senators harkin, boxer and many other colleagues. this legislation would simply extend the rate we've today for
need-based loans that go to low- and moderate-income students, extend them for one more year so that we do have the time. and i should say that we should and must take the time. it is not just coincidental that we must reauthorize the higher education act within this year, so that we can use this time properly to ensure that we do in fact have a comprehensive solution that'll make students better off, not just in the next several months but in the long run. and instead of changing low- and moderate-income students for the loan, our legislation would close a loophole in the tax law which allows fairly wealthy individuals to defer taxes on their ira and 401(k)-type accounts. this provision would save taxpayers $4.6 billion over ten
years, which will more than cover the cost of the loans, so we are moving forward on a basis where we are not increasing the deficit. what we are doing is giving students another chance to maintain an appropriate loan level of 3.4% for an additional year. we have to take action to stop the interest rates from doubling. student loan debt is the next big financial crisis facing this country. we already understand from analysts that people in their 20's are putting off home purchases, putting off automobile purchases, are not doing what their parents' generations did because they have so much debt that they cannot move into the economy as their parents did. it's the second-most outstanding household debt behind mortgage debt in the country. it has surpassed credit card debt cht and it is affecting the trajectory of young people's lives. again, my generation thought --
assumed that by the late 20's they'd own a home, they would be in fact perhaps moving on and fixing up and looking at a second home. that's all been changed now. and today's students are really caught between a rock and a hard place because they have all this debt that they must carry forward. the other thing that's so interesting is we are scrambling around here trying to, you know, figure out ways to deal with this issue. it turns out, in fact, that the c.b.o. has projected that the loan program is actually making d 5$50 billion a year and over 0 billion will be made between now and 2023. we're actually making money on these loans. and, frankly, if we don't look at the program and fix it, the irony will be that students will be paychec paying more, the govt
will be taking in profits, and in the long run i think we'll be worse for it because we'll be depriving a whole generation of the kind of educational opportunity that they need. i think we have to do more. i introduced a long-term solution in april, a responsible student loans solution act. it would set student loans on the actual cost of financing and administering the program. it would also protect students with a cap. i think that's essential. we have to understand that interest rates might rise to a rate that we have to cap them to protect students. and it would also allow refinancing, which is something that has not been seriously discussed. we frankly need more time to discuss it. we need the time. i urge my colleagues to join me, give students the chance to go to school this fall with a 3.4% subsidized interest rate. and give us not only the chance but give us the incentives and the marching orders to fix this problem comprehensively. with that, mr. president, i
would yield the floor. mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: mr. president, the bill before us, s. 744, 1,200 pages, is promoted with high ideals but it's nowhere close to what it promises. it's fatally flawed. if passed, it will not work. that's why we shouldn't pass it. not because of the goals it states itself to have but because it won't work. this flawed bill did not come about because of inadvertence. the errors weren't a part of chance or ignorance or mistake. the policies reflected in this piece of legislation came about as a direct result of the fact that the forces that shaped it had goals that were important to them, but these goals are not in
harmony with the interests of the nation as a whole. the real politic gang that put it together seem fine with that. they wrote -- openly reported for weeks that these interests were meeting somewhere in some room in secret, working through this legislation and their differences, and soon, they said, the gang of eight would have a bill. that, having been blessed by these powerful special interests that they had invited to the meetings, would be delivered to the senate floor, masters of the union that theuniverse that theo adopt without complaint and with celebration. they were so proud of this process, that the eight would stick together, all for one, one for all, and defeat any amendment that dared to alter the delicate agreement that they talked about. they would consider amendments, of course -- oh, certainly,
we'll consider amendments, but nothing that ct embay impacts te agreement fundamentally that we have. one would not want to disturb that delicate balance, of course, of those very sensitive forces that were in the meeting. you know, the folks that came together only for the common good, who understood the real needs of working americans who are out of work, who have seen their paychecks decline, who have their spouse, their husband, their wife not able to find a job, their children not able to find a job, their grand cirn no -- their grandchildren t able to find a job. they weren't thinking about them. mr. richard trumka the top chamber of commerce boss, the activist group la a disarks the immigration lawyers association -- they were there. our high-tech billionaires,
having delivered magic any of sent computers, they now desire to deliver public policy that. the meatpackers. so you must know, friends, that when the gang of eight said there was a delicate balance, a fragile agreement, they weren't talking about primarily the agreement they had among themselves as senators; that was secondary. the agreement they were referring to was the special interest forces that were in that secret room writing that bill. those interests, those forces had signed in blood and the gang of eight then signed in blood to fight off any serious objections or ideas that would violate that agreement. all of the gang in the cabal that had confederal rated and combined together to set immigration policy for the united states of america were desperate to keep it secret. there was another dominant force involved in the legislation, and that was president obama.
his team was there every step of the way. his team that had done more to undermine law enforcement in the immigration area than any president in history, his team was there every step of the way. surely providing much of the drafting work, the legal work, and the support to get the details done, which the senators, of course, dissents -e senators, of course, didn't have time to do. they didn't have time to study all the language of the bill. they haven't read the bill for the most part. well, surely -- and we know that -- we know about this because just this week ms. munoz, president obama's top immigration official, former top official in la raza who said it was immoral for businesses to be checked as to whether or not they were hiring illegal workers -- that's her support -- she
couldn't keep it a secret. she wanted -- i think was concerned about being left out. so she made sure to reveal to "the new york times" that she and president obama were there every stip of thevery step of tg bill, being engaged in it all of which of course, much to the discomfort of the gang, especially the republicans who'd been anxious to declare the bill was written by the job creators, the entrepreneurs, the chamber of commerce. well, it went to the judiciary committee for markup, and a very favorable judiciary committee it was. four of the gang of eight are on the committee. and they started executing their plan. senator schumer on occasion would give republican gang members on the committee a pass. he was overheard on the mike do the republicans have a pass on this vote?
so they could break ranks, the republican gang members and vote with the people on an issue that came up in judiciary committee as long as there was enough votes otherwise to kill that pesky amendment, and so it was in committee. oh, one more important thing. the money. there would be money to run a campaign, campaign-like ads all over america to promote the bill, to promote the senators, to protect the senators from criticism, and who knows, maybe to provide some political contribution sometime in the future for those who vote right. so the combine had it all rolling until last week on the floor of the senate when the wheels almost came off. senators and the american people saw that s. 744 had more holes than swiss cheese. clearly, the bill lacked the simple conviction at that after
the amnesty occurred that the lawlessness must end. there was not a conviction anywhere displayed in that legislation, that the people who wrote it had a determination not to do more than provide the end and actually provide a lawful system in the future to ensure that lawlessness would not be a part of our future. you can see it in hundreds, hundreds of different places. for example, the metrics, the standards for enforcement at the border in the bill were weakened. current law had higher standards of enforcement at the border than the new bill that promised to be so tough. the toughest bill ever, those tv ads said. tough as nails, senator schumer said. but it weakened the standards for enforcement at the border.
the metrics were changed. and the everify system at the workplace that can be effective to eliminate the hiring of illegal workers was pushed back as much as ten years, and a whole new system was designed instead of have you simply having it occur. it can occur now. the system is 99% effective now. start they are diminished in their ability. a lot of politicians to avoid the carrying out of the law. and the citizenship processing is deeply damaged and unable to function effectively, according to the citizenship and
immigration service. officers who process these applications, they say there is a he no way they can process these applications. and an amendment i offered to have at least face-to-face interviews with many of the people, at least those who may pose some risk, was voted down. they're not even going to have interviews with the people who apply for legal status under this bill. and the entry-exit system which provides that you must be clocked in when you come into the country and clocked out with biometric fingerprint system, that system now says you should have a biometric entry-exit system at all land, sea and airports. this bill weakens that dramatically, makes it utterly unenforceable by changing
biometric to electronic, whatever that means, and only requiring it to be at land and seaports. excuse me. air and seaports. i would ask consent to have one additional minute, mr. president. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: so, mr. president, i would say that this bill fails in point after point after point after point. it is not a bill that reflects a commitment to a lawful system of immigration in the future. we will admit dramatically more people than we ever have in our country's history at a time when unemployment is high and the congressional budget office have told us that wages, average wages will go down for 12 years, that the gross domestic product per capita will decline for 25-plus years, that unemployment will go up, and it is not the right thing for us to pass
because the amnesty will occur, but the enforcement is not going to occur, and the policies for future immigration are not serving the national interest. i thank the chair, urge my colleagues to vote no on cloture to not let this bill pass today but require that it be subjected to more amendments and more study in the time to come, and we can make legislation that will actually work, but this one cannot work as it is. we should not let it go to final passage today. i thank the chair and would yield the floor. mr. corker: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: mr. president, i understand i have ten minutes allotted, is that correct? the presiding officer: the senator is correct. mr. corker: thank you, mr. president. i want to thank my friend from alabama who has been down here vigorously and shows a lot of stamina. i have a sense he's not going to support this legislation. i do want to talk, though, a
little bit about this legislation this morning. i was asked yesterday by a reporter just about folks back home in tennessee and how they feel about this legislation, and no doubt there is a lot of controversy around this legislation. there have been a lot of statements made that candidly don't pass the trying to get it right test, and so what i said to this reporter was is that i really have a lot of faith in tennesseans, and i believe that tennesseans at the end of the day will look at this legislation and study it and not just listen to -- to what's been said by numbers of blogs and people are trying to spin things in such a way as to create confusion, and at the end of the day i believe when tennesseans see what is in this legislation, i believe the majority of them, the large majority of them will feel like this legislation
improves the conditions from where we are today. i really believe they're going to do that. of course, it's my job to go back home and to explain to tennesseans directly as i do on all controversial issues why i support this legislation and why i think that this is good for our country. let me just sort of walk tennesseans and americans and people here in the senate from my perspective where we have been on this piece of legislation. first of all, this bill was introduced to the judiciary committee months ago. hundreds and hundreds of amendments were added to the process and dealt with during that judiciary markup. it went through regular order, something that all of us around here have been hoping would occur with all legislation, and that is it goes through the committee process and comes to the floor. the bill has been on the floor now for three weeks, and i know a lot of people around here are complaining about the number of amendments, but let's face it, for a long time, people on my
side of the aisle would not let amendments be heard. just the truth. i mean, it's what happens with controversial legislation. a lot of times when people don't want to see something pass or see it improved, there are opponents to actually even hearing amendments. so we had this ruse on the floor yesterday about all of this. i would like to have 100 amendments on the floor. i'm all for it, bring it on. but the fact is that, let's face it, both sides have been involved in keeping that from happening, and most recently, it's many of my friends on this side of the aisle. republicans gathered around the trigger that a senator offered relative to border security, and it had to do with a 90% effectiveness trigger, and that's where negotiations really around this bill hung up, but let me talk to people a little bit about this trigger. when you really look through the trigger that was in a border
security bill that i candidly supported and many folks on my side did, the trigger was so subjective, i would call it the cheat -- che. to bag trigger or the granola bag trigger or the plastic bottle trigger. and let me make sure that people understand the way this trigger was and why it wasn't acceptable to the majority of people here in the senate. the way this trigger works, it uses something called sign cuttings. now, this is a term that's used to track people through the desert or track them through the mountains. it has been used here in the country for hundreds of years, especially in places where -- that are less urban. so here is what was happening with that trigger. border patrol agents were going to be able to look at a cheeto bag or an empty granola bag or an empty coca-cola can and say well, i don't know, did ten
illegal aliens eat out of that cheeto bag or did one? i don't know. it was that subjectivity that people realized was going to cause people to be able to move the goal posts. and i'm making light of it, but it's just true. this was the way, believe it or not, we keep stats on the border right now, in this very subjective manner. how many people attempted to get through, how many people were going -- we didn't see them, we didn't see them, but we think maybe ten people went up through that crevasse. it reminds me, i go hunting once a year in albany, georgia. i have a friend that allows me to come. a kofi of birds will fly by, mark that down. he puts that in his hunt log. i'm sure he gets at the end of the year somewhat close to how many birds were on his plantation, if you will, but we're looking at something that was going to matter as it relates to green cards. it was subjective, and candidly
was put in place in such a way that many people thought the goal posts were going to be moved. so senator hoeven and myself, working with a lot of people in the body, came up with tangible, tangible triggers. not triggers that some border patrol agent could fudge one way or another, not that there is anything -- not that anyone would attempt to, but you can understand again when you're trying to guess how many people came through that we didn't see. let me say that one more time. that was one of the denominator factors was the border patrol was going to have to say how many people came through the border that we didn't see? let's guess. but by the way, let's make it exactly 90%. and so senator hoeven and i came up with an amendment that everybody could understand. 20,000 border patrol agents, a doubling on the southern border, 20,000 agents. every american can know whether that's happened. $4.5 billion worth of technology. we listed the inventory. every american can see whether
that's happened. fully implemented everify. i mean, we don't want employers paying people under the table. we don't want people hiring folks that are here illegally. fully implemented, fully implemented before green card. an entry-exit visa program. i think many people know that the reason we had the terrorist attack on 9/11, we had people who overstayed their visas. americans don't want to see that happen, so a tangible trigger, a tangible trigger of making sure that we had an entry-exit visa program, and another 350 miles of fencing. a lot of people said that that's not required. it is absolutely required. and anybody who would say that hasn't attempted to read the legislation. so these are five tangible triggers. not a cheeto bag trigger, not a cheeto bag trigger. five tangible triggers that allow people to know whether we have actually met the goals that are in this bill. there has been a lot of discussion yesterday about an
everify amendment and, you know, as has been said, an amendment that could have easily been added to this legislation. it's a fine amendment. i'd certainly be glad to support it. i think it's an amendment that if it made it to the floor, candidly it's one of those 100-0 or 98-2. maybe it could pass by voice vote. it's not controversial. but the fact is the bill has a lot in there relative to everify. and no doubt the house can make that even stronger. some of my friends are saying that -- that this is an amnesty bill. and i don't know if people have looked at the provisions about people coming in out of the shadows, having to pay taxes, back taxes, having to pay fines, having to pay taxes, by the way, into the u.s. system for ten years and cannot receive a single benefit from the united states government. that's the reason this thing scores so favorably from the standpoint of generating
revenues into the treasury. but let me just say this. i -- i want to -- nobody in this body, nobody has offered an amendment that would round everybody up in this country that's here illegally, round them up and deport them out of this country. not a single soul has offered an amendment to do that. so basically what you have here is you have a situation where you can cause people to come in out of the shadows, pay fines, pay taxes, and receive no benefits, get at the back of the line. everybody who came here properly or who has applied properly would be processed first. it's going to be a minimum of ten years, maybe 13, 14, 15 years before people even have the ability to get a green card. now, the option is to vote against this bill and basically say, well, we're not going to do
anything about the people that are here. we're okay with employers continuing to pay them under the table. we're okay with them continuing to not pay taxes. because not a single one of my colleagues, if you'll notice, has offered an amendment to round all of these -- quote -- "11 million people in our country" up and ship them out. so i call that de facto amnesty. i call that de facto amnesty. some people have talked about the process. one of my closest friends in the senate has said, i don't like the process. we should have been working with the house from the very beginning. well, you know, we had eight senators -- i'm not a member of the gang of eight -- that worked for a long time to create a bill. the same thing is happening over in the house right now. the way things work around here is you pass a bill in the senate -- could i ask for unanimous consent for two more minutes.
the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wicker: thank you. mr. corker: thank you. my sense is the house will not take up this bill. they'll take up their own bill. and the way the process works is you conference those and you end up with a better piece of legislation, fiscally. in this bill passes, we're spending a lot of money on border security. some people have said it is too much. again, i have had no amendments here trying to lower the standards that were put in mace by the hoeven-corker amendment. and the fact is that we'd be spending $46 billion on border security to have these five tangible things occur. and we'd be getting $197 billion back in the treasury, if we do this. i've never been able to vote for a piece of legislation that had this much fiscal benefit for our country that didn't raise anybody's taxes. and then we've seen the whole issue of the economic growth that's going to be created for
our country if we pass this bill. so let me just close. i believe -- i believe that voting against this bill is voting against border security. what that means is that things are going to stay exactly like they are. we're going to have porous borders, no entry-exit system, no everify system. and i think voting against this bill is voting for the status quo, which is in essence de facto amnesty. i believe this bill takes a step forward. i believe that it is good for our country in every single way that i can imagine. and later today i plan to support this bill. i hope that it's improved in the house. but i just cannot imagine there's anybody in this body that believes where we are today is satisfactory. i came here to make progress, to solve problems, and i appreciate those involved in allowin allowo
help with that process here. i thank you. i yield the floor. mrs. hagan: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mrs. hagan: i have four unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and the minority leaders. and i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. hagan: and, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that all quorum calls prior to the votes at 11:30 a.m. today be equally divided. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. hagan: and, mr. president, i request permission to speak as if in morning business for up to ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. hagan: mr. president, i rise to say a few words about anthony foxx, the president's nominee to head the department of transportation, who we will be voting on later this morning. while i'm going to be sad to see him leave our local government in charlotte, i am pleased that the entire country will soon benefit from his leadership.
anthony foxx earned an undergraduate degree in history from davidson college in north carolina and he blazed a trail as the school's first african-american student body president. he then received a law degree from new york university and held positions in all three branches of the federal government. beginning as a judicial clerk on the u.s. court of appeals for the sixth circuit, he served ably as a lawyer for the department of justice and counsel for the house judiciary committee. in 2005, he was elected aes a at-large member of the charlotte city council. during his four years of service as a councilman, he was a member of the economic development and planning committee. and since 2009 he has served as mayor of charlotte, one of the country's fastest-growing cities. when taking office, charlotte's unemployment rate was almost 13%. through his tireless efforts, mayor foxx helped attract and
create more than 8,400 new jobs. most importantly, mayor foxx has been a true champion of transportation and infrastructure development, securing forward-looking investments in charlotte's roads, airport, and mass transit. under his leadership, i-485 has been approved for expansion. he secured funding toward the completion of the blue line light-rail extension project and oversaw the opening of a third runway at the charlotte international airport. all of these projects occurred as we worked and are still working to climb out of the recession. these smart investments in infrastructure, in transit-oriented development are continuing to fuel charlotte's economic growth. light-rail has played an important role. with more than 19 million riders since it operated -- since it opened in 2007 and an average of 15,000 riers riders every day.
the light-rail is helping to revitalize charlotte's historic south end neighborhood which saw the city's first railroad line in 1850. investments at charlotte aret ar--charlotte airport are establishing the city as an international hub with direct flights to brazil. charlotte and north carolina are increasingly connected to businesses across the globe. with the i wan i-85 improvement project, i'm pleased to say it is finally moving forward. this improvement project relied heavily on support from local leaders across the region, including mayor foxx, and it's expanding and improving this integral roadway so it can meet the needs of businesses and residents for years to come.
mayor foxx works with the transportation departments at the federal state, and local levels. he is well-prepared to serve as the next secretary of transportation. i have worked closely with him during my time in washington, and i have the utmost confidence that he will serve in this role with great distinction. i thank him for his dedication and willingness to step up when service is needed. and i am pleased that the commerce committee approved anthony foxx's nomination with unanimous, bipartisan support. mayor foxx is a true champion of infrastructure and transportation development and i encourage my colleagues to support his nomination. thank you, mr. president. mr. grassley: mr. president? mrs. hagan: i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: the gang of eight in their framework for comprehensive immigration resomer said the following -- as i said "our legislation will
provide a tough, fair, practical road map to address the status of unauthorized immigrants in the united states that is contingent upon our success in securing our borders and addressing visa overstays." sounds good, doesn't it in they said their plan would be, "contingent upon success." but the bill doesn't do that. the bill doesn't say the border has to be secured. it doesn't say that we need to see results. it only throws more money at the problem, puts more boots on the ground. of course that's a good start, but as we've seen before that's not enough. it's not enough to ensure that we won't be back here in the same place 25 years down the road devising new plans. so i'm going to fake a few minutes to -- take a few minutes to discuss the legalization program created in this bill. since i was here in 1986, i know
the loopholes allowed people to gain legalization even if they weren't entitled to it. we had problems with fraud and abuse back then, and umafraid it will be the same -- and i am afraid it will be the same if the bill is passed in its current form. time and time again, we have been told that the bill will allow people here illegally to register and earn legal status, then become contribute being members to society. yet the bill fails to address just how to prevent a continued influx of individuals who will replace those currently living in the shadows. take the c.b.o. report, just an an example. they said -- c.b.o. said that illegal immigration would only be reduced by 25%. that's really not acceptable, especially given the promise of the gang of eight that the bill would -- quote -- "be a successful, permanent reform to
our immigration system that will not need to be revisited." end of quote. the legalization program begins upon the mere admission of a strategy submitted by the secretary of homeland security. so almost immediately millions of people will come forward and be made lawful. remarkably, the bill virtually suspends enforcement during the two and a half year legalization application period. it prohibits law enforcement from detaining or removing anyone claiming eligibility without any requirement to prove that they are in fact eligible. law enforcement is even required to inform those here illegally about legalization and give them the opportunity to apply. under the bill, undocumented immigrants already here can apply for and receive legal status, even if they have committed document fraud,
provided false statements to authorities, and absconded court-ordered removal proceedings. during this time, there is an enforcement holiday. enforcement officers would be limited in detaining or removing any individual who merely claims eligibility for r.p.i. status, regardless of whether there is proof to back that up. perhaps the enforcement holiday would be mildly concerning if we were keeling with individuals who -- if we were dealing with individuals who only violated civil immigration laws. unfortunately, the bill extends to those with criminal records. this includes individuals who have gang affiliations, even felony arrests, and even multiple misdemeanor criminal convictions. moreover, the bill permits
individuals who attain legalization to continue criminal behavior so long as their behavior and subsequent convictions remain below the eligibility threshold. in fact, the bill goes even further, and can you believe this? -- provides the secretary with waiver authority in order to dismiss misdemeanor criminal convictions for purposes of determining eligibility for legal status. the bill does not limit those outside the country from applying for legalization. the bill states that individuals who have previously been deported or otherwise removed from the country are ineligible for r.p.i. status. however, one need only turn a few pages to discover that the secretary has sole as well as
unreviewable discretion to waive this provision and permit large classes of individuals to apply for legalization a. there's yet another way providing and allowing individuals who have been removed or reenter illegally to apply for status if they are fortunate enough to have a relative who does in fact qualify for legalization. this weakens and undermines even current law, where congress has already declared that individuals would reenter illegally are not entitled to immigration benefits. amendments to prohibit these -- those ordered removed, those currently in removal proceedings, and those who have be absconded and failed to showp for removal proceedings for
applying or being granted legal status were voted down during committee consideration. an amendment to prohibit spousal abusers, child abusers, drunk drivers, and other serious criminals from obtaining legal status was also reject the. now, i know the public listening or reading these records won't believe that congress could do those things, that it is okay to have those people with that sort of criminal activity being legalized, but that's what the bill allows. these amendments also could have been voted on during floor debate, but the majority refused to allow their consideration. now the process for obtaining legalization is ripe for abuse and potentially encourages crafty behavior for individuals to game the system. under the bill, individuals applying for legal status are permitted to file numerous
amended applications in the event their initial application is denied for failure to complete properly or provide required documentation. in fact, and in practice, one could continue to file numerous amended applications, knowing each application is incomplete, resulting in perpetual limbo where individuals can remain here for an indetermined time period without any possibility of removal. another area of potential abuse permits otherwise ineligible individuals to remain indefinitely in the united states. the bill provides for a stay of removal until a newly created administrative appellate review process of the application has been exhausted.
one need only imagine the vast loopholes created that will allow ineligible applicants to remain in the united states pending a typically extremely lengthy review process. when combined with a never-ending application process and a very expensive time-consuming appeal process, individuals can remain here for years without ever obtaining legal status, and of course without fear of removal during that period of time. under the bill, people with r.p.i. status must prove that they have been employed during the duration of their status, yet the bill allows people to prove that employment, which is required to get a green card, usually merely sworn affidavits. we know from our 1986 experience
that sworn affidavits are highly unreliable and actually incentivize massive fraud. because they are not verifiable or trustworthy. a "new york times" article from 1998 -- 1988 shows just how easy it was for immigrants to get false affidavits. during one investigation, the immigration and naturalization service arrested seven people for selling fraudulent affidavits to new immigrants. one of these seven fraudsters ran a scheme that sold affidavits to 1,400 people here illegally. they had thousands more applicants -- appear -- applications filled out and waiting for others. in fact, while investigators
were on site seizing the evidence, dozens of individuals arrived to purchase more fraudulent affidavits. so buying and selling fake documents at that time was a thriving business and can be a thriving business again. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. grassley: i will put the rest of the at the same time in the record. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: mr. president, before i begin, i'd like to ask unanimous consent that my law clerk rachel hormer be granted floor privileges for the duration of the debate of s. 744. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. franken: mr. president, i rise today to speak in support of the immigration reform bill that we are going to vote on soon. i want to bring a minnesota perspective to the debate. i want to talk about how this bill will help minnesota businesses and agriculture while also helping and protecting minnesota workers.
i also want to talk about how this bill will help minnesota families and communities. mr. president, minnesota was admitted to the union in 1858. for the first 30 years after minnesota was founded, no fewer than one-third of minnesotans were immigrants who were born abroad. our state didn't suffer from that. it thrived. our fields were first tilled by swedish immigrants. their crops filled two million acres. our iron mines in the north depended on finnish labor. norwegians were critical to our logging industry, while the deigns who came to -- danes who came to minnesota made our state a leader in dairy farmer. today, immigrants are about 7% of minnesota's population. most of them come from asia and latin america and africa rather
than europe, but the contribution of immigrants to minnesota's economy and to our communities are no less important. mr. president, i'm going to vote for this bill because of what it will do for minnesota's economy. this is clearest when it comes to minnesota's agricultural industry, particularly our dairy farms. minnesota is the nation's sixth largest dairy producers. 5% of our nation's cows are in the state of minnesota. but for years, i have been meeting with dairy farmers, and they have told me that they can't get the work force that they need. they can't find enough american workers, and the nation's agricultural guest worker program is only open to seasonal workers. unfortunately, in minnesota, you can't milk cows seasonally. if you did that, you would get -- they would just get
cranky, the cows. for years, i have been calling for an immigration bill to fix this problem by opening our guest worker program to dairy farmers, and this bill does just that. this bill won't just help agriculture. a lot of industry in minnesota is in the high tech and medical sectors, s&p 500 like 3m and medtronic. unfortunately, our visa system works against these companies, because while the university of minnesota is minting new ph.d.'s in stem fields, our system sends many of our top foreign graduates right back to their home countries. thanks to the work of my fellow minnesota senator, senator klobuchar, this bill will make it easier for minnesota companies to recruit and hire top mines, regardless of where they come from. i'm also proud that this bill includes two amendments that i wrote that will protect small businesses. a major component of this bill
is to create a mandatory employment -- electronic employment verification system called everify, but small businesses in minnesota were initially concerned about how everify would affect them. my first amendment creates a special office within the department of homeland security whose sole job will be to give workers and small businesses quick in-person assistance if everify doesn't work the way it should. my other amendment will keep pressure on d.h.s. to lower everify error rates that in the past have caused major headaches for small businesses and employees alike. mr. president, while this bill will help our businesses, it also has solid protections for american workers. in negotiations, the afl-cio demanded that before an american employer can hire a foreign
guest worker, that employer has to aggressively advertise for and recruit american workers. if a business breaks these rules, it can get kicked out of the guest worker program. if the protections in this bill prove insufficient, i'll fight to improve them, but for now i think protections negotiated by the afl-cio are adequate for moving forward. so this bill will protect workers today but it will also help them for decades down the line by bolstering our nation's safety net. our changing demographics have put a strain on our social security system. more young workers pay into the social security -- paying into the social security system will ease that, and that's precisely what this bill will provide. census figures show that 48% of immigrants in the u.s. are between the ages of 20-44. for native-born workers, that figure is about 31%.
finally, this bill will help our economy by helping our nation's bottom line. according to the nonpartisan congressional budget office, immigration reform will decrease, decrease our deficit by $175 billion over the next decade, and an additional $700 billion over the following decade. that's $875 billion, close to a trillion dollars in deficit reduction. mr. president, this bill will be a boon to minnesota's economy and to our nation's economy as well, but this bill isn't just about economics. it's also about our values. it's about living up to the promise engraved on the base of the statue of liberty. give me your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free. send these, the homeless, the tempest tossed to me. i lift my lamp beside the golden
door. minnesota has a special part in that promise, has played a special part. for decades, minnesota has welcomed more refugees than almost any other state. we have welcomed the hmong and sexuallies and -- and samalis dt i met with many undocumented students who were thus undocumented through no fault of
their own. for years, these kids watched their classmates apply to college and plan for careers, but they knew maybe that wasn't for them because they couldn't work legally or serve in the military. then last june, the president took executive action to protect these kids from deportation and to let them work legally. their teachers told me what an enormous difference it made for these kids. for the first time, they could see they had a future. they could go to college or join the military. and that was just because of an executive order that didn't have the force of a statute. with this bill, thanks to the inclusion of senator durbin's dream act, their hope for the future will be a certainty. good for those kids. and you know what, good for us. because those kids are going to work wonders. mr. president, i'm especially proud of the bill i wrote that
also helps children and that is included in the larger bill we're debating and that's the help separated children act. my bill was inspired by what happened in worthington, minnesota, and sort of the southwest corner of our state, in 2006 when immigration and customs enforcement carried out enforcement actions in six states and arrested hundreds of unauthorized immigrants. tragically, those raids also left many children, most of them citizens, without their parents and with no way to find them. one second grader in worthington came home from school to find his 2-year-old brother alone and his parents gone. for the next week, he cared for them -- for his brother, he cared for his brother while his grandmother drove from texas to meet them. over the past two years, more than 200,000 parents of citizen children -- citizen children -- were deported.
these children are often abandoned at home or school and could go for months without speaking to or visiting their parents. my help separated children act will lay down basic humanitarian protections for children in immigration enforcement. it will make sure the parents and children can stay in contact and will make sure the parents can participate in court proceedings relating to their children. my bill is cosponsored by senators grassley, coons, cornyn, hirono, cruz, feinstein, leahy, and blumenthal. of the 200 or so amendments we debated in the judiciary committee, this was the only one that passed on a unanimous 18-0 vote. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to continue my remarks one minute. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. franken: thank you. i am a also proud the amendment includes provisions to help victims of domestic violence and young children. we have a rare opportunity before us. we have chance to vote on a
bipartisan bill written by a bipartisan group and supported by both the afl-cio and the chamber of commerce. this bill will help our economy, secure our border, and give millions of undocumented people a tough but fair path to get right with the law. and on top of this, this bill will save the american people hundreds of billions of dollars. i am proud to support this bill and i urge my colleagues to do the same. before i close, mr. president, i want to take a moment to congratulate the members of the gang of eight -- senators schumer, mccain, durbin, graham, men deny nez, rubio, bennet and frank. this speaks not just to the ability of the senators in the gang but throes their cutting edge. i'd also like to recognize chairman leahy for managing this markup and this debate so expertly. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. ms. klobuchar: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota.
ms. klobuchar: just a few minutes -- i spoke at length earlier this weefnlg i want to thank my colleague, senator franken, for his kind words and the work he has done this bill. and also senator leahy and all those involved in this bill. managing this bill this morning -- it is again just awe-inspiring to see all the work that's been done on both sits of the aisle. i expect we're going to have a strong, bipartisan vote for this bill. the vifthe civil debate we've hn this, we finally -- for someone who was involved back in 1986 -- to see everyone come together from business, to migrant workers, to immigrant workers, to religious groups to get this incredibly important bill done. as senator franken noted, the piece that has been most important to me in addition to the dream act, in addition to all the work that had to be done on 4r5u6789 was the work we've done to improve our legal immigration system.
we are a country built on immigration. 30% of our u.s. nobel laureates were born in other countries. 90 of our fortune 500 companies formed by imgrajtses a. we cannot continue to compete in the global economy if we close our doors to those who think and make stuff and invent things. that is what most excites me about this bill, the work that we've done to improve at that legal immigration system. i want to thank all my colleagues, the gang of eight, our great judiciary committee that debated and marked up this bill into the night, day after day. we should be proud of this bill and i ask my colleagues to support it. with that, i turn it over to senator lee. thank you. mr. lee: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president, before beginning my remarks, i'd first like to thank my friend and colleague, the distinguished senior senator from iowa for his tireless efforts in managing this process from the republican side. it has not been easy, and his efforts have reflected a certain level of statesmanship that is
to be commended. i rise today in support of immigration reform. i support strengthening our borders and ensuring that they are secure before beginning a pathway to citizenship, because it's the only way that we can avoid the mistakes of the past. i support robust interior enforcement and a bi biometric a tracking system. without those things in place, we will not solve the problem of illegal immigration. i support modernizing and streamlining our visa system because we need an efficient process of legal immigration that meet pes a the needs of our commitment of and i support immigration reform that is both tough on those who have chosen to break our laws and fair to those who have obeyed them and to those who have been patientl waiting their turn in line trying to come here legally. today there's reason for disappointment, but there's also great cause for encouragement. the bill we have before us today
is an enormous disappointment. the american people deserve better. as a matter of public policy, this bill fails to meet many of the goals that we set to meet at the beginning of the process. it's full of promises to beef up border security, but it makes no assurances. this legislation cuts the american people out by cutting out any congressional oversight of the opening and the progression of the pathway to citizenship. it remains grossly unfair to those who have languished in our current legal immigration system unable to get answers for decades, in some cases. in transfers enormous authority and discretion to the executive branch, exacerbating an already widespread problem within our federal government. and it fails perhaps the most important test of all: according to the congressional budget office, this bill will reduce illegal immigration by just a mere 25% over the next ten years. this should be reason alone to
scrap the entire bill. as a matter of process, members of this body should be embarrassed about how this bill has moved through the senate. from day one, the country was misled about what was in the bill. the talking points never matched the reality of what was in the bill. we were told that if we didn't like what was in it that we'd have an opportunity to fix it. but that wasn't true either. during the committee markup democrats and the gang of eight republicans voted as a block to defeat virtually all substantive amendments proposed to improve the bill. they said there would be regular order on the floor of the senate, but that turned out to be a false promise as well. for a 1,200-page bill, the senate, including the 92 members not on the judiciary committee, not on the gang of eight, were allowed exactly nine roll call votes -- ten rom cal roll call ,
rather, before the process was shut down p. by contrast, during the 2007 debate on immigration reform, the senate voted 32 times to amend the bill. some would argue even that was too small but certainly 10 votes on a 1,200-page bill doesn't suggest that the proants of thet the proponents of the bill are interested in regular order. for the grandle final inly, at -- for the grand finale, the proponents substituted what is effectively a brand-new bill instead of the one we've been debating for two months. they gave us very little time to read it before we had to vote on t once we were on the new bill, they did not allow a single vote on any amendments. mr. president, this is an embarrassment to this institution and it's an assault on the principles of democracy. but like a phoenix rising from the ashes, from this low point in the senate springs an encouraging path forward for those who, like me, truly want
immigration reform. first, this exercise has laid out in front of the american people all the problems inherent in passing massive pieces of legislation that presume to fix all of our problems at once. the so-called comprehensive approach has been utaherly discredited -- utterly discredited. our experience only reaffirms why the vast majority of americans don't trust washington. the special interests had a huge hand in writing the bill while the american people had none. almost all the discussions and negotiations took place in secret backroom deals and rather than debate policy differences, the debate was a daily fact check on misleading and outright false claims made by some of the bill's proponents. ed good news is that the house appears to have learned this lesson and wants no part of this. already the speaker has said that the senate bill is dead on
arrival. so today's vote is largely symbolic. the house judiciary committee has recently passed two significant pieces of immigration reform, one on interior enforcement and another dealing with agricultural workers. proving that reform can be passed in a step-by-step process. indeed, the only reason immigration reform is so controversial is because the senate refuses to pass it one pies piece at a time. there's simply no legitimate reason why we have to pass a one-size-fits-all 1,200-page, take-it-or-leave-it bill. while it's likely that this bill will pass today, i encourage my colleagues to consider where we started, where we are now and most importantly what lies ahead of us. they said it would secure the border. it doesn't. congress has been fooled by false promises before. we should not go down that same path again.
they said, illegal immigration will be a thing of the past. under this bill, it won't. the congressional budget office confirmed that under this bill, there will be 6 million to 8 million illegal aliens in the country 10 years from now. they said it would be good for the economy. it isn't. c.b.o. also confirmed that it would lower wages and increase unemployment. they said it would be tough but fair. it's neither. it's not tough on those who have broken the law, and it's not fair for people who have been trying to come here legally. and if this bill passes today, it'll be all but relegated to the ash heap of history, as the house appears willing to tackle immigration reform the right way. the sponsors of this bill had the best of intention intentionn my opinion intentions are not always enough. as i said at the outset, mr. president, i stand here today strongly in support of immigration reform. but this bill is not immigration
reform. it is big gues government dysfunction. that is why i cannot support it and urge my colleagues to vote against it. thank you, mr. president. mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: may i ask the chair how much time is remaining on this side? the presiding officer: 21 minutes. mr. cornyn: i'd yield myself up to 15 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i would join my colleague from utah in many of his remarks, if not all of his remarks, that i come here to speak on the pentdzing immigration bill more in disappointment -- pending immigration bill moo more in disappointment and than in anger because of the lost opportunity we had to come up with a bill that would actually do the job, restore relate and order to our -- restore legality and order to our broken immigration system, create a system of legal
immigration that would benefit our economy and reflect our basic values. it's been since -- well five months since the gang of eight first released their framework of principles for immigration reform. and at the time they were saying many of the right things, things that gave me great encouragement that we'd actually come up with a better product than we have today. they promised that their bill would secure our borders once and for all. live in a border state with 1,200 miles of common border with mexico. we know that that border permits not only illegal entry into the united states because of inadequate resources and personnel there, but also it's a benefit to the united states because the trade -- the legitimate trade that passes through the ports of entry create and support up to 6 million jobs here in america. they promised a tough but fair
legalization program. they promised that permanent legalization would be contingent on border security. and this is a recurring theme, of course, in my remarks, mr. president, because i actually was so naive to believe the representations made by the gang of eight. in january 2013, when senator durbin, the distinguished majority whip, said "a pathway to citizenship needs to be contingent upon securing the border." that's what he said in january. but what we got instead of this delivery on this promise was this where he said in june 2013, six months later, that "the congress has delinked the pathway to citizenship and border enforcement" so the american people have been asked to extend an act of common generosity that's typical of the
american people and compassion, but what they get in return is no assurance that the system has been restored to order or that the border has been secured. so it's, unfortunately, once again business as usual mere in washington, d.c. -- here in washington, d.c. the promises that the gang of eight made were encourage and raised hopes in me and others that we truly have a bipartisan immigration bill that is voted out of the senate that was worthy of the naivment but unfortunately the bill -- that was worthy of the name. but unfortunately the bill now bears little resemblance to the gang of eight's initial promises. i know we talked a lot about border security, but this is in addition to a national security issue. this is a matter of restoring the public's confidence that the federal government will actually do its job. the federal problem with this legislation is that it demands border security inputs but not outputs or results.
in other words, the idea is, as "the washington post" editorial seemed to get it today, is that if you promise to buy enough stuff, then the job somehow miraculously will get done. this bill asks us to believe that quadrupling the size of the border patrol and expanding the border fence will solve the problem of illegal immigration. i certainly agree that what the border patrol calls "tactical infrastructure" or "fencing" -- and particularly in urban areas -- can be a tool that's effective. and i certainly believe that additional border patrol -- my proposal was that we add about 5,000 border patrol db woul -- e helpful. because once the technology identifies people crossing the border illegally, you have to have somebody go pick them up.
i agree with senator mccain, when he initially opposed my amendment to add 5,000 border patrol, when he said he thinks the answer is mainly in the area of improved technology. i agree with that. but imagine my surprise when senator mccain and senator schumer, the two main advocates of this surge in the underlying bill for border security, said we think 5,000 border patrol agents is a budget buster, only to come back a few days later and offer 20,000 border patrol agents. and increased costs of at least $30 billion more. so without a coherent strategy or mechanism for ensuring results, adding 20,000 border patrol agents, assuming that it ever actually happens, and a few hundred miles of additional fencing could turn out to be a massive waste of taxpayer dollars.
again, there is something fundamentally wrong with the idea that if you throw enough money at the problem, it will somehow miraculously be resolved. what we need is a plan, and what we need to know is how we can invest in this plan to accomplish measurable results, and this bill does not produce that. so if you believe that the federal government's going to hire 20,000 additional border patrol and spend all this money over the next ten years, well, as the song goes, i have some oceanfront property in arizona i'd like to sell you. but you don't have to take my word for it. in recent days, experts from across the political spectrum have told us that this bill takes the wrong approach to border security, and contrary to what my good friend from tennessee says, it's not this bill or nothing. this is not the only alternative, and so you can say this bill is flawed and doesn't
accomplish the job that would still be for immigration reform and a solution, which i am. but the former commissioner of the immigration and naturalization service, doris meisner, said the border security provisions in this bill are detached from reality. former customs and border protection commissioner robert bonner, also formerly head of the drug enforcement administration said the bill is -- quote -- "simply throwing a phenomenal amount of money at a problem to gain political support, which it apparently has done, but it's not likely to solve the problem, he said. meanwhile, former d.h.s. official john whitley has reminded us that we should be focusing on border security outputs instead of inputs. in other words, we should be looking at not just what's put into this but what it actually produces in terms of results. that makes sense. just spending a lot of money on
stuff you're going to buy without any plan and without measuring outputs isn't going to get the job done. an output-based trigger would assure the american people that we will not grant legal status until after our borders are secured, and the reason is this is not a punitive measure. this is a way of realigning all of the incentives so that republicans and democrats and independents, liberals and conservatives can all pressure the executive branch and the bureaucracy to actually accomplish the promises that are set out in the bill, rather than just throw money at it. mr. president, you have heard me say that the amendment that i have offered would have made legalization contingent on 100% situational awareness of the u.s.-mexico border, in full operational control of the border. i have been criticized by some of my friends for saying it's an
unreasonable requirement. where in the world did you get those figures? well, i got that out of the gang of eight proposal. the difference is mine would have guaranteed accomplishing the goal. theirs merely promises it but will never keep that promise. i would have also made it contingent on a nationwide biometric entry-exit system, something that this federal government has been promising for 17 years since president clinton signed that requirement into law, but that promise hadn't been kept either. and a nationwide everify, which is a way of employers verifying the eligibility of workers who apply for a job, that they can legally work in the united states. as i said, ironically, the gang of eight promised all of these same things, but the only mechanism that i have seen that would have actually guaranteed it to happen was the amendment that i offered that was tabled.
what i have described as a real border security trigger, not just another promise, a trigger that will make it necessary -- the kind of trigger that will be necessary to get bipartisan immigration reform, not just out of the senate but out of the house of representatives and on to the president's desk. i don't think we should be so shortsighted as to pat ourselves on the back and say hey, the senate's passed an immigration reform bill, only to find it dead on arrival in the house of representatives and to make it harder, not easier, to get a consensus bill on the president's desk for him to sign. that's not success. not surprisingly, the congressional budget office reports that this bill will have only the slightest impact on illegal immigration. and you know what? the american people are not fooled. a recent rasmussen poll says that only about 28% of americans actually believe that this bill
will secure america's borders. so the american people have been fooled in the past, which is another reason why they are skeptical now, and they don't believe this bill will get it, and i don't either. in short, we're about to vote on a bill that repeats the mistakes of the past and does not learn from them, offering merely promises but no results, but it also makes a few new mistakes, too, mr. president. despite earlier promises of a tough but fair legalization program, this bill grants immediate legal status to people with multiple drunk driving convictions, and people with multiple domestic violence convictions, and people who have actually already committed these crimes and been deported. it will allow them to come back and to register for r.p.i. status. now, i simply do not understand nor has anyone attempted to explain how we can in good conscience support legalization
of violent criminals, and i'm not talking about people who have just come here to work and otherwise been law-abiding citizens. i'm talking about people who have come here and in contempt of our laws have committed crimes of violence, and they are now going to be rewarded under this bill with probationary status and a pathway to citizenship. a few days ago, i challenged my colleagues to come to the floor and explain or perhaps defend these provisions. i didn't find any takers. i also mentioned the tragic stories of husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters who lost their lives after being hit by an illegal immigrant drunk driver. just to give you some perspective, in 2011 alone, immigration and customs enforcement deported nearly 36,000 people with d.u.i. convictions. this bill legalizes people who have committed driving under the
influence offenses and also people with multiple domestic violence offenses. now, some might argue that multiple misdemeanors aren't that big a deal, but tell that to the family of a loved one who has lost their -- their son, their daughter, their mother, their father, their brother, their sister because of drunk driving by people who have illegally entered our country. it's worth remembering that the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony can just be one day in custody. these are not minor offenses, and it's worth remembering that particularly in a domestic violence context that a felony is often pleaded down to a misdemeanor because of challenges getting cooperation from the complaining witness who frequently lives with the defendant. no fewer than 23 states classify certain domestic violence offenses as misdemeanors.
in minnesota, misdemeanor domestic violence even includes domestic abuse with a deadly weapon. that law may call it a misdemeanor, but it is a serious crime. so for one last time, i will issue my challenge. are there any supporters of this bill that will come to the senate floor and tell the american people why drunk drivers, domestic abusers, already deported criminals should be given immediate legal status under this bill? well, i won't be holding my breath. no one's taken me up on that yet. just a few final points, mr. president. we have been told this bill reduces the federal budget deficit over the next ten years, so amazingly, in some sort of washington style accounting, you can spend about $50 billion and still save money. that's amazing. it's magical, and it's pure
fantasy. we were told that previously on the affordable care act, but we know that this bill is premised on accounting tricks, and the reality is it will actually increase the on-budget deficit. now, this is the amazing thing to me. we have got some of our colleagues who were some of the -- the most effective deficit hawks in this chamber. those who have been champions fighting against special spending projects that tend to corrupt the political process, yet they support this bill and seem to have turned a blind eye to the on-budget deficit and the fact that this bill is littered with de facto earmarks, carveouts and pet spending projects. we have been told this bill modernizes the southern border, and yet it does absolutely nothing to facilitate the flow of lawful trade and commerce across our border and to allow law enforcement to focus on the
criminal element which would represent a tremendous step in the right direction. mr. president, i would like to reiterate that i agree with the gang of eight and those who support some aspects of this bill that we need a nationwide everify system. i know senator portman, for example, from ohio had an everify improvement amendment, but like 45 other amendments that were denied an opportunity to be heard as part of this -- this process, where we have only seen ten votes on amendments, he was unable to offer that improvement to this bill. i agree with the gang of eight and those who say that we need stricter penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants. i agree with those who say we need to increase the number of visas for highly skilled immigrants with advanced stem degrees, and i agree with the goal of unifying families.
all of these measures enjoy broad bipartisan support, and i want to offer my congratulations to the gang for including them in this bill, but i can't support a bill which repeats the mistakes of the past by making a promise of future action which will never be kept, particularly on border security, and one that repeats the mistakes of 1986, and i certainly can't support a bill that offers immediate legal status to drunk drivers, wife beaters and violent criminals. i was disappointed, mr. president, when my amendment was tabled, and i'm disappointed that today we're about to pass deeply flawed legislation that will not be taken up by the house of representatives, but i take some comfort in knowing that while the initial senate debate is ending, the broader nationwide debate is just beginning.
in the weeks and months ahead, i want to continue to play an active and constructive role, particularly working with our colleagues in the house of representatives, to pass real immigration reform that promotes security and prosperity for the american people. i note, mr. president, that one of our colleagues in the house called this bill a runaway train in the senate, but that train's getting ready to slow down, and i think the american people will benefit from the congress taking its time to make sure not just that we pass a bill but we pass a good bill, one that reflects our values, one that also benefits our economy, and i think they will -- mr. durbin: will the senator yield for a question, please? mr. cornyn: i think they will benefit from a careful discussion and dialogue between the senate and the house about what ultimately will be the bill that goes to the president's
desk. mr. durbin: will the senator yield for a question? mr. cornyn: i will. mr. durbin: i have noticed on several occasions the affection which my friend from texas has for this poster board with this reputed quote from me. i'd like to ask the senator from texas, since he has used that repeatedly on the floor, is he aware of the fact that when i was asked about the relationship between path to citizenship and border enforcement, it was in the context of your amendment, which established a percentage requirement as part of border enforcement? is the senator aware that the bill itself includes a dramatic commitment to resources on the border of your state with the nation of mexico, literally doubling the number of border patrol agents, billions of dollars being spent to make sure that we stop, as much as humanly possible, illegal immigration, and that before the path to citizenship, the bill requires an everify system as well as an entry-exit visa system? is the senator aware that that is not included in that reference he's made to my
statement? mr. cornyn: mr. president, i would say to my good friend, the assistant majority leader, that i am aware of the promises that are made in the underlying bill. my point i -- my point is there is no mechanism to guarantee that the goals that the gang of eight -- the promises that are made in terms of 100% situational awareness and operational control, there is a absolutely nothing that will guarantee the american people that that promise will be kept, which is a serious problem. which is the reason why i thought that when i saw the bipartisan framework for comprehensive immigration reform, i was encouraged because i could support a bill that did make a pathway to legal permanent reservedoncy contingent upon a certification that these goals had been met. but i can't, based on sad experience dating back to 1986 and 1996 and other times in the past where congress has made
repeated promises of future performance, promises that are never kept. and i would say, in conclusion, that the american people are asked to be extraordinarily generous here in terms of providing probearingsary status -- probationary status in the future. that's an act of extraordinary generosity and compassion that they're being asked to demonstrate. but to be given just promises not be kept by throwing money at the problem without any real plan to make sure that i.t. going to be -- that it's going to be effective, this bill falls way short of its promises. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president -- and i would notify the assistant republican leader that i will be making a unanimous consent request in a few minutes, after
my remarks, so i didn't want him to be surprised by that. you know, members representing all corners of this great nation have been working hard on amendments to improve this comprehensive immigration bill. for a week now we've been trying to negotiate a package of noncontroversial amendments to include in this legislation. my experience over the years both in the majority and the minority, whatever bill you have before the senate, when you have a list of noncontroversial amendments, they're simply agreed to by everybody and put in the managers' package so as not to take up a day voting on things that are going to pass anyway. and last week i filed a managers' package of amendments. i removed from the list the ones that had been objected to by other members.
instead, though, the republican minority has taken the position that in order to even clear a knew noncontroversial -- a few noncontroversial amendments, which includes both democratic and republican amendments, the majority must agree to vote on dozens of highly contentious measures, including amendments being offered by senators who've said that no matter what happens they're going to oppose the legislation. so in my experience, under both democratic and republican leadership in the senate, that's never been considered reasonable. now, many of my friends on the other side of the aisle have complained that we've not had more votes on this bill. and i share that frustration. from the outset the republicans have delayed the bill's consideration and the ability of members to file amendments by filibustering the motion to proceed to the bill. we all know that the bill is going to get cloture, but they still filibustered the motion to
proceed, just as one more delaying tactic. in fact, 15 of the members refused to even cut off a filibuster, not for a vote on the legislation but just to bring it on the floor so we could begin to debate it. delay after delay after delay. then once we overcame the filibuster and we could debate the legislation, i offered an amendment, and then i agreed to set it aside so that senator grassley would call up a republican amendment. again be, a comity that we usually have in this place. well again, when the next set of amendments was ready to be made pending, the republicans instead of doing what we democrats did -- allowing them to come up -- they objected to setting aside the pending amendment and prevented the next two amendments from becoming pending and ready for a vote. then they objected to a time agreement on votes. they even objected to allowing the leader to modify my
amendment late last week -- last thursday night. they complain about delays, why aren't we voting? every time we try to vote, they object. and the lack of cooperation on this bipartisan bill has been frustrating for senators on both sides of the aisle. i have had a the love republican senators come to me and say, they don't agree with these delays. it has been clear since day one, though, a small minority of republican senators are going to do anything to thwart this bill's passage. now, it's hard to sympathize with those who complain they cannot get a vote on their amendments when they've objected to even the most minor consent agreements on the bill. the expression "crocodile tears" come to mind. we tried to find a way forward for votes on both sides, but it's been thwarted. it makes one wonder if +sopl --f
some would rather have the ability to complain about process rather than take votes to improve the bill? i'd hope we could agree to a reasonable number of votes this week. unfortunately, some people here want to vote "maybe." they don't want to vote "yes" or "no." and yesterday we proposed votes on 17 republican amendments. a smaller number, 15 democratic amendments, but republicans objected. it is a shame we haven't been able to continue the momentum of bipartisan cooperation that marked the judiciary committee's process that brought this bill so far. in the judiciary committee, we had 300 amendments filed, we voted on around 140. all but two or three were passed with bipartisan votes, both democrats and republicans, and when we finished all those, i asked if anybody wanted to bring
up any further amendments -- they didn't -- and weig we and d the bill without a bipartisan majority. but we voted. sometimes we voted a dozen times in two hours. we still have a chance to move a package of noncontroversial amendments. instead of insisting the senate vote on dozens of controversial amendments designed to harm the careful balance in this legislation, republicans should clear the noncontroversial and good idea ideas which ideas on y democratic and republican senators have worked so hard. the amendments have widespread support. they've been filed by senators, both republicans and democrats, over the past three weeks. many have already been discussed at length on the senate floor. let's take some examples. a package of nonyoafers krall amendments contains bipartisan amendments to improve oversight of certain immigration programs. it contains entirely technical
amendments to the bill. it contains a bipartisan amendment by senators nelson and wicker to provide for maritime security, as they've so correctly pointed out on this floor, that we have a long border not just our land border, we have a very long border on two oceans. it contains an amendment by a group of northern border senators, led by senator heitkamp, to ensure border security measures at the northern border. there are several amendments from our colleagues from new mexico to help facilitate cross-border travel and commerce. the list includes an amendment by senator brown to ensure the border fence is constructed with materials made in america. i mean, who could vote against that? the list contains an amendment by senator cochran and senator landrieu. she's the chairwoman of the
subcommittee on homeland security. it requires increased reporting on the eb-5 program, something that should be a no-brainer. the list contains two amendments championed by senators klobuchar and landrieu and coats to ease the process for international adoptions, a humanitarian measure that should get strong bipartisan support. these are just a few examples of what we have in here that we've all agreed should be able to be passed. i wish the list were longer. earlier yesterday morning i learned there were republican objections to a number of democratic amendments that had been on my list, including several that had republican cosponsors. i was surprised to hear there are concerns about several of these amendments. one of those concerns is an amendment by senator hagan to authorize a border crime
prevention program, and a bulletproof vest program. the bulletproof vest program from the days from senator ben nighthorse cham campbell and i introduced an amendment. it saved lives of police officers. the next time we have the police memorials on the mall, i hope they'll explain to the same police officers why they are opposed to them having bulletproof vests. another is an amendment of senator feinstein and senator cornyn and others have championed to provide the judiciary with the resources to handle large number of immigration cases. i don't understand why these are considered controversial. i was disappointed we had to remove the feinstein and cornyn amendments from the list because republicans objected to the
feinstein-cornyn amendment. the amendment on resources for the judiciary. so, nonetheless, i took these off, even though i thought they'd be noncontroversial -- liked the feinstein-cornyn amendment, and the others -- the bulletproof vest amendment -- but we took them off because republicans objected. so now i'm going to propose a list and i want to make sure the republican leader is on the floor. it will contain 32 sensible, noncontroversial amendments that strengthen the bill, make it better. they deserve to be adopted. i recognize and share the frustration that many senators who have worked on that's amendments want to influence the bill. the amendments should not be held hostage by the partisanship that has impeded our work. i am going to offer now --
incidentally, before i do, i note there's 32 in here. the majority of them -- 1 -- --e majority of them, 17, have republican support. i ask that the followin followig amendments be called up en bloc, and line numbers of the committee-reported substitute as aimed and the senate proceed to vote on adoption of the amendments en bloc, but a combos-at the timer, boxer 1240, brown, 1597, cardin-kirk 1286, carper-mccain 158, as modified, with changes that are at the desk; carper 1590, coats 1288, coats 1373, coburn 1509, coons 1715, flake 1472, heinrich
1432, heinrich 1417, heinrich 1559, heitkamp 1593, klobuchar-landrieu-coats-blunt 12 61, klobuchar coats landrieu blunt 1956. landrieu-cochran 1383, leahy 1454, leahy 1455 morty 1451, murray-crapo 1368, nelson-wicker 1618, reid 1223, reid 1608, schatz-kirk 1416, shaheen-ayotte 12372, stabenow 1405, toomey
1236, udall of new mexico 1241, udall of new mexico 1242. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican whip. mr. cornyn: reserving the right to object, i want to compliment the distinguished chairman of the judiciary committee for the open process that he conducted in committee to process amendments on both sides of the aisle and the open and transparent way that was done. that stands in stark contrast to what's happened here on the floor where we've only had ten amendments that have had roll call votes compared to 46 roll call votes the last time we debated comprehensive immigration reform in 2007. and i would just point oute outr my distinguished colleague that of the 32 amendments that are being offered now by unanimous consent, to be voted upon, 27 of
them are democratic amendments and five of them are republican amendments. and senator leahy noted that one of my amendments was conclude excluded. actually all of my amendments have been concluded including the one that would prohibit legalization of drunk drivers and spouse beaters and other criminals as well as one that's designed to root out fraud in the program. so on behalf of my ranking member, we object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. lay mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: i appreciate the compliments, but i am thinking of shakespeare where i came here not to praise caesar but to bury him. these amendments have been buried by the objection. i would note that yesterday we offered 17 republican amendments, 15
democratic amendments to be voted on and that was objected to. those were offered by the distinguished majority leader. it is frustrating. i know we're about to go into executive session. i would ask consent that the senator from hawaii, senator hirono, have two minutes before the executive session. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. ms. hirono: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: mr. president, i have talked about how this bill treats immigrant taxpayers; specifically, the restrictions on access to federal safety net programs. the bill prohibits immigrant taxpayers from using programs they helped to fund with the hundreds of billions of dollars of taxes that they paid. this is truly unfair. i filed an amendment to correct this unfair treatment. this amendment is number 1317. my amendment simply says that immigrant taxpayers who are lawfully present and working and
who have paid all their tax liability should be able to use the federal programs their taxes pay for. this is simply common sense. i ask unanimous consent that senators boxer, rockefeller, and schatz be added as cosponsors of amendment number 1317. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. hirono: i thank these senators for their support. this amendment is supported by over 180 organizations, including the national immigration law center, national council of la raza, the asia-pacific islander american health fund, national la teen ainstitute for reproductive health, the afl-cio, u.s. council of catholic bishops, the national committee to preserve social security and medicare. i have several letters from these organizations that attest to their support of my amendme amendment. i ask unanimous consent that the text of the amendment and these letters be printed in the record following my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. hirono: i've also been working with many senators on an amendment to provide additional opportunities for women in the new merit-based immigration
system created in the bill. amendment 1718 would create a new tier 3 category with 30,000 merit-based visas. tier 3 is vawrd i structured iny that allows women a fairer chance to compete for these visas. the hirono-murray-mikulski amendment currently has 19 cosponsors. i ask unanimous consent that senators whitehouse and schatz be added as cosponsors of amendment number 1718. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. hirono: amendment 1718 is a modified version of amendment number 1504. i made these modifications after working with senator graham and he has agreed to support this new amendment and i thank him for his support. the presiding officer: time has expired. ms. hirono: i ask unanimous consent for 30 seconds. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. hirono: i also have letters from over 100 organizations in support of amendment number 1718 and 1504. i ask unanimous consent that the text of amendment number 1718 and these letters of support be printed in the record following
my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. hirono: i thank the leadership council on leadership and civil rights, we long together and the america-asian justice support for these letters and for their support. i also thank the afl-cio and sciu for their support. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate will proceed on executive session to consider the following nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of transportation, anthony rinard foxx of north carolina to be secretary. the presiding officer: under the previous order, there will be two minutes for debate equally divided and controlled in the usual form. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. rockefeller: i am chairman of the commerce committee and mayor anthony foxx, who is absolutely superb. one, he's a may herb mayor, whi. second, he's an expert on
transportation, intermodal and otherwise and he understands the lay of the land. he was passed without a single dissenting vote from either party in the commerce committee and that's quite remarkable these days. he's a superb and qualified person who's very much needed to overlook our enormous transportation system, which is in trouble. i hope that my colleagues will support him. the presiding officer: who yields time in opposition? a senator: i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the question occurs on the foxx nomination. the yeas and nays are ordered. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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