tv U.S. Senate CSPAN July 23, 2013 5:00pm-8:01pm EDT
the presiding officer: any senators wishing to change their vote? if not, the vote is 99 aye, one nay. the amendment is granted. mrs. murray: move to reconsider. ms. collins: move to lay it on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. further, that when the senate rhyme consideration of s. 1243, on wednesday, july 24, senator
portman be recognized to call up his amendment number 1749. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mrs. murray: madam president? with that, there will be no further roll call votes on this tonight. i know there's several senators who want to speak tonight. we'll begin again tomorrow morning with senator portman's amendment. i would ask also senators who do have amendments on the thud bill to get them. senator collins and i are ready, open for business. we want to move this along and we're ready to go. so, please, don't wait until the last minute, thursday night. get your amendments in tomorrow. you'll have a much better chance of having them considered. and i can speak for myself, i'm sure i speak for senator collins, too, we're much happier to work with you earlier in the process than later. thank you, madam president. ms. collins: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: madam president, i just want to second what the chairman of our subcommittee, the senator from washington, said. frankly, we could have done ten amendments today in the time that we were on the floor ready
to work through amendments. i know there are many amendments out there and i would encourage our colleagues on both sides of the aisle not to wait till the 11th hour. it's going to be much harder for us to work to accommodate amendments at that point. so tomorrow's the opportunity for people to come to the floor early. we will be here ready to work. thank you,madam president. the presiding officer: the senate is so warned. [laughter] mrs. murray: i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. manchin: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. manchin: madam president, i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without -- we're in quorum call. mr. minc march i know: i know -- mr. manchin: ask to the vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. manchin: and i ask that senator blumenthal from connecticut and brown from ohio be speaking after me. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. manchin: thank you, madam president. madam president, we're talking about our student loans. and the things i have found out in working this for the amount of time i've been working it, we're all in the same position. we all want our students to be able to attain higher education, to be productive citizens, to live a better quality of life. we all know that that's the most important thing that we can do. and we're trying the tbheas we - best that we possibly can to come up with a solution.
we have a bipartisan bill that we've all work on. everyone's input -- and i respect everyone's position on this, i really do. and we're going to come to a comprehensive bill i think under senator harkin from iowa, have a comprehensive bill that really look at why the cost is so high, why college is so unattainable for so many families today. and we've got to -- we've got to tackle that problem. the problem before us right now is this problem, how do we help the most. and what we have before us is 6.8% if we do nothing. 6.8% across. and i know some people have said, well, it's better if the 6.8% stays as it is. well, i disagree and we've been working on this. and here's the difference. the 6.8% that's basically the cap right now, the old cap we had was 3.4% just for the subsidized. just for the subsidized. and if we look at the portion of people who are subsidized, it's less than 1 million. less than 1 million. if you look at the unsubsidized,
less than a million. if you look at basically the sub and un-sub, that's more than 6 1/2 million. our bill basically reduces that 6.8% rate down to 3.86% for this coming year. so rather than leaving it at 6.85%, we've helped this many people that's basically needing money in order to go to school. if we left it as it is, they'd be paying the 6.8% f. we only kept 3 -- if we only kept the 3.4% for the subsidized loans, this is the amount of people we'd be helping. so we've come as a bipartisan group, said how can we help the most? and i think most of us agree with that. as you look at further down on these charts here, we've also said under current law, how much was the average dependent undergraduate repay? under the bipartisan bill, as you can see, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, which we've scored out, it would be back at 3.86%
4.2% and 5.4% and 8.2%. there's a difference of savings of over $2,000. that we know. the other argument that's been used -- and the point that's been made -- is, yes, but rates might go up. if they do go up, how much would you pay? this is worst-case scenario. the bipartisan bill over the ten-year period and in current law, if it stayed fixed over ten years. it's a very small possibility that it would go up. stheas the $505 difference. weigh know -- we know this has been scored where these rates are going to stay. this is where they think, worst-case scenario, it might be. c.b.o.'s scoring has not had the greatest track record. their track record, in 23003, this is where we were, a little over 4%. they projected interest rates for the future for ten years
out. as you can see, and if you look at what they're projecting now for ten years out, it is about the same. if you look at actually what happened under the rates. so there is a big spread of money that would have been spent based on fixing a rate, let's say, back in 2003, versus what was actually occurring. so we're hoping that we're able to continue that savings. i think the things that we look at is that we understand what we're dealing with here, is that we have an awful lot of help, safeguards built in for young students. the best safeguard we have built in is the income-based real repayment. at the end of their college, if -- let's say they have exorbitant amounts of debt and at the take a job or find a job that doesn't basically give them the type of money they would like, if that would happen, we've put a cap on how much of their disposable income can be
paid. it's at 15% and going to 10%. so after 20 years they're done paying. and if their income did not increase appreciably, they're only going to pay that much back based on their income of 10% of their disposable income. we think that's a tremendous savings right there. will the subsidized loan on the front end, most of those students that qualify for subsidized loans get the pell grant, which is a grant. you don't pay that back. the subsidized loans basically we the taxpayers have invested in the students that qualify eqr those -- that qualify thor those for the dwhreers they are in school. that interest doesn't accrue until they leave. and those are the things that we think have been built in that gives the protection that we want. if we do nothing, if we do nothing and you save the
students will $8 billion over 2013 compared to $31 billion if we do something. and what we're talking about, if we're able to help this many students -- this many students is equivalent to a 27 -- or let me see, $23 billion difns of savings. -- difference of savings. that's been scored. $23 billion of difference. we've talked about the accounting procedure. i know that you've -- madam president, you've worked very hard on this and you understand it very well. i agree with you. if we could take every penny of profit out and make sure that studentstudents were getting the absolute lowest rate, but i also know that basically market-driven, if we're going to go the market, which we are in this piece of legislation, then you look at market-driven and you look at the rates in the market and then you look at basically the risk factors that are taken, the defaults that we have and all the other things that go into that. and if you scored that normally
under a market risk value or market value, it would be different. i have said they've showed that market value would be $95 billion that we would be losing, the taxpayers would be subsidizing. the way we're doing it now is $184 billion billion that is showing a of the provment i'm -- that is showing a profit. i'm willing to work with to you clear this up and get something more accurate in how we score and how we basically look down and what we charge students. that's not what we have in front of us today. and i think that's the difns p. and we're trying to move forward to give some certainty -- we have a lot of students in west virginia that are deciding, can they go and what can they afford? this gives ne them the certainty they have been looking for. there's more than 8.5 million undergrat watt students who take the stafford loan. our colleagues on the other side, as we've been negotiating this you now we talk to them
about first of all we didn't want any profits whatsoever. they agreed. first bill that came from the house had $16 billion on top of what the base was of $184 billion. that's been taken out, the best that we possibly could, down to $700 billion. what he would we talk about we're going to run a deficit of $740 billion, just in our annual budget in washington, and we're talking about $714 billion over a ten-year period with over $1 trillion. that's as close as they said they were able to come and even if there is any of that, we're looking at, with this amendment thas that senator harkin was able to put in, how we're able to see if that can be funneled back in and reduce the loans even further. i think we're doing everything we possibly can. there's going to be about $1.4 trillion in loans offered over the next decade.
we pretty much know that. there's $140 billion of loans every year. as a matter of fact, student loans are now the second-largest indebtedness that we're carrying, the largest burden that we're carrying, next to mortgage. it just surpassed credit card. it's unbelievable. and we've got to get a handle on the cost of college. current graduates are holding the $1.1 trillion. the loans are different and represent -- and will pay dividends. the best investment a youth will make it in an education. but if it imks unobtainable, unaccessable, and it is unaffordable, it does you no good. we know that. the average student loan debt, every one of these young students when they get done with their college on average, if they graduated from 2011, there's about $26,000. $26,000 that everyone is leesk college with on an average.
there is only a small percentage of borrowers that have very low loan balances but 11% or roughly 4 million people owe $50,000 or more. unbelievable. it is truly unbelievable. and i've heard everyone give their different reasonings for this. we haven't had good consultation, good advice, good fiscal planning. that might all be true and we can do much better and i think we will be able to, to make sure that the students aren't taking loans that they basically can do a little better without and not taking as much as maybe not needed. i appreciate all the hard work and the good faith that all of us and all of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle have been working on to reach this compromise. i really have. i know it is not easy for a lot in here, and i no he that everybody -- and i know that everybody is going to be able to have hopeful little their say on a vote. at the end the day i believe that we can walk away knowing that we were able to do better today than doing nothing at
awesome i truly do. i believe that. and i believe that i along with you and all of our other colleagues are willing to come bab and work hard, whether it is the remainder of this year, next year. but basically be able to get a program that these young people can find college attainable again and affordable. that's what we've all been working on. the plan helps everyone, not just some. it lowers rates -- it lowers rates 100% of all students, so everything that we have in our compromise bill brings those rates down. it provides a long-term fix. we don't have to kick the can down the road. we no that it's there. if we can find something better between now and, let's say, four years, three years, two years, or even before this wreer is up, then we're more than willing to go back and entertain that the and we don't want to see loans that were supposed to help students, end up holding them back. i know what debt will do. my grandfather used to say, indebtedness will make cowards out of decisions you make. it will make you a coward in
decisions make. because you'll be robbing peter just to pay paul just to survive. right now we find ourselves with sequester and everything else going on, how are we going to make it? when you find yourself against the financial rock, if you will, the proverbial rock, you're going to do things you would never do normally. these are the things we're trying to do, to find a way to move forward. it shows our students that the country believes in them and we support their efforts to advance their education and reach for the american dream. when we as democrats and republicans and independents work together and we have real debate on the real problem, we can come up with commonsense solutions that benefit all americans. i believe we've done that. it is refreshing that on such an important issue that we have put politics aside and our students, i think, first and foremost the thing we want do is help the students. and it really doesn't matter whether you're a republican, democrat, independent.
i think that was so refreshing to see that. we wanted to lower the rates for everybody. wanted to help everybody and make it affordable. i look forward to working in this more bipartisan atmosphere that we have right now on many more subjects. i know that we can when we pit - when we put our country first and it is always the right thing to do to put our country first. we mate bwe might be a d for der an r for republican, but we're always an a for american. this is a piece of legislation that has been worked on hard, a lot of input. senator harkin did a yeoman's job in bringing some of the most important factors to the forefront. we have it in the bill now. thank you, madam president. with that, i yield the floor. mr. blumenthal: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. let's just wait one minute until we get this cleared out.
the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, madam president. while my colleague from west virginia is here, i want to thank him for his leadership on this issue and for the very hard work that he and other colleagues have devoted to this profoundly difficult, challenging, but important issue. and i rise with regret to oppose the compromise agreement that's been reached with the help of our colleagues from illinois and maine and across the aisle. it is a compromise, and compromises are to be sought in this day, and it is bipartisan. and that, too, is an objective, a bipartisan compromise, but the fact is it's a bad deal. and we can do better.
we must do better. this nation can do better. we have a morale and -- we have a moral and historic obligation to do better for the students of today and their brothers and sisters who will be following them over the next ten years. this deal offers the illusion of lower rates in the short term while delivering higher rates -- in some cases in as little as two years from now. it forces students back into a system of market-based loans that has failed in the past and will fail in the future. and it subjects students to economic uncertainties, wholly unrelated to the actual costs of higher education. we know we need to reduce the costs of tuition and higher education. we know we need to address the overhanging $1-plus trillion of
debt that exists from past loans. but this deal exacerbates, not eases, the problem. and, yes, it has caps on the interest rates a student may patience but they creep toward more than double where student loan rates are -- were at the beginning of this month and, yes, it has a low rate, but it is, in effect, a teaser rate, as the presiding officer officer has said so well. a teaser rate that has nowhere to go but up. and it lowers the deficit, yes, but it does so by having the federal government reach into the pockets of students and take billions more on top of the $51 billion already exextracted in this fiscal year from them and from their hardworking parents. at the heart of this bill is a a
mistaken premise. it is the premise that it's okay to profit off the backs of students. it's all right to regard students as a revenue source or a profit center. that premise reverses an historic promise, which is, we will invest in students, not profit from them. we will support their efforts to gain higher education so they can better themselves and better the country with the skills and education they acquire, not havehamperor handicap them and m them a crushing burden of debt in the future. that premise reverses an historic promise, and we cannot allow it to go forward without a fight.
every dollar that we extract from those students is a dollar they can't spend on a down payment for a house, a car, a birks or an investment. these quonk people are the economic drivers of our future. let's be purely selfish about it. how can they build a family, buy a home, start a business if they are hit with an 8% interest rate or higher at a time when we can make it more affordable? it makes no sense. i have spoken to students across the state of connecticut over these past weeks, and they do the math. they know the results. as many as 86,000 students who attend our colleges and universities -- and i have spoken to many of them, their families, the staff and teachers who are also doing this math, and they know the best way to
reduce our deficit is not to profit from them but to make possible their higher education so they can bring their innovation and experience and expertise to the marketplace, not make the marketplace dictate the variable rates that they're charged but enable them to contribute to the marketplace and the american dream by going to college. i understand the temptation of this deal, but we must reject a compromise that saves the american dream for one sibling in a family by taking away from another. my colleague from rhode island made this point very eloquently earlier today. if you're a senior in high school right now, you'll do pretty well under this bill when you begin college next year, but look at your younger brother and
sister. she will be paying for you. he will be paying more and in fact may be denied the opportunity that you have next year because your parents cannot afford to send him to college. the issue of loan rates is complicated, but the math really is pretty simple. there is already more than $1 trillion of crushing loan debt that this bill is not refinancing, provides no debt forgiveness, just market rates that will lead to higher payments and more student debt as we zoom past that $1 trillion mark and raise it even further. the irony here is that the majority of this body has already voted to return to 3.4%. this compromise betrays the majority will of the united
states senate. instead, it allows those rates to rise as high as 8.25%. graduate stafford rates as high as 9.5%. and plus rates as high as 10.5%. so we're saying to the parent with two children, you can send one to college now with a loan that you take out at current rates, but to pay for that second child, you're going to be seeing rates more than twice as high. do you think the income of the average american middle-class families is going up 10.5%? ask the american people, do as i have done, go around your state and ask the students and their parents. so let's not kid ourselves. the fact that they are not going to be able to pay and that this compromise lies on a presumption that somehow over the next two years, we're going to come back,
revisit, revise, reshape and avert disaster. i have only been here two and a half years, but what i have seen is better to know what the result is going to be than engage in the potential false hope and raise the potential false expectation that somehow everything will be solved next year or the year after before disaster strikes. we should learn something from our experience with sequestration. this bill is not based on analysis of what the rate needs to be to cover the program's cost. in fact, it requests the g.a.o. to examine and report on what that should be, so i implore my colleagues, instead of voting first and getting the facts later, that we reserve such a life-changing decision until the g.a.o. has advised us on the
cost of student loans and we use that information, necessary information to set the rates going forward. there are amendments that i believe will improve this bill, and i have cosponsored them. the amendment that senators reid and the presiding officer have offered that would lower interest rate caps in this bill to the current statutory rate. if this amendment is adopted, we can go back to the people of our states and say at worst, you will be no worse off than under current law, and we cannot say as much under this compromise bill. i have also cosponsored senator sanders' amendment which would sunset this legislation after two years. if interest rates rise the way they are projected to do, we could be looking at dramatically higher rates within three years.
and so this sunset clause will force us to come back and revisit them. and i have also filed my own amendment that would expand and make more generous loan repayment assistance programs for borrowers who are struggling right now to make payments under existing loans. at a time when outstanding student debt is $1.2 trillion, we need to make sure that we help and support distressed borrowers at every stage of repayment, and that is the unaddressed need that this body needs to confront. i am hopeful these amendments will be adopted. in the meantime, i must respectfully and regretfully oppose this compromise. we are the greatest nation in the history of the world, as we are fond of saying repeatedly on the floor of this body, but only
one thing is certain about the bipartisan student loan certainty act, and that is rates will rise inexorably, inevitably, inexcusably. they will exceed current rates, and we must stand and fight to prevent that kind of betrayal of the fundamental american promise in higher education and the american dream. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: thank you, madam president. most of my colleagues might, i assume, look at these pictures and think they depict facilities
owned by exxonmobil -- sorry, madam president. most of my colleagues would look at these pictures and think they depict facilities owned by exxonmobil or b.p., but this is, amazingly enough, a picture of morgan stanley. morgan stanley, to most americans and most people in this chamber, if they know of it, is a bank. it used to be an investment bank. now it's just considered a bank. let me explain. morgan stanley owns a company called transmontan, a petroleum and chemical transportation and storage company, and a company which reportedly manages more than 100 oil tankers, tankers that look like this. -to-do on the banking subcommittee which the presiding officer attended, with senator murray and senator toomey is to examine how the line between banks and commercial enterprises is blurring.
interestingly, these large institutions combine banks and trading firms and energy suppliers and oil refiners and warehouses and shipping companies and oil tankers and mining companies. federally insured bank holding companies once in the business of providing checking and savings accounts to workers or loans to small businesses are now also in the business of owning physical commodities, aluminum, oil, electricity. witnesses testified at the subcommittee hearing that these risky wall street practices are actually inflating prices for manufacturers and consumers, morgan stanley and j.p. morgan chase and goldman sachs take their cut when you fill up their tank, take their cut when you buy a coke or buy a beer in an aluminum can, take their cut increasingly in the copper market a metal that is in all kinds of industrial products.
the maneuvering in markets for oil and wheat and cotton and coffee and more have broad billions in profits to investment banks like goldman and j.p. morgan chase and morgan stanley while forcing customers to pay more every time they fill up a gas tank, flick on a light switch, open a beer or buy a cell phone. for years, our nation separated banking from traditional commerce, but about 13, 14 years ago after years of eroding that protection, congress finally tore down what was left of that wall. beyond just combining commercial banking with insurance and investment banking, banks are now allowed to trade in commodities and to engage in a variety of nonfinancial activities. four years later, after that 1999 repeal, the federal reserve enabled the first financial holding company to trade in physical commodities. the justification for this is a familiar one. other companies were doing it, they told us.
banks were at a competitive disadvantage. over the next six years, the rules unraveled, becoming looser and looser until the loopholes were big enough for these six megabanks, now $600 billion in assets, up to $2.3 billion in assets. the loopholes were big enough for these six megabanks to jump through. the expansion of our financial system in traditional areas of commerce from crude oil to natural gas to mining and shipping hasn't happened in a vacuum. it's been accompanied by a host of anticompetitive activities. these activities threaten consumers, they have threatened american businesses that rely upon efficient markets and arms-length transactions. they especially trenten american manufacturing when they buy and sell and manage and transport and store metals. from speculation to the oil and gas markets to inflated prices for energy to energy manipulation, we know the role of banks has expanded. banks have expanded far beyond
their traditional roles. there has been little public awareness of or debate about the massive expansion of our largest financial institutions in the new areas of the economy. that's in part because regulators have been less than transparent about basic facts. we can't get from the federal reserve the information, whether you're a citizen, whether you're a reporter, whether you're a senator sitting on the banking committee, we can't get from the federal reserve the information we need to know about the governance and these rules about commodity trading by the banks. it's also because these institutions are so complex and so dense and so opaque and so impossible for people to understand that they are -- that we simply can't figure out what we need to figure out. the six largest u.s. bank companies, holding companies have 14,000 subsidiaries. six largest u.s. banks hoeding companies have 14,000 subsidiaries. fewer than 20 of those 14,000
are in our traditional banks. there are three important issues here that concern me, that morgan stanley can own the refineries and can own the ships. there are three important issues that concern me, whether it's morgan stanley, whether it's goldman sachs, whether it's j.p. morgan chase, whether it's aluminum, whether it's copper, whether it's electricity, whether it's oil. the lessons we are hearing are thee things -- first, these institutions can control physical goods and financial contracts based upon these goods, meaning they know more about the trading of these goods because they store the aluminum in two dozen warehouses in detroit or because they are moving the oil in these tankers. they know more about transactions, know more about price, know more about movement of goods, so that means they can trade on inside information. it gives them an advantage in proprietary trading. it means they can manipulate markets. second, these institutions,
these banks that own the oil tanker and own the refineries, these banks have access to cheap funding, cheaper funding from the federal reserve, that means us as taxpayers, than -- that they can use to finance their commodities activities. i'll say that again. it means because they can go to the window, they can get cheaper financing, these banks can get cheaper financing. they say there is a lull between their traditional bank activities and what they are doing in owning these commodities in buying and selling and transporting and storing and gaming the markets, but they can get money cheaper from taxpayers, they can borrow money at a less expensive rate than anybody else and their competitors who also might own oil tankers, who also might be a refinery. third, they are exposing themselves and us, the economy, to risks that threaten our financial system.
just imagine the economic, the environmental and the reputational impact to a megabank of an exxon valdez or a b.p. oil spill. think of the economic impact that could have on the stability of the bank and the success of the bank and therefore the stability of the whole financial system. today was the first of what i expect to be several hearings on this issue. taxpayers have a right to know what is happening. american citizens have a say in our financial system because taxpayers are the ones who will be asked to rescue these megabanks yet again if the unthinkable, which almost inevitably happens in this world over time, if the unthinkable happens. madam president, i ask that the remainder of my remarks be put a different place in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, madam president. 1935 senator robert wagner of new york introduced the national labor relations act also known as the bag tpher agent -- wagner act, this bill proved to be one
of the most important pieces of legislation in our nation's history. this desk at which i sit was used by senator hugo black of alabama who was franklin roosevelt's favorite southern senator they said later to be a member of the supreme court. senator black sat at this desk and helped draft that legislation with the national labor relations act. in fact, did some of the early work on the social security act, what he proposed, the 30-hour workweek that later helped senator wagner pave the way for the national labor relations act. president roosevelt signed the bill, before american workers were routinely harassed for organizing unions. they were intimidated and prevented from bargaining collectively. the wagner act changed that. this law gave robber workers in wagner, ohio, the legal tools to
protest the conditions they were working under. it authorized an nonpartisan federal agency consisting of agencies protected by the president. union card members worked together to work together to improve their working conditions. today the nlrb is needed perhaps more than ever. let me tell you a story real quick, madam president. a few years ago i was in cincinnati at a dinner and sitting at the table in front of me were six or seven middle-aged women, half white, half minority perhaps. they had just signed their first union contract with the service employees international union. these five or six women were the negotiators with the -- on behalf of 1,200 janitors negotiating with the downtown cincinnati business owners. there was an empty seat at the table so i went and sat down. i said what does having this
union mean to you? they had just signed the contract that tkaeufplt -- day. one woman said i am 51 years old. this is the first time in my life i've had a paid week vacation. think about the number of americans that don't have a paid one-week vacation. for people in these jobs, for the pages sitting there, their parents i imagine are used to getting a week or two or three week paid vacation. most americans don't. that is one of the things the unions brought to this country. the reason i say the nlrb is needed now more than ever. 2013 unions are curbing collective bargaining rights. two years ago in ohio collective bargaining rights were taken away for public employee workers. voters of ohio said no to that. 61% of them struck that law down in a referendum. nonetheless, the anti-aoupb efforts from the most --
anti-union efforts from the most procorporate conservative alternative far-right legislators and state legislators across the country continue. workers are still being punished for discussing pay and bonuses with one another. for years the nlrb has been instrumental in addressing challenges workers face. senator wagner addressed on the floor it is necessary to understand why unions work to maintain full flow of purchasing power. we know when workers make decent wages, they buy cars made in this country, they buy the appliances. they go to the hardware store, pay their property taxes, buy homes, renovate their homes. they do things that put money into the economy. if you only have a sliver of people that are very wealthy and a declining middle class, the purchasing power and the growth in the economy tends to diminish. that's not what kind of country we want or it's not what kind of country we've had since world
war ii. just a few years after the great recession there was a widening gap between the average wage of workers and heads of corporations. for families struggling to make ends meet after a breadwinner was unfairly forced off the assembly line the nlrb matters. if we do not confirm the president's nominees, workers like kevin from akron will have no recourse from -- against retaliation for his union activity. kevin and his coworkers wanted to form a union to stop a 12-shower shift policy from being put in place at their lace of employment. the company fired six workers including kevin for this union activity. while the nlrb ordered the company to reinstate the workers, the nlrb said the company was wrong under federal law, the workers should be reinstated. the d.c. circuit court, people in large part by people, by judges that almost always do the bidding of the wealthiest corporations in this country, the d.c. circuit court delayed
enforcement of the case until the pending challenge to the president's 2012 nominees is resolved in court. or the board has a senate confirmed quorum. that's why america, kevin is a human face of why america needs a fully staffed national labor relations board with a legal quorum needed to do its job. we should confirm these board members. we should make sure workers like kevin receive the workplace protections whether they're union members, whether they're not. the workplace protections they deserve. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
mr. casey: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: madam president, i'd ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: thank you, madam president. i rise today to talk about legislation that we're currently considering, and it's a welcome development that we're actually working on appropriations bills on the senate floor, and i want to commend the work of chairwoman mikulski of the appropriations committee, her ranking member senator shelby, as well as both chairman murray and ranking member collins on the so-called t-h.u.d. bill. everything in washington has an acronym. so it is with this, the transportation housing appropriations bill. as many people know, when you consider those appropriations and you consider the subject matter, it's pretty broad and diverse. and i'll just give you maybe a five-part summation here of what we're talking about. it means investing, of course,
in transportation infrastructure, providing housing and services to very vulnerable americans, supporting our communities and addressing the foreclosure crisis, which is still with us in so many ways, as the presiding officer stphoez so well and has -- as the presiding officer knows so well and has worked so hard on this problem for many years, ensuring the safety of our transportation system and, number five, promoting sustainability in our communities. i wanted to talk first about amtrak. amtrak is part of our transportation infrastructure that not only is critically important for a state like pennsylvania, but really the entire eastern seaboard and really across the whole country. it's one of the reasons we can move not just people but goods and services and the transactions that occur when people are able to get from one place to another. the senate bill that we're
considering includes almost $1.5 billion for amtrak. preserving the federal commitments to provide safe, reliable and energy-efficient passenger rail transportation for more than 31 million travelers. and that's an annual number. plus an additional 235 commuter trips that depend on amtrak and for its infrastructure along the northeast corridor. the house bill guts funding for amtrak cutting the appropriations by a third for fiscal year 2013. this is the lowest level of funding in over a decade. it makes no sense in a lot of ways to try to find -- try to find savings in a bill like this at such an extreme level. it makes no sense at all in terms of our economy. due to contract and debt service
payment commitments, this would mean amtrak only has $100 million for capital investments. the northeast corridor alone needs $782 million per year to address long-standing state of good repair projects. not even one-seventh of the dollars we need for state of good repair. this isn't just a nice thing to do every year. you've got to fix the infrastructure if you're running a transportation system, and especially if you're running amtrak. so that's not only a safety issue, but it's a jobs issue. you could put at risk some 10,000 jobs and possibly eliminate some existing amtrak routes. in 2012 over 6.1 million amtrak passengers traveled at pennsylvania stations. and this number is expected to increase in 2013. ridership has continued to grow
over the past several years and has reached an all-time high last year and is on track to break that record in 2013. i was talking to folks at amtrak today and they talked about the tremendous growth in ridership. that's good for a lot of reasons. it's not just nice for amtrak. most importantly, it's good for our environment. less people driving cars that have an impact on emissions, air emissions. it's also probably a great stress reliever for people. driving and working is a challenge. getting from one place to another. riding on a train can allow you to do work and maybe allow you to be more rested. it probably cuts down on traffic fatalities although i don't have a study that backs that up. but there's no question that we want to make sure we make these investments in amtrak, and i hope that we can get a bipartisan agreement ultimately and have some of the features of
bipartisanship we've seen here in the senate. we also know that amtrak, just from a pennsylvania perspective, is a job creator. it employees over 2,600 pennsylvanians and these jobs could be in jeopardy if these cuts are maintained. community development block grants. a lot of people might know this acronym better than t-h.u.d., the transportation, housing and urban development bill. the community development block grant program is so important for a variety of reasons. one of the most important reasons that we should focus on is that this is one of the few remaining federal programs where the federal government says to
local governments here are some resources. these are taxpayer resources so you have to -- you have to guard them -- safeguard them and spend them wisely, but we're giving you these -- these federal funds so you can make a decision about what's best for your community. that's what the community development block grants are all about. there is not a one-size-fits-all federal washington way to spend these dollars. and that's why i can't understand why some people here want to make the kind of really dangerous cuts to these block grants that some want to make. we we know that the ?ability includes a little more than $3.1 billion for these block grants, for -- i should say $3.15 billion, less than the 2013 bill, but it's $352 million more than what the
president has asked for in this year. this year meaning 2014. according to calculations by h.u.d., the funding level provided in the senate bill will support an estimated 80,900 jobs, twice the level in the house bill. 80,900 jobs. that's a good reason to support the senate bill but that's not the only reason standing alone but that's a big jobs number. the house bill contains the lowest amount ever provided to the program. i wish we could stand up and say you know what? communities across the country don't need block grants. they don't need to even decide what's best for their community. because all the problems are taken care of. everything is wonderful. and all these communities are in just perfect shape so let's just have a big cut to the program. that would be an interesting scenario if it were true. the reality is that in a lot of
communities where they've had to deal with the ravages of a foreclosure crisis, where the greatest number of americans ever probably lost their homes, maybe the highest number since the 1930's. 234u78 one, number two they had to deal with the jobs crisis in addition to the foreclosure crisis and, of course, the two are closely related. we just went below a half million people out of work in pennsylvania. but we're still at about 490,000 people out of work. so these communities that have had to deal with several avalanches of problems. foreclosure crisis, jobs crisis wand then all of the results of both of those, all the trauma that has been heaped on these communities, now we're told by some in washington your problems are solved. you don't need any -- any grand funding from the federal government to help you decide what's best for your community. whether you can use it for foreclosure mitigation or use it for job creation, whether you
can use that limited resource from the federal government to bring a company into your town. to be told that -- to be told in essence by implication you don't need that is really an insult to local communities across the country. we know that the block grant program began in 1975 and in its first year was funded at a $2.47 billion number. why do i give you that specific number from the mid 1970's? well, up until now the lowest amount it has ever received but still $837 million more than than the level provided by the house bill. so what the house is doing here is setting records which they shouldn't want to set. to be in a race to see who can more -- in a more devastating fashion almost decapitate the block grant program. since the program started, the
number of grantees has doubled making the impact of the cuts even greater on communities. these grants, these community development plants --, block grants, allow 47 pennsylvania communities to address local needs. they get to decide, not the federal government. they get their resources and they decide at the local level. we know that countless communities have received these funds, or have also -- these funds have been made available to state governments. municipalities depend on this funding for economic development projects, which i mentioned before, just to give you some examples of individual cities, the city of philadelphia which has had an unemployment rate at 10% or above as long as anyone can remember, we're into several years now where the unemployment rate has been 10 or higher. meaning that between 60,000 or 70,000 or higher people have
been out of work in that city. kdgb funding in philadelphia was used to stem the foreclosure crisis helping nearly 4,000 homeowners avoid foreclosure through housing counseling. funded by the community development block grant program. prior to the funding cuts these grants provided annually enough resources that 2,818 jobs were created annually. in a city that has 60,000 to 70,000 people out of work consistently for several years, 2,818 jobs is a lot of jobs. philadelphia is a big city, but that's still a lot of jobs that are directly a result of community development block grant funding. that's why you hear from mayors that are democrat and republican, and independent, whatever their party, they all seem to come together on these
block grant funds because they know that they are better judges of what's best for their community. in the city of philadelphia, developed its own foreclosure mitigation program. they developed the program, they came up with the implemented it and then used federal money to support it. and yet you have some people in washington saying don't worry about it, you don't need those funds and we're going to decide what are priorities in your town. that's really what they're saying. they may not want to hear this, but that's what they're saying. when you say to someone we're going to drastically cut funding for a successful grant program that is funded projects that you have decided are important or you might have even created in the case of this foreclosure mitigation program, in essence what they're saying is not just we're going to -- the house or the senate or any part of our government is going to cut this program dramatically, they are
making the decision for those local communities. all these folks in washington who talk about local decisionmaking and then gut the program, i think have their credibility dramatically undermined. a few more examples before i wrap up. the city of pittsburgh directed some of its grant dollars to promote homeownership and affordable housing. that's the second -- our second largest city, using these grant funds in a way that was motor post important to them. the lehigh valley, the eastern seaboard of our state, just north of philadelphia, cities like allentown, bethlehem, easton, those communities, they've used this funding to encourage private-sector investment. they made a decision in their community that we are not going to use these funds for foreclosure mitigation or housing, we're going to focus on job creation, focus on getting private-sector businesses to locate in the lehigh valley of pennsylvania. they made that decision, not
us. they made that decision. some people in the house think that they should substitute their judgment for the people of the lehigh value in -- lehigh valley in pex. in lancaster and york county in the southern border of our state a portion of these grant funds were used to reduce blight and revitalize historic downts. they made -- downtowns. they made that decision and they've used these dollars for that. in none of these communities are saying these dollars shouldn't be safeguarded, shouldn't be spent and treated as precious taxpayer dollar resources, no one is saying they shouldn't be scrutinized. no one is saying they shouldn't be audited. no one is saying they shouldn't be carefully examined as how to how they spend those dollars. all they're saying to us is let's keep the community development block grant at a reasonable level. they're not asking for the moon, not asking for a doubling of funding or some great amount
of money that the federal government can't afford, but they're saying let us, let us decide that. washington decides a lot of things. that's the way our system works. but on this one, they're saying to us let us decide, not washington. so we know the value of the program, and we know that over the past few years these grant funds have been reduced by nearly 25%. so just level funding, level funding, unfortunately, becomes a significant victory. further loss of funding will directly harm these communities that rely upon these grant funds to address their most pressing needs. mayors rely upon these grants for vital services and i've heard from mayors in both parties about this. so further cuts to the block grant program will have a detrimental effect on cities and municipalities some of the ones are who have suffered the most
from the foreclosure crisis, from the economic recession, and the job-killing impact of that recession. and they're just -- if they're not digging out they've just gotten out of the hole and are not feeling all that secure yet. these grant funds allow them to make those decisions, allow them to make the investments that they want to make. madam president, i would yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i'm told there is a bill at the desk due for its first reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for the first time. the clerk: h.r. 2668 an act to delay the application of the individual health insurance mandate, to delay the
application of employer health insurance mandate and for other purposes. mr. reid: i ask for second reading in order to place the bill on the calendar on the the provisions of bill 14 but object to my own request. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the bill will be read for the second time on the next legislative day. mr. reid: mr. president, we hope to have a little more business of the day, but we'll wait and see. when we complete our business today i ask unanimous consent that we adjourn until 9:30 a.m. tomorrow morning, wednesday, july 24. that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date and the time for the two leaders be reserved for use later in the day. following leader remarks, the senate be in a period of morning business for an hour with the time equally divided and controlled between the two leader or their designees, with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each with the republicans controlling the first half and the majority the final half. following morning business, the senate resume consideration of
s. 1243, the transportation appropriations bill. further, that at 3:40 tomorrow the senate observe a moment of silence in memory of officer jacob chestnut and detective john gibson who were united states capitol policemen killed 15 years ago in the line of duty defending this building. the people who work here and all the visitors against an armed intruder who killed both of them. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
determined by me after consultation with senator mcconnell the senate proceed to consideration of calendar number 139, h.r. 11, h.r. 1911, that the only first degree in order to the bill be the manchin-burr amendment, the only second-degree amendments to the manchin-pw-r amendments be the following, the text of each is at the desk. reed of rhode island and warren and sanders. one hour of debate equally divided, three hours of debate equally divided between the chair and ranking member or their designees, senator boxer controlling 30 minutes of the democratic time, senator reid controlling 15 minutes of the democratic time, that no points of order or motions be in order other than budget points of order and the applicable motions to waive, that upon the use or yielding back of that time the senate proceed to vote in relation to the second-degree amendments in the order listed, that upon disposition of the sanders amendment the senate proceed to vote in relation to the manchin amendment as amended
if amended, that upon disposition of the manchin-burr amendment the bill as amended, if amended be read a third time and the senate proceed to vote on passage of the bill as amended if amended, that all amendments and spablg of the bill be -- passage of the vote be subject to a 60-vote threshold, there be up it would two minutes divided before the vote. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, first of all, i would like the record to reflect how instrumental the presiding officer was in our ability to get this done, and i appreciate very much, as does everyone in the senate. in the near future, the american people will acknowledge your good work on this issue. if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask it adjourn under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until 9:30 a.m. tomorro
there on a totally partisan basis. on sunday, john boehner, speaker of the house, said congress should not be judged by how many bills it passes but by how many laws it repeals. if that's true, mr. president, house republicans are failing even by their own metric. they've replaced virtually nothing. so by the speaker's own admission, they're not getting anything passed and by his own analysis, they're getting
nothing repealed. so they're doing nothing, and we've known that but it's unusual because the speaker acknowledged that on the sunday shows. my republican colleagues are looking for a a law to repeal, i takwould suggest they take a lok at the downspiritted law. these meat ax cuts threaten senate security. on the news today, there is a briefing by the secretary of defense that talks about how senseless it cuts our -- the cuts are to the defense department. they're done with a meat ax, just like i said. so we need to roll back these arbitrary cuts, not only in the military but all government. unless democrats and republicans work out a bipartisan solution that replaces the sequester, that replaces the sequester, >> we are working out a bipartisan solution.
this includes military readiness that is in jeopardy. mr. president, there has been 122 days and the democrats led by the budget committee chair patty murray to negotiate this with our house republican colleagues. senator murray and others have been here numerous times and we have had this is part of the budget process and we have said this before. this is part of education that helps to keep america
competitive. and we have a program that protects low income children. we can't do it alone, we need republican help. the pricing is simply way too high. >> senate leader mitch mcconnell went to the floor today to talk about jobs and the economy. senator mcconnell mcconnell says that the senate is focusing away from the issues and his comments are about five minutes.
>> there are many overused expressions here in washington. game changer comes to mind. the white house can simply pivoted jobs for a day or two and then abandon it for a few days or months. is the attitude that turns people off from policy. it is the notion that job creation is somehow more about scoring points at convenient moments than just doing what is necessary this is the kind of thing that really angers folks. but it seems to be only thing is
is something to get our economy back on track. it's not like we don't know how to get the products moving again and creating jobs. we need to do the things that have been staring us in the face for the past one half years. instead of just sitting on the sidelines and waiting to take their cues from the analysts and political roadshows unencumbered this is to make it fair and flatter and more conducive stable middle middle-class jobs
that we desperately need. so the regulatory state that we have now is entirely geared to the past and not the president. things like developing and refining more energy right here at home instead of importing it from overseas. but washington democrats have not really worked with us to do any of that. instead, they have mostly given us higher taxes we have an unwillingness to pursue common sense energy products that can put could put my americans work right now. right now. they have ballooned the debt with the complex regulations that failed to solve too big to fail and they gave us a 2700
page health care law that almost no one read at least 20,000 pages in red tape that almost no one can understand. so it is no wonder so many americans remain out of work. they pivot so much a these days that they often don't seem to know what to do with themselves when there is an actual policy issue to be solved. an issue where you assume many republicans and democrats would not normally disagree. just take the student loan issues for the unemployment rate for 20 to 24-year-olds is about 13.5%. the youth of our country are struggling. and yet with that backdrop,
senate democrats still will continue to fight with each other over the student loganville 23 days past the deadline. congressional republicans and president obama have actually been more or less on the same page from the very start. it is not a long-term fix. and still the democrats always talk about more than politics and policy, wasting precious time. then with a july 1 deadline going past us, they started bickering among themselves about the way forward and they continue to do so apparently even now. they need to stop. democrats need to finally allow the bipartisan student loan reform proposal to come to vote this week so that we can pass it and ensure that there is one less washington created problems for young people to worry about in this economy.
because it is it's tough enough out there for them already. the obama economy has not been kind to the youth of our nation. so i hope that the white house and senate democrats will help us to change that because this persistently high unemployment is simply not acceptable. neither is pretending that it can be changed by simply executing another pivot or delivering another campaign style speech or just spending more taxpayer money. because washington democrats have tried all of that before. over and over and in fact, it is just not working. mr. president, i yield the floor. >> president obama hits the road tomorrow to begin a two-month series of speeches across the country focusing on the economy and jobs. tomorrow he returns to an illinois college that he visited as a freshman senator.
knox college in galesburg. he also speaks tomorrow at the university of central missouri and he is making the speech as congress works on spending bills ahead of the new fiscal year on october 1. >> it is interesting that the korean war in a sense has helped unify themselves in a way that was not there before. when this came down and a lot of this sort of solidified this in the sense of national cohesion and identity. but it is calculated and heavy weighted and very popular, it is possible that would have
disintegrated on its own. >> 60 years after they crossed the 38th parallel, this author speaks about her experience sunday night at 9:00 p.m. on c-span2. >> you're watching c-span2 at politics and public affairs weekdays featuring live coverage of the u.s. senate. on weeknights, watch key public policy events and every weekend the latest nonfiction authors and books on booktv. you can see past programs and get our schedules at our website and you can join the conversation on social media websites. >> ron wyden warned that the united states could be a surveillance state what the government tracking people through their cell phones. senator wyden called for new reform thing that scaling back the surveillance powers, his comments are about one hour.
>> we are talking about one of the defining challenges facing united the united states today. that is how to reconcile between personal privacy and national security. we are particularly glad to have senator ron wyden with us here today because of his work on this issue. he was one of only 10 senators that talked about the patriot act. he spoke about the collection of any kind of data. that hearing is a few months before the recent revelation in this includes the domestic surveillance. i think it is fair to say that senator wyden is consistently thoughtful as a supporting voice
about the constitution of principles and i'm looking for to what he has to say to us today. i want to first offer a few brief reflections on my own on surveillance and privacy, a topic that i have been working on for quite a long time. in 1984, when i was working for pat leahy, we sent a letter to the attorney general asking about the 1968 wiretap application and how it applied to a electronic mail and other forms of what content of electronic vacation. we heard that shortly thereafter from the deputy attorney general who said that the answer to that question was neither clear or obvious. it led to the passage of the electronic mutations privacy act, which updated this with new
technologies it would thwart the resisting legal regime. in recent times we spoke exclusively about edwards noted that tends to err earned a record for layover. but i think the stress from what is problematic about the information has been provided to the media. unlike the last time we had a national conversation about the nsa and domestic surveillance of warrantless wiretapping 2005. it exists today to support prison and the other programs in public view. this time the challenge is not rooted in the nsa overstepping its legal boundaries. this includes the decreasing costs of storing huge amounts of data and surveillance of an
unprecedented scale is now not just technologically possible but financially feasible for the first time. this is time for us to begin a new national debate about what we want to permit with how rapidly technology and society are changing. it is also time to revisit the issue of intelligence privatization. since this time they have outsourced a great deal of work that many americans assume the government doesn't thought. it is mine by bobbling that we have the security clearance of nearly half a million in it these contractors are often more than and to have access to the m
spurred congress work to ensure that critical intelligence activities are performed by appropriate personnel. these last weeks and months have indicated that we have made better increase transparency at the surveillance court in particular. the american people have the right to know that we all have the right to be treated as citizens by her government and to be respected as customers by the companies that we buy products and services from. it has long been a hallmark of american rights. because these issues are so technologically complex and go to the heart of constitutional actions, we are recommending today to examine these challenges in full. the court has a history of thoroughly and partially investigating many major
national security issues including pearl harbor to 9/11 including a flexible legal framework that can accommodate technological advances. the commission should not only examine nsa surveillance governing them, but also the private sector activities and vacations technology more generally. the program came to light in large part on a foundation of personal data collected by private corporations and governed by those agreements without a second thought. this includes social networking for personal information and what was once thought of as transactional data can today be used to develop a profile of any
american. the difficulty of the conversation, i think, is just one more reason why i am glad that we have senator wyden's leadership under very important set of questions and after he offers his remarks, we will have the vice president of the security center moderate a q&a session. thank you for being here. ..
i want to deliver a warning this afternoon. when the american people find out how their government has interpreted the patriot act there are going to be stunned, and they're going to be angry. from my position on the senate intelligence committee, i have seen government activities conducted under the umbrella of the patriots back to that i knew room would astonish most of our people.
at the time senate rules about classified and permission barred me from giving out any specifics . and so we came to describe what is going on as essentially secret. a secret interpretation of the patron act issued by a secret court that authorizes secret surveillance programs, programs that i and several colleagues of thought went far beyond the intent of the statute. if that is not enough to give pause then consider that not only were the existence of and the legal justification for these programs kept completely secret from the american people, senior officials from across government were making statements to the public about domestic surveillance that were
clearly misleading and sometimes simply false. a fellow senator and i tried again and again to get the executive branch to be straight with the public, but under the classification rules observed by the senate we are not allowed to exactly tap out the truth in morse code. we tried just about everything else that we could think of to put the american people on notice. as i said that day on the senate floor, one way or another the truth eventually in our country comes out. last month's disclosures made by a and in as a contractor let these events were a lot fire. several provisions of the secret law were no longer secret, and the american people were finally able to see some of the things
that we have been raising the alarm about for years. and when they did there was a lot of anger and a lot of americans were stunned. so now you hear about it in the lunchroom of office buildings. you get asked about it in town hall meetings and and senior citizen centers. the latest polling done by the respective with impeccable found that now a plurality of americans said that this government is overreaching and encroaching too much on our civil liberties. this is a dramatic swing from what the same survey said just a couple of years ago. the number is, in fact, trending upward. more information about sweeping government surveillance of law-abiding americans is made public in the american people have impacts to my believe more americans will speak out.
there are going to say, in america you don't have to settle for one priority or another. you don't have to settle for your security or liberty. we can have both. we can have laws that protect both privacy and security. the laws should not be kept secret. now, after september 11th when 3,000 of our fellow citizens were murdered there was a consensus that our country needed to take decisive action. at a time of understandable panic the congress gave the government new surveillance authority, with the congress also attached an expiration date to the authority so that it could be deliberate more carefully. once the emergencies, once the immediate emergencies had passed. yet
in the decades since the law has been extended several times
with no public discussion about how the law has actually been interpreted. the results, the creation of an always expanding, omnipresence surveillance states that now chips away needlessly at the liberties and freedoms of our founding fathers. and it is all done without the benefit
of actually making a safer. such today i am going to deliver another warning. if we do not see a unique moment in our constitutional history to reform our surveillance laws and practices, we are all going to live to regret. the consequences of law on the presence of balance state, but as you listen to this, ponder that most of us here have a
computer in our pockets that potentially can be used to track and monitor arrest. the combination of increasingly advanced technology with a breakdown and that checks and balances that limits government action could lead us to a surveillance of state that cannot be reversed. now, at this point i thought a little
bit of history might be helpful. i join the senate intelligence committee in january of 2001 right before september 11th. like most senators i voted with the original project. in part i felt because i was reassured that it had an expiration date, and expiration date that would force the congress to come back and consider the authority more carefully when the immediate crisis had passed. as time went on and my view on
the intelligence committee, developments that seem farther and farther removed from the ideals of the founding fathers. this started not long after september 11th. the pentagon program, told an affirmation awareness. this program was essentially an effort to develop an ultra large scale domestic data mining program. trouble bile of this and not exactly modest logo of an all seeing nine from the universe, i worked with the number of senators to shut it down. unfortunately, this was hardly the last domestic surveillance program overreach. the in sam to miss warrantless wiretaps program was already up and running at this point. so i and most members of the
intelligence committee did not even know about it until several years later. that was part of a pattern of withholding information from the congress that persisted throughout the bush administration. i joined to the intelligence committee in 2001. i learned about low warrantless wiretapping program when i read about it in the new york times in late 2001. now, the bush a administration spent much of 2006 attesting to defend the warrantless wiretaps program. once again, was the church came out it produced a surge of public outcry. the bush administration announced that they would submit it to the oversight and foreign intelligence surveillance known as the fis accord. unfortunately because the court's ruling were kept secret, most americans had no idea that
the court was prepared to issue extraordinarily broad rulings permitting the massive surveillance that he eventually made headlines last month. it is now a matter of public record that the
records program has been operating since at least two dozen seven. and it is not a coincidence that handful of senators have been working since then to find ways to of let the public to what is actually going on. months and years went into trying to find ways to raise public awareness about secret surveillance authority and to do it within the confines of the classification rules. i and several colleagues made our mission, our special to end the use of secret laws. now, when the people in my home
state hear those words several of them come up and say what you talking about. how can the law because secret. when you guys pass laws back there, it's like a public deal. i'm going toe look this up on line. and in response i say that there are effectively to petrie next. there is one that you can read on your laptop if you are sitting in parliament. you can analyze that. then there is the real patriot act, this secret interpretation of the law that the government actually relies on. this secret rulings of the foreign intelligence surveillance court that interprets the patriot as well as section 702 of the statute and some surprising ways. those rulings are kept secret.
i can tell you, those rulings can be astoundingly brought. the one that authorizes the collection of phone records is as broad a ruling as i have ever seen. now, the reliance of government agencies on a sticker body of law has real consequence. most americans don't expect to know the details about ongoing sensitive military intelligence activity. but as voters, they absolutely have our right and a need to know what their government believes it is permitted to do because that is what americans need to be able to ratify or reject decisions that elected officials make on their behalf. to put it another way, americans recognize that intelligence agencies will sometimes need to conduct secret operations.
they don't think that those agencies ought to be relying on see gridlock. now, some argue that keeping the meaning of surveillance laws secret is somehow necessary. the argument essentially is that it makes it easier to get intelligence on terrorist groups and other foreign powers. that is why the secrecy is appropriate. if you follow this logic, when congress passed the original foreign intelligence surveillance act back in the 1970's, they could have found a way to keep the entire thing secret. that way agents would not know that the fbi surveillance authority work, but that is not the way that we do it in america we don't keep costs secret. as a fundamental principle of american democracy, law should not be public. only when it is convenient for government officials to make
them public. laws ought to be public all the time, open to review by an adversarial judicial concept as subject to change by and accountable legislature guided by an informed public. and as americans are not able to learn how the government interprets and execute the law then we will have eliminated a fundamental bull work of our democracy. that is why even at the height of the cold war when the argument was at its zenith, the congress said, we're going to make surveillance laws public. without public loss, a public court rulings that interpret those laws simply cannot have the form public debate. and when the american people are in the dark they cannot make informed decisions about who ought to represent them or in effect voice agreement or
disagreement about various government policies. these are fundamentals about our country, what the founding fathers wanted to. civic 101. in secret law violates those basic principles. see gridlock has no place in america. now, i would like to turn next to this secret court, foreign intelligence surveillance court, the one that virtually nobody knew about a couple of months ago and now people ask me about. when the court was created as part of the 1978 loss, this work was pretty routine. it was assigned to review government applications for wiretaps and decide whether the government was able to show probable cause. for all you lawyers, it sounds like a garden variety function of district courts and district
court judges across the country. in fact, their role was so much like a district court that the judges to make up the court are actually current federal district court judges. after september 11th the congress, this gave the government broad new surveillance power. his new powers did not resemble anything in either the criminal law enforcement world war the original law.
the court got the job of interpreting these new unparalleled authorities of the patriot act and the amendment. it was their decision to issue binding secret rulings that entered the laws of the constitution in the startling ways that have come to light in the last six weeks. there were the issues of decision that the patriot act to be used to bolster surveillance.
outside of the names of the judge's virtually everything else is secretive about the court. it makes challenging them an appeal process almost impossible the proceedings are secret. i can tell you, almost always undecided. they lay out the argument on why the government ought to do something and then decide on the judge's assessment of the government's argument. that is not unusual if the court is considering a routine warrant request. very unusual if the court is conducting a major legal or constitutional announcement. i know of no other court in america that strays so far from the adversarial process that has
been part of america for centuries. it may also surprise
you that when president obama came to office the administration agreed with me that these rulings need to be made public. in the summer of 2009i received a written commitment from the justice department and the office of the director of national intelligence that the process has begun to be created to start reacting and reclassifying the court opinions so that the american people would have some idea of what their government believed the law is a lot to do. in the last four years exactly zero opinion have been released. now that we know a bit about the secret law and the court that created it i want to talk about how this is diminished the rights of every american man,
woman, and child. despite the efforts of the intelligence community leaders, the patriot, a collection, significantly impacting the privacy of millions of law-abiding americans. if you know who's someone calls, with a call from and how long they talk you lay bare the personal price of law-abiding americans to the scrutiny of government bureaucrats and outside contractors. that is the reality of the phone collection program. particularly true. cellphone location data is sent chilly turning everybody cellphone into a tracking device we have been told that this isn't happening today. intelligence officials currently have the legal authority to
collect american vacation
information in bulk. especially troubling is the fact that there is nothing, nothing in the patriot act that limits the sweeping bulk collection to a phone records. the government can use the patriot act business record authority to collect, collate, and retain all sorts of sensitive information, including medical records, financial records, or credit-card purchases. they can use this authority to develop, for example, the database of gun owners that is deemed subversive. this means that the government authority to collect information on law abiding americans is essentially limitless at this time. if it is a record held by have business to my organization, it could be subject.
the collection authority under the pitch react. authorities give the national security bureaucracy the power to scrutinize every law-abiding american. allowing that to continue is a grave error that demonstrates a willful ignorance of human nature. moreover it demonstrates a complete disregard for the responsibilities entrusted to us by the founding fathers to maintain robust checks and balances on the power on any hour of our government. now, at this point we have in front of us some very serious questions. what happens to our governments, our civil liberties and our wonderful system, our basic democracy, the surveillance state is allowed to grow
unchecked. the always expanding omnipresence. what happens if it just keeps growing and growing and growing. merging the ability to conduct surveillance, merging the ability to conjure up the legal ability to execute that surveillance and finally removing any accountable judicial oversight creating the unprecedented opportunity to influence our system of government. without additional protection and law every single one of us, everyone of us baby and can be tracked and monitored anywhere in that we are at any time. that piece of technology we consider vital, the conduct of our everyday personal and professional life, all those
quote quote quote
smart phones happens to be a combination of listening devices , location tracking and hidden camera. there is not an american alive who would consent to being required to carry any one of those
items. so we ought to reject the idea that governments may use the power to arbitrarily bypass. today government officials openly tell the press that they have the authority to effectively turn american smart funds and cell phones into indication enabled coming beacon compounding the problem with the fact that the case law is unsettled and the leaders of the intelligence community have consistently been unwilling ten state what the right law-abiding people are on this issue. i repeatedly ask this in public hearings. and without adequate protection
built into a law there is no way that americans can never be sure that the government is not going to interpret authority more and more broadly year after year until the idea of the tallest
tree monitoring your every move turns from dystopia to reality. now, some are going to say that will never happen because the secret court oversight from a secret court safeguard against it. but the fact of the matter is that senior policymakers, federal judges have deferred again and again the intelligence agency to decide what surveillance authority they need for those who believe the executive branch officials will voluntarily interpret their surveillance authority with restraint, i believe it is more likely that i will achieve my lifelong dream of playing in the nba.
now, when james madison was attempting to contain sufficient protection seizing more power but not granted to them by the people, he did not just ask fellow americans to justin. he carefully laid out the protection contained in the constitution and have the people could ensure that they were not breached. we are failing our constituents, failing our founding fathers, filling every brave man and woman who thought that they like american democracy, willing to adjust trust any individual or any agency with greater power and the czech and limitless authority that the founding fathers wanted as a fire wall against tyranny. i do want to spend a few minutes talking about those who make up the intelligence community day
in and day out. i have found the men and women who work in our nation's intelligence agency to be hard-working dedicated professionals. they are genuine patriots and then make real sacrifices to serve their country. and i believe they ought to be able to do their job security analysis that there is strong public support for everything that they're doing. unfortunately that cannot happen when senior officials from across the government mislead the public about the government's surveillance authority. so let's be clear. the public was not just kept in the dark about the patriot act and other secret authority. the public was actively misled. i pointed out several instances in the past with senior officials who made misleading statements of the public and the congress about the type of
surveillance that they conduct on the public. and i would like to just focus on several of the most significant
examples. for years senior justice apartment officials said told the congress and the public that that patriot act business record authority, the authority used to collect the phone records of millions of law-abiding americans is analogous to a grand jury subpoena. they say analogous to a grand jury subpoena. that statement is exceptionally misleading and certainly strains the word is analogous beyond the breaking point. certainly true that both the authorities have been used to collect a wide variety of records, but the patriot act can be secretly interpreted to permit ongoing collection, and this makes that authority very, very different from regular
grand jury subpoena authority. i am sure their is a lawyer here . allow the government on an ongoing basis to collect the records of millions of
ordinary americans. the fact is that no one has ever seen a subpoena like that because there aren't jenny. this incredibly misleading analogy has been made by more than one official on more than one occasion and often is a part of actual testimony to the united states congress. the officials who served four years as the justice department of the tortilla criminal surveillance recently told the "wall street journal" what he really thinks about this. he said, a federal attorney, and i quote, a grand jury had been
for such a broad class of records of criminal investigation. he/she would be laughed out of court. defenders of this have
said that members of congress have the ability to get the full story of what the government is doing on a classified basis. they should not complain when officials made misleading statements, even in a congressional hearing. this is an absurd argument. members of congress could get the full story in a classified setting but that does not exclude the practice of half truths and misleading statements being made of public record. when did become are right in america for government officials public statements and private statements to defer so fundamentally. the answer is, it is not all right. it is indicative of a much larger culture of misinformation
americans not familiar with classified lingo will hear that statement i think that there was no false collection of the personal information of hundreds of millions of law-abiding americans taking place at that time. after the director of the nsa talked about this, we wrote to the director asking for clarification. in the letter we asked if the nsa was collecting any kind of data at all on millions and hundreds of millions of americans. even though the director of the nsa was the one who had actually raised this issue in public. intelligence officials declining to give us a straight answer. a
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