tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN November 13, 2013 9:00am-11:01am EST
that, senator. >> mr. chairman, my time is almost up. i do have some questions i will be submitting to do with how sequester is impacting the research and development efforts across all of our services. and making sure we maintain an industrial base as one of you, i think it was admiral greenert who mentioned that it is really important to maintain our defense industrial base and the impact of sequester on that goal. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator hirono. senator lee. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thanks to all of you for service to our country. on behalf of the constituents i have back in utah, i express my deepest gratitude to you and those who serve under your command. for the last two years, we heard a lot from a lot of high-ranking military officers like yourselves who have come before
this committee and others in front of the men and women that they command, in front of the american people to express the grave concerns they have about sequestration and what it could do to our military, our military readiness and everything we do through our military. i heard members of congress on both sides of the aisle and on both ends of the capitol express grave concerns about the impacts of sequestration, about what could happen. i've heard my own constituents, people from throughout utah, many whom are currently serving or have served in the military express similar concerns. it's an interesting conversation. it's sad we have to be having this conversation since sequestration was something put into law at a time when nobody believed it would ever happen. it was supposed to be so bad that we would do anything and everything possible in order to avoid it, yet it has arrived. my first question, which i'll leave open to any of you who might want to answer it, i'd
like to know a little about the means by which the format by which the regularity with which you talk about the source of concerns we are having today about sequestration's impact on readiness and on the department of defense generally. how and in what way do you communicate those concerns to the white house? >> i would say that first off, as joint chiefs we meet twice a week to discuss many key issues, to include policy issues of health of force issues, and we clearly have discussions and then the chairman, as the chairman takes those to the white house. we also have periodic meetings with the white house. in fact, we have one next week where we'll have the opportunity to go over and discuss many of these issues with the president. i think he's been very open in meeting with the joint chiefs on
these types of things. there are forms in place to do that. we also obviously meet on a regular basis with the secretary of defense where we have the opportunity to talk about the issues we have. he also takes those forward. i think there are avenues there that are clearly open to us that we use on a quite regular basis. >> if i understand you, you do meet regularly with the white house and you are able to communicate these openly, effectively to people in the white house at the highest levels including the president and secretary of defense? okay. that is good to hear. my concern and one of the things that animates that question is that i have not sensed quite the same level of alarm coming from the white house as i have sensed when i met with each of you. i have not sensed that same level of concern. we've seen a lot of action, a lot of energy from the white house going into efforts involving everything from gun control to defending owe bam aye
care to fixing the website and so forth. i have not heard the same level of concern, the level of alarm i'm hearing from you. that does cause me some concern. it seems to me if the administration did, in fact, think this situation was this dire, as dire as you're explaining it to us, i would expect to see that issue, those set of issues receive a lot more time and attention and energy from our commander in chief. going along with that, instructions on preparing for sequestration in 2013 were not even initiated until just a few months before it went into effect. the president didn't consider the possibility of sequestration in his 2014 budget request, despite the fact that it is law, despite the fact that that law has not been repealed, has not
been modified in a way that makes it irrelevant or less irrelevant. so can you, any of you describe for the committee what instructions, if any, you are receiving from the white house and from omb with regard to how to deal with sequestration in 2014 and the budget for fiscal year 2015? we've been directed and are in the process as we described before to put together a budget that we call it the alternate palm. today we are deliberating on that program budget review in the department. there is a secondary level that is under consideration at a higher level we will deliberate over so that there is an option available, but we are focusing
on in the department right now the alternative. that is the budget control act capital levels, if you will. there are two, there are two options. >> okay. thank you, admiral for that. when you say so there is an option available, you mean so we have options on the table, options -- >> there are options. what option will be chosen and under what circumstances, i really couldn't tell you, senator. but if you wanted to know what are we directed to do and that is what we are doing. again, those two levels. >> okay. presumably those options will be considered by the president and the secretary of defense and at some point a decision will be made? >> presumably, yes, sir. >> thank you, admiral. i see my time expired. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator lee. senator king. >> thank you, mr. chairman. there is a lot of discussion about flexibility.
it seems a way to think about it is we are telling you you have to cut a finger off and you get to decide which one. that's an unattractive form of having to make decisions. i want to talk about morale and the effect of this. senator levin and i were in the middle east this summer. the biggest impression i came back with was extremely favorable impression of the young people we have working for the united states government in the military, the intelligence community and state department. these are idealistic, hard-working, dedicated people who we are frankly not treating very well. they've been through furloughs, they've been through a shutdown. they got the sequester. they don't know what the future of their benefit programs are. is this starting to play itself out in terms of retention and recruitment and morale in the services, general odierno? >> senator, thank you for the
question. there are two pieces, civilian work force and military work force. civilian work force, we are seeing, not significant morale issue, but questions because they've been through a furlough. they went through shutdown. i think they are questioning the -- and a reduction along with that. so they are questioning how stable is your work environment, especially since it's still on the table. in terms of the soldiers, the way i explained it, morale is good but tenuous. reenlistments are fine, recruiting okay. there's a loot of angst. the angst is what you just said. people talking about benefits, people talking about obviously in the army we are significantly reducing the size of the force. they are worried about their future. what makes me feel so damn good is what you described. that their morale is high, they
are doing exactly what we are asking them to do, training as hard as they can with the money we give them, trying to accomplish the mission to the best of their ability. that is so frustrating to me because of their personal dedication to our nation and to our army, yet they have a lot of angst, individually and with their families because of all this discussion going on. the fact they might lose their job, might lose benefits. what is inspiring, they continue to do what we ask them and do it to the best of their ability. that's the best way to describe it, senator. >> i think our civilians, i don't have metrics for this yet because it's too soon to tell, but when i talk to our civilian marines as i mentioned in my opening statement, our civilian marines are looking at this going, i'm not sure, i love the institution, i love being a civilian marine, i like what it stands for, i just don't have confidence in it.
they are looking at this, not only what they've just gone through, but looking at the fact that sequester, they know, is going to require a cut in civilian personnel over the next ten years. it will require a cut in civilian personnel, no question about it. you look at all the things they've gone through. they are going, maybe i ought to look around. i don't see people jumping ship, but i do worry about them because they are the professionals. that's the civilian side of the house. they are the shock absorber for us and the corporate memory. inside my force, we are a young, marine corps is a young marine corps. 67% of all marines than on active duty are on their first enlistment. they are between 18 years old and 22. they didn't come in to sit back at home stations and be a garrison marine. they like the point. when you visit them in afghanistan and western pacific, you don't get questions like, what is sequester going to do to
me? they know how to spell it, but that's about it. they want to know, commandant, is this the last deployment or am i going to be able to go to combat again or go to west back again? so our morale is high right now and going to stay high as long as we give them something to look forward to. the orientation to the pacific reenergized marines. afghanistan, we are coming out of there in 2014. what's left? we talk about darwin, australia, japan, guam. their eyes light up. morale in my service is high. >> an annedote. you are not going to have a
reduction in force, we'll do it with attrition. we have a lot of people retiring. that struck me because that's a lot of seniority and talent and experience going out the top and we don't have a lot going in the bottom. we'll be out of balance. i spoke about that in my oral statement. general welsh mentioned kids getting bored. so in the navy we are starting to develop a situation where when you get ready to deploy, you're going to be ready. boy, you're going to do it fast and do it hard. our pilots, a lot of our air wingers, carrier strikers are flying a lot and training a lot for about seven months. they barely have time to get their will done, get their power of attorney done and they are deployed and gone six, seven months and they come back and longingly look out the window at their hornet aircraft saying i wish i could fly again. that have and have not when that gets into service records, you are going to get a have and have not feeling about it. i worry about that in morale and
eventually retention. >> i want to -- i would commend to all of you gentlemen an extraordinary speech by robert gates given in the last couple of weeks. he put what you've been saying all morning, but put it bluntly and suck -- succinctly that the greatest air of threat is capitol hill and the white house, that we are the problem. it was very stark. that it's point you've been making today. what we are talking about here isn't academic, not dollars on a balance sheet. it's lives, readiness and the ability to defend this nation. thank you, gentlemen. >> thank you, senator king. senator fisher. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i would add my thanks to you four gentlemen for your service for this country and my thanks to the men and women who serve
under you for their commitment to keeping us all safe. i would like to go on a different track here a little bit. at the end of july, secretary hagel released a statement on the strategic choices management review. in that, it's basically how the department is going to cope with the sequestration over the next ten years. general odierno, in your testimony before the house armed services committee you stated that the skimmer was based on assumptions which you described as rosy and some what dangerous. specifically, you pointed out it assumes conflicts will last just six months, little to no casualties will be sustained, no follow-up stability, operations will be necessary. u.s. forces deployed elsewhere will be able to complete, disengage and redeployed to
support a major regional contingency and the use of weapons of mass destruction wasn't even considered. can you elaborate on those assumptions and the danger you refer to about building force structure based on those assumptions? >> so if you reduce the requirement, you reduce the amount of forces necessary. so what happens is, we do not have the ability to replace our soldiers that have to accomplish this. you don't have enough. it's about quantity. the war in korea would last less than a year. there is nothing that makes me feel that is a good assumption. that we won't have any casualties during a war somewhere around the world. the fact that we do full disengagement. we just fought two wars, iraq and iran. we did not disengage in other places around the world. it's just not assumptions i believe are appropriate.
what i worry about is in the end, the weight of those assumptions are not going to be on me, it's going to be on our soldiers, our young men and women asked to do a mission they do not have the capability and quantity of capability to accomplish. it results in more casualties and it results, which is the most, in my mind, critical thing. it also makes rosy assumptions about our ability to quickly build a larger force. in the 2000s, first it took us four years to make a decision to say we can grow the army. then once we did that, it took about 32 months to do it because you've got to recruit them and then i've got to train them. you can't do that within a six or eight month period. it's impossible to do. we made assumptions we would magically build this huge army in a short period of time. it doesn't happen that way unless we go to national mobilization, go back to a draft, many other things.
even then it would take longer than six months to a year, two years plus to build an army. assumptions like that are incredibly risky as we go forward. >> do you think this review is helpful in my what to help planning within your different departments and the department as a whole? >> it is. there are some things that are good about it. some things about efficiencies are good. a lot of people mentioned there are clearly efficiencies we have to garner out of our own budgets and we have to do that. some of that is very good. i do significantly worry about these assumptions we make about our war-fighting capabilities which are rosy and somewhat dangerous. >> thank you. admiral, do you have anything to add on the skimmer? >> well, i think we need to keep in mind it was options for a future, which was described. as general odierno said that's
nice. we've never been able to predict that future. it's dangerous if you're wrong. the world i live in providing presence if we reduce force structure to a level we are not out and about, our allies are wondering about our reliability. therefore potential adversaries can get out of hand, if you will. we can pretty much have a mess. we are not deterring those by being together with our allies. that is a great deterrent effect. lastly, i would say the ability to produce ready forces, you've got to look into that closely. as general odierno said there were some assumptions made we talked about the debilitating effects here in the industrial base. that can be extraordinary we need to consider that. >> i've had some comments made to me that president reagan was able to build up the force fairly quickly when he became
president. would you agree with that? both of you have said it's difficult to build force up quickly. has it happened in the past? do you think president reagan did? >> what he did was, he didn't increase the size. he increased the investment into the force. during the reagan buildup what we did was increase our readiness, significantly increased our modernization programs, which had an incredible impact on the capability that was developed during the time what is in the army. >> the delivery of in my world the ships and aircraft took place quite a bit after the investment, if you will. so the same thing occurs when you draw down. boom, they're gone and you say i'm going to stand it up again. i've got to make sure you've got ship builders and aircraft builders, as well. president reagan was fortunate in that regard he had a broad enough industrial base to respond. >> general amos and general welsh, just briefly.
>> ma'am, i'm with my colleagues on president reagan. we live with his legacy through the '90s. we had the reagan buildup. when we went through the '90s, the gulf war, we used the equipment that came from the reagan buildup. we sustained that through the 25%, 28% reduction of force in the late '90s in revolutionary military affairs. it takes a long time to build a force of people. in today's market it takes a long time to develop ships, airplanes. we are seeing that right now. >> you are opinion of the structure and the skimmer, general amos. do you have an opinion on those? >> say that again, please? >> on the assumptions listed in the skimmer. did you have any thoughts you wanted to share on that? >> i share my colleagues' app
pensions. they gave a range of what a service should look like. that is helpful because dialogu everybody kind of moving. >> thank you. >> ma'am, another assumption that was in there that is significant based on where we are today is that skimmer was underlined by an assumption that our force was fully ready and that allowed you to execute the strategy. we're clearly not there today. the other thing i would mention about the reagan buildup is for the air force specifically. we purchased about 2600 new aircraft to modernize our force. in the latest buildup of our top-line budget between 2000 and 2008, we built 260. we did not modernize. so the force still needs to be modernized in critical areas. thank you very much. >> thank you, senator, fischer. senator kaine. >> thank you, mr. chair and to the witnesses.
i appreciate your patience with us. the effect of sequester on virginia is just so palpable in all the communities that i visit. i gave a speech on the 27th of february as a senator. i think most maiden speeches are sort of here's who i am or let me tell you about my state or let me tell you what i want to do. i don't think many maiden speeches were like mine. let's not do something stupid. i had to make my maiden speech about let's not do something stupid because it was right on the eve of the sequester kicking in. we cast a vote in the senate to turn off the sequester, and there were 53 votes for that. because of the ability to insist upon 60 votes, 53 votes wasn't enough to turn off the sequester. and i just think it's always very important that we say this, and you couldn't be more diplomatic than i'll be. it's because of congress. sequester is because congress hasn't done a budget.
sequester is because we haven't been able to find a deal in normal order. we haven't been able to find a deal in super committees. we haven't been able to do anything other than kick the can down the road, continuing resolutions. congress could have fixed this. congress shouldn't have put it in place. congress can fix it. the one bit of good news about this is there's a budget conference finally going on right now. one of the things i would certainly ask everyone connected with the military or who loves it, whether you're active, veteran, or just a patriot, tell the budget conferees, and there's some of us around this table. angus and i are both on the budget conference. tell us to get a budget deal by the 13th of december. what you need is certainty and a path out of sequester. there's been some questions today, mr. chair, along the lines of have you explained to the president how sequester is hurting national security? i found those questions kind of odd. the president submits a budget every year to congress.
and i imagine that you talk to the president about your needs. if congress would just pass the president's budget or pass the dod portion of the president's budget or pass something within the general time zone of the dod portion of the president's budget, would our readiness issues be much easier to deal with than they are under the sequester? >> yes, sir, they would. i mean, the budget we submitted and testified to, i for one, found was acceptable. >> so there isn't a need for a president to come and bring a special request for, you know, we're having readiness problems, here's my proposal for how we deal with readiness problems. all we have to do is pass a budget and get in the general, you know, time zone or area of what the president is proposing
vis-a-vis the dod. while it wouldn't eliminate all the challenges we have, we wouldn't be here looking at charts like this, would we? general amos, i want to ask you a question. i looked through your written testimony quickly. you said something pretty blunt in your opening comment. i think i heard you use the word ashamed. i think it was in connection with you're sort of ashamed about the way we're treating maybe some of our civilians with respect to the furloughs. i didn't write down the precise quote. when i went back through your written testimony, i couldn't find it. could you just refresh me on exactly what you said because i want to ask you what you meant by it. >> i just handed my oral statement back, but i said i'm ashamed of the way we've treated our civilian marines. as i look back at how we went through the furlough and how we went through the government shutdown, i'm looking at them -- and by the way, we required them
as soon as they came back to help us get this budget put in and get all the contracting done, close out all the deals at the end of the year. these are the professionals that do that, senator. it's typically not military people that have trying to get the contracts in, trying to get all the money obligated. the professionals working on our airplanes, ships, tanks, equipment. so to be honest with you, when i look at them in the eye, i'm embarrassed. i'm ashamed. because i think they are every bit as much patriots as we that wear the uniform are. and i think we treated them poorly. that's what i meant by that. >> and i appreciate you saying that because, you know, again, we really are dealing with a problem that congress created and only congress can fix. you know, peppering you with more questions about whether you're appropriately informing the commander in chief about these effects is an effort to kind of avoid looking in the mirror. you know, we just have to look
in the mirror in this place. again, mr. chair, we do have a good opportunity right now because the budget conference that should have started in march is now underway to try to find some certainty. general dempsey was with a number of us the other day. he said the problem with sequester is it's money, it's timing, and it's flexibility. all three of those create problems. i worry about your planners. i think you've got some superb planners in all your branches and with dod, but instead of letting your planners run free to plan how to deal with an uncertain world, we're tying up their time, making them figure out how to deal with an uncertain budget situation. you don't have a budgetary number right now. you don't know when you'll have a number, and you don't know what the rules will be about the number that you will eventually get at some uncertain time. so we are in an uncertain world. we are making your task almost impossible.
and so i feel ashamed. i feel ashamed to have you come back here again and again and again and tell us the same thing and not see any action to do anything about it. >> senator, can i comment? we're under continuing resolution. you know that. it's a forced diet. that prevents us from signing multi-year contracts. i've got $815 million worth of military construction in '14. three-quarters of it is for the president's strategy, the rebalance to the pacific. i'm not going to be able to commit that. i'm not going to be able to do those kinds of things. i was just looking through only numbers in preparation for this hearing. as a result of sequester alone and the amount of my shares, 10.2% or 3% over ten years, it's going to -- just in marine aviation alone, it's going to cost me $6.5 billion of
inefficiency. so we talk about cost overruns and all the other things we're going to try to call the money out. $6.5 billion. that's because of multiyear contracts i either can't sign or have to cancel so i have to pay penalties now. i'm buying airplanes on an individual basis. at the end of that, that's four jsf squadrons and two osprey squad squadrons, simply because of the inefficient way we're going about business in this sequester. >> mr. chair, i hope if we have another hearing on this, i'm going to suggest something that you're all too diplomatic and reasonable to do, but if we have another hearing on sequestration, i would suggest that you bring -- you can bring whatever charts you want, but i suggest you just bring a bunch of mirrors and put them up so we can look at ourselves in our own faces as we're talking about this. it's the only place we're going to solve this. this isn't on you to solve. it's not on the president to solve. only congress can pass a budget. a congressional budget doesn't
even go to the president for signature. it's just fully within this body. it's fully within our power to solve this. i pray that we will. >> and the public gets this, mr. chairman. the public understands this. that's why our approval rating is below al qaeda's. i mean, it's a sad state. >> two quick requests. one, did each of you support the president's budget request? >> yes. >> admiral? >> yes, sir, i did. >> yes, chairman. >> yes, sir. >> all right. secondly, would you give us, general amos, the breakdown for the record of that $6.5 billion that you made reference to? now, senator bloomen that will? >> yes, mr. chairman, i realize we're in a vote so i'm going to be very quick. >> and i'm going to turn the gavel over to you. is it safe? >> that's an awesome responsibility, but i think i'm capable of it. >> thank you, all. >> thank you. and we are in the middle of a vote so i'm going to be very brief. first, i understand, mr. chairman, in a glaring admission
on the part of our committee, we have not yet wished general amos a happy birthday even though it's a little early. happy birthday. >> thank you, senator. >> let me ask, for the record. i don't want to take your time with this. i agree with what senator kaine has just said about the responsibility being on the part of congress. i think part of the way to deal with this crisis, and it really is a crisis, is to perhaps modify some of the contracts long term, some of the procurement process, which is not your doing. you aren't the ones who in effect burden the military services with the way we do procurement and the contracts which in effect penalize the united states when it fails to make certain orders or when there are cost overruns that are
not your doing. so i would like the panel to look at some of the procurement decisions, such as general amos has just described, where we are in effect going to pay a lot more for weapons systems, whether it's airplanes or ships, as a consequence of sequester so that we have some examples. they don't have to be in charts, but we need to be able to convince the american people about what the impact of sequester is because right now it's a word. it's a term that has little or no meaning to 99.9% of the american people. and one of the other weapons systems you describe d, general amos, but admiral, i understand that the virginia payload module, which results in a $743
million design change to the virginia class submarine has been undermined by some potential cuts in the 2014 budget. i support that design change, the $743 million design program. i think it will measurably and materially and significantly add to the capability of those submarines and to remove the money for designing and researching it, i believe will be really a loss of a tremendous opportunity. would you agree? >> yes, sir, i will. and as stated before, this we're talking about the undersea do main. it's a high priority for us. as i discussed the concept of reprogramming, we'll search for that money. we're fortunate it's a long-term program, but obviously the impact if we continue this will be dramatic. >> i also finally want to raise
again as i've done before the mi-17 helicopter issue where i understand there may be limits to what we can do to reprogram money. but i just want to state for the record, $1 billion to buy helicopters from the russian export agency that's also selling arms to syria when we don't have afghan trained personnel to maintain those helicopters will strike most americans as a tremendous waste of money. first, because we're not buying american helicopters, which we should be doing if we have to provide helicopters at all. second, because the afghans can't use them as we would hope they would. i understand that you may have a different position. you, meaning the united states army or the department of defense.
but if we're going to buy those helicopters, we should be buying them from american manufacturers and training the afghans how to use them. >> well, i would just say, senator, that i want to make it clear we're not buying those helicopters for our forces. i want to make that very clear. >> i understand. >> secondly, that's a decision that was made in theater based on their assessment of the ability for the afghans to -- they think they could, in fact, learn and train on mi-17s, because that's what they've had in the past. that's why we're purchasing them. we're the agent to purchase those aircraft for them. that's a decision made by those closest to that issue. >> i understand we're not using -- we're not buying those helicopters for american forces. they're being bought for the afghans, but we are using american taxpayer dollars, which could be used for the virginia payload module or any other of the very important needs that
you have and this we need to address. so i understand that those decisions have been made as a result of recommendations by commanders in the field, and i just want to state for the record my reservations about that decision. so thank you very much. thank you to each of you for your service to our nation. i think i am in charge of gaveling to a close, even though i don't have the gavel. but this hearing is adjourned. thank you very much for being herend [inaudible conversations] >> the joint economic committee is meeting today for an update on the u.s. economy. with jason furman, chairman of the council of economic advisers. you can see it live starting at 2:30 p.m. eastern on our companion network c-span3.
pentagon spokesman george little give an update tuesday on the dod is released efforts to the people of the philippines. including the 250 marines on the ground and the expected arrival of the uss george washington. you can see the final briefing before he steps down, and other briefing from the pentagon, at c-span.org. here's a look here. >> leo? >> george, first, i guess on behalf of for score, thanks for putting up with us for all these years, and best of luck. >> thank you. it's been my pleasure. [laughter] >> and just, the question, you talked about the response to the philippines and also on budget. in utah called it about the cost of the response to the philippines? we been doing so much lately but how the military is not going to be able to do multi-ship
responses and multi-pronged response is because of the budget cutback. is this something that we're not going to be diluted in the future, or are we unable to do some response currently to the philippines because of special limitations? >> thank you for your kind wor words. on the assistants were able to provide to the philippines, the cost, i don't have precise estimates. this was a fast-moving train. our first priority is assisting the people of the philippines. we'll come to the cost estimates later. i don't have the figures right now. we are committed as a department and as a government to supporting a jd our efforts in the asia-pacific region and around the world. this been a key priority and secretary hagel's travel to the asia-pacific region. this is something we are prioritizing and that we know is becoming an increasing concern. also on this very point hdr is
critical in the we help build partner and ally capacity. that's one of our main priorities as well. is helping others help themselves through these kind of crisis. we stand ready to assess what we can, especially in areas like the philippines, a treaty ally. but i don't have cost estimates for you today and we will develop those as time moves on. >> a quick follow. it took a couple of days for the order to come to get the ships underway. was that a cause related reason? was there a reason -- were we waiting for some particular request? >> well, with respect to take issue with the premise of the question. we moved as soon as we received a request from the government of the philippines and we started moving personnel. this has been a tragically developing situation obviously and takes all bit of time to define requirements and what
assets you have and capabilities that may be required. make no mistake about it, we moved out as quickly as we could in the wake of this terrible storm. >> so why not send the ships that general kennedy says he needs the capability as soon as possible? >> we are not ruling him around any capability the navy required over philippine allies as they sort out this very terrible situation. the nearest is in japan right now. i'm not ruling out the possibility that they could be moved to the philippines at a certain point but right now we have significant array of assets as i described in my opening to assist and that's precisely what we will continue to do. spend specific agenda can be said the amphibious ships have one thing that none of the other ships do, that's the ability to deploy tracked vehicles and small boats to help with search
and rescue and to move supplies over debris stricken areas. and you say at a certain point. but if he says he needs that capability, why are you not sending at? >> well, we are working very hard to give general kennedy whatever he needs to support relief efforts in the philippines. consultation again with the department of state and the philippine government. we want to do this well. we want to do the right way and we will continue to define requirements through pacific command to make sure that he has the full support of this department. >> you talk about the ospreys. obviously, unique capabilities there. what specifically are you thinking they will be used for? >> i don't have a specific tasking right now. but the ospreys is a key part of any hud are mixed but you might want to syndicate capabilities to go in quickly and have longer range than some aircraft and helicopters.
i think they been brought to bear and other situation like this and we'll continue to see what they might be used for. i don't have a precise operation to announce today specifically geared towards the ospreys. >> wasn't seen as a decision to send them and their because of the landscape there and the destruction, and their leading capabilities of? >> i don't know the precise reasons for sending in the ospreys but they are a terrific aircraft that could be used in these situations, and we'll get you more updated information as we learned about what they may be used for. >> george, can you go into detail or possibly provide some examples of the support that the special operations task force in the southern philippines could provide to the humanitarian and disaster response mission? i know they do a lot of smaller type of these things in their own area, but is there any role that they're playing? >> i don't have the specifics on
a rol role that he might be pla, but i would would reduce pacific command for more details. i would note it's very tough for me right now to get into the specifics. this is a very fluid situation, and disaster released efforts aren't something that you can necessarily -- disaster relief efforts, you have to look at the requirements as they come up at the problems that we might be able to help with. you need to work close with the philippine government. so it's not always sequential what happens. and i think it's important to bear that in mind. the key principle here is that we are going to do everything we can to support relief efforts within the parameters of our consultations with the philippine government and our capabilities. we do have significant capabilities to bring to bear, whether it's personnel on the ground or other assets. >> george, the emergency relief
supplies that are intended to help 10,000 families, where are those located now? how will they get to the philippines and when will they get there? >> the emergency shelter and hygiene supplies i referenced are being delivered by usaid and they are currently at a warehouse in to buy. i would refer you to usaid for precise timing. [inaudible] >> i don't know if we will be involved in it or not. i would assume that we would look at that request closely as it came in. but i don't have any of the further information on. >> george, can you tell us the status of the two hospitals -- [inaudible] >> i don't have any details on those. we will keep you updated as we learn more. jennifer. >> reports that the philippine government had asked 40 times since 1992 for u.s. military
help since the bases closed in 1992. is that accurate or do you have any information about how many times the philippine government has sought u.s. military assistance since the closing of that basic? >> gosh, i honestly don't know the answer to that, jennifer. we can find that out for you, but the key point here is that our relationship with the philippines has only improved over time. that we have worked closely with him on exercises to include hadr exercises, and this is a key relationship in the region that we're going to continue to nurture. it's very important that we do everything we can end the terrible situation. >> this weekend the tv looks back at the life and death of our 35th president on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. beginning saturday at 1:30 p.m. eastern with authors martin sandler and others. plus an office panel relives november 22, 1963.
is all part of booktv this weekend on c-span2. don't forget, booktv's book club for november wants to know what kennedy book you're reading. post your thoughts on bookclub chat room at booktv.org/bookclub. >> president obama announced tim massad as his choice to be the next chairman of the commodities futures trading commission. tim massad served as assistant treasury secretary for financial stability and oversees the troubled asset relief program, also known as t.a.r.p. this is 15 minutes. >> ladies and gentlemen, the president of the united states accompanied by gary gensler and tim massad. >> good afternoon, everybody. have a seat. five years ago today, we were in some of the darkest days of one of the worst economic crises in our history. a financial catastrophe on wall street was rapidly fueling a
punishing recession on main street. we were looking over the horizon and seeing the potential for a great depression, not merely a great recession. and so we prepared steps to rescue our economy and put people back to work. but one of our top priorities was also to make sure that a crisis like this never happened again. and the result was historic wall street reform that put in place smarter, tougher, common-sense rules of the road to protect consumers and to end taxpayer-funded bailouts once and for all. now, five years later, our economy is growing. our businesses are creating jobs. our markets have hit record highs and there's no doubt our financial system is more stable. and a big reason for that stability is the work of a small but mighty independent agency,
the commodity futures trading commission. was that a little -- [laughter] the cftc has many responsibilities. under wall street reform, one of them is to guard against some of the most reckless and irresponsible practices at the heart of the financial crisis. and this includes making sure big banks can't make risky bets with their customers' deposits, something we call the volcker rule. it also includes oversight of risky trading in derivatives, some of the complex products that were part of what precipitated the crisis five years ago and products that warren buffett once called financial weapons of mass destruction even before they nearly brought down aig and sparked the financial wildfire on wall street. so these reforms will protect consumers and make financial systems stronger, more competitive, helping to restore
confidence in our markets, confidence that markets around the world depend on. and that's why the cftc has worked tirelessly to implement these reforms. but they need the resources and the regulators to finish the job, and so that's why we're here today. when i named gary gensler to lead the cftc, i hadn't even taken office yet. we were about a month and a half into my transition. our economy was bleeding 800,000 jobs a month. the truth is nobody knew where the bottom would be. around that time, gary sat down with tim geithner, who would become my treasury secretary, as well as mary schapiro, who would become chairperson of the sec, and began sketching out on a yellow pad the early outlines of what financial reform would look like. and ever since, gary has worked tirelessly to make it real. gary has one of the smallest budgets of any of the agencies charged with protecting consumers, but he has done as much as anybody to implement financial reform. under his watch, the cftc has
transformed what was a secretive and shadowy derivatives market by bringing large parts of it onto exchanges to transparent trading. and cftc is working hand in hand with other agencies to protect consumers by implementing the volcker rule, which secretary lew has called on regulators to complete by the end of the year. they've successfully imposed nearly $1.8 billion in penalties against financial firms that engaged in rate-fixing schemes. they worked to make sure that an irresponsible few can't hurt consumers by illegally manipulating or rigging energy markets for their own gain. and they've done it all while a swarm of special interest lobbyists have done everything possible to thwart their every move. gary has never once let his team forget what this is all about, the american people, folks we are so privileged to serve. so before i introduce his
successor, please join me in thanking gary for his outstanding service. [applause] gary, as always a team player, says also a whole bunch of cftc people are here. we want to congratulate you. my working assumption is a bunch of them will be here even after tim goes and does whatever he does next, because the next person who is going to be taking over is going to need a whole bunch of outstanding, experienced regulators, some of whom are in this room. the man i've chosen to succeed gary at the cftc is timothy massad. and for the past few years, tim has been charged with, let's face it, the thankless task of winding down a program that no one ever particularly liked, the
troubled asset relief program, also known as t.a.r.p. he's quietly been very successful at it. president bush rightly began this program to stop the downward spiral in late 2008. and we continued that effort, modifying the program to rescue the american auto industry as well. now, under tim's watch, not only have the banks that benefited from t.a.r.p. repaid nearly every single dollar, but he has secured a positive return of nearly $30 billion to the american taxpayer. he has worked tirelessly to improve t.a.r.p. programs that help more struggling homeowners stay in their homes, more hard-hit communities remove the blight of vacant homes from their neighborhoods. at the treasury department, he has launched new online tools that allow american consumers to track where the funds went and when they were repaid. and that's a commitment to transparency and openness that i know that he wants to continue at the cftc.
tim started at treasury as the right-hand man to his predecessor herb allison, who passed away earlier this year and was an outstanding ceo as well as a public servant and whose work guiding our financial stability reforms we honor today. tim was the right man to succeed herb, and with a record that reflects a deep commitment to a reform agenda, which is why he's the right man to succeed gary as well. tim is a guy who doesn't seek the spotlight, but he consistently delivers. he gets a high return for american taxpayers without a lot of fanfare. i have every confidence that he is the right man to lead an agency designed to prevent future crises, because i think it's safe to say that he never wants to have to manage something like t.a.r.p. again. [laughter] and i just found out that his lovely mother skydived on her 80th birthday which to me is
just very cool. [laughter] she's very proud of him right now also. so i urge the senate to confirm tim as soon as possible. let him can get right into the vital work of protecting america's economy and the american people. and while i'm at it, i would urge congress to give tim and the cftc the resources it needs to do the job. ever since we passed wall street reform, its opponents have tried to starve funding for the agencies responsible for carrying it out. the men and women of the cftc are charged with protecting us from financial harm, but they are undermanned. they are outgunned. they are working overtime. the sequester cuts have made it even harder for them to do their job. they've lost 5% of their team this year. recently, gary announced that some have to drop -- that they
have to drop some open enforcement cases because congress won't allow them the resources required to do their jobs and complete these cases. this is like not having enough cops on the beat, not having enough prosecutors to prosecute crimes. this makes us safer. it makes our financial system work better, and it's foolish for us not to adequately resource it. the republican leader in the senate said a while back that the less we fund these agencies, the better america will be. that is just not true. we know that's not true. we've got the scars to prove it, given what happened in 2007 and 2008. and that's why we can't let an army of lobbyists and their allies in congress delay, defund, dismantle the rules that were designed to protect consumers and protect a crisis from happening again.
we can't go back to the days when bad behavior could nearly bring down the entire economy unless taxpayers stepped in to rescue it. and anybody who is working hard to dismantle any of these reforms will have to explain to the american people why they did that when and if a crisis ever does happen again. it's important to realize that financial reform is not about punishment. it's about making sure that everybody plays by the same set of clear and transparent rules that encourage responsible innovation and competition, and discourage fraud and manipulation, and above all, protect the american people. and these regulations can work when people allow it to work. let me just give you one example. one of the things we did was pass a credit card bill of rights that imposed a new standard of fairness, transparency and accountability on credit card companies. and that means a simpler bill with no more hidden fees, no more shifting deadlines or sudden changes of terms or any
time, any reason rate hikes. that wasn't designed to punish credit card companies. they provide a valuable service, they deserve to turn a profit. a recent study by independent economists show that these new protections are saving consumers more than $20 billion a year. the men and women who work for agencies like the cftc, charged with financial reform in consumer protection, this is the work that they do. save consumers money and prevent systemic risk from happening again. they've exposed deceptive mortgage schemes, abusive debt collection practices that prey on americans who were hit hard by the recession. they've partnered with states to secure a $50 billion settlement for 600,000 homeowners who were targeted by some of these mortgage schemes. the new consumer watchdog agency we set up is working to empower students and veterans and families with the straightforward information they need to make sound financial choices like buying a home or paying for college.
and so far, it has secured more than $700 million in refunds to more than nearly 8 million hardworking american consumers who were abused by unfair or abusive practices. so that's what financial reform is all about. that's what a well-functioning cftc is all about. protecting hardworking americans by making sure everyone plays by the same set of rules, preserving trust in the integrity of our markets and our financial system, preventing a crisis like the one we endured from ever happening again. and we've come too far and the american people have sacrificed too much to go back to the old days. our economy is growing, our businesses are creating jobs, and those of us who have been sent here to serve should be doing everything we can to strengthen the middle class, strengthen the financial markets, and rebuild an economy where everybody who works hard has a chance to get ahead. that has been what gary has been up to the entire time that he has served at the cftc.
we couldn't be prouder of the work that he has done. i'm confident that as soon as congress confirms tim and allows him to carry on that important work, he is going to be carrying those same values with him, with the outstanding team that we have at this agency. so to both of you, thanks for being great public servants. gary, good luck to you. and tim, congratulations. let's get you confirmed. [applause] >> next, the senate returns to continue work on a bill to broaden the fda's oversight on compounding pharmacies, making it easier for the federal
government to track prescription drugs from manufacturers to pharmacies. the senate will later recess at 12:30 p.m. for the weekly party conferences. live coverage here on c-span2. be senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. spirit of god, descend on our hearts, for apart from you life is sound and fury, signifying nothing. may our senators walk in your ways, keeping your precepts with such integrity that they will never be ashamed. lord, incline their hearts to
your wisdom, providing them with the understanding they need to accomplish your purposes in our world. let your mercy protect them from the dangers of this life, as they learn to find delight in your commandments. keep them ever mindful of the fewness of their days and the greatness of their work. we pray in your holy name. amen. the president pro tempore: 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. mr. reid: mr. president? at the teem the majority leader. mr. reid: mr. president, i want -- before my esteemed senior senator from vermont leaves the floor -- to just say a word. i so appreciate your guidance and leadership over these many years of leading the judiciary committee. it is a committee where most all the legislation is funneled, and what we've focused on in recent months is the problem we have with judges. i appreciate your leadership. yesterday you did a remarkably good job of leading a precedent indicating the issues that we have with the d.c. circuit, and i so appreciate your leadership on this issue and all the other
issues the judiciary committee works on. it's too bad that we can't have the judiciary committee as it was in our earlier years in the senate, where the productiv pro- where the productivity has not been able to bring things to the floor. the wide-ranging jurisdiction of the judiciary committee is so important to our country. issues dealing with things going on with our national security agencies, cybersecurity, just a multitude of issues the committee deals with. and i wish that we could be doing more legislation here on the floor that comes from that committee. so i want to extend my appreciation to the presiding officer for the good work that is done and certainly the
accolades that i want to send to the people of vermont for having this good man leading the senate in many different ways, not the least of which is being the presiding officer over the senate today as the president pro tempore. mr. president, the symptoms of fungal meningitis can be very yosubtle at first: headache, fever, even light can start bothering you, and neck aches, backaches. but the disease can also cause strokes, seizures, even comas. this led -- this condition, fungal meningitis, led to the death of at least 64 unfortunate americans who were exposed to fungal meningitis when they were injected with contaminated medicine. the medicine, the steroid injection used to heal back
pain, was from a pharmacy. compounded medicines are made for those with unique needs. this practice is essential and can be critical for children, cancer patients, and people with severe allergies. but contaminated medicine mixed at the compounding center was sent to scores of medical facilities and given to,000 patients. as i've indicated, 64 of them died and hundreds -- hundreds of them were made very, very seriously ill. and, mr. president, recently a heart medication mixed at the same pharmacy was linked to the death of two young nevada boys age 4 and 6, according to a lawsuit filed by their parents. the new england compounding center was skirting federal
regulation and manufacturing large batches of drugs for mass-distribution under very, very unsanitary conditions. companies like this can boost profits but in the process boost lives. the legislation on the floor will end that dangerous process and ensure that patients have access to high-quality, custom medications. mr. president, this is not a contentious issue. on the contrary, this legislation enjoys broad bipartisan support led by senators harkin and alexander. it would pass by a wide margin in mere moments if not for stall tactics a few -- stall tactics of a few republican senators. yet this bill has already been delayed for months and republicans continue to insist that we rant the clock on this matter -- to run out the clock on this matter. so everyone knows, we will not be able to finish the bill until
this sunday. that is, working saturday and the final 30 hours won't run out until sometime on sunday. it is time to dispense with this noncontroversial measure, this lifesaving measure, and safeguard the lives of americans, vulnerable americans, people with back pain and other maladies, and move on to other important priorities. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader.
mr. mcconnell: one of the favorite pastimes of politicians in washington is to talk about how frustrated the american people are with politicians in washington. after the past few weeks, it's easy to see why. i'm talking about the president's promise, repeated dozendozens of times, that if yu like your health care plan, you can keep it. the and the sobering real decision that literally millions of americans was that it just wasn't true. some of the top fact checkers in the country have used terms like "pants on fire" and "false" and "four pinocchios" to describe the claim that under obamacare folks would be able to keep their plans. in a matter of weeks, it's gone from being one of the law's top selling points to a national punchline. and if millions of people weren't so frustrated and upset by it, it might actually be funny. but it's not the least bit
funny. at this stages, about 50,000 folks are believed to have signed up for insurance on the federal exchange, way, way below administration estimates. that's 50,000 who've signed up for insurance on the exchange, while 3.5 million americans have lost their health care coverage. in other words, about twice as many folks have lost their insurance in the state of idaho alone since october 1 as have obtained health insurance across the entire federal exchange, all across america. so this is a real crisis. in my home state of kentucky, over a quarter of a million people have lost their private health care plans so far, and only about 7,000 kentuckians have been able to obtain new, private insurance under obamacare. if you consider that kentucky received $250 million in taxpayer funds to get obamacare up and running -- the state of
kentucky got $250 million in taxpayer funds to get obamacare up and running -- that works out to about $35,000 per private insurance enrollee. $35,000 per private insurance enrolleement. enrollee. -- enrollee. and that's before the taxpayer subsidies kick in. the so we've thrown literally untold millions at this disastrous rollout, and what do we have to show for it? millions of people losing their coverage, despite assurances from the president they'd be able to keep it. he said they'd be able to keep it, period. that's what the president said. so let's be very clear about something. these insurance cancellations are not any kind of an accident. this is no accident. it's the way the law was designed. remember, in order for obamacare to work, millions of americans had to lose the coverage they
had purchased on their own so the government could dump them into the obamacare exchanges. that way the government could then get them to pay more to subsidize coverage for everybody else. that's the way this thing was designed to work. the 31-year-old dentist from louisville i mentioned last week, the one who isn't married and has no kids but now has to carry pediatric dental care on his plan, well, he's one of the unfortunate ones wh who's now subsidizing care for everyone else. despite the and other supporters of the bill vowed up and down that folks would be able to keep the health care plans they had and liked, the fact was that was never true. it was never true, and they mew it. -- and they knew it. they knew folks would lose their coverage. they knew it all along. just as the president once famously predicted that utility
rates would necessarily skyrocket as a result of his cap-and-trade policy, so, too, would health care rates skyrocket under obamacare. the only difference is that on health care democrats apparently knew they couldn't tell people how it would all shake out in the end. but they knew. that's why in 2010 every democrat who was in the senate voted against a republican proposal designed to hold the president to his word -- back in 2010, every democrat in the senate voted against a proposal to hold the president to his word. the fact is, the president's health care law was designed to capture millions of middle-class americans, jack up their premiums, and use the extra kish to keep obamacare -- extra cash to keep obamacare afloat. this isn't some unforeseen consequence of the law. it is the law. it's working just like they designed it.
just like what they voted for. so it's hard to take sea seriouy this faux outrage we've seen from some of our democratic friends. just the other day, the media pointed out that the administration knew for years -- for years -- that americans would lose coverage. but there's something else. at a bipartisan health care summit in 2010, the president was asked directly about this kind of thing by house majority leader cantor. the president admitted that 8 million to 10 million would have to change coverage and then justified it by saying that they'd be getting better coverage from the government once they lost it. so the president actually admitted during that event that millions would lose their health care and still went out on the campaign trail claim americans could keep the health care plan they had.
this is why americans feel so hurt by this particular broken promise. and what many of them want to know is this: why would washington democrats persist with it even after it became clear it was false? i think the reasons are simple enough. one, they needed to pass the obamacare bill. and, two, they needed to sell it to a skeptical public. and neither would have been possible without it. if the president had gone out and told people that if he likes your plan, you can keep it -- if the president had said, if he likes your plan, you can keep it, it would have never passed. and that's why the president's so-called apology the other night rang so hollow. obamacare's problems running so
deep and the broken promises are so pervasive that it's impossible to identify an easy fix. it truly ought to be repealed or delayed, but if the president is sorry for breaking his promise to the american people, there is a natural place to start. he could support legislation that would help restore the plans for the folks that want them back, and he could act on it as early as this friday. that's because the house is expected to send over a bill that would allow americans to keep the plans they have and want to keep. there's no reason the president and senate democrats should not join republicans and the american people in supporting it. this doesn't have to be a partisan battle. these cancellations haven't discriminated based on party. the people out there who are frustrated and upset at losing their health care plans are democrats and republicans. the president can help all of
them by backing the bill the house is expected to pass on friday. i think that's basically what president clinton was suggesting yesterday when he said the president should honor the commitment the government made to these folks, even, even said bill clinton, if it means changing the law. i've had a lot of disagreements with president clinton over the years, but he was willing to cross party lines and i think here's a moment where the american people are expecting president obama to do the same. allowing americans to keep their health plans is a promise democrats made over and over and over again. whether or not they meant it, democrats promised this to the american people. and it's their duty to make good on what they said. once the house acts, my conference will be watching closely to see whether the senate democratic majority allows a vote and would help us send a bill to the president's
desk. the american people will be watching closely as well. so my message to the president is simple. mr. president, our constituents are frustrated and they're upset. you could help. do the right thing. and briefly on another matter, ford motor company has a proud history of manufacturing in kentucky. today the company announces a new model to be constructed in its louisville assembly plant employing another generation of kentuckians. i'd like to congratulate ford on its development and continued excellence in manufacturing in the commonwealth of kentucky. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business for one hour with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes
each, with the time equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees with the majority controlling the first half. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. donnelly: thank you, mr. president. i would like to congratulate my friend from kentucky on ford's expansion there. we have a proud auto-building history in indiana as well. we're extraordinarily proud of all of the different folks who help make our country run, who help make our cars go. and in indiana it is part of who we are, and it's great to see expansion in kentucky as well. mr. president, i'm here today to discuss the most important issue facing hoosiers and all americans, and that's getting a good job. good jobs allow us to provide for our loved ones, educate our children and ultd -- ultimately retire with dignity. good jobs are also critical for
strong communities and a vibrant economy. that's why i'm proud to be part of the group of senators working on manufacturing jobs for america. it's an effort to refocus the senate on helping businesses create jobs and help communities pursue economic development in the area of manufacturing. this effort is aimed at building bipartisan support for modernizing the manufacturing sector, increasing access to capital, strengthening our workforce and creating the conditions necessary for american manufacturers to grow and create jobs. i have two bills as a part of this effort. the skills gap strategy act and the america works act. both of them are focused on closing the skills gap. there are an estimated 600,000 manufacturing jobs that are unfilled across our country in part because employers can't find workers with the skills
they need to fill these open jobs. we need to match up unemployed or underemployed americans with the training and education programs employers need so that we can get more americans into these good-paying, skilled jobs. last month my friend, senator dean heller, and i introduced the skills gap strategy act. this directs the department of labor to develop a goal-oriented strategy to address the skills-gap challenges we have. in order for every hoosier who wants a job to have a job and for indiana's economy to continue to grow, we must train hoosiers for the jobs that are available right now. our bill examines how we can better use existing resources to prioritize training and education programs and prepare our workforce to hit the ground running on day one. the skills gap strategy act requires the department of labor
to provide recommendations on increasing on-the-job training and apprenticeship opportunities, helping employers participate more in education and workforce training, and identifying and prioritizing in-demand credentials in existing and emerging industries. when completing this report, we call on the department to consider specific labor barriers contributing to the skills gap. policies that have proven successful in key industries, regions and countries where employers play a larger role in education and workforce training and ways to better utilize registered apprenticeship and other workforce development programs. we are also asking the department of labor to develop plans with the departments of commerce and education to align education with industry and enhance employer participation in k through 12 and career and
technical education programs. to increase apprenticeship and college credit courses in secondary schools and to improve school-to-work transitions and connections. i'm a strong believer in being fiscally responsible with hoosier taxpayer dollars. that's why our bill asks the department of labor to focus on these solutions that use existing resources, existing programs and existing personnel. not new programs or new spending. closing the skills gap requires participation from individual workers from the education community and employers. but we have the ability to help, and a specific plan should be in place to do just that. also a part of the manufacturing jobs for america effort is another bill i'm proud to support that focuses on closing the skills gap. introduced by senators hagan and
heller and myself, the america works act modifies existing federal training programs so that they place a priority on programs and certifications that are recognized and demanded by industry. i have heard time after time from hoosier business owners and educators and workers about the pressing need to close the skills gap and to get more people to work. to address this issue while not increasing federal spending, the america works act modifies the workforce investment act, perkins career and technical education, and trade adjustment assistance to prioritize the credentials that employers need now. the improvements made in this bill benefit both workers and employers as workers know that the time they spend training is more likely to lead to
employment and a good-paying job. and employers know it's more likely that the people they hire have the training they need to get the job done on day one. mr. president, the department of labor estimates there are nearly four million job openings in the united states. despite an unemployment rate that is still over 7%, and despite millions of americans looking for work. now is the time to get to work on these jobs and match these people up with the job opportunities that are available out there. that's the most important thing we can be doing. when americans are working, we're a stronger nation. the manufacturing jobs for america effort to pass bipartisan legislation that everyone can buy into that helps manufacturers and workers is one important way we can move the ball ahead. mr. president, i yield back the balance of my time.
a senator: madam president, i ask for dispense be of the role roll. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. markey: i ask to be recognized in morning business for up to ten minutes. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mr. markey: thank the chair. i want to begin by thanking chairman harkin, ranking member alexander, senators franken and roberts, and all of their staffs for their tremendous leadership on this bill. this bill was also developed in concert with our counterparts in the house of representatives, and i extend my thanks to ranking member henry waxman and chairman fred upton and their staffs of the energy and commerce committee. what we have now is a
bipartisan, bicameral bill that addresses two very serious issues: the safety of compounded drugs and the security of our entire drug supply. last fall an outbreak of fungal meningitis stunned the nation and thus far has claimed the lives of 64 people and sickened 751 in 20 states. this issue hits home for me because it started in massachusetts. at the center of this tragedy was the new england compounding center, also known as necc, and it was located in framingham, massachusetts. i met some of these victims of this terrible outbreak and heard about their struggles, like jerry cohen, a resident of pik pikesville, maryland, who went to the doctor for routine steroid injections to treat recurring back pain and received two doses that came from the
contaminated lots. jerry suffered a stroke and had to adjust to a new life, dealing with dizziness, nausea, weakness and exhaustion. or melanie, whose mother went into a tennessee hospital to treat an acute back injury she suffered while mowing the lawn. instead of walking out of the hospital, marjorie instead became severely sick, spent months in the hospital and a nursing home and now has permanent -- permanent nerve damage and medical bills that are close to putting her into bankruptcy. for the last decade, complaints aboutsteabout sterility have bed benz necc yet the company was
allowed to operate largely unchecked, falling between the regulatory cracks that exist between federal oversight of drug manufacturers and state oversight of pharmacies. and, sadly, necc was not an isolated instance. almost a year ago i issued a report detailing more than a decade of violations and problems at compounding pharmacies all across our nation. contaminated i.v. solutions, tainted care roid injections, and -- steroid injections permanently impacted thousands of patients' lives across this country and killed or injured dozens across 34 states. the new england compounding center, like many large compounding facilities, fell into a regulatory black hole. that's because there are two kinds -- two kinds of
compounding pharmacies: the neighborhood pharmacist you've known and trusted for years and the large drug manufacturers operating in the shadows that have slipped through the regulatory cracks. traditional compounding pharmacies make custom medications that fit the needs of an individual patient, such as creating a liquid medication instead of a pill for an elderly patient or a child because it is easier to swallow. we're familiar with that corner store pharmacist who does that for a patient. these pharmacies are an important tool in our medical arsenal and have historically fallen under the jurisdiction of the states. they're the corner pharmacists that people grew up with. they're the corner pharmacies that people trust. but there has been a recent disturbing trend of larger compounding pharmacies entering the market, making high-risk
drugs sold to hospitals and clinics throughout the country. these compounding facilities are operating more as modern-day drug manufacturers rather than the mortar and pestule compounders. they're not main street and they do most of their business out of sight and under the f.d.a.'s radar. in 1997, congress passed a law to define f.d.a.'s role in the oversight of compounding pharmacies. but just two days before the new law was to take effect, seven compounding pharmacies sued to block its enactment. since then, the law and the f.d.a.'s authority to regulate compounding pharmacies have been mired in litigation and uncertainty. the result is that the oversight of even large-scale drug
manufacturers like necc has been largely relegated to the states. so how are the states doing their jobs? well, last april i issued an investigative report that took a deep look at how states actually oversee and govern the activities of compounding pharmacies. what i found was a regulatory state of disarray. my investigation found that nationwide most state regulators don't look at the safety of compounding pharmacies. they don't make all their activities and investigations public. some of them don't even know how many compounding pharmacies exist in their states. and states typically aren't equipped to regulate the safety of large companies, shipping massive quantities of drugs outside their own borders into states all across our country.
since the necc outbreak, some states have made efforts to improve their regulations and guidelines over compounding pharmacies, but the results are not consistent. within the last month, my home state of massachusetts passed through its house and senate a bill that i am proud to say will put in place the strongest state regulations in the country, overseeing the compounding pharmacy industry. however, while massachusetts has become a national leader in the oversight of compounding pharmacies in the aftermath of what happened at necc, this does little to protect the residents of other states. and it can't protect residents of massachusetts from drugs that are shipped in from other states that do not have strong safety standards in place. the drug and safety and security bill in front of us today helps to solve that problem by creating, for the first time, a
national and uniform set of rules for compounding pharmacies that wish t to register with the f.d.a. and be subject to f.d.a. oversight and enforcement. this bill also provides transparency by requiring the f.d.a. to publish a list of the name and location of registered facilities that are compounding drugs in large quantities without a prescription. the drug safety and security act also mirrors several concepts from the valid compounding act of 2013, the legislation which i introduced into the house of representatives. the bill distinguishes between compounders engaging in traditional pharmacy work from those making large volumes of compounded drugs without individual prescription. it places limits on the type and quality of ingredients that can be used to compound drugs. it ensures that drugs removed
from the market and effectiveness safety reasons are not compounded. the bill requires compounding of adverse events like patient sickness or hospitalizations that could be caused by compounding pharmacies that are registered with the f.d.a., and it provides more information on the labels of compounded drugs, including identification of the drug as being compounded. the first time ever that this information will be required. because of this bill, for the first time ever, the f.d.a. will know who these large sterile compounding entities are and what they are making. and the f.d.a. will be given the resources it needs to conduct inspections of these facilities. and for the first time ever, hospitals and health care facilities will have the option
of purchasing compounded drugs that are subject to rigorous f.d.a. quality standards and oversight. and because this bill removes the legal ambiguities of existing law, compounding pharmacies will no longer fly under the radar. this bill will go a long way in ensuring that public health is protected and compounded drugs are safe. i'd like to specifically thank chairman harkin and his staff for including in this bill a provision which i authored requiring the g.a.o. to examine whether states and federal authorities are doing their jobs to properly ensure the safety of compounded drugs. congress needs to continue to keep a close eye on the f.d.a. and this industry, holding them accountable for their new responsibilities, and this study will assist us in carrying out effective oversight of this new law. we need to ensure that a tragedy
like the necc meningitis outbreak is never repeated. with the passage of this bill today, we have a clear example of what congress can accomplish when both sides come together in a bipartisan fashion. we can protect the public. we can hold industry to high but achievable standards. and we can support small businesses who have been doing the right thing for years. this is a very important, historic piece of legislation. it goes right to the heart of what the congress can do to make sure that when drugs are in interstate commerce, that we are protecting people -- families so that the health of their families are in fact being protected. that is the essence of what the congress should be doing. it is a very good day when it is working to protect the people of our country. today is one of those days. throughout the course of this
week, we are going to have a discussion about the role that the federal government has to play in ensuring that the drugs which families in our country use are, in fact, safe for their consumption, that the representations that are made are, in fact, accurate to those families. we cannot again see a rollback of the protections which did in fact happen in this area, that in fact exposed families to the kinds of risks that generations ago were common within our country. it is a big day. it is an historic piece of legislation. i urge for its unanimous passage through this body, and i, madam chair, yield back the balance of my time. and, madam chair, i doubt the presence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. blunt: i move we vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: it's been less than six weeks since the president's health care program was launched. the web site is not working but the web site will be the easiest thing in my view that the administration will deal with as they try to solve the problems created by the act itself and frankly by the problems created by the web site not working when we started. what we see happening already in this six weeks is that families are losing their current health care coverage. certainly the cost and example after example from my state of missouri and across the country appear to be going up at substantial levels for many families. a few families are lucky enough that they don't have much additional cost, but not very many. and a lot of families simply are losing the coverage they have had even though the president said, as we all have been
reminded over and over again in recent days, "if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan." apparently there are a whole lot of caveats on that that weren't said at the time because people aren't taoeubl keep their health care -- able to keep their health care plan. the associated press reported at least 3.5 million people have received cancellation notices. i heard somebody at the white house say the other day these individual policies, that's only about 5% of all the people in the country. five percent of all the people in the country are millions and millions of people. even if it wasn't millions, if you're one of the 3.5 million families that just were told your health care policy was canceled, 100% of your health care policy were canceled because you don't have one right now, or at least you're told you're not going to have one sometime between now and the end of the year, as millions of people are losing their plans, we find out that only a few thousand people have signed up. reports apparently show that
fewer than 50,000 people have been able to successfully get through this system in six weeks, a period where the estimate was 500,000 people. so so far we have 50,000 people signing up, not 500,000 people. we have millions of people losing their plans even though everybody was told if you like your plan, you'll be able to keep your plan. but it's estimated now that seven million people were expected to get coverage by the end of march. nobody any longer thinks that that's a number that will come anywhere close to being achieved. the american people obviously would like the president to figure out how to live up to the promise that you can keep the health care you have if you like it. a lot of people are weighing in. president clinton in the last day or so has said he thinks we
ought to figure out a way to keep the promise. not a real reach. this was not a promise just made one time and accidentally stated. this was a promise made over and over again. if you like your health care plan, you can keep it. if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. and we're finding that that's not true. so whether it's president clinton who said we should figure out how to keep that promise, or there are all kinds of bills being filed in both the house and the senate that would keep the promise, what i think we're going to find out is that there are lots of promises in the affordable care act that aren't going to be kept. i think we already know that this has workplace impact that's not good. people going from full time to part time, people trying to keep their job numbers under 50 so they don't have to comply with the law. i've heard from many missourians
who have seen their hours reduced, who have seen their health care premiums rise, seen their options of insurance limited, their policies being canceled. they really deserve to have the people who made this pledge now keep this pledge. the president, congressional democrats who voted for the law. and there are very few laws you can see congressional democrats who voted for the law, because this is a law that not a single republican in the house or the senate was for. and, by the way, there were plenty of alternatives out there. high-risk pools work better. medical liability reform, expanding the marketplace where you could buy across state lines, more reporting by health care providers of what they charge and what their results are. the idea that there was no other option that's widely repeated, that people who don't want to go down the affordable care act don't want to do anything, just simply not true.
when i was a member of the house of representatives, i filed a hand full of bills none of which were more than 75 pages long that would deal with these rifle-shot things that would have phaeutd -- made the best health care system in the world work better. it wasn't perfect but it's the best health care system in the world and i think we're in danger of losing that. the president promised americans if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. over and over again that's not the case. the largest insurer on the missouri exchange, on the exchange missouri voters have access to doesn't include the largest hospital system. that means that thousands of patients won't be able to see the doctors or to go to the 13 hospitals of the largest health care system from the company that was their likely provider. this was the largest insurer and at this moment the largest
insurer in our state, the largest health care system not part of their plan. your insurance company, your hospital, your longtime doctor all should be your choice, not the choice of some government dictated health care plan. with only one other insurer selling policies in the region where this big hospital system is, people just aren't going to be able to be there. many states have this same problem. many states have options that don't include many of their hospitals or many of their health care providers. and people are beginning to look at this and not just be concerned about a violated pledge, but being concerned about somebody besides them interfering with a long-term relationship with what hospital you go to, with the doctor you want to see. patients across the country are seeing and are likely to continue to see narrower and
narrower networks available to them as insurers will try to keep costs down with all of the new mandates in the law, one of the things they can control is they can negotiate with the people that would be available to see patients under their plan. that's obviously what is happening. smaller networks can require patients to travel farther. people driving by the doctor's office that they went to for years to get to the doctor that they now have to go to, people passing by the hospital that their family may have gone to for generations to get to the hospital that now is the only hospital available in their area under the exchange. this is going to become the routine for americans who aren't going to be able to keep the insurance they look. -- like, nt going to be able to keep the doctor they like. in many cases won't be able to
go to the hospital they like. last week i told stories of several missourians who had preexisting conditions and are going to lose those policies when the missouri high-risk pool goes out of existence. another thing we suggested in 2009 was let's look for ways to expand the high-risk pools and make them work even better. they were working pretty well. the problem was there was always a waiting list of how to get into the high-risk pool. that was a way to deal with preexisting conditions. in a state like ours 4,300 people are on the high risk pool, they pay about 135% of the high risk premium. that is a little more than the normal premium. but they're getting insurance after they got sick. and this is a high-risk pool where that has to work, 135% for somebody who didn't have insurance until they got sick or lost their insurance after they got sick, that was probably a whole lot better than they're going to do right now and they're finding out it's a whole lot better than they're going to
do right now. one of the things we received this week was from pam from onogo, missouri. she said her oldest son was built with a medical condition where there is a build-up of fluid inside his skull. he had his first shunt surgery at age 18 months. her family has a family business and held on to their insurance through the business as long as they could because they knew that no one would insurer ron if they lost it. that's obviously not a situation we'd want to see perpetuated. aaron, however, was ready to go to the high-risk pool. after ten years their premiums had increased to $2,000 a month with a $10,000 deductible, and so they are taoeubl get aaron -- able to get aaron in the high risk pool and they were reasonably comfortable with that. now with the elimination of the high risk pool all of which closes on december 31 in every state in the country, with the
elimination of the high risk pool, pam and her family have to go to the exchange for aaron. the exchange has to take aaron because you can get in the exchange with -- two more minutes? unanimous consent. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: -- without -- you can get in the exchange even if you had a preexisting condition. what did they find in the exchange? they found aaron can no longer use his neurosurgeon from kansas city, the surgeon he's used for years now. they can't buy a catastrophic policy that would allow them to have some choice and pay some upfront costs on their own so they could have the doctor they're comfortable with. but they're where they are. the insurance they had has gone away. the insurance they can get doesn't allow them to see the doctor that this young man has seen for years with a condition he's had his whole life. the president also promised that premiums would decrease, and that's just clearly not the case. i look forward to missourians
continuing to let us know the challenges they're having. i look forward to being able to share those on the floor of the senate in the next few weeks. one of my constituents from independence, wife came home, their policy that had been costing $500 a month now is going to cost $1,100 a month. she is an office manager with an office of about 20 employees. their insurance more than doubled. unfortunately these cases aren't the only ones i could talk about today. they're not nearly as limited as we would hope they would be, and people are finding out that the affordable care act that wasn't good for the workplace is now turning out not to be very good for health care. and i note the absence of a quorum. i yield to my friend. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. burr: madam president, we've heard about horror
stories. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. sorry. mr. burr: i want to talk about another one, and it's the bill in front of the senate today. it's the drug quality and security act. today the senate has an important opportunity to advance balanced bipartisan legislation on behalf of our nation's patients. the drug quality and security act will respond to the tragic events surrounding last year's meningitis outbreak and will strengthen and improve our national pharmaceutical supply chain. last year's unfortunate compounding phepbg kwraoeuts outbreak remind -- meningitis outbreak reminds us that had the early warning signs been heeded we may have been able to mitigate the crisis. in light of what congress learned since the outbreak occurred last fall this bipartisan legislation includes provisions that respond to and takes big steps in responding to
the compounding tragedy over one year ago. america's patients expect and deserve the peace of mind that medicines they take are safe and effective. f.d.a.'s repeated warnings of counterfeited drugs making their way into our prescription drug supply chain and the increased number of pharmaceutical thefts are the early warning signs of a potential and growing threat that could significantly compromise or endanger the health and well-being of patients across our nation. in recent years states have responded by putting new requirements in place, but at a time when we should be working to lower the cost of health care, this increasing patchwork of state regulatory requirements is instead driving up the cost of health care in america. for more than a year i've worked with senator michael bennet and my colleagues on the senate health, education, labor and pensions committee on bipartisan legislation to address these problems and to strengthen the
safety, security and accountability of our nation's pharmaceutical drug supply chain. the drug quality and security act which we have before us today includes provisions that will establish strong, uniformed prescription drug tracing standards that reflect today's realities and ensures a safer and more secure pharmaceutical drug supply chain. the drug quality and security act establishes a uniform electronic unit level system over the next decade that will increase the security and ensure a safer pharmaceutical drug supply chain from manufacturers all the way to dispensers. this legislation will require trading partners to be authorized and to pass and receive information as part of their transactions. it raises the wholesale distribution licensing standard. it establishes licensure standards for
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