tv U.S. Senate CSPAN July 29, 2015 4:00pm-6:01pm EDT
mr. dane: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. daines: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. daines: mr. president i came down to share some remarks on what's going on with planned parenthood but prior to sharing those remarks we've had some tragic news that has come out of montana. i just literally got off the phone with chairman darren oak
heart in montana and i want to discuss the reports of a tragic shooting that's occurred on the crow reservation in montana. this afternoon we've received word of a shooting in the community of pryor montana on the crow reservation. i just literally got off the phone with the chairman to see how things were going and the latest confirmed two fatalities and at least one other injured individual that's been life flighted to billings. my wife cindy and i are deeply saddened by the news of today's shootings in pryor. our thoughts and prayers go out to the pryor community and the families of all victims are in our prayers. i understand this was a couple that had children and grandchildren and well known in pryor. i'm staying in close contact with crow leaders with local law enforcement federal officials, and community leaders during this time. it's our understanding and has
been confirmed that the suspect has been apprehended and is in custody. my staff and all the staffs here in washington stand ready to help those affected by this tragic. our -- tragedy. our hearts break for the victims, for their families and ask my senate colleagues to join the montana delegation and all montanans in keeping the community, the victims and their families in your thoughts and prayers. mr. president, the 655,306 kidneys, more than $49 million and 256 lamborghinis.
327,252 hearts, more than $24.5 million and more than 28 lamborghinis. foreign 1,310,612 arms and legs legs $98 million or 512 lamborghinis. this is the envisioned price tag where every one of planned parenthood's 327,653 abortions performed last year able to provide body parts and organs to harvest. the utter callousness of planned parenthood in discussing the price of baby parts as if
handing over a menu is clear evidence of the culture of an organization enriched through ghoulish and disturbing practices. this is a culture that protects tissue over life and lays out harvested organs as financial milestones towards a new car. planned parenthood has worked its way into the american lexicon, becoming synonymous with women's health, but hiding their abortion practices. you see, planned parenthood received $528 million of federal taxpayer money last year alone. and when asked on the street
so few even know that planned parenthood does abortions. but now the veil has been lifted exposeing inexcusable and unconscionable behavior. this organization, planned parenthood performs more abortions than any other organization in our country. but now our own calloused hearts, the heart of our nation was shocked out of apathy and we have a choice. we cannot accept the destruction and selling of our children to stare clearly into the face of the appalling and do nothing. or we can allow our consciences to be moved and then remove the
public endorsement of these actions. we can remove federal taxpayer funding of the organization that has perpetuateed such horrific actions. i am proud to join senator joni ernst and leader mcconnell and 26 of my senate colleagues in introducing legislation to protect women's access to health services and defund planned parenthood. this bill ensures that funds allocated to planned parenthood will be redirected to other eligible entities to provide women's health care services. let me be very very clear. so the information is clear what this bill does and what it doesn't do. this bill ensures that there is no reduction not one dollar of reduction in overall federal funding available to support women's health. this bill ensures the preservation of federal funding
for women's health services, which include important services of relevant diagnostic and radiological services, for well child care, and immunizations for family planning services including contraception sexually transmitted disease testing and cervical and breast cancer screenings. let me say again this bill ensures the preservation of federal funding for these very important services for women. this bill does not reduce any funding for women's health services. this bill does not allow any federal funds to go towards planned parenthood to continue its practice of trafficking baby parts. you know, we bristled when we heard of an abortion doctor that left babies born alive to die.
and we sensed justice when that same doctor was sentenced in a court of law for his crimes. similarly, we shudder we shudder as a parent -- cindy and i have been married for 29 years. we have four children, two boys and two girls. we shudder as parents at the idea of baby parts being harvested and sold in the n -- context of equating that value to purchasing a lamborghini. will we see this to the same end? we are a society, we are a nation that values life. so much so that in our declaration of independence, it is so clearly articulated that all have the right to life. we democrats republicans all americans, must stand strong in the defense of those who are most vulnerable.
we must advocate and be a voice for those who do not have a voice, for the most vulnerable in our society including the unborn. over the last year, we have chingd at terrible images coming out of the middle east. we've seen these horrible images coming across social media and we have called loudly for action. and that was on soil thousands of miles away from america. but now today we cringe at terrible images that have occurred on our own soil. nothing, not even lamborghini is worth the lives of our children. planned parenthood has clearly articulated the value they place on babies' organs and limbs but what they failed to acknowledge is the value that the american
people know full well, and that is the value of our children. and that is priceless. mr. president, i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: will the senator hold his request? mr. daines: yes, i will. mrs. boxer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: thank you very much. you know, it's so interesting coming away from the transportation bill in which we saw such cooperation between the two sides and now we're headed back into our corners with the vast majority of republicans attacking an organization that helps millions, millions of americans get fundamental health care. and it's the same old same old sides again. you know, my friend from montana may not like planned parenthood. he can tell his children and
friends not to go there but he doesn't speak for the american people. they trust planned parenthood, an organization that's been around since 1916. and its founder was thrown in jail because she wanted to give birth control to people. so all i want to say is this -- let's be clear. my friend and those who are writing this legislation cap leerily state we're not attacking health care, and yet they defund the one organization in the country that people trust to deliver that health care. you know, it's interesting because as part of the attack on health care, we see from my friends on the other side of the aisle. we celebrate the 50th anniversary of medicare and medicaid which have provided millions of americans with accessible affordable health care. just this week, we heard one of the leading republican presidential candidates talk
about how it was time to end medicare and this isn't a fringe candidate. i heard newt gingrich say years ago medicare will wither on the vine. they have been after medicare forever and ever and ever. they don't like medicaid. some republican governors are not providing their poor people with health care because they don't like medicaid. these are liveliness that from their start were attacked by republicans, and i've got proof of it. i have spoken many times and quoted republicans from past years. going after medicare, going after medicaid. and now going after again planned parenthood and women's health care. this is an ideological attack, and it would put women's health and women's lives at risk, and
it is attacking women's reproductive health care, an issue that was resolved in 1973. well, i want to say to my friends on the other side -- and they are my friends -- why don't you just keep moving us forward like you did on the transportation bill? we set aside our differences. we are moving forward. now you're reopening again the attack on health care. you tried to repeal obamacare 55 times in the house didn't work. you tried it here the other day it didn't work. tough attacked medicare, you have attacked medicaid, and now you want to take away women's health care provided by an organization that is chosen by women and men millions of them every single year. life-saving and preventative services. this legislation we know it's being driven by an outrageous
and potentially illegal act of an extremist group. it's just the latest chapter in the long history of attacks on planned parenthood and their health care providers who work there and on the women and men that they deserve. again, you can go back to the beginning of planned parenthood. when america's first birth control clinic opened before women could vote, before women can vote. we forget women got the vote in 1920. if we have a woman in the white house in 2020, something that i fervently hope will happen, we will celebrate the fact. we will celebrate the fact that 100 years after women got the right to vote, there is a woman in the white house. but the point is on the very day that the clinic opened, more than 100 years ago dozens of women waited in line.
do you know what they wanted? life-saving birth control information. they wanted to plan their families. they wanted to avoid unplanned pregnancies and the options that they would face if they had an unplanned pregnancy. and what was the response? the clinic was raided. the clinic was shut down. and nine days later its founder was thrown in jail. planned parenthood, a target of attack of extremists since 1916, and that attack continuing on the floor today. well our country despite the effort of the extremists, has come a long ways since the days when a woman could be jailed for advocating birth control. we can't go back, we can't turn back the clock on women's health and we still have people that are saying women shouldn't
get free birth control through obamacare. they want them to go over the counter. we can't turn back the clock on women's health, but that's what's about to come. with all the problems facing us, we still have work to do on transportation. we still have work to do to avoid sequester and all the deep cuts to our military and to our domestic programs, like the f.b.i. like homeland security, like food inspection like border patrol. all that's going to be cut. but oh, no, we don't turn to that a way to fix that. what do we turn to? another attack on planned parenthood, another attack on women's health. we know this extremist group
went under cover and secretly taped people. that's what they did. and i've got to say this -- if you approve of those tactics fine, but what i approve of is women getting health care. women getting health care. and i think if you scratch the surface, what you find, a lot of my colleagues don't think they should be able to plan their families. we're still debating birth control. you've got to be kidding. and you have to look at the work planned parenthood does. cancer screenings, s.t.d. tests other life-saving health care. they want to deny women this health care. and do you know what i really find interesting mr. president? so many of my republican friends tell me day after day keep uncle sam out of our private lives. how true. i agree.
some of them even call themselves libertarians. and you look up the meaning of libertarian, i'll tell you what it means. in wikipedia it's defined as one who -- quote -- seeks to maximize the autonomy and freedom of choice, emphasizing political freedom voluntary association and the primacy of individual judgment. the primacy of individual judgment. that is the definition of libertarian. and yet my colleagues decided they don't like a certain organization so they should say to everybody in the country follow us. no. no. it's not right. planned parenthood is the safety net for women's health care, and it has been so. this attack on women's health care is the opposite of liberty and i hope if this bill does
come forward, we will debate it and debate it and debate it. because i don't think the people in this country want women's lives used as a political football. they don't. women's health isn't a game. it isn't something that you should gain votes on or lose votes on. women's lives are not a game. we all have women in our lives all of us, who we adore regardless of our political party. our moms, our wives our daughters, our sisters. why would anyone, why would anyone in the senate or anywhere else want to take away the health care that has benefited one in five women in america including more than 800,000 in my state every year? 800,000 people in my state. why would anyone want to deny birth control to more than 600,000 californians each year? why would anyone want to deny
women in my state 100,000 breast exams. instead of listening to these extreme voices, republicans should listen to women in their states. and i'll tell you about a woman in my state nicole sandoval from pasadena, california. planned parenthood was there for nicole when she needed it most. when she was 23 years of age she had no insurance before obamacare. planned parenthood caught her cervical cancer. they caught it early enough to treat it and to save her life. instead of listening to these extreme voices, republicans should listen to women like heather penman of concord california. planned parenthood was there for heather when she needed it most, providing her with cancer screening. and do you know what? it found precancerous cells and it helped to get the life-saving surgery she needed.
and this is what she said. she didn't say what my colleagues said, stand up and attack an organization that saved her life. she said i might not be alive today without their help. she told me that a few years ago when she said planned parenthood is about taking care of women's health and it shouldn't be reduced to some political argument. imagine what would have happened if planned parenthood hadn't been there for nicole or hadn't been there for heather because that's what planned parenthood does. there are millions of nicoles and heathers across america each with her own story of how planned parenthood has been there for her and we're not going to allow republicans to take away their health care. no we're not. we're not going to allow republicans to undermine the vital research that is helping treatments for parkinson's alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis spinal cord injuries, h.i.v. and
birth defects. the research has led to public health breakthroughs including vaccines for polio chicken pox rubella and shingles. instead of attacking this research we should be supporting it. that's something we should all agree on. republicans are pushing an extreme, dangerous agenda, an agenda that is out of touch with most americans. and we had a breather from that agenda when we had the transportation bill. how excited was i. and then we turn around, we do this bill, we work together, and we're back in our corners again with republicans attacking women's health and democrats defending women's health. a new poll released this week shows that a strong majority of americans oppose defunding planned parenthood, even after these videos, these edited videos have been put out. the american people are paying
attention to this story. women are paying attention to this story. we know this is a political attack on women's health. we know that the group that went in and secretly filmed people for three years we knew what their objective was to hurt women's health, women's reproductive health. we know because that's where they stand. they want uncle sam to tell a woman what her rights are. well i've got say i'm a united states senator and i have strong views. and i do not oppose those views on anyone. i want people to choose the way they feel, decisions between themselves, their family, their doctor their god. that's up to them. and i don't want any senator -- any senator -- in this body telling my kids what to do or your kids what to do, because it's up to them. and i respect their families.
they will discuss it with their families. this is a political attack on women's health. we know it's an attack on a group that saves lives every day. and this is a fight they've picked before. they come out here as if, you know, this is the first time they've ever attacked planned parenthood. well we won it before and we'll win it again. i heard my colleague senator murray, recall that in 2011, she thought it was 2011, the republicans threatened to shut down the government -- right -- because they wanted to defund planned parenthood. they were going to shut down the government. and she said, you know what, we're not going to do this to women's health. if that's what you want to do, shut it down. we will take this case to the american people. they backed off and we won that fight. and we'll win this fight as well. we're going to fight.
we're going to fight to make sure that nicole and heather and women across america can continue to get the services they need. the birth control the cancer screenings s.t.d. screenings, that's what we're fighting for. and we're going to make sure that planned parenthood is still there for the millions of women and families who depend upon it. i thank you very much, mr. president, and i yield the floor, and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president, i want to speak to the highway bill today and legislation before us that hopefully by tomorrow we will report out of the senate favorably send it to the house of representatives. my understanding is the house will some time in september report out their own version of the highway bill, hopefully a multiyear bill, in which case we would go to conference with them and hopefully get something that we can get to the president on his desk that would be more than
a short-term extension but instead something that provides certainty that those who are involved in building roads and bridges and making sure that freight and people move across this country that they've got the infrastructure in place to do that and that we can get about the process of creating jobs and growing our economy which is what infrastructure is all about. i want to speak specifically to some of the rail provisions in the legislation. i want to say mr. president thanks to the leadership of senators wicker and booker and the bipartisan contributions of the members of the commerce, science and transportation committee. the legislation before the senate today includes critically important provisions from the bipartisan rail reform enhancement and efficiency act that our committee passed by voice vote last month. this bill reauthorizes amtrak, through fiscal year 2019 while increasing rail safety, improving infrastructure, cutting red tape and empowering local officials. following the tragic may 12
derailment of amtrak 188 in philadelphia that resulted in eight fatalities, senators wicker and booker added additional rail safety provisions approved by the committee. the bill passed by the committee is included in the multiyear transportation bill before the senate today would also advance the deployment of positive train control technology for averting accidents. i'm proud to note that we recently amended the multiyear transportation legislation to expand this authorization. never before has the senate authorized robust, dedicated and mandatory funding for positive train control implementation. the amendment accepted by the senate earlier today would authorize $199 million in p.t.c. grants and loan financing for commuter railroads in fiscal year 2016. this is the highest single-year authorization for p.t.c. ever. using the railroad rehabilitation and improvement financing program commuter
railroads will be able to leverage this funding for $2 billion in loans necessary to cover their p.t.c. capital needs. in addition to advancing deployment of p.t.c., the wicker-booker bill would require p speed passenger plans for railroads to address train modifications, crew communication practices and other measures to prevent overspeed derailment. it would require grade crossing action plans to improve state-grade crossing safety efforts and it would consolidate grant programs to focus resources on critical safety and infrastructure needs. building on the work of the commerce committee's ranking member senator nelson, the bill would increase the rail passenger liability cap for inflation from the $200 million set in 1997 to $205 million with inflation adjustments every five years. the bill applies the new higher cap retroactively to the date of the amtrak accident in
philadelphia thereby raising potential compensation available to victims and their families. this legislation also includes a measure from senator peters to require a thorough examination of amtrak's postaccident response following the philadelphia derailment ensuring a close look at whether amtrak addressed the needs of families and passengers involved in the tragedy. senator peters' work will make meaningful improvements to amtrak's emergency preparedness going forward. as we worked on the legislation before committee adoption, i included a requirement for all passenger railroads in the nation to install inward and outward facing cameras on their locomotives. this fulfills an outstanding recommendation of the national transportation safety board. these cameras will not only help with accident investigations, a need that we saw following the philadelphia derailment but will help monitor each passenger railroad's compliance with critical safety requirements. last week i received a letter from ntsb chairman christopher
hart stating -- and i quote -- "i applaud the recent passage of the passenger rail safety bill. i was pleased to see the inclusion of recommendations regarding inward and outward facing audio and image recorders. thank you for your support of the ntsb." the bill also includes extensive contributions from senator blumenthal to improve passenger rail safety, including redundant signal protection, to increase roadway worker safety potentially preventing tragedies like the one in west haven connecticut, in 2013. senator blumenthal also made important contributions on provisions covering alerters, signage and track inspections. the bill includes his proposal for the federal railroad administration to increase oversight of needed safety improvements at metro north. mr. president, i'd like to put in the record the following documents: the federal railroad administration's operation deep dive report outlining the safety concerns of metro north in setting forth specific directed
actions. the bill before the senate would require the f.r.a. to follow up on that report and its recommendations. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: i'd also like to include emergency order 29 which was issued after terrible derailments in the bronx bridgeport connecticut and west haven. this would apply the speed order framework to the entire network reducing the risk of future overspeed derailments. i would also like to include a statement from senator blumenthal following the news that 13 current and former metro north employees had been accused of cheating on licensing exams. the statement reads my amendment was accepted into the bill which was voted out of the committee favorably and i urge the senate to take up the measure swiftly so we can ensure metro north is implementing true safety reforms. end quote. i echo senator blumenthal's statement and i urge the senate to ensure metro north and other railroads improve safety by voting in support of the bill before the senate.
working with senator cantwell who has been a strong advocate for crude birail safety we've also included in the bill new requirements for realtime train information to aid emergency response officials in the event of an accident. senator baldwin worked last year to ensure emergency officials have advanced notice of crude oil and ethanol train units or i should say unit trains traveling through their jurisdictions. this bill also includes a provision for comprehensive oil spill response plans to ensure railroads are prepared and have resources positioned to respond to worst case scenarios another priority from our colleague from washington state senator cantwell. further aiding emergency response efforts senators boorks -- booker and menendez has work which will examine the sufficiency of response information carried by train crews addressing issues raised in relation to the 2012 derailment in new jersey. senator manchin worked to ensure
tank car owners and shippers annual report on their compliance with new tank car requirements creating stronger oversight for these important safety upgrades. in addition, senator manchin and i have agreed on the need for a real-world derailment test of electronically controlled pneumatic brakes. as this testing moves forward the existing department of transportation requirement will be kept in place unless the real-world testing and evaluation show the requirement is not justified. enhancing the bill's grade crossing safety provision senator gaird ner added stroarng oversight of actions pertaining to the use of locomotive horns and highway rail grade crossings. senator klobuchar included timely provisions to help address issues with the blocking of crossings as a result of idling trains. the bill also incormts the work of -- incorporates the work of senator blunt which will streamline the permitting process for rail improvements making our critical
infrastructure dollars go even further. senator dean's include provisions to include development options for amtrak to return a profit potentially increasing private sector investment in our nation's passenger rail system. the reforms extend to project financing. senator booker's embedded r.i.f. reform bill cosponsored by senators heller, carper and kirk will create a faster and more flexible r.i.f. program. i applaud senator kirk for his contributions to the reform bill including the loan process and facilitating more timely and transparent decisions. these loans can be used for safety improvements including positive drain control. it explains why its inclusion in the broader surface transportation bill is strongly supported by transportation for america, the states for passenger rail coalition the national association of railroad passengers and the american public transportation
association, and the southern rail commission. mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent to include those particular statements in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: transportation for america wrote that the committee reported legislation would be an important step forward in creating a transportation program that will boost the nation's economy and ensure future prosperity. it also stated the bill would improve the safety of our nation's rail system. the states for passenger rail coalition stated that the bill will -- and i quote -- "empower state departments of transportation to maximize their resources and make efficient and effectively mobility investments." it said the coalition -- and i quote -- "applauds the committee's work to enhance safety programs." the national association of railroad passengers said the bill will be a positive step needed to build the modern rail system american workers and businesses will need to compete in the 21st century global economy. end quote. mr. president, i would also ask
unanimous consent to submit a support letter from over 100 other local state and national leaders including mayors from cities such as alexander virginia; cleveland ohio and la hunta, colorado. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: thank you mr. president. building on the work of the commerce committee the multiyear transportation bill also includes a bipartisan extension to the p.t.c. deadline. it is a case-by-case approach with enforceable milestones and metrics. the secretary of transportation aprofs or disa approves of a railroad's updated schedule including the hard-end date. under no circumstances could the secretary approve a date for full installation and activation that is later than 2018. the secretary also has the authority to identify and require changes to deficient schedules that do not show safe and successful implementation as soon as practicable.
multiple government reports including from the government accountability department, have concluded that the vast majority of railroads will not meet the december 31, 2015, deadline for p.t.c. implementation. this extension will not delay safe and successful implementation of positive train control technology. rather it offers a realistic approach to ensure this important technology is implemented as quickly as possible without risking shut-downs of rail service that will not meet the current deadline no matter what the law says. this proposal is not novel. senate bill 1006 with original cosponsors blumenthal, schumer and gillibrand, would extend the deadline to the end of 2018 on a case-by-case basis in one-year increments. despite good-faith efforts from railroads, the bliewrmen that -- the blumenthal extension recognizes that it is simply not attainable.
in its grow america proposal the administration requested giving the secretary of transportation discretion to extend the deadline on a case-by-case basis without any constraints on the dates of the secretary -- that the secretary may approve. we follow this model but add explicit constraints on activation by 2018 while allowing the secretary discretion in overseeing testing to ensure that p.t.c. works as intended. recently railroads from across the country explained the potential disruption caused by the current unattainable deadline. virginia railway express or v.r.e. wrote to me stating that its commuter rail operations could be suspended after december 31, 2015. it has requested more time to ensure that p.t.c. works as intended. and i would ask unanimous consent to submit that letter into the record as well. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: burlington northern santa fe railroad has
collectively spend over $5 billion on funds already on implementation recently sent a letter stay stated the possibility "if congress has not extended the deadline for p.t.c. operations as of january 1 2016 neither passenger nor freight traffic would operate on bnsf lines that are required by federal law to have an interoperable p.t.c. system as of that date." i would ask unanimous consent to submit that record in letter into the record well. the presiding officer: without objection. thatmr. thune: this is now paired with robust, dedicated and mandatory funding for p.t.c. implementation among commuter railroads. recently the american public transportation association surveyed its commuter railroad members and found 50% were deferring maintenance to install p.t.c. and only 29% had a shot at installation by the end of
the year. that's why the national association of railroad passengers and rail labor support the inclusion of this in the you underlying measure and i would ask unanimous consent to submit these letters into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: it wrote in its letter "these funds are of critical importance as commuter railroads address the $3.5 billion in costs associated with installing p.t.c. systems." the national association of railroad passengers wrote "just as important as the level of the authorization is the structure of the eligibility. riff could potentially be used to leverage the amount provided by the drive act by a pack tear of ten." end quote. mr. president, the senate has an important opportunity to advance deployment of positive train control and help commuter railroads get over the finish line. in sum, this is a not rail safety and infrastructure improvement bill. amtrak provides service to over 30 million riders per year with stops in over 500 communities
and in 46 states. new york has about 6 million riders. pennsylvania about 3 million and state such as florida and virginia and washington all have over 1 million riders. this bill also improves the safety of commuter railroads which have nearly 500 million boardings per year. metro north serving new york, long island railroad and new jersey transit each have 80 million boardings per year. these passengers deserve the critical safety and infrastructure improvements put forward in this bipartisan legislation. mr. president, the failure to pass this bipartisan drive act which includes these passenger rail investments and safety improvements, would be a significant loss for the traveling public who utilize passenger rail systems across the country. mr. president, i would just simply conclude by adding that this is a copy of all the letters of support that we have received regarding provisions in
this legislation regarding the legislation in its entirety, and encourage members of the united states senate to support it. in addition to the letters i've already included, there are literally probably hundreds of letters in here from organizations who are impacted, affected by, benefit from provisions in the drive act. i hope when this comes to a final vote, which i believe it will sometime tomorrow, that we will demonstrate in a big bipartisan fashion our support for this legislation not forel what -- not only for what is it does for roads and bridges but also for what it does for freight transportation in this country and many of the things that i have just mentioned that we have included as part of the rail provisions in this bill. i yield the floor. mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: mr. president, i am on the floor this afternoon to talk about something i've had to talk about far too many times: extreme republicans pandering to their extreme base
by attacking women's health. my republican colleagues have picked this fight over spending bills, over the debt ceiling the list goes on. in fact, they even tried last week to attach political riders attacking planned parenthood to a bill that was supposed to help seriously wounded veterans start families. so we know how far they are willing to go to appeal to the tea party and what we are discussing today is more of the same. republicans are using undercover attack videos produced by a radical right-wing organization dedicated to taking away a woman's right to choose to once again here on the floor try to defund planned parenthood and take away critical health services from women. so mr. president as republicans try once again to get in between a woman and her health care, my colleagues are on the floor today to make one
thing very clear: this bill is a nonstarter. we are standing up to be the voices for millions of women and men across the country and to say that we are not going to let republicans hurt women and take away their health care, not on our watch. mr. president, 2.7 million women and men visit planned parenthood each year for health care. one in five women will visit planned parenthood at some point in their life. these women and their families are looking for everything from cancer screenings to birth control to basic primary care, and the bill some of my republican colleagues have introduced would take all of that away. it would leave women without the providers they know and the providers they trust. mr. president, i don't think women want the tea party making
their health care decisions for them. but under this bill that's exactly what would happen, and that's why it's not going anywhere. so mr. president republicans can go ahead and try for the umteenth time to turn back the clock on women's health and score political points with their extreme base instead of working with us on the real challenges in country faces. we need to be creating jobs and growing our economy and actually expanding access to health care. we want them to know we're going to be right there as this comes to the floor fighting back to make sure women come before politics and not the other way around. we fought this battle before and again and again adds and again. battles that we all thought were mentmentsettled, that women thought they won decades ago keep coming back. and each time we've made it clear: we are not going away.
they can put new spins on old ideas, they can try talking about it in different ways and they can look for any opportunity they want to bring this back up, but they should know that we are not going to be fooled and they will not fool women across the country. women in this country should be able to make their own decision about their own health care. our government should be investing in women's health, helping more women get access to care not moving in the opposite direction. so mr. president i really hope republicans finally learn their lesson and move on to the other things. but if not, we need them know we're going to be here, ready to stand up and fight for women in this country. thank you mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: i'll i i'm proud to join my colleague from washington state my very distinguished and dedicated colleague and others like her
who are championing this cause of defending planned parenthood. i'm proud to stand with planned parenthood in advocating and championing the cause of women's health care in this country. planned parenthood should really need no defense and indeed this body should not be spending valuable time and energy in this attack on women's health care that really is epitomized by an effort to defund planned parenthood. let's be very clear. many planned parenthood provides planned parenthood provides countless women across this country with breast cancer screening, funding for research into strengthening women's health care, and contraception. none of these activities are involved in abortion. they are entirely unrelated to
abortion. they are about women's health care. and the effort to defund planned parenthood is in fact an attack on women's health care. planned parent shooed parenthood should need no defense from any of us, because its activities immensely benefit women who depend on it and rely on its professionals for basic screening and testing and other activities that protect them from the ravages of cancer and other kinds of diseases that cost more to this nation if we deny planned parenthood that funding. now, planned parenthood is under attack. it is under siege from a sensationalistic and
disingenuous kind of publicity that are based on undercover videos. people are offended by them, and planned parenthood has in fact spoken to the merits of them. and i encourage planned parenthood to continue speaking to those videos. another was released just yesterday. planned parenthood should need no defense from us because the american people support it. the american women do because they know the reality, which is different from what is depicted in those videos. and the reality is that planned parenthood provides funding for women's health care. and so the defunding women's health care by defunding planned parenthoodparenthood should not be the goal or the effect of anything
we do in this body. i'm proud to stand and urge my colleagues to reject this attack from the most extreme members of the anti-choice movement, which seeks to undermine critical access to health care through planned parenthood. and my hope is that congressional opinion like american public opinion will continue to be, as we are on the side of planned parenthood. thank you mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. isakson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: mr. president, i will be joined on the floor by the distinguished senator from connecticut, senator blumenthal, who is the ranking member of the veterans affairs committee. senator mccain from arizona who was the leader behind the choice movement that took place last year in august, and senator roy blunt from missouri. and as we speak at this very moment the house is voting. they are vietnaming on vietnaming
voting on a three-month extension of the highway bill. they are a voting on a bill that we've agreed to fix the problem at the v.a. with regard to the funding of our hospitals and health care and to open up a new day in terms of veterans administration services for the veterans of our country. that was a misleading press re÷ was meant to create a crisis that didn't exist. the crisis was not in not having the money. the crisis was having it organized in such a way that could meet the v.a.'s needs. what's attached to the highway bill and coming over here is the following -- a redirection of
of $3 billion, $348 million into a fund just like the funds for non-v.a. and regular health care. so now all the money veterans' benefits is in the same pot. the limitations on paying for the benefits that were in the choice bill are not going to be there any longer so all money can be used to pay for the benefits for our veterans who have earned them. in addition, there will be an addition to the 40-mile rule to say that any veteran who lives 40 miles away or inside of 40 miles but can't get the services that they need for their health care, they can go to choice to get a health care provider of their choosing. choice was passed to react to a terrible crisis in the v.a. and arizona when the phoenix hospital in arizona had veterans die because appointments weren't kept, veterans couldn't get services mental health issues couldn't be handled. the choice act was engineered by senator burr and senator mccain. they did a great job. we're proud to be modifying in this highway extension to be able to serve all our veterans' needs, be sure we do not run out
of money and not appropriate an additional time other than what we already have. to the members that are listening to these remarks and will vote tomorrow, i want them to understand quite clearly when they read the bill, it will show money as emergency funding. that doesn't mean it's new or additional money. it just means the money that was appropriated last year as emergency funding for v.a. choice only will be able to use for veterans or benefits in terms of health care, no matter what program they're in, non-v.a. regular v.a. or v.a. choice. we want to see the choice is the force multiplier, the choice is the way we get our veterans timely appointments, the choice is the way we maximize the ability of our country to meet the needs of our veterans and bring private sector participation to our veterans without diminishing or taking away the services our veterans get from the v.a. i appreciate the help of senator blumenthal, i appreciate the work of chairman miller and speaker boehner who was instrumental in making this come about and happen.
so i now yield to senator blumenthal then senator mccain and then senator blunt. senator blumenthal. mr. blumenthal: thank you mr. chairman the chairman. veterans' affairs committee has correctly and appropriately stated what our goal is in seeking this transfer of funding, a goal that will be fulfilled by the bill coming to us from the house. it is, in fact, coming to us from the house you but as chairman isakson as very correctly stated it is the result of an initiative that he -- and i've been very proud to join him in this effort -- initiated with the v.a. secretary in our meeting last week and the leadership of the the house has joined in that effort. i'm proud and honored to be his partner in this effort which is absolutely necessary to continue the v.a.'s health care programs because this transfer of
$3.4 billion is required by the fact that the community in care programs of the v.a. will in effect exhaust their revenue stream unless we enable the v.a. to use some of this choice funding in this effort. it is necessary to permit v.a. programs and veterans to have access to money that is there it's for the same purpose as the community in care programs, they are in effect identical programs in terms of their basic efforts and goals and the meeting that we had that chairman isakson had last week, was very productive and very important in reaching a consensus, a bipartisan consensus. and i urge my democratic colleagues on this side of the
aisle to join in this effort to enable the v.a. programs to go forward and to make sure that we continue to keep faith with our veterans leave no veteran behind when it comes to health care and make sure that we fulfill our obligation to all of our veterans in mental health care in physical health care, in primary health care, in all the specialties that are served by this program and i want to thank my very good friend from georgia for his leadership in this effort. i'm proud to be his partner in serving this goal. and i yield the floor. thank you mr. president. mr. mccain: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: mr. president, i want to thank senator blumenthal and also my friend here from georgia the distinguished chairman of the veterans' affairs committee. in ensuring that we continue strong oversight and accountability at the v.a., it's much needed, there are a
lot of problems, but what the senator has done from georgia in a bipartisan basis is continue the funding added billions of dollars on top of their request, of the v.a.'s request, with approved every single increase in funding that's been requested and yet i am disappointed that the administration is seeking to use funds originally allocated for the v.a. choice card to pay for hospital and medical treatment needs. thanks to the work, though of the senator from georgia and our other colleagues, including chairman miller in the house of representatives, we will ensure that the v.a. health care will continue without any funding interruptions through the summer and into the new fiscal year. we'll do this to ensure that our disabled veterans do not suffer from the v.a.'s bureaucracy's mistakes and mismanagement. but i'd like -- i'd ask
unanimous consent mr. president, before i engage in a brief colloquy with the senator from georgia. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: i would ask my friend the senator from georgia, that the choice card, would you agree that the choice card was really a major breakthrough in concepts in that at least a certain portion of our veterans population would be able rather than have to go long distance in order to get v.a. care that they would be able to go to a local provider, and i wonder if the senator from georgia would discuss for a moment comment on whether that program has been viable, how it is accepted or not accepted by our veterans population and whether we need to make it permanent or not. mr. isakson: i thank the senator from arizona for his question. it was the senator from yesterday who initiated the choice movement last august when
bee had the terrible crisis in phoenix where appointments weren't made for some veterans and in some cases they died. we maded to -- voted to ensure that if the v.a. medical facilities couldn't provide they can use choice and go to a local provider either because of distance or service offered. that was initiated in november of last year and it has grown almost every single month in utility and use because it gives the v.a. a way when they're backed up to meet the needs of the veteran without saying we cannot help you. it's becoming more and more popular. not only is it helping the veterans to get services in a timely basis it's a force multiplier for the v.a. every time we can use a local medicare approved physician which is what choice does, you're saving the v.a. from having to hire a physician build another hospital room, provide another service yet the v.a. is controlling the services to the veteran. 6.5 million veterans have received choice cards since november of last year. the number started out slow but
they're picking up every single month because veterans like the fact thick go closer to home, they can get the service they need and be served in a timely fashion. i thank the senator for his initiation of the process and getting this addition passed today. mr. mccain: i thank the senator from georgia and i would ask two more questions. one is, isn't -- how important is it that we make it permanent and maybe even lock towards expansion of eligibility for the card and second of all, i know the senator from georgia has already discussed it, but when we have a $1.7 billion cost overrun on the construction of one v.a. hospital, what measures -- i mean we see cost overruns literally everywhere throughout the v.a. on their construction projects.
how do we fix that? mr. isakson: we can fixing it and i appreciate both questions. yum number up with, we need to repeal the sunset of choice which is two years and make it permanent. it's a force multiplier for the v.a. and added service for our veteran earns which is good, i commit you to as chairman i'm going to eliminate the sunsets from now on. as far as hospital overruns, the senator is right. denver was 428% overrun. and other hospitals being built all two or three times the original senate. the v.a. needs to be taken out of the business of building hospitals and transferring it to the corps of engineers who know what they're doing. they don't neat need to be building builds. they need to find private sector solutions wherever they can and do what they're chartered to
do provide services to our veterans who fought for our country. mr. mccain: in other words if there is a new facility to be built, that would be supervised constructed by the corps of engineers? mr. isakson: exactly with one exception, a modification to a clinic or something that's a smaller allocation or smaller appropriation, maybe anything under $25 million they might to but anything over $25 million like a hospital they won't do it the corps of engineers will do it. mr. mccain: i'm sure it's probably a dumb question but has anybody been held accountable? mr. isakson: that's the most intelligent question anybody could ask. the press asked me in denver when i wept out there with ranking member blumenthal and looked at the situation firsthand. after interviewing the v.a. people i was asked by "the denver post" how can we explain this midwest i said can you explain what a camel is? it's a horse built by a
committee. the v.a. is a horse being built by committee. most have left and aren't there will be accountable anymore. it's unconscionable for the hospital to cost what it cost. we have got he our arms around it and the army corps of engineers are overseeing the rest. but it's a matter of nobody being in charge and everybody being in charge, too many chiefs and not enough indians. too many people in charge of building builds buildings. mr. mccain: they must have gotten some of those bureaucrats from the pentagon. i thank both senator blumenthal and you mr. chairman, for the great work that you are doing. as you know, this whole scandal began in arizona at the phoenix v.a. where allegations remain that over 50 veterans died while awaiting care. so obviously all of us have an obligation to all of our
veterans but i know my colleagues can understand kind of the special aspects of where this whole thing began. so i'm very grateful and on behalf of the veterans of my state i want to thank both of you for your leadership and your commitment and so i can go back to my veterans community and i'll be having town hall meetings and meetings with them and assure them that at least we think we are taking measures that put us on the right track. i want to thank the senator from missouri for his patience while we engaged in this colloquy. mr. isakson: i want to acknowledge the fact that choice never would have happened had not the senator from arizona immediately responded when the crisis came about and i thank him for his action. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: i want to thank our friend from arizona the distinguished cosponsor with me of the clay hunt suicide
prevention act for his great work on this area as well as health care generally for our veterans. but he has raised one of the most profoundly important as well as intelligent questions as my colleague from arizona has said, about accountability. accountability for the debacle and delays in health care and cooking of books that led to the choice program but also accountability for the cost overruns and the delays in the construction of the aurora colorado facility, a billion dollars at least over budget, and months if not years delay as well as in other construction facilities. and i just want to say to my friend from arizona that the chairman and i are focused on the accountability issue here and we are working on a
legislative measure working together in a bipartisan way on a legislative measure that will meet the test of constitutionality as well as effectiveness in holding accountable past and future officials at the v.a. for these kinds of mismanagement and other errors. so i want to thank him for raising this issue and i apologize to my colleague from missouri for delaying him from taking the floor. and again thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: i want to join senator mccain in thanking senator isakson and senator blumenthal for the package that we're putting together here that we're talking about and join them in thanking senator mccain for really coming forward and giving reality to this idea that many of us have advocated for some time, more choices for veterans, more competition to see who serves veterans and i think the numbers
senator isakson have used here today would indicate that veterans every month are embracing this idea of more choices. you know it makes commence that there are a few things that the veterans' health care system should be better at than anybody else. they should be better at posttraumatic stress, dealing with that unique battle situation that so many of our veterans are facing right now. i don't even -- it's not a disorder. it's just a problem that veterans have because of what we ask them to do and where we ask them to do it. they should be better at the i.e.d.'s explosive devices dealing with the injuries that come from those kind of attacks eye injuries and others. they should be better in all likelihood at dealing with prosthetics because in the history of military service so many of our people who serve have lost arms and legs, and the v.a. has been good at prosthetics because of that, but
frankly, mr. president, i don't know very much else that you should argue that they should be better at than the person -- than the place you probably drive by to get to their facility. there is absolutely no reason to think that the veterans administration should be a better place to get your heart bypass surgery done or a better place to get your renal cancer dealt with or a better place to do almost anything else. if in fact, there is that unique v.a. location that has become better at those things than anybody else, that's a great place for veterans to go, but our goal here should be to get veterans the choice they need to go to the location that works best for them. you know, in looking at veterans' mental health, whenever senator stabenow and i last year proposed the excellence in mental health act particularly young veterans wanted to have more choices. they wanted more choices that worked better with work and worked better with their family
and let them access those kinds of facilities in an easier way. that kind of assistance in an easier way. so seeing the steps that this bill begins to take i think is something we should all embrace. we should also hold the v.a. accountable for doing everything they could it appears to me, to resist the concept that the congress wanted them to embrace. every similar obstacle. this bill addresses some of those obstacles. i joined with senator moran in a bill he had so the veterans administration could no longer say well, the way we read the law in the strictest possible sense, if you're within 40 miles of a facility, no matter whether your health care problem can be dealt with there or not you don't meet the 40-mile criteria. well, of course the intention of congress was that they meet the 40-mile criteria, and this piece
of legislation with the help of senator blumenthal and senator isakson and chairman miller in the house begins to clarify that. i had a bill that the house passed some time ago hire more heroes that allows veterans to have some advantage in hiring and those companies that are right at 50 employees because of the difficulties of the new health care requirements for employers, those employers don't want to get more than 50. the hire more heroes provision of this will let veterans to have tricare who have veterans provided care of one kind or another be hired by an employer and not count toward the 50, because they don't need to be counted in terms of who needs health care because they already have it. that's what this does. so i'd like to see a better job done here. the st. louis facility, the cochran facility in st. louis one of the more troubled facilities i think in the
country right now the big v.a. hospital there is about to get its eighth interim director in two years. now, there is some serious management problem when one of your major facilities with some of your significant problems as an agency is now on its eighth interim -- looking forward to its eighth interim director in two years. no problems are going to be solved by a half a dozen interim directors, and the head of the v.a. needs to understand that, just like everybody else does. the waiting list for getting a v.a. appointment that waiting list is longer than 30 days, is more than 50% bigger than it was a year ago so the choice aspect of this looking for more flexibility and how you apply the ability of veterans to get their health care where they want to get their health care is a good thing. i'm certainly disappointed that we're looking at another short-term extension of the
highway bill, but if you have to put something with that short-term extension of the highway bill that moves veterans' choice and competing for who can provide health care to veterans in the best way as this addition does, i think it's a great step in the right direction. i certainly want to work with senator blumenthal and the chairman's pledge to do everything he could to make this -- this competitive environment where veterans can get their health care where they want it in the best way a permanent part of veterans health care is something i want to do. i had one of my good friends introduce me at a meeting at a v.a. hospital about a year ago. he said senator blunt has been telling me for about ten years we needed to have more choice. i have been telling him the v.a. could do the job. i'm now convinced that more choice is what we need, and i think we're seeing our veterans and their families, many of whom
have had great experiences at veterans administration facilities but every one of whom should have a great experience the best possible experience at whatever facility they go to in gratitude of the service they have provided us. and so i'm glad these additions are in the bill. i look forward to working with my colleagues as we try to make competition work better, as we try to ensure that it's permanent and we try to make the veterans administration work for the veterans instead of being focused on working for the veterans administration. and i would yield my time. mr. blumenthal: i want to thank my colleague from missouri for his support as well as the comments made by senator isakson and senator mccain. we have bipartisan support for
this initiative to make sure that our veterans continue to receive health care that is necessary because funds will be terminated at the end of august if we fail to act. that is a short-term -- in effect a short-term fix that is necessary because of the present structure of funding within the v.a. i think we can take this step and leave for another day the question of how long the choice program should be extended, if it should be extended. and i just want to say that my hope is that accountability and funding will focus on making the v.a. even better than it is. the reason for accountability is to make sure that v.a. hospitals and providers are giving our veterans world-class first-class health care.
and i welcome the senator from missouri's focus on what the v.a. does well. i hope it does everything well that it is doing from primary care to women's health care to all of the clinics that are run the initiatives that it's taking in telemedicine. the v.a. ought to be providing the best health care available in the world to our veterans. they need it and deserve it, and we need to make sure that we keep faith with those veterans. i'm proud that we are taking this step on a bipartisan basis to address a short-term challenge of $3.4 billion that must be transunfettered from -- transferred from the choice program to other accounts in the v.a. to make sure that the money is available to provide this funding and keep health care going to our veterans. thank you mr. president. i yield the floor and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk
mrs. shaheen: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: mr. president are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes, we are. mrs. shaheen: i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. shaheen: thank you mr. president. well here we go again. once again planned parenthood is under attack. the bill is before the senate that would once again attempt to defund planned parenthood and once again we're seeing the republican majority with their partisan agenda ahead of health of women. for 100 years planned parenthood has been a trusted provider of health care services. last year alone, planned parenthood of northern new england served 12,000 women in new hampshire. most of them are low-income.
and for many women in my state of new hampshire the full range of health services offered at planned parenthood is the most affordable and accessible way for them to get the care they need. 94% of the services provided by planned parenthood in new hampshire are prevention related. we can see on this chart it's well woman visits, cancer screenings vaccinations, birth control, breast exams h.i.v. tests. planned parenthood provides the health care that so many women need to ensure that they can live their lives in a way that is -- gives them opportunities and gives them reassurance that they're going to have their health. i oppose the legislation that has been introduced to defund planned parenthood. it would make it harder for millions of women as i said,
12,000 in new hampshire last year alone to get the high-quality affordable care that they need. and this attack on women's health is politically motivated. it holds hostage the millions of women and families who depend on planned parenthood. the highly edited videos that have been circulated are disturbing. planned parenthood has apologized and the secretly taped videos and planned parenthood's practices are under review by the department of justice. that's appropriate. but make no mistake about it, the group that's responsible for these deceptive videos is motivated by a single purpose: to limit access to abortion services. its three officers are prominent in the antiabortion movement. they have ties to many other politically motivated groups that are working to take away a woman's right to choose.
they have been tied to organizations that harass medical providers doctors patients try and limit access to women's health care clinics. and they actively work to limit the reproductive health care decisions that a woman can make. now, federal dollars are already prohibited from being used to pay for abortion under the hyde amendment. except in cases of rape, insist, or when the health of the mother is threatened. so this is not a vote to defund abortion. this is a vote to defund preventive health care for women, the kinds of things that are outlined on this chart. the cancer screenings, the vaccinations the breast exams the h.i.v. tests and birth control. you know, if you don't like abortion, you should support family planning which is one of the things that planned parenthood does. by targeting planned parenthood, this politically motivated attack on women's health will
limit access to health care services that i think we all agree should be available the kinds of services that are listed on this chart. on behalf of the millions of women who are served by planned parenthood and the thousands of women in new hampshire i oppose and i will continue to oppose any attempt to defund planned parenthood, an organization that is absolutely a critical component of women's health care. so, thank you mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from michigan.
mr. peters: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. peters: thank you mr. president. the united states is a world leader in new technological advancements and in no sector is that better illustrated than in the auto industry. we find ourselves at a critical juncture in terms of vehicle technology. advancements such as super lightweight materials and vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications are rapidly coming to market and changing the way americans get to work, go on vacation and move goods and services across the country. with a shared goal in maximizing the potential of these technologies we must get ahead of curve and think about how to seamlessly weave them together in a way that will increase public safety, fuel efficiency and vehicle performance. that's why i'm excited to be leading two bills that will provide the tools that researchers, engineers manufacturers and others need to create the next generation of cars and trucks built in
michigan and in states all across the country. the vehicle innovation act builds on the department of energy's innovative work to improve vehicle fuel economy and minimize petroleum use. the vehicle innovation act is bipartisan with strong support from my lead cosponsors, senators alexander and stabenow. thanks to a team effort, it passed as an amendment to the bipartisan energy bill in the energy and natural resources committee yesterday by a vote of 20-2. the need for this legislation is clear. oil dependency is driven by transportation particularly cars and trucks. transportation is responsible for 66% of u.s. petroleum usage and 27% of greenhouse gas emissions. america's dependence on oil possesses significant economic, energy and environmental risk to the u.s. and the department of defense has recognized that our reliance on oil puts our men and
women in uniform at greater risk. we have 240 million light-duty vehicles on the road in the u.s. and it takes decades of sustained effort to turn over that fleet. it is absolutely critical that we develop the advanced technologies now in order to achieve fuel savings in the future and become truly energy independent. the vehicle innovation act establishes a consistent and consolidated authority for the department of energy's vehicle technologies program which promotes partnerships with the public and private sector to improve fuel efficiency in vehicles. through this program the d.o.e. will collaborate with light-duty automobile and medium- and heavy-duty commercial truck engineers, manufacturers and suppliers to conduct cutting-edge research that will help us advance the future of fuel-efficient cars and trucks. d.o.e.'s sustainable transportation initiatives are already making great strides in
vehicle efficiency, and it will continue to strengthen these activities while providing new authorities to expand their work. the super truck initiative is a great example of this. industry partners have achieved and exceeded the program goal of a 50% improvement in overall freight efficiency on a heavy-duty class a tractor-trailer. some have even reached over a 100% improvement. my bill ensures that the d.o.e. will be able to continue working with the industry on super trucks. another example that the vehicle innovation act will build on is the work on multimaterial lightweight vehicles. ballistic vehicle and manufacturer design griewssments can result in weight reductions and fuel economy gains of over 20%. the vehicle innovation act is technology-neutral. it develops and strengthens the toolbox for auto experts without picking winners and losers.
it also directs the department of energy to continue its investment into multiple transformational technologies such as hydrogen and batteries. d.o.e. research has cut cochtsz for fuel -- cut costs for fuel cell systems by 200% six 2006. my bill will expand d.o.e.'s focus into the near term deployments that will result in major savings for the national fleet. the vehicle innovation act includes new research authorities on vehicle to vehicle or v to v communication systems. this technology allows cars to talk to one another and recognize dangers that radars, cameras and other technologies can't detect. as we are working on this, we must also ensure we are keeping pace with technologies in our infrastructure. vehicle-to-vehicle infrastructure or v to i this technology allows vehicles to
communicate with the road and has the ability to prevent collisions, relieve traffic congestions and reduce unnecessary energy consumption. that's why i introduced another bill by authorizing states to use existing surface and highway transportation funding to invest in v to i projects. an example of this in action is a monitor on a bridge that will tell approaching drivers if there is a dangerous ice build-up on it. other examples include traffic signals that warn vehicles of stopped traffic or sensors warning of nearby emergency vehicles or work zones. in 2013, the national highway safety administration found that more than 32,000 people were killed in vehicle crashes. and according to nhtsa v to v and v to i the new technologies being developed will be able to eliminate up to 80% of vehicle
accidents involving nonimpaired drivers once they are fully deployed. i am pleased that my v to i legislation is included in the overall highway bill the senate is considering this week and i look forward to working in the fall during the conference to make sure that this funding eligibility language remains in the bill. v to v and v to i technology are part of the auto industry's future and will be readily available in the near term. that is why it is so important we make these investments in our infrastructure now to ensure we can start using these lifesaving technologies as they become available. taken together these two bills represent the type of forward-thinking policy making that congress should be focused on every day. investments in research and development have demonstrated the ability to transform our society for the better, and i'm determined to make sure that the united states is the country that's driving forward advanced technology instead of putting on the brakes and being left
behind. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: thank you very much. mr. president, i come to the floor to speak about the importance of protecting women's health and protecting their access to their health. in other words their choice. i strongly oppose what is becoming a major effort to defund planned parenthood. planned parenthood has ensured women receive the health care they need for almost 100 years now. that was before women even had the right to vote. its founder watts thrown in jail for -- its founder was thrown in jail for making birth control available and it has been under constant attack since then. ingts -- i think the senate needs to stand up on behalf of
of millions of women across this country and vote "no" on any amendment that would defund planned parenthood. this organization is the primary health care provider for millions of american women. one in faff women in this country has been to planned parenthood. i've received hundreds of e-mails and calls from women in california about their support for and experiences at planned parenthood. they've told me that doctors there listen to them, the nurses became their friends and they felt valued as patients. before they went to planned parenthood, they were worried about their health. they didn't know if they'd be able to get the care they need, and they didn't have the information to make smart healthy lifestyle choices. one young woman from santa barbara told me about a health care scare she had when she was 20. pre-cancerous cells were discovered during her annual
exam. planned parenthood didn't have the equipment to perform a follow-up procedure she needed, but that didn't keep the clinic staff from helping her. they connected her to the only ob-gyn in the city who accepted low-income patients, and she got the care she needed. she said, and i quote "since that early detection and intervention, i have been healthy, and i would not be so were i not -- i would not be where i am today without planned parenthood." another young woman from victor victorville, california, told me that it was hard to get information about how to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and access contraception. these girls knew in high school that they would become pregnant. it wasn't until she visited a planned parenthood in college that she could make responsible health care decision.
another young woman shared her abortion story. she was 19 when she became pregnant. she felt scared and alone. she said, quote "during a time when a tough decision has to be made and a million thoughts were running through my mind, i was relieved to know that i was in the hands of people whose only goal was to help me. four years later she still uses planned parenthood as her primary health provider and encourages her friend and family to do -- to use them also. i'd like to just say a little bit about the services planned parenthood provides and how it uses federal funds. nearly 80% of its patients are low-income making less than $18,000 a year. without planned parenthood, many of these women could not access the most basic health care services. that bears repeating.
planned parenthood is often the only option for women to get their annual checkup. it provides breast exams contraception, prenatal care, cancer screenings, and testing for sexually transmitted diseases including h.i.v. it also runs teens pregnancy prevention and health education programs that reach more than a million young people per year. and that's why the federal-funded planned parenthood -- the federal funding planned parenthood receives goes for that. in 2012, planned parenthood used federal funds to provide the following: nearly a million breast exams nearly 400,000 cervical cancer screenings contraception for 2.2 million patients, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections
for 4.5 million patients. in addition to serving predominantly low-income women planned parenthood operates in some of the most underserved communities in this country. for example without planned parenthood 13 of california's 58 counties would not have a single clinic to provide family planning services to low-income women through title 10 programs. attacks on planned parenthood are a concerted attack on access to safe, legal abortion services in this country make no mistake about t it. the group behind this attack, the center for medical progress, has long long-standing advertise to the anti-choice movement, including operation rescue, which is closely aesht associated with clinic violence. while abortion accounts for only
3% -- 3% -- of the health care services provided by planned parenthood, it is often only the only abortion provider in a state or a region. for example, there are ten abortion clinics in texas just a few years ago there were 36. 26 clinics were forced to close after texas passed a law aimed at ending abortion in the state. the supreme court has put some provisions of that law on hold for further review, but the point is that laws like the one in texas force much-needed facilities to close. just ten clinics in texas have met the necessary and burdensome new requirements. five of those are planned parenthood clinics. if planned parenthood closes, texas loses half of its remaining abortion providers in
one fell swoop. so the goal of the groups pushing this effort is clear: it is to chip away bit by bit at a woman's ability to make her own health care decisions in consultation with her family and her doctor. that's their goal, not matter the cost to women across the country who rely on planned parenthood for cancer screenings annual checkups and other essential services. and, in my view, this is simply wrong. i am really troubled by the aggressive tactics used by anti-choice groups, the illegal filming of a medical procedure the hacking of p.d.p.'s p.d.p.'s planned parenthood's records. in 19194 we passed the freedom
of access to clinic act in response to a spate of violence episodes targeting women's health care clinics. two doctors a clinic escort and two receptionists at a planned parenthood facility in boston were killed by anti-abortion activists during three separate attacks in 1993 and 1994. this week, upon learning that her name and e-mail address had been published one planned parenthood staffer in california told my office that she refused to be intimidated because she knows that's now the whole point. i am cornered concerned that the message is being sent that it is okay to commit crimes against planned parenthood it's employees and
its patients. it is not. that sort of message can be taken up by extremists and become very dangerous for women and doctors across the country. whether you support the right to choose or not -- and i very much do -- we should all be very careful here. doctors and clinic staff who provide constitutionally protected health care services and women who access these services should not be terrorized and threatened. in closing mr. president let me return to where i started. i believe that if there is a movement to withhold funding from planned parenthood, that movement will not be successful. i believe that will be defeated right here in the united states senate. so i do not understand why even try to do this at this time?
this country has so many problems not the least of which are things that i deal with every day on the intelligence community: the fear of extremists the attacks by terrorists those who would want to strike this homeland. it seems to me that we do not need this fight now tuckly particularly a fight where those who oppose planned parenthood, i believe, will be seriously defeated. so if a bill does come before us, i believe it's a mistake and i would urge my colleagues to oppose it. i thank the chair. i yield the floor.