tv U.S. House of Representatives CSPAN December 24, 2009 10:00am-1:00pm EST
problems, if there is a behavioral health issue, serious injury, how that affects the family unit. we are very anxious to do more for the families. we are so grateful for what they do. so many of them do this, of course, out of the absolute love of the soldier, with no thought of compensation or anything. but quite frankly, we cannot be successful without what they do. i'm glad your son is having a good experience at fort bragg, and we wish 1him and his family the very best. host: we will be airing our recent senate armed services committee hearing on the wooded warrior program -- on the wounded warrior program. our last call is from ohio on the line for democrats. caller: good morning. first of all, i would like to wish all our service members
overseas and at home a safe and happy christmas and a safe new year. i'm a disabled vietnam veteran, and i tell you what, i have nothing but praise for teh va. they have been taking good care of me. they gave me a breathing machine from sleep apnea -- for my sleep apnea the other day. also, i wanted to make a comment. i tried to get through the other day. there was some republican -- i forgot what his name was -- congressman are something -- was that nothing -- was badmouthing the va about health care or something. i thank god every day for iteh he va. without them, i don't know where i would be. guest: i agree completely. but -- the department is not
perfect, but not always get it right, but they are great partners of ours. i got a call from the mother of a soldier who is having difficulties, and as it turns out, she told the story of how he had been wounded in afghanistan, a real serious brain injury. he arrived in a coma. ultimately, his next treatment was done at the minneapolis va, and she described his treatment -- she said it was nothing short of a miracle that he went from basically in a coma to walking, talking, fully functional. as he went to the next stage of his care, he started to the problems, and i spoke to him, and he said that it was not aggressive enough for him. we brought him back to walter reed and completed his care there. this young man has reenlisted,
is an intelligence specialist, will stay in the army. i returned to minneapolis to thank the va care providers there for all they have done for him. i'm glad they're taking good care of you. they are a great partner of ours in this. we are very grateful for the service they provide, for veterans and active duty soldiers as well. host: gov. -- no, general cheek, thank you for being on the program. guest: thank you, and i'm grateful for all the care for the wounded soldiers. the love and care from the nation makes quite a difference. host: another programming notes -- notable books from 2009 -- "washington journal," during the last hour on friday, will be
>> next, house and senate negotiators will work on reconciling the different versions of the bill in january after the holiday break. if we will show you highlights coming up next starting this morning early, with senators making a final statements on the vote. then reaction from democrats, president obama, and a wrapup on the hill by capitol reporter. remarks that the majority leader made about all of the people that work at the capitol during the difficult an intense time. we thank you very much for your outstanding service. it's early and i'll be brief. the most obvious problem with the bill before us is it doesn't do what it was supposed to do. the one test for any bill was whether it would lower costs.
this bill fails that test. asked the one test for any bill is whether it would lower costs. this bill fails that test. it is also clear that many of the people even on this side are going to support the spill and they do not like it. otherwise, the democratic leaders would not have such -- have had such a tough time running of the votes. otherwise, democratic leaders would not have had to have votes in the middle of the night or at the crack of dawn, or over the weekend, or even during a blizzard. otherwise, there would not be rushing it through congress on christmas eve. the first time this body has had a vote on the day before christmas and more -- in more than a century. this debate was supposed to produce a bill that would reform health care in america.
instead, we are left with party- line votes in the middle of a night, a couple of this regard deals to get it over the finish line -- sweetheart deals to get it over the finish line, and a truly outraged public. the problem they were told would be fixed was not. i guarantee you that people who voted for this bill are going to get an earful when they finally get home for the first time since thanksgiving. they know there is widespread opposition to this monstrosity. and i want to assure you, mr. president, this fight is not over. in fact, this fight is long from over. my colleagues and i will work to stop this bill from becoming law. that is the clear world of the american people and we're going
to continue -- the clear will of the american people we're going to continue to fight on their behalf. >> mr. president? >> majority leader. >> so many endeavors that have benefited so many americans making health insurance more affordable and more cattle is a process. it is one that has required us to -- more accountable is a process. that is one that has required us -- that is why we have reduced the deficit by $132 billion. over the next decade, as much as $1.3 trillion. mr. president, everyone knows we have had boats in the middle of the night and on christmas eve because the republicans would not allow us to have the votes at any other are. it is true that when we go home and we will hear a near four. i will your and your full -- i
will hear an earful about a boy that was born with legs that stopped right above his knees. needed a new prosthetic devices because the rest of his body is growing, but the insurance company said no because he had a disability. i will get an earful of joy and happiness because, you see, mr. president, from this day forward insurance companies will not be able to deny coverage because of a pre-existing disability. people like caleb and others with diabetes, it is over. it will be an earful, yes, but it will be wonderful to happen is that people have waited for for a long time. this is not the end of the process. this is merely the beginning. we will continue to work -- to build on the success to improve our health system even more and to ease the burden on american
families and businesses. but the process cannot begin unless we start today. the american people and the american economy cannot -- afford for as to wait for the next time. because you see, mr. president, there may not be in next time. nearly 65 years ago harry truman condemned the citizens of economic effects. nearly 65 years later, we still suffer from the same. just months before world war ii came to a close, harry truman wrote, to this body, "we should resolve now that the health of this nation is a financial concern, but barriers in obtaining help show be removed, that the help -- the health of all the nations deserves the help of all the nation." decades have passed and the financial barriers have grown taller. but we will never solve the problem unless we find the
resolve, which we have not found until, mr. president, today. this is how long we have waited. think of those that were just one year old in 1945, the day truman issued is called to this body for action. there are far too many who have lived their entire lives without the ability to afford any type of health care. coverage to more and more expensive each year. insurance companies on more excuses to leave them out in the cold. and for those who worked in small businesses or owned one, knew that the peace health care can provide was merely a dream. today on the verge of 2010, those americans are finally just months away from qualifying for medicare. but as a long time for a citizen to wait for health care in the greatest and richest nation the world has ever known. how much of a can we afford to
put this off, or ask the uninsured for their patience? until health care costs consume not just one sixth of our economy, but one-third, or one have? we certainly do not have, mr. president, the luxury of waiting until america because the only developed nation on earth where you can die for lack of health insurance. we already bear the blemish. that is why we are bringing security and stability to millions who have health insurance spending held insurance to millions who have none. mr. president, could we have order? >> the senate will be in order. >> what we will do is ensure that consumers have more tauruses and insurance companies face more competition. we will set up for those greedy companies that drove millions to bankruptcy, foreclosure, and
sometimes even worse. will add years to the life of medicare and at the lyric -- years to the life of seniors. as we do all of this, we will cut our children's deficit in dramatic fashion. we may not completely careless crisis today or tomorrow, but we must start toward that end. we must strive for progress and not surrender for want of purity. our charge is to move forward. this is a tradition as old as this republic. one that has always comprised interests and opinions as diverse as the people who populate it. our founding fathers did not promise to form an infallible nation. they promised instead to promote the general welfare as we move toward a more perfect union. the value progress. our nation's leaders promised not absolute happiness, but only the pursuit of that goal. they valued opportunity.
and like other new programs that improve the lives of many anderson's strength and to improve even more, programs like medicare, medicaid, social security, progress and of urgency of what this historic bill represents. this is just the beginning. with senator ted kennedy's voice booming in our ears, with his passion in our hearts, we say as he said, the work goes on, because endures. opponents of -- the cause endures. opponents have used every trick in the book to delay this day, this moment, and yet, your we are minutes away from doing what many have tried, but none have ever achieved. we are here because facts will always defeat fair and though one might slow the progress, they cannot stop it. and though one might slow the speed of progress, its force
cannot be stopped. mr. president, i'm sorry to say that for the first time in american history and political party has chosen to stand on the sidelines rather than participate in great and grave in needed social change. i'm sorry to see that many on the other side have resorted to myths and misinformation and continue to rely on them long after they were developed. it is regrettable that they view our citizens' health care through political lanclens becae wanting to live a life is not about partisanship or pulling, but about people and life and death in america. it is about a question of morality and right and wrong. it is about human suffering. given the chance to relieve the suffering, we must shape -- take this chance and deliver on the promise that and the american
people have desert for six and a half decades. >> the clerk will read the bill for the third time. >> calendar #175, h.r. 3590, an act to amend the internal revenue code of 1986 to revise the first time homebuyers credit for federal employees and other purposes. >> the question is on gossage of age or 3590, which is the amended. there is a sufficient second. the nays are ordered. the clerk will call the world. -- but the clerk will call the roll. >> abubakar declerck colesville orol]
reporters. this is just under 10 minutes. >> i spent a very restless night last night trying to figure out how i could show some bipartisanship. and i think i was able to accomplish that for a few minutes today. never before has the senate from the resolve to make health insurance more affordable and health-insurance more accountable and until today. this is a victory for the american people, those fortunate enough to have health insurance will be able to keep theirs. and those who do not will be able to have of insurance. this is a victory because we have affirmed that the ability to live a healthy life in our great country is a right, and
not minnick -- nearly a privilege for the select few. this morning's vote brings us one step closer to bringing ted kennedy's dream a reality. the dream -- americans are also a part of that dream of ted kennedy's and that has also become a reality. every step in this process has become an enormous undertaking. i want to thank chairman baucus, a dog and rk -- dodd and bark ey. the senators murray and parking are off with their families. they're not here with us this morning. afford to our friends in the house -- to working with our friends in the house so we can send a bayville as soon as possible. we're not going to take any questions.
>> it has been nearly two years since we began our work on the health care reform here in the senate and we're all very proud of this moment. we do not stand here alone. but we of the champions of this effort all the way from the roosevelt to our good friend ted kennedy. we have stood with millions of families that have been forced into bankruptcy because of the cost of health care. we stand with the 45,000 americans dead die each year because they cannot afford health insurance. we stand with small-business owners who cannot afford health insurance for their employees. we stand with those that have been discriminated against or deny health insurance coverage because of a pre-existing condition. today, we make history for them and every american that has fallen victim to our broken up
your system. i especially want to thank leader reid for the territory has navigated the waters during this is a day that we're going to look back upon as senators as a very proud of what we have accomplished. but more important, very happy to see more people getting health-care and health care across been much more under control. this is why we came here. this is why we hired our for these jobs, to pass something very important and historic like this. thank you. >> thanlet me also thank senator reid. on this christmas eve, i cannot think of a better gift that the united states can give our float -- fellow citizens then lived in the fear of of their shoulders that they would not be able to provide for their families in a time of need. this was an enormous victory for the american public and i am
proud of the vote cast in favor of this effort. last year proved that progress is not easy, but today, we are able to prove that it is not impossible. and because of the leadership of harry reid, max baucus, tom of finance and some others, we're not on the cusp of providing all americans with the security of having decent health care. there's never been a vote cast that has done as much to relieve the burdens or read more security for working class families in america than this one. this is probably the most important vote that every member of this senate will cast in their tenure here. i am proud to be a part of it and i thank my colleagues for staying with us. and i was ted kennedy were here today to enjoy this. mary christmas, everybody. >> the corridors of the senate are filled with portraits and statutes of political leaders whose reputations and
contributions of many times have faded into obscurity. but i will tell you, the contribution to this nation made by senator from search light, nevada will become one of the shining chapters in the history of the united states senate and our nation. he achieved in what others have failed in trying to achieve and he did it with a tenacity and strength and determination that i have never seen in my time serving in congress. i am honored to have stood behind -- beside him with so many others to see this great day finally arrives. this is a time of long nights and darkness when history tells us that from the beginning of time people would gather and with their families and friends, they would look for signs of hope and even light a candle. this morning, this vote in the united states senate with a candle of hope for 50 million americans who went to bed last night without the protection of health insurance, for millions
to wait this morning who wonder if they will ever win that battle with the health insurance co. for the coverage they need, for the satirical procedure, for the medication. -- the surgical procedure, the medication. this also tackles one thing that every business knows is essential for our nation. we have done this with my fellow senators here, but also with the help and inspiration of the president who made this his highest agenda and told us he would work hard night and day to help us reach this moment. we owe our appreciation to him, and the vice president especially, for presiding over this special session this morning. >> thank you, and a happy holiday, merry christmas, happy new year to everybody. the bill can be described in a single sentence, and at the same
time it cuts costs, the waste, the fraud, the duplication endemic to our system. and of the same time it covers 31 million people. who would have thought we could do both in the same bill? who would have thought we could do it without a single republican vote and getting everyone of the 60 democratic votes? who would have thought that we could finally get a handle on the thing that is driving our budget deficit to great heights, which is health care costs, and at the same time do so much good by covering so many people? this is an amazing accomplishment. it would be an ordinary times. it is even more amazing under extraordinary times. and the three norseman of this bill stand behind me. -- the three horsemen of this bill stand behind me. leader reid did an incredible job. i stood in of how he could lead with such robert. max baucus star early and he
just persisted and persisted, no matter what blog was thrown away. and chris dodd, who kept the flame of ted kennedy and the spirit of doing the right thing and a good thing and reaching into a of -- and reaching to keep the highest by use of this country alive. mitch mcconnell said on the floor that we will go home and here our constituents rail against this bill. i do not believe that. i believe that the negativity that leader mcconnell and others that have continually displayed on the floor has peaked and now the people have actually learned -- will actually burn was in the bill and all the good that is going to be done, it will become more and more popular because it is good for america, good for the american people, and a true symbol of what we can do if we all pull together. [captioning performed by national captioning institute]
[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] >> senate democratic leaders after the vote this morning, 60-39, the legislation passes the senate. that was at about 7:30 a.m. eastern or so. meanwhile, president obama reacted a little bit later. he delayed his departure for the holiday break in hawaii until the senate passed a health care package. he is joined here by vice president biden, by the way, who was present at the vote in his role as the president of the u.s. senate. >> good morning, everybody. in an historic vote that took place this morning, members of the senate join their colleagues in the house to pass a landmark health insurance reform, legislation that brings us toward the end of a nearly century-long struggle to reform
america's health-care system. ever since teddy roosevelt first call for reform in 1912, seven presidents, democrats and republicans alike, have taken up the cause of reform. time and time again, such efforts have been blocked by special-interest lobbyists who have perpetuated the status quo that works better for the insurance industry than it does for the american people. but with passage of the bills both in the house and senate, we are now finally poised to deliver on the promise of real, meaningful health insurance reform that will bring additional security to the american people. the bill includes the toughest measures ever taken to hold the insurance industry accountable. insurance companies will no longer be able to deny your coverage on the basis of pre- existing condition. they will no longer be able to drop your coverage when you get sick.
you will allow iraq to pay unlimited amounts are of your own pocket for the treatments that you need, and you will be able to appeal unfair decisions by an insurance company to an independent party. when this legislation becomes law, workers will not have to worry about losing coverage if they lose or change jobs. families will save on their premiums. businesses that would see their costs rise if we do not act will save money out and they will save money in the future. this bill will strengthen medicare and extend the life of the program. it will make coverage affordable for for 30 million americans who do not have it. 30 million americans -- and because it is paid for and curbs the waste and inefficiency in our health care system, this bill will help reduce our deficit by as much as one -- by as much as $1.3 trillion in the coming decade, making it the largest deficit reduction plan in over a decade.
as i said before, these are not small reforms. these are big reforms. if passed, this will be the most important piece of social legislation since the social security act passed in the 1930's, and the most important reform our health care system since medicare passed in the 1960's. what makes it so important is not just its cost savings or deficit reductions. it is the and that that reform will have on americans who no longer have to go without a checkup or prescriptions they need because they cannot afford them, families that no longer have to worry that a single illness will send them into financial ruin, and businesses that face insurance rates that hampered competitiveness. i want to commend senator harry reid for the extraordinary work that he did, speaker pelosi for her extraordinary work and
dedication, having passed reform bills in both the house and the senate. we now have to take up the last step and reach an agreement on the final reform bill that i can sign into law. i look forward to working with members of congress in both chambers over the coming weeks to do exactly that. with today's vote, we are incredibly close to making health insurance reform a reality in this country. our challenge is to finish the job. we cannot assume another generation of americans to soaring costs and -- we a cannot doom another generous americans to soaring costs. let's make 2010 the year we finally reform health care in the united states of america. everybody, mary christmas and happy new year. >> do you have a holiday wish for the troops? >> i do, and i will actually -- i am on my way right now to call
a few of them and wish them a merry christmas and to thank them for their extraordinary service as they are posted in iraq and afghanistan. >> president obama from about 9:00 a.m. eastern this morning. he and the first family now headed to a white for the holidays. he is reacting to the senate vote this morning, 60-39, passing health care legislation. the next up, house and senate negotiations will begin on the combined a decision. senator baucus saying that will likely begin by phone even as early as the next couple of days. nebraska senator ben nelson was the last democrat to agree to vote for the health care bill after successfully it negotiating a provision to prevent use of federal funds to pay for abortions. he talked about that after the vote today on the senate floor.
ensuring that the long-standing hyde amendment would be incorporated into the bill. i have strongly-held views on the subject and i fought hard to prevent the tax dollars from being used to subsidize abortions. i was pleased that the house abortions -- i was pleased that the house included this in four of the stupek amendment. commodified this in the senate bill to prohibit federal funding of abortion. i was disappointed to see that the amendment was tabled by a vote of 54-45. i knew then that the underlying bill did not act quickly prohibit federal funding of abortion and consequently i would not be able to support it.
i began to look for other language to accomplish the goal that no public funds should cover abortion in the new health care bill. and after long days of negotiations, i believe we came up with a true compromise that stays faithful to my principles. i want to be clear, i stuck to my guns and stood for a pro-life principles. i did not look for weaker language. i looked for clearer language. and my goal stay the same, to maintain the standard that we had in federal law since the 1970's. while i respect the senator from kansas' opinion, i have to respectfully disagree. the son of language fully upholds a a high and principal like the language in the house bill. the wording may be different, but the principle is, in fact, upheld. under the health care bill, if you cannot afford insurance, you'll receive federal assistance to help pay for a
private health care plan. the stupak language prohibits the federal assistance to pay for abortions. if you would like a plan that covers abortion, you must purchase of a writer or an endorsement to your plan with your own funds. you can do that as well by writing just one check to the injured were. before that, you would get a separate piece of paper addressing abortion. the senate language, with my head of compromise, also prohibits federal funds from paint private insurance that covers abortion. -- from paying for private insurance that covers abortion. the only difference is that if you need assistance for of the insurance coverage and that plan has the ability to pay for abortion, you must pay separately from your own personal funds, perhaps a credit card transaction, a personal
check or automatic withdrawal from year-end account. let me say that again. you have to write two checks, one for the basic policy and one for the additional coverage for abortion. the latter has to be entirely from personal funds. so, under both the stupak and the senate language, no federal funds can be used to pay for a plan that covers abortion. if you choose to purchase abortion coverage, if it is available, you must pay out of your own pocket. furthermore, the senate which allows states to ban public and private insurance from supplying abortion coverage. already, 12 states banned abortion coverage on public plans and five state's ban abortion on both private and public plans. the senate bill ensures once
again that no federal funds would be used for abortion. i would like to note the senate bill goes beyond stupak in the two ways. and it expands the adoption tax credit to help parents with the considerable expense of making the credit refundable tax credit. this means that many potential parents who lack the of federal resources to adopt will now be in a better position to do so. i know people have very strong
feelings about the issue of abortion and i respect those who disagree with my position. but i could not support health reform that did not maintain the 30-year standard barring public funding of abortion. i did not compromise my pro-life principles. we just on different wording, different language that both will work. no public funding will go to abortion. in addition, provision and hours of states to pass laws that are banning the sale of insurance that covers abortion. i make it clear that this new bill does not in any way preempt the rights of states to be able to continue to make advancthat d the decisions that they might make legislatively and we want to make sure and that there is no doubt that this bill has no
pre-emption of state rights. but despite the scare tactics, the conscience clause remains. also, despite what those same people and even some of my colleagues have said, the bottom line is that the senate health care bill will not allow public funds to pay for abortions at all. thank you and i yield the floor. >> the u.s. and it came in on this christmas eve at 6:45 a.m. eastern. shortly after 7:00 they began to vote and it passed the vote -- the senate by a vote of 60-39. joining us on capitol hill, kathleen hunter, u.s. and joining us a bunch lately. she writes for "congressional quarterly." the bill passed today. it was the next up in the process? >> now that the bill has passed in the senate, the next step is
for the house and senate to meet in conference and resolve differences between their two versions of the bills. what will be the most contentious issues? >> mykleby the government run option, language on abortion. >> as is typical after passage of major legislation, a number of senators were releasing statements. senator feingold released a statement shortly -- a short time ago saying that he was deeply disappointed that the bill did not keep public costs down. could another version passed the house? >> the house bill passed and the senate bill did not. -- the house bill included diversion and the senate bill did not.
there were a number of centers that pushed hard for a hardopyion -- a public option with the opportunity for states to opt out. it turned out in the senate there was not enough support. the republicans were unified against it and there were a number of moderate democrats that opposed it, most notably, joseph lieberman from independent who said he was very much against that -- against that. the public plan was eventually dropped. it does not appear that the conference of that will change between now and january. it seems pretty unlikely that there will be supporting january for something there is not support for now. >> there are reports that poor -- said art stupak is not happy with what came out of the senate in terms of language. >> the abortion language was the main sticking point with senator ben nelson, a centrist democrat
from nebraska. majority leader reid met with senator nelson for a marathon session for two days at the end of last week to work out compromise language. he was fairly adamant that that language you worked out would not change. i know that congressman stupak has been talking on his side about pressing for the house press language, but it seems as though moving in that direction could lose support of liberals over here who tentatively and bridgton lee signed off on the deal that the senator reid and senator nas and worked out. >> thanks for the update and have a happy holiday. >> thank you, you too. >> the senate has finished a decision for the year, passing by 60-39. all democrats voting in favor, all republicans against, the only senator not voting was
senator jim bombing of kentucky. -- jim bunning of kentucky. >> the discussion on the role of muslims and know america and the world and later, a former cia intelligence officer on the u.s. strategy in al qaeda -- on al qaeda in afghanistan. and remembering the lives of william f. buckley jr. and senator ted kennedy. >> this christmas holiday we have got three days a book tv on c-span2. at the beginning friday morning at 8:00 a.m., books on history and public affairs. you'll see sarah palin on her recent book tour and you will hear about the biography on supreme court justice scalia. tracy kidder from the recent miami book festival is also included. you can get the full schedule
at booktv.org. merry christmas. >> now is an accurate and pilot fatigue and aviation safety. there were questions about recent accidents involving fatigue and the required experience of airline pilots. it runs about one hour, 50 minutes. >> welcome today the hon. randy babbitt, the administrator of the federal aviation administration. we have held a number of hearings recently on the issue, particularly of safety and
fatigue and related matters. this hearing is a hearing to discuss a wide range of issues with the administrator. mr. babbitt is going to be talking about what he has been involved in at the cafe, a number of actions. troy after he was sworn in as the administrator of the faa, he was -- shortly after he was sworn in as the administrator of the faa, there was a call to action that brought in regional carriers, pilots, and its unions to discuss and improved safety and to reduce risk. the call to action has led the faa to seek voluntary commitment from their creditors -- carriers to implement safety programs and various things. we will talk about that today. the faa has made progress in a number of areas and there are a number of areas where progress
has yet to be made. we held a hearing recently and talked about how fateh has been on the list of the ntsb for a number of years. -- fateh has been on the list for ntsb for a number of years. -- fatigue. commercial aviation in this country delivers about 800 million people per year to their destinations. 30,000 flights operate every day in this country safely. we have had some tragic accident, but few. honand we also know how to prevt accidents in the future by addressing things that we understand or potential problems and cause potential risk. there are fateh related
accidents that have occurred in the last 20 years -- fatigue- related accidents have occurred in the last 20 years. it ought to require all of us to be urgent and our request to the faa to make progress on dealing with these issues. there has been equipment concern recently because there have been major delays and chaos in the country about the air traffic system. the one on no. 19 this year and one in 2008. bird strike issues and the hudson river mid-air collision, those are both issues, talking about the mid-air and bird strike collision, and this raises other issues. a and note -- i know for the ntsb and also for the faa.
i will ask questions about that as well. one commercial airlines fail to comply with airworthiness directives, that is a very serious problems. another has had to be remedial action there. and the issue of next generation, or so-called next gen changing the air traffic control system and modernizing the system is very important because that will improve safety, save fuel, do a lot of things. most people nowadays understand you can access a satellite somewhere above the earth and get directions from that in order to move your car or find your friend or location of a cell phone. despite the fact that the technology is mature and ready, it is not available in this country generally speaking for the movement of commercial airplanes. it is unbelievable to me.
we're still doing this ground- based radar navigation in the skies when, in fact, gps navigation would be much safer. that we would know exactly where it is in that -- an airplane is in the sky. the right now, we know about where that jet is because the transponder put a blip on the screen and at that nanosecond that is where the plane is. and for the next seven or eight seconds, that airplane is somewhere else. we do not need to guess about where airplanes are in the sky. next gen and the modernization of the air travel control through gps system is exactly what we need to do on an urgent basis. that is something that of mr. babbitt is a deeply involved in as well. all of these are very important issues. administrator bob has allot in play and we appreciate him to be -- appreciate him being here today. we have a number of other senators who will join us
momentarily. i would be glad to call on senator dole has if you wish to make a comment. >> that is a very conned -- kind offer. i concur with so many things that you said. i wanted to indicate that. but i can only be here about 45 more minutes. maybe it is best that i passed on the opportunity to make an opening statement. if i have anything, i will submit it for the record and we can proceed to the first witness. >> thank you, and thank you for all of your active participation on this issue. mr. babbitt, you have only in recent months taken the reins of a very large agency. we appreciate that everyone to hear your comments and then open it for questions. as i indicated, we have a number of other senators that will be joining us shortly. your entire statement will be part of the permanent record and
you may summarize. >> thank you very much, chairman, and members of the subcommittee. thank you for inviting me here to testify on behalf of the faa to discuss the faa's ongoing safety initiatives. safety is, of course, the most important issue to the agency and the f a professional -- professionals take this role very seriously. i would like to of knowledge a group of family murders that are attending this hearing this morning, representing the family members of passengers who died earlier this year in an accident. any aviation and fidelity is taken very seriously by the faa and of course, by me personally. what can only imagine the grief and the painful process that they're going through to come to terms with their loss, we are very motivated to improve aviation safety so that other families can be steered their tragic experience. . .
require more the what is currently required for commercial certificate public focused more on the actual elements required rather than the 1500 hours required. it would focus more on discrete training and the quality of their training to achieve the rating. i am concerned there raising the quantity of hours without addressing the quality and the nature of the time and public experienced during training may not insure the improved proficiency we all want. public to identify areas where an individual pilot receives completes training to obtain professional operational experience in such areas s icing and varmints, high-altitude environments. projecticing environments.
this assumes once the number is achieved, it would result in the comprehensive set of skills that may not be the case. another area of subject is pilot fatigue. you mention this is been an issue for 18 years. i have personally champions the issue of pilot fatigue. i have been deeply involved with this. i have the faa charter a committee to make a recommendation on this issue. they began meeting in july and sent their recommendations to meet in september. consensus was not reached on all of the issues. we were provided a good framework to consider issues that contribute to pilot fatigue. i committed to an extremely aggressive time schedule for the
publishing of new rule making. the may have been too aggressive. i have been briefed numerous times in areas that need further analysis. as frustrating as it is that will not complete the analysis by our aggressive schedule, i am told the team -- i told the team to take the time to make sure we do this right. i want this completed properly. it will be completed. i want to mention the incredible wealth of information we received earlier this year. we're able to implement much better safety improvements more quickly and more effectively when we were together on the problems and solutions. i am a firm believer in building a consensus. we are -- it is my job to make a call on when a consensus cannot
be reached. we will be updating everyone on the information we have received and how we're moving forward. i am confident we have built a good foundation from which to issue guidance and possible further rules. that concludes my remarks. i will be willing to answer any questions. >> mr. babbitt, thank you very much. senator rockefeller, which like to make any opening comments or begin questioning? >> i will put my statement in the record. i want to say to randy babbitt that you call to make a couple of times. i have been lost in the deepest weeds bog in health care. i think you're doing a terrific job. will you accept my apology?
>> absolutely. >> mr. chairman, i will defer to you. >> senator rockefeller, thank you very much. let me begin asking about the issue of fatigue since you commented on that. informants arc and you know how -- you forms and arc and further analysis needs to be done. both the recommendations and further analysis that is under way, will relate in any way to the issue of commuting? or is commuting outside of the range of vision of this rule making tax >? >> they were briefed on the issue. all of the parties involved did
not come up with any conclusions. instead, they said commuting was an issue. they felt it was outside of the boundaries of what they're looking at in terms of the fatigue rule. i do plan to put observations about commuting into the proposed rule would to make it available for comment. i think everybody appreciates some of the issues here. for your understanding, you should, or perhaps spike can explain. my focus here is on fatigue. my focus is on making certain that when a pilot shows up and takes responsibility to carry two passengers or 250 passengers, the have an obligation to show up to undertake the mission, they have. it is more of a concern to meet
the week in sure they show up. not present they became fatigued. i am more concerned they show up not fatigued. people can be fatigued for all lot of reasons. a 2:00 phone call the sixth, a child to the hospital prepare playing extra cost. we're depending and we have for years on professional responsibility and we have tried very hard. i have to use the bully pulpit. i pushed the professionalism issue with some degree of success. not only does the pilot have a professional responsibility, the carrier has escaped responsibility. it is a shared responsibility. i think some of the awareness and the bright light report on this recently has showed us some
benefits. there was an embarrassing incident where a pilot was observed but others to not be fit for flight. the pilot was removed. the system does in fact work. as i said, commuting will be available for comment. >> mr. babbitt, limit comment on what you said. there are a number of people i see in the room who are family members of the victims of the colgan air crash. i am convinced that their activities, rapunzel activities on behalf of members of their loved ones, will end up seav ing lives. to want to make sure that anyone who gets on an airplane in the future with a pilot or co-pilot
and one who was not flown in icing, neither of whom have been in a motel room to rest for the evening falling all-night flights. there are convinced that their relentless push of cost and with you is going to make a difference. and so with that is a precursor, it just seems to me that the notion of saying we expect everyone to be professional is not obviously just the answer. the question is, if you now have a system in which fatigue clearly plays a significant role, how do you fix that system in a way that the end of the day leads you to believe that you have a better trained crews in the cockpit? that is the key for me.
i have a lot of questions. obama's asked one more -- let me ask one more. it seems to me you must looked at the totality of all of the issues facing these pilots and the crews of these commercial airliners. you said that you do not know whether -- you indicated that the question of a certificate is not the number of hours that you have. it is what kind of training you have had. if that is a qualitative judgment, how are you going to describe that in terms of how someone will hire you? we had discussions about how many hours it would take to get on with an airliner 10 years ago and how many hours it takes the stage to get a job in a
commuter. how would you measure this qualitatively? crux " we have proposed and in our advance notice would be an endorsement. we have used this process today. someone with a commercial pilot's license who would like to fly an aircraft capable of operating at high altitudes. we have a number of altitudes that can fly at 35,000 feet pressurize. commercialize license gives you no insight into that environment correct you have to obtain an endorsement and have some very specific training as to how to operate informant, recognizing what the effects of thin air has on the wing, the narrowing of the flight envelope, maximum speed in thin air. all this is trading for high-
altitude training spree as a first step, we take a commercial pilot and say if you wanna work for a 121 operation, you need to demonstrate to us that you have had multi-crew training. you have had exposure to ice training. you have that exposure to jet engine operations. all of these things would be elements to an endorsement. i am not so convinced the atp we have today gives us the elements we need. after we finished phase one, i frankly atp requirements -- i was on the flight that went behind. florida, flight 1482. i was the aircraft that landed. they had very well-trained pilots. postal appear -- both of them
had atp's. the pilot was not trained for the mission. we are saying that we want to ensure that every public has seen every possible scenario that will be presented to them, whether the of 1500 hours, 2500 hours pre a would much rather have somebody with 1000 hours that have been exposed and simulated. we have the capabilities today to expose pilots to every potential informant. >> could a politician be quiet today and deal with a pricing situation? >> yes. >> how is it that nothing has changed? >> pettitte something i have had six months to work on. >> it is just unbelievable to me.
a commercial license might give you the right to fly a cessna 210 and used a flashlight to see how much ice is on your wind at night. that does not give you the capability to get in a cockpit of a commercial airliner. >> i did not have an atp. i was mentored. we depend on a system that takes a significant amount of time. you have rapid expansion. you can take and hire someone and you have someone in the left seat with three years and someone in the right seat with one year. >> senator rockefeller. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. babbitt, your call to
action is very important because it seeks, and i am getting senator dorgan's idea of these things should happen as opposed to these things are going to happen. you are asking for voluntary commitments from air carriers to implement flight operations quality assurance, all of these things some of these commitments are also salt from labor unions, to establish professional standards project they are also saught from labor unions. all of these will be mandated, so it is not a question of
discussion at anymore. i am interested how you're doing on this. the airlines are in trouble. big airlines, little airlines, everybody is in trouble. do the best you can. keyword "voluntary" when it comes to passenger safety, you cannot worry about that. if amtrak went broke because we were in forcing upon the safety standards or any airline because we were in forcing mistakes the war in the public's interests, we would happily do that. that is our job. their job is to make it in a better economy. we cannot shy away from our responsibilities. how do you size up your call to action and how are your voluntary commitments being received? >> call to action was a fairly
robust call to action. it called for a number of things. a thing perhaps inadvertently and we found one that made it pretty effective. what i asked the carriers to do was to devise asa of everyone who had any of the safety programs -- to advise us of everyone who read any of the safety programs and i said, you have by the end of september to a device made whether or not you have done this. we published a list. it is remarkable the increase in participation which gap between the end of september and the end of october. a good number responded. but a good number did not. we put them up on our website. we said these carriers chose, not to do what we ask. of the 98 carriers, we have had
positive responses from 80. they either have these programs in force -- one requires some technology which they are adapting and we're monitoring. we should not consider some of those carriers -- there are very small. " we should excuse if you have them. for example, if you only have two airplanes. i have been very happy. the unions responded 100%. >> it is a tricky balance. in the end, it is not. we are in hard economic times. there is a question i have about people traveling on a christmas vacation and. it will do it was traveling this year. we know that. that is because of bad economic
conditions. there are certain things involving public safety where you cannot compromise on safety. we cannot do that. you cannot do it. previous people might not have been as strong as you are. we cannot let them do a. we have to bring the hammer down and make sure consumers come first. that is the new philosophy. is the philosophy. one quick follow-up. on the next gen, the we cannot get it done and we're still behind mongolia with respect to gps and all the rest of it, that is because they are building their first system. it makes the point. it is going to be great for air
traffic controllers and four pilots because they will be able to tell how far away they are from each other, the will have virtual vision. what will be the effect on passengers in terms of safety if we have the bextgen system in place -- if we had the nextgen system in place? >> senator dorgan mention some of the pieces that will be there. i think there is some ancillary benefits to talk about, not only safety in the aircraft but safety in the informant. a lot less carbon emissions and a lot less noise. the fact that the situational awareness of the pilot is a much enhanced is going to be a huge benefits. i realize i have come into a
situation and i know where it is now. i am pleased that we're beginning to see some rapid acceleration deployment. we're using -- the comptroller to see the aircraft just like you can see radar. we will be announcing a much more robust announcement but we're on a trial basis using dsb in the gulf. a means 10,000 people a day, we moved 10,000 people a day on oil rigs without radar. now we can see those aircraft. they can navigate better. these are all benefits. all in all, the benefits are enormous for all involved. >> one final answer.
why don't we have the system in place now? why have we been talking about it for so long? they found out it might cost them some more money. the president gave a great speech in oslo this morning talking about responsibility. we cannot get it done. what is your theory? >> i think part of it is our own fault. i do not know we never really explained permit available to the understanding of the savings that were available. we did not make the business case, if you will. i can make a good business case today. commercial airlines will save 1 billion gallons of fuel a year. it is $2 billion in savings. this is the only costs $6
billion. anybody would say this is a good deal. i think the other side of it, there is a to pinpoint. until something is developed where people have the equipment, airports do not benefit. i use the analogy of the cable operator and you want me to buy the box. i will by the box if you have enough channels. i think we finally have come to the. whereupon you need to put the channels on and you need to buy the box. >> thank you. the ranking member of the subcommittee did not make a statement. did you have something to say? >> thank you. thank you for your persistence on safety. i would like to submit my opening statement for the record. again, thank you.
the think i am listening for today is, as you have heard, how do we push this over the hump and get this done? no matter what we try to legislate, we're not the experts. some up maybe pilots, but not to the degree we're talking about here. the need for the industry to try to come up with these standards, of working with you so that they fit somehow with the legislation we are writing, i do not want a political solution to a safety item. we do not want to wait decades longer to get safety standards from the industry. i do appreciate all you have done since you have come into office. what we're trying to do is push this to the end.
a big part of it needs to come from the carrier side, from the pilot's side. >> i appreciate that very much. i have the benefit of public being the loudest and most vocal benefit back in the 1990's. i appreciate what some of these tapes. one of the things, i have done, i also appreciate the concern about something being voluntary. i also have learned what it now creates -- what it takes to create a legislation. we ask people to do these things on a voluntary basis. we're working with congress. i appreciate the help we're getting. if it were in our hands, it would be discoverable. people would be reluctant to give it to us. left in the hands of the carriers, it is not. we're working with both houses
to find ways the weekend get this information so that people will willingly give it. >> guys see that as -- i see that as the key. these creative new ideas, will make things safer. you create the critical mass. but it will not do that. it creates liability for public exposure. maybe that is something we can do to make sure these ideas are sent to you and you can continue to give us those ideas and we need to do to make things safer. >> i would just add one. . we're here today looking back at a tragic accident. -- i would just employadd one
point. a want to find ways to get the information to us so we can predict the accident so we do not have hearings like this. information is going to take us through that gate. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. babbitt, plan to refocus on -- let me focus four important things. i want to talk to about public experience, salary, and then equipment'. helmutp me understand commuting. but say the flight i am going to fly originates in new york city
and i commute back and forth between san diego and new york city. that flight from san diego to new york city the make every week to get on my flight, how is that factored into safety regulations, or is it just not counted? >> no, is currently not counted. commuting, walt i do not think the majority of pollock's commute, it is difficult. -- while i do not think the majority of pilots commute, it is difficult. maybe a new piece of equipment was offered and the didn't want to move children out of school. i think if you look get commuting, the vast majority is commuting on their own system. i think if there were as a base
in virginia and new jersey for colgan. there is a variety of ways you can do that. lagered distance commuting is something different. -- longer distance commuting is something different. i commuted for five years. i wanted that. >> i am a question in anybody's professionalism. i understand living away from home. all of us do that here. but i would tell you flying back and forth even halfway across the country every week is hard worker. it is tiring, it is exhausting. you start to weaken and feel like you have not had a break. i'm not flying the airplane. i'm sitting in back catching a catnappe.
it cannot be a good thing. i appreciate what i'm suggesting probably turns the system upside down. if you shop tired, you cannot fix that until you get some rest. -- if you show up tired, you cannot fix that. >> you have a professional responsibility, as does a carrier to make sure you are fit. >> but we do not police that, do we? nobody is standing there saying, did you fly through the night to get here? >> no. >> livni ask you about experience. i always assumed -- let me ask you about experience. all i always assumed pilot and co-pilot were equally capable of taking over the airplane. i thought it was a safety valve. i am beginning to question
whether expect that assumption was correct. i'm wondering " whether " politics is training ground and the co-pilot is there hopefully get to the point where they will be the pilot. is that a more accurate read? >> both pilots are very well qualified. the go through the same basic training. the captain -- the co-pilot does not have to demonstrate some of the maneuvers a captain has to demonstrate. the co-pilot cannot perform some of the functions in terms of whether constrictions. this recognizes that everyone has to start somewhere. utopia would be that every pilot in every airplane has flown
captain for years. when the first officer is new, he cannot fought with a new captain. first he applies with a check public who is trained to watch and for the first 100 years next he can fly with somebody has to have a significant amount of time as a line-operating pilot. months go by wildest quality get some exposure. there are some protections in there. it is impossible that everyone can come unqualified as a captain. everywherone has to start somew. we restrict some of the things they can do as a first officer. >> is the training ground for level of experience in different if i am flying from scotts bluff
to laramie then from new york to san diego? >> no, sir. once qualified on the airplane -- high-altitude airports and countries to have unusual approach procedures might need different training. but you're qualified to operate an aircraft anywhere in the system. >> i will pass by salary, although that worries me. i think somebody making peck, a salary, i do not know how they are supporting their families and maybe it is not our role to get into that. i want to get to equipment. when i was governor, we had a state plane. i will never forget this. the first day the pilot turned back to me and said, i am turning on the de-icing. a kind of looked on the wing.
you could see some ice building up. then you could see a balloon expand. and i thought, wow, that's it? tell me about the buffalo flight. a one-year honest assessment about how good that equipment is in a flight pattern that will do what i sing is used on a regular basis. >> that airplane -- that will deal with icing on regular basis. >> recognizing the time its takes to put one of these rules help. there were over 100 airworthiness directives to specific pieces of equipment following new criteria for how the equipment works and the recognition to pilots of when they begin to place. they are important steps. the plane was complete
compliance. -- but when they were beginning to ice. i do not want to prejudice that. because -- the fundamental in action or improper response to a very basic warning that the crew had been well trained for and simply did not follow the procedures. >>, thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. thank you, administer babbitt, for being here. there are always some parochial issues. i want to do some comments on issues. an update on fatigue and an update on your survival for six months so far.
in alaska, our flight service stations are not contract it out. all the rest are contract it out. we appreciate that. we think they do a great job. my concern is that there are vacancies ocher rinks, training occurring to replace those people. -- there are vacancies that are brokerinoccurring. that concerns me. as someone who passed to flaunt a lot to alaska, most recently on a small, eight-seater, coming out of a small town back to anchorage, a chemical volcanic ash and we were circling multiple times because the fog was so thick.
the stations where doing what they were doing, giving the store right information. we were concerned about fuel. there was an intent to go further than where we were headed. we ended up cutting through the fog visually based on their recommendations on where to land. the person with me from washington had not experienced -- they had the experience of a lifetime. those centers are critical. we greatly appreciate the people who run those. " we have done in alaska has been a very good job. pickens certification does that there knocking filling the vacancies with the rumor mill. we're not interested in a contract a. you do not have to do this now. but when you can give me an
update of 40 vacancy levels are and what the rollover rate is. that is critical for conditions in alaska. this was about a month and a half ago. it reassures me the quality of people would have working there. >> you have a high-quality team in a unique informant. we are looking at this. we recently had a new federal ruling that allows us two to us things. we have people that would be looking at retirement. they can stay if they want. people think that they would rather be working again. the new federal rule allows us to go backward to something which was previously prohibited. i do not have the full details. a look at back to you in your office to make sure we have the
staffing levels that are required up there. i have no intent of making any change in that environment. i think at cannot assuage that fear. >> we had to get waivers, for oxygen to be moved. deputies administrator helps a great deal on that. we were in some cases two dazed from people losing their capacity. we have quavers. one thing that was not granted there are waivers for oxygen tanks for construction. they're using them for welding and so forth. there are transporting these containers on snow machines. if you could look into that. they did the first half which was fantastic.
it made a difference in people's lives overnight. we cannot do by road. it is not possible. livni follow-up on a few things. -- let me follow-up on a few things. when pulte are denied quite their carriers not to fly -- when pilots are denied, but you know how many of those have occurred? some people say, you know what, you look to tire. is there documentation that you could say they are doing? >> those records are being maintained by the carriers. i will tell you that the number of carriers, that addressed this pretty aggressively. they have commuter letters where a republican -- were a pilot --
the commute itself has led to some fatigue. this is an indiana solution. it is different on different carriers. -- this is an indiana solution. -- this is an industrial solution. >> do you know 2 random reviews to seeking -- i do not want to be critical of the airline industry. generally, it is amazing. we have some issues. " they tell you and what you see maybe two different things. do you have authority to say, i want to see how many people pilots cannot fly because of fatigue? do you have a capacity and have
you done that? >> we have not made that recommendation to go in court or request that type of inspection. on sure they would volunteer. you think -- i do not believe we do. i would see no reason, as long as we kept the information proprietary. if we said, how many people called in sick last month and how many said they could not fly because of fatigue, i am very comfortable the carriers would share that with us. >> you are an example of when you posted on the web site, people were not paid their bills. it is amazing the collection rate spiked dramatically. i think it is a good idea. i was glad to hear about it today. >> thank you, sir.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, administrator babbitt. let me say first of all that we must take knowledge in the overall house save our aviation system is. we extend our highest priority. we will always do that. as it all know, the colgan flight 3407 is waiting on airlines and we learned a lot from the investigation but now we must act -- excuse eighing oit is weighing on our minds. it drags out. let me ask you, and know that we sent you a letter led by senator dorgan and senator
rockefeller. we also signed a along with other members of this committee, senator snowe. really bipartisan. it said, how could we do this faster? that is the question. >> when we put the notice of proposed rulemaking, we're obligated to take comments. people have a comment window, but we have to observe. we then digest those comments pretty good example would-be a slowed down rule that is parallel to this one is the section for training pilots. we had 3000 pages of comments that we are obligated to digest, summarize, and incorporate if we could. i really do not have a direct answer esther how to make this faster. if there are gaps in there, we
will close them as quickly as we can. >> don't you have emergency authority, as well? if you see something that you think can be addressed quickly. we have had the screw on a cap being not correct. is that a possibility in this instance? people are concerned about this, especially the fatigue issue. >> part of our call to action that we review with all carriers, there is a fatigued and risk mitigation procedure. the carriers have been willing to comply. the unions, i was pleased to see several of the unions take progressive action with serious pieces in their publications. there was an editorial.
when i say that, we have to remember that every day, 20,000 pilots are going to go to work today and they are going to do a great job. they are professionals. we are trying to find two or three that arent't. >> if you see something that can be done and more expedited basis while you are in this rulemaking, not to overreact if you do not see fit to act, and w. l. list holds open the possibility that if you see something that can be done more quickly you couldn't do it emergency if you decided it was wanted? >> yes. if the date indicated we have gaping holes summer, i would act. i appreciate the letter you all have written.
it is hard to convey in here but nobody is pushing -- nobody is wishing this anymore internally. this is something near and dear to me, as well. one of the areas we ask people to respond to and 80 of 89 carriers have responded. these are voluntary programs. it is very positive. the ones who did not, they are too small to stops a program with two or three pilots. >> i am very concerned, along with senator rockefeller. we had an amendment in the stimulus bill to try to have some incentives for private investment in nextgen. he asked the question he that i would have asked. i'd say it is probably our highest priority, the chairman
and myself in safety and preparing for the capability to have the robust airline industries that we want as the economy gets better and people are able to travel. that is something both of us consider very important. if we can go forward with a public-private partnership or incentives, i am going to be supportive of that, as well. we will work with you on that. thank you very much. >> nextgen is a major priority. it enhances security. we have a lot of issues. in my judgment, it is not accessible to have all the end dates. we need to move quickly. i share the comments.
nextgen has to be a significant party. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you for holding this hearing. let me say? nextgen is a party for me as well. i would reiterate what secretary hutchinson said. clearly, we cannot rest on our past achievements. this was proven it earlier this year with the tragedy of colgan air flight 3407 which brought to safety of our airlines back into the public eye. he was chilling to learn about these fatigue issues and some of the training issues. the most chilling was the conversations that was recorded between the captain and the first officer when he said, i have never seen, wind conditions and i've never
experienced any of that. looking into these the icinde-ig rules. it has been contending for 12 years. a racist earlier to secretary would a few years ago. i work with the new head to try to move out of omb. we're able to get it out for public comment. but that is 12 years. you said 3000 pages for this newest rule. it would be to wonder 50 pages a year over a 12-year -- in would- be 250 pages a year over a 12- year period. can you assure us this 50 route will be completed by 2010? >> december 31 of this year?
>> of next year. yes, i can. i cannot conceive -- i am the person who wanted it out by the end of this year. i now understand some of the complexities. i have worked with it over time. one thing i want to say with some of these rule making. the role of salt may take awhile. it doesn't mean the underlying issue -- the rule itself may take a while. we acted immediately and issued over 100 airworthiness directives, the protected the very thing. it gathers all those up in one place. we have to issue these directives so safety was not left exposed. we're doing it with air worthiness directive. the underlying safety issue was protected. >> you would agree we would like these in a row.
i thought of these with the laptop issue. they have their rules and cannot be looking and your computer. there was not a rule in place. we're trying to solve that now. the other issue from colgan crash is the inadequacy of flight school. the student can be groomed in a short as six months. cammies flight students be trained -- schools to train students to be commercial pilots in such a short time? >> that is what we're making the suggestion we are making. i want people to appreciate, there has been some misunderstandings that i am somehow opposed to the idea we would have better training. i was looking better training before anyone brought the issue up. i am concerned we're not giving
people the elements they need to do the mission they're doing. if someone will be a crop duster, the half to learn some things about low-altitude flying. if you carry a passenger, take the responsibility of caring hands to hundreds of passengers. we have an obligation to make sure you've been exposed to every potential experience and will be the unknowns that happened. the flight into the hudson was a great example. i flew fourth 25 years and i hit a lot of birds. it happens prepare >> the training is key. there is the idea of the regional airlines eschas kind oa
farm team for the carriers. the answer is commonly yes. i am wondering about how the safety impact when you have this type of system and its regional carriers to understand their pilots, are only working for a short time. what incentives to the regional carriers have to provide them with anything more than the bare minimum of training. people are leaving the regional carriers, and how do we fix that? >> i am not here to defend. regional airline industry. there is some misunderstanding there. i was in the private sector for 42 years. my exposure in the private sector is far more vast. and understand all sides, both large and small. there are any number of senior,
will qualify, a 25-year pilot error regional airlines. they love their jobs. they live in smaller towns. it is a career for them. >> some of these younger pilots that do not stay as long. do you think to regional airlines are investing as long and as much in their training, especially aerospace the start to put the airlines? do they have the same kind of training facilities? >> many of them do. i cannot speak for all of them. one of the things we asked was that we go and our inspectors reviewed the training of the principal operations -- they're reviewed all the training. we did find areas of the accused improvement. you're also seeing a number of
-- most of the larger carriers are holding meetings with their regional partners who unsure of the have the same level of commitment to training and the safety of forums and the discussions, all of these things have gone on. >> thank you very much. >> i think you very much. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i continue -- i appreciate the continued focus on this subject. legislation address these issues. it is under way and a think one of the questions i have raised in the past has to do with the pilots threaten and their availability to a prospective employer and it was turned over and having access to those records. i think it is important. i know the legislation addresses
that issue. i want to focus on a couple of things. you talked about the distinction between quantity and quality. i will not tonight -- i am not playing in the nba prius i do not have the skill level to get there. no matter how many hours i would practice, i couldn't do that. there is something to be said for experience and having insufficient number of hours. this is one of the issues that i think has been focused on as part of our deliberations here, as well. but how do you square that out when you have a dc-9 the month before and from minneapolis to sioux falls but has 30 passengers on it as opposed a plan that has 50 passengers?
there could be more than you have on someone who is flying at a full-size jet. yet the number of hours and the distinction that is made in terms of experience and what you allude to as quality versus quantity distinction. i am interested in hearing you elaborate on that. this seems to me that the number of hours the public has has got to be a part of the equation to determine whether or not the pilot is equipped and qualified to fly some of these planes. " it wouldn't matter to me whether they had one passenger or 100. they should be as qualified as we can make them. weather flying a regional jet or a 777, they would have to have an air transport rating. what comes into question is who could be the co-pilot.
icing, the high-altitude upsets, all of these. carriers put them in, but we need to have the assurance when you go to work that you have those as a requirement the one thing i'm suggesting is that i think there is a point at which quantity does matter, where you have experienced enough hours operating some of these aircraft. and i'm not disputing the notion that quality and ability fly different types of circumstances is important, but i think there is a point at which these pilots -- there is an assumption sometimes that these smaller planes are not as difficult to fly, and therefore you do not need as much experience. certainly, i do not think that is the case. i just want to focus a little bit on that.
>> i think that some of the operations at the smaller ports are very complex and require a high level of skill. >> i want to mention, too, with regard -- and i think senator joe hanna has touched on it -- in flight to 37 you had both pilots who wanted to commute. one of the things in the letter we signed to you trying to get the focus on, the flight limits have not been changed in a number of years. faa had a proposal, i'm told, that language -- that languished for years. after some reason crushes they have revisited the issue, which is why the letter, i guess, urged them to move forward. but as you can imagine, the airlines are not very receptive to the idea that lowering flight times for the crew, because
obviously will have to hire more pilots and that cost more and scheduling and everything else. but i'm wondering if this issue commutes to before someone gets on a plane and flying a plane, and the way you calculate the limits on the number of hours they can fly. we have talked a lot about this, but i want to hear your thoughts and perspective about how that can be addressed. and it is very much at issue in this incident, where you have pilots that came in, were sick, and have long commutes, you know, sleeping in the where the crew is. it clearly adds to the amount of time they have been flying. i'm sure it has to affect their ability to be alert when it comes time to actually fly the plane. >> that is an issue.
we have talked about it several times here. i am concerned that a and to simply come up with a push to give role that identified -- to simply come up with a prescriptive role that identified private commuting, that the product would just have to leave home earlier to get some amount of time. i'm presuming that everybody is saying, well, you need to be in some place, in some zone. but it is very difficult when you think about -- who decides who commutes and who does not? i will give you an example. i am based here in washington d.c.. much of my career i was based in washington d.c. is 55 miles into dulles from annapolis. were they commuting? most of their trips were out of baltimore, but sometimes they had to fly out the list. -- to fly out of dulles.
was i commuter? i lived here. i've was based here. this is my domicile. there are so many ways that somebody could show up fatigued. it is very difficult to put your arms around whether it is a fatigue issue or whether there is some prescriptive or rule that says, you have to be your 12 hours if you commute. we do not know if that was good rest. we do not have any way of measuring the quality of the rest you got. we do not have a way of measuring that any more than if i live here and i had a child up at 2:00 and i fly out at 8:00. these are some of the difficulties that we are faced with. the burden would be on the pilot, not the carriers. i will tell you on the probable that we mentioned, some concern on the carriers saying it could
cost more money, if it is uniform to everybody, it does not make any difference. if the price of fuel goes up 2 cents for all of them, it goes up 2 cents for all of them. collectively, they will not like that, but at least is not an unfair burden. in this case, it is in the interest of safety and it is a burden they would bear. i am not overly concerned about the fact that we might have some additional pilot staffing that might come from this. >> i know when you are living somewhere and you commute to my it may take an hour and a half or two hours to get to the airport to fly. but i think there's a big difference between that and commuting from seattle to a flight that departs from new york. that is a very long flight and fatigue would come into play. >> that is one of those where professional responsibility -- i certainly would not. if i knew i had to fly at 8:00 in the morning, i would not get
on a flight at midnight and have any expectation i would be ready to fly. >> administrator babbitt, i have a number of questions, but i believe we have a couple of other colleagues that probably wish to ask a second round. let me just -- i have questions about pilots' records and the equipment outage from november 19. i want to have them. let me ask you about the cogan crash, if i might. just generally speaking. i thought you said earlier that you felt that the training was sufficient in that cockpit. i have tried to read as much and learn as much as i could about the crash. 49 people lost their lives in the airplane, including the crew. and that includes one person on the ground. it seems to me there are a number of things that caused significant questions about that
cockpit. i do not know whether it is just an aberration and it just allowances as one airplane out of a lot of flights, but because a lot of things went wrong, this is one that crashed as well and it does exist elsewhere. or the question of the training, just as an example, you're a pilot and you have flown allowed. -- flown a lot. the crew -- let me ask the question differently. first, you indicated this was not isolated. the reason the nose -- this was not ice. the reason the knows how to go down was because it was picking up ice. that is why i assume the stick pusher was reacting. my understanding is that neither
people in the cockpit had had in-flight training on a stick pusher. if you, god forbid, had been a passenger on that flight, would you feel that there had been adequate training on that portion of the procedures with respect to the cockpit crew? >> i think that this accident has shown us that the fact that they were exposed to the stick pusher, which is the action of last resort -- the airplane had been in icy conditions, but the airplane was not icing. it had its equipment on. >> but we are dealing with icy, right? >> right, and what they had done is they had begun to slow the airplane down and put out a lot of the devices, flaps and so forth, and had failed to monitor the speed drops off. instead of giving full power, which they should have done, for reasons known only to them they thought they could recover with
partial power, which they could not. the airplane went to the back up phase and said, if you're not going to lower the nose, i will. that is when the stick pusher to go over. they had been exposed to the training, but not in the way that it could have been. >> i'm just asking, is there a training issue here? the answer seems to be yes. and then the question is, is there and experience issue here? the person in the right seedbed talked during the recording, did they have much experience or understanding about ice and so on? also, the pilots record in the left seat. is there and experience issue in the cockpit? >> i think the investigation is going to point to that. someone not doing what they were trained to do befuddles most of
us. >> and it was there a commuting issue on this flight? if you, god forbid, had been a passenger on this flight and one person from seattle to new york and of the other from florida to new york, is there a commuting issue in terms of causing fateh? -- causing it fatigue? >> commuting is an issue. why would you think that you could come home from vacation for hours before departure? >> but what i'm trying to say is that i think a whole series of things came together in that cockpit that were troublesome to me as an observer after the fact. training, experience, pilot record. as you know, the ceo of cogan indicated that he had access to all of the pilots' records and that pilots would not have -- that had he had access to all of
the pilots' records that the product would not have been hired. are you aware of that? >> yes, sir. >> training, experience, the record -- i guess my question is, is that just an aberration on that one cockpit or in order of things to come unless something significant changes? >> i think it was a very bad collection of events, but i think we have the wherewithal going forward to remove each of those. any action is always the culmination of a series of things. if we had removed any one of them we would not have had an accident. >> i have said before and i always want to say that the pilot and co-pilot were wonderful human beings, sure, and they cannot speak for themselves. i always feel bad talking about the two people in the cockpit that lost their lives. on the other hand, we do not have a choice to talk -- but to talk about that. most of us here fly all the
time, all the time. and we know that a lot of management -- men and women who fly those plans do a terrific job. greek people, great skills. i do not want this -- great people, great skill. i do not want this to reflect on the profession, but i do want to be sure that the things that we now know -- and i have cited some of them -- represent and urgency in the f. a. in terms of a response. mr. babbitt, when you were nominated i expressed that i was pleased with that nomination. you have a wealth of experience. and you also now understand -- i have described previously about trying to get through the labyrinth of government agencies, like walking through wet cement. it is very hard to get things done.
and yet, i think you understand that we are saying, boy, we want you to move aggressively. and i think you come to this job not wanting to be a caretaker. you want to move aggressively. i have other questions, but i will call on senator rockefeller. >> i just wanted to comment. i agree with what senator dorgan is saying. i have an icing question, but i think that has been answered. and thank you, i want to say the you just sitting there and having observed what you do, you are a take charge. your pro-active. -- you are proactive. you are protected by nature. this is one of the most difficult jobs in all of washington and it is also one of the most powerful jobs in all of washington. i fly into west virginia almost never on a jet.
i serve myself champagne if i'm actually at the end of a jet. we just do not have those. i am always worried about the icing thing. we have a lot of bad weather in those hills. but what i want to say is what i said at the beginning, that the nature of this committee has changed on all fronts, on all subjects. it ended yesterday -- and it used to be a sort of go along tie committee, keep the trains running, the plane's running. we are not that now. we are delving into -- we have a crew of investigative lawyers who report just to me. they can go anywhere they want and uncover any wrongdoing they want and they have access -- they use the subpoena power free the.
-- freely. that is what we do. we are fighting for people here. this is not a statement to you. it is a statement to everybody. we care, first and foremost, about consumers and their safety. and we understand we are in economic difficulties. we understand that every corporation that has a small jet or a big jet or a small prop or a big croprop, they're all under pressure. so is the aviation industry. i talked to a guy last night in texas. he said their sales are down by 70%. you can buy a $20 million plan for about $9 million i understand that. but we cannot be affected by that in terms of at the interest of consumer safety. i want that message to go out
loud and clear. i thank you. i respect you. i think you are doing an excellent job you have that straight ahead look. you answer questions directly. you cannot avoid. and you are proactive. thank you. >> mr. babbitt, let me ask about pilots' records. the faa has made it part of their call to action the ability of a potential employer to access all of the pilots' records, correct? >> yes, sir. >> good cooperation on that? >> yes, sir. >> use of wireless devices, laptops, and other devices during the commercial operation of an airplane in the cockpit, my understanding is given the -- what we saw with the commercial airline overflying by about an hour and 20 minutes the city it was aiming for, the pilots indicated they were working on their laptops on pilots' schedules.
i do not know what the real facts are, but that is what we know from public disclosure. we introduced legislation tuesday that personal use of wireless communication devices like laptop computers during the operation of commercial aircraft would be banned. again, personal use. i understand are wireless devices that can be used as part of the operation of the aircraft, but personal use -- do you support our legislation? >> yes, sir. >> i was surprised to find that many commercial airline companies already prohibit this, but faa regulations would not. we just felt like there ought to beat a federal regulation that prohibits this. >> this may be one of the area's latest so obvious that you thought no one would need guidance. but anything that is destructive in the cockpit and -- distracting in the cockpit, my only thought would be that i would limit.
and laptops can be quite useful and carriers have databases for take off information. somehow the aircraft manuals -- somehow the aircraft manuals stored on board. that is fine, a very appropriate use of it. but magazines, so do proposals, anything that is distracting -- soduko puzzles, anything that is distracting -- my old carrier, we were not allowed to have anything distracting in the cockpit. >> and the massive delays across the country, very briefly, what caused that and how can we ensure that does not happen again? something similar happened to that again a year ago. >> i was very aware of this from about 5:25 a.m. on. what happened was a lark -- a large rubber in the network was
being -- a large roger in the network was been replaced in los angeles. it had been mapped improperly. -- a large router in the network was being replaced in los angeles. it had been acting improperly. it was a human error. 18 had suppressed a warning system. had it been -- a member of the team has suppressed a warning system. had it been put on with the warning system, that would not have happened. i think is important to understand that safety was never compromised. what we lost was the ability to have our system automated, the ability to process a flight plan information on an automated basis. the system worked. it identified that it had a problem. it identified that the data coming was erroneous. and it essentially warned us to shut the system down, but it gave was that warning much later the nature of due to human error. as a result, as of about two
days ago i have put together an oversight team. and remember, this was a contractor for us. i have asked the cio's of the faa itself along with the omb, representatives from the department of defense and the dot, all with a couple of outside experts to take a look at the system and i want answers on two grounds, number one, the short-term, what happened? how did we allow this to happen? and number two, how what do we do to make sure it never happens again? the second phase of this report will be taking a good look at the network architecture. we are building a completely new infrastructure on this and i want to be sure that we have a robust architecture that is protected, that is redundant and will never allow this to happen again. >> we are working with the faa, air force, and others on the
issue of air space for unmanned aircraft. as you know, a a uav's or uas' are a significant part of our future. i believe there is in august 2010 target date. -- there is an august 2010 target date. i think is important to continue to meet the deadlines there. i want to call on senator lautenberg in a moment. i want to make one final comment and then i have to depart. i will ask senator lautenberg to ask whatever questions he wishes to ask. i said to ms. gilligan who was here about a week and a half ago that we intend to monitor very carefully what is happening with respect to your rulemaking. ms. gilligan indicated that some of that had slipped. you were originally talking about december.
she talked about january. you talked about today how difficult it is to do these things, which are committed to, but time lines are hard. for example, just on the icing issue, after 19 years on the most-wanted list, we really are going to be pushy. the we are doing that because we think is essential at long last to get to the end stage of this. you have been very short time, i understand that, and you inherit these things that are unfinished. is your responsibility to finish them. and you will not like, perhaps, that we push, but we are going to push really hard. we want a good relationship with you, one in which we push and you delivered and america's skies are safer as a result. again, i said when i started, i am very pleased that you became faa administrator, frankly. i think you bring it wealth of that -- of experience to this job and you have the capability
to do really good things. we want to give you the tools to do it and we want you to meet deadlines. i thank you very much for coming here. i will send you a list of additional questions, especially on the subject of next gen because that is a significant priority of ours and targets and time lines are there. >> i would be happy -- as a matter of fact, have suggested to some of this stufstaff, browe could give you a quick tour entire line of the things we are doing. there is acceleration here. the components are coming together. i appreciate the push that you give us and you can rest assured that there is some of the push going on internally from me. i would be delighted to escort a group to show you live and in color what we are doing with next gen and with the potential is for us.
i welcome that. thank you. >> administrator babbidge, thank you very much. senator lautenberg, would you proceed and adjourned the hearing when you're concluded? >> how long shall i proceed? [laughter] >> until you run out of breath or questions. >> or five minutes. >> or five minutes, as the administrator suggests. [laughter] >> thanks for being here and thanks to the senators for their constant attention to matters of air travel. i am informed that we have some of the people from the families of those who lost their lives in the cogan flight. while there is not a lot that we can do for consolation to let
them know, but their presence and interest can help us. perhaps we can make sure that something like that does not happen again. we're certainly pleased to have mr. babbitt as the administrator. he has, as it has been described, extensive experience and we're pleased at the chance to get to know one another and i am interested in the action that he is committed to taking. -- committed to taking to provide safe travel. it is amazing when you think about the record that has been composed over the years in aviation in this country, but
even one slip is one too many. we should never have that happen. runway safety and aircraft overruns continue to be significant problems, mr. babbitt. recently, dot inspector general report highlighted dangerous runway procedures at newark airport. these procedures were brought to the attention of the of fayed nearly two years ago by a new -- newark air traffic controller, but yet, the faa has just now proceeded to act. which we are pleased to see, but why did it take a day so long to act on safety concerns -- take the faa so long to act on safety concerns raised by the air traffic controller? >> that is a very serious issue for us. i think you should know that since i have been the administrator, my chief counsel
has created an office to completely revamp how we deal with the whistle blowers. i guess the most important point i want to make is, when someone raises a question and a half to "blow it was a" to get the information to us, we have already had a breakdown. when people bring us things, we should be dealing with it. i want this handled differently. something went wrong. we had a failure to communicate, a failure of understanding. something went wrong at, and i want to change that. >> so, we can count on you to be willing -- a willing listener, or an unbiased willing listener if complaints come to the system? >> that is precisely what we're trying -- >> in the past there has been
some concern about security of their jobs by raising complaints. we do not want to hear about that anymore because you get them to the witness table. >> and that's completely flies in the face of what we're trying to achieve with safety management systems. i have testified here and other places and i have spoken about id before every profession -- about it before every professional group that can bring action and pressure for us that we need to have a system that allows people to point out safety flaws that will guide us in avoiding accidents, avoiding problems, avoiding conflicting runway issues, any of these are worthy of being addressed. we need to have a way to allow them to express it. >> certainly, when things go the other way, when a mistake isn' learned about, when bad practice is threatening, the faa
should be quick to jump on it. and they should certainly be equally as quick to respond from something that comes from an experienced and working flight controller. i want to talk for a moment about cogan flight 3407. the first officer of the flight had a base pay of around $20,000. she traveled from seattle on a red eye. she carried around some concerns, obviously, about her income, lived at home with her parents. and she may also have been ill at the time the flight -- the time of the flight, but was afraid to lose the time that she would not be paid for. so much pressure.
uni talked about capt. sully, the pilot on the miracle on the hudson. he was cut 40% in his salary in recent years, forcing him to take another job. given all the responsibilities that commercial pilots shoulder, should there be some review of salaries? it would be extremely unusual, but they do not send anybody of in nasa -- in a nasa shuttle unless they know they're in a -- in good health. there are so many other situations where a heavy response ability relies on an individual or their health isn't a concern, their condition is not a concern. health includes reductions in stress and with unease of a
facility to get to work and so forth. i am not against people having to travel to get to work. but the thing that should happen is that there should be sufficient time to get to work and to have enough of a time lapse that they can have some recovery time before they get in the cockpit. the question of incomes ought to be somehow or other reviewed. i would like for you or your department -- or we will do it from our offices -- to get some indication of what the sellers are and see whether they are consistent with the responsibilities -- what the salaries are and see whether they're consistent with the responsibilities that go in the cockpit on an airliner.
regional airliners operate half of all domestic departures. they move more than 160 million people a year. if we have one level of safety for both regional and major network carriers, shouldn't the pilots of the regional carriers be trained and compensated the same level of -- as pilots for a major network carriers, particularly if they are find identical routes? -- flying identical routes? >> the data you mentioned earlier what the compensation records are, those are readily available. as a matter of fact, they -- they report them to the department of transportation. a form 441 collects the data so we know what all the carriers pay. the data is available to us. that is an area, compensation dairies from every carrier --
varies from carrier to carrier. when i was flying i took a pay cut of 20% myself and i lost a substantial portion of my pension plan. i'm very familiar of what the economic impact is when a carrier does these things, and the stress when a carrier does these things. but it continues to concern me and should continue to -- should concern all was that we will not continue to attract the best and brightest to this industry if they are now or to be compensated. i testified in 1992 about pension reform and the obligation that i thought carriers had. that is not my role here today, but i am concerned that if the wages are not supportive of attracting qualified and intelligent people to these jobs, in the long run they will suffer. it is not anything that the faa can undertake, but i think the
commercial airline industry -- and i would applaud secretary lahood who has called together a group to study long-term. he brought a group together from the airlines, manufacturers, labor unions and the question was, what do we want this airline to produce? do we want to produce service to small city, high-paying good jobs whether it be pilots or mechanics? i applaud his action there. he is going to empower that within about two weeks. this group is going to get together and he has made it clear that he does not want a series of nice things to do. he wants a series of actionable items that we can take. >> good, we had an incident in this room sometime ago when there was a takeover attempt of one airline by another. the acquiring airline was willing to pay $17 billion in
cash to buy the airline. the room was full of pilots of the acquiring airline, and i asked the question about the ceo of the company -- if they had $17 billion available for the purchase of another airline, why were they reducing pensions? the room broke out in applause. i was not looking for that, but the deal was broken. because there was a different set of evidence of responsibility that the of -- that the airlines had to take, and we need their cooperation in determining what the compensation ought to be there to make sure that the pilot is lined as much as we can with a respectable salary that says, look, this job is worth it.
because people love to fly, as you know. and they will fly for almost any price, not just for income, but for love of job. in 2006, the former faa administrator stated that newark liberty air traffic control tower needed at least 35 controllers to move traffic safely. but right now, there are only 26 certified controllers and eight trainees manning the tower. they're supposed to have 35 trained, but they have only 26 trained, fully trained. i have been asking this question for the past five years. this time, i would like to have it be the last time that we discuss this. and i trust you, mr. administrator, to make sure that
if you do not have the resources to do this, then you have to let us know. when will the new york tower -- newark tower be fully staffed with controllers? when will the oftlaguardia -- when will laguardia? also, j.f.k.. maybe there are technological reasons that say, ok, we can get by with it. but if that is the case, you're going to have to tell us about it. lastly, the faa has taken major aerospace redesign and -- in the new jersey, new york, philadelphia region. the major overhaul of flight patterns has raised safety concerns from controllers and could increase the noise levels
over many parts of new jersey. in 2007, the faa dismissed the noise problem, at best, as a side issue. we cannot say in good conscience that the quality of life issues affecting hundreds of thousands of new jerseyans should be considered in the redesign process. there is also concerned about living in the path of the glide platpath of an airport or take . can we count on you to do that, and also, will in this to hold a town hall meeting in new jersey to address the safety and noise
concern regarding aerospace design projects? >> yes, sir. i have indicated in the past -- i think one of the areas that we have not done well is when we talk about airspace redesign, people immediately focus on some new daughter of lines that did not used to go over the area in -- some new dotted lines that did not use to go over the area in which they live. we have a new contract with the air traffic controllers association. we are making a lot of efforts to have a much better dialogue and ability to communicate with them and the ability to collaborate with them on issues. i want their participation in this airspace redesign. i welcome their participation. this is an environment in which they live. they do this day to day and you can have a lot of academic studies, but having the academic and the technical solution
parallels and mated with the practitioner gives you a far better product and experience. i want to do that. but secondly, it is incumbent upon us to let people know that we are doing more than just changing dotted lines. this redesign it -- we are not redesigning it because is working so well now. it is not working so well now. we will be able to utilize a lot of new techniques. the crux we look forward to that and i'm going to close this hearing -- >> we look forward to that and i'm going to close this hearing. once again, i convey our condolences to those who lost loved ones in the flight to buffalo. we are trying very hard, honestly -- and i address this to the people here -- to make sure that we learn from and how
terrible mistake that was. how terrible an error in judgment that was in terms of having the kind of person in the cockpit that you can feel good about, or obvious it was unable to assist in that moment of emergency. with that, i close this hearing. thank you for being here, mr. babbitt. i thank all of you for being here. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] >> c-span, christmas day, a look ahead to 2010 politics including republican congressman
eric kanter and nbc's david gregory, buzz aldrin and fellow astronauts on the legacy of apollo 11, a discussion on the role of muslims in america and the world. later, a former cia intelligence officer on u.s. strategy now -- against al qaeda in afghanistan. and remembering the lives of william f. buckley jr., and senator ted kennedy. >> in the mid-1990s, news -- "newsweek" named omar wasow one of the 50 most important people to watch in cyberspace. since then, he helped found a charter school in brooklyn and explain to new technologies on oprah. sunday night he talked about his -- talks about his current studies on c-span's q&a. >> the senate passed an $871 billion health care bill. the vote was 60-39 along party lines. the only senator who did not vote was kentucky republican jim
bunning. nebraskas and a democrat ben nelson was the last senator to vote yes on the bill. he spoke following the vote. remarks that the majority leader made about all of the people that work at the capitol during the difficult an intense time. we thank you very much for your outstanding service. it's early and i'll be brief. the most obvious problem with the bill before us is it doesn't do what it was supposed to do. the one test for any bill was whether it would lower costs. this bill fails that test. it's also clear that even many of the people on this side who are going to support this bill don't like it. otherwise, the democratic leaders wouldn't have had such a
tough time rounding up the votes. otherwise, democratic leaders would not have had to have votes in the middle of the night or at crack of dawn or over the weekend or even during a blizzard. otherwise, they wouldn't be rushing it through congress on christmas eve. the first time this body has had a vote on the day before christmas in more than a century. this debate was supposed to produce a bill that reformed health care in america. instead, we're left with party line votes in the middle of the night, a couple of sweetheart deals to get it over the finish line in a truly outrage -- and a truly outraged public. the problem, they were told would be fixed wasn't.
i guarantee you the people who voted for this bill are going to get an earful when they finally get home for the first time since thanksgiving. they know there is widespread opposition to this monstrosity. and i want to assure you, mr. president, this fight isn't over. in fact, this fight is long from over. my colleagues and i will work to stop this bill from becoming law. that's the clear will of the american people and we're going to continue to fight on their behalf. mr. reid: mr. president? vice president the majority leader. mr. reid: like so many endeavors that have benefited so many americans, making health insurance more affordable and health insurance companies more accountable is a process. it's one that is required as to
find common ground as we should. that's why, mr. president, we have a piece of legs that over the -- legislation that over the next decade will reduce the deficit by $132 billion. over the next decade, as much as $1.3 trillion. now, mr. president, everyone knows we've had votes in the middle of the note and on christmas eve because the republicans wouldn't allow us to have votes at any other hour. now, it's true when we go home, we're going to hear an earful. i'm going to hear an earful from young caleb. a boy, mr. president, that was born with legs that stopped right here, above his knees, he needed new prosthetic devices because the rest of his body is growing. but the insurance company said no, because he had a preexisting condition. i'll get an earful from caleb and especially from his parents. an earful of joy.
from this day forward insurance companies will not be able to deny coverage because of preexisting condition disability. people like caleb and people who have children with diabetes and other problems, it's over. with so, yes, we're going to hear an earful, but it's going to be an earful of wonderment an happiness that people waited for for a long time. this morning is not the end of the process. it's merely the beginning. we'll continue to build on this success to improve our health system even more and to further ease the terrible burdens on american families an businesses. but that process cannot begin unless we start today. the american people and the american economy cannot afford for us to wait for the next time. because, you see, mr. president, there may not be a next time. nearly 65 years ago, harry truman condemned a system that condemned its citizens to the devastating economic side
effects of sickness. nearly 65 years later we still suffer from the same. just months after world war ii came to crease, president harry s. truman wrote in a letter to congress to this body and i quote -- "we should resolve now that the health of this nation is a national concern, that financial barriers and the way of attaining health shall be removed. that the health of all of its citizens deserves the help of all of the nation." decades have passed and these financial barriers have grown taller, but we will never solve the problem unless we find the resolve, which we haven't found, until, mr. president, today. this is how long we've waited. think of those who are just 1-year-old in 194 a 5 -- 1945. there are far too many who have
lived their lives have not had any type of health care. any type of health care. coverage got more and more expensive each year. insurance companies found more and more excuses to leave them out in the cold. and for those who worked in small businesses or owned one or moved from job to job, the peace of mind health care can provide was merely a dream. today on the verge of the year 2010, those americans are finally just months away from qualifying for medicare. that's a long time for a citizen to wait for health care in the greatest and richest nation the world has known. how much longer? how much longer can we afford to put this off or ask the uninsured for their patience? until health care costs consume not just a one-sixth of our economy, but a third or a half or until premiums consume more than half of a family's income? we certainly don't have, mr. president, the luxury of waiting until america becomes the only developed nation on earth where you can die for lack
of health insurance. we already bear that blemish. that's why we're bringing security and stability to millions who have health insurance and bringing health insurance to millions who have none. mr. president, can we have order? the vice president: the senate will be in order. mr. reid: what we will do is ensure consumers have more choices and insurance companies face more competition. we'll stand up for insurance who deny health care to the sick and drive millions to bankruptcy and foreclosure. we'll add years to the life of medicare which will add years to the life of seniors. we'll trade a system that demands you pay more and get less for one in which you will pay less and get more. as we do all this, we'll slash our children's deficit in dramatic fashion. we may not completely cure this crisis today or tomorrow, but we must start toward that end. we must strive for progress and
not surrender for one of purity. our charge is to move forward. this is a tradition as old as this republic, one that has always comprised interests and opinions as diverse as the people who populate it. our founding fathers did not promise to form an unfallable new nation. they promised instead to promote the general welfare as we move toward a more perfect union. they valued progress. our nation's earliest leaders promised not absolute happiness but only the pursuit of that goal. they valued opportunity. and like other new programs that improve the lives of many and were since strengthened to improve even more, programs like medicare, medicaid, social security, progress and opportunity are what this historic bill represents. to those who so admirably care so much for their fellow man that they demand more, i say this is just the beginning.
with senator ted kennedy's voice booming in our ears, with his passion in our hearts, we say, as he said, the work goes on, the cause endures. opponents of this bill used every trick in the book to delay this day, this moment. yet here we are minutes away from doing what many have tried but none have ever achieved. we're here because facts will always defeat fear. and though one might slow the progress, they can't stop it. and though one might slow the speed of progress, its force cannot be stopped. mr. president, i'm sorry to say that for the first time in american history, for the first time in american history a political party has chosen to stand on the sidelines rather than participate in great and greatly needed social change. i'm sorry to see that many on the other side have resorted to myths and misinformation and
continue to rely on them long after they were debunked. and it's regrettable that they view our citizens' health care through a political lens, because affording to live a healthy life isn't about politics or partisanship or polling. mr. president, it's about people. it's about life and death in america. it's a question of morality, of right and wrong. it's about human suffering. and given the the chance to relieve this suffering, we must take this chance and deliver on a promise the american people have deserved for six and a half decades. the vice president: the clerk will read the bill for the third time. the clerk: calendar number 175, h.r. 3590, an act to amend the internal revenue code of 1986 to modify the first-time home buyers credit in the case of members of the armed forces and certain other federal employees, and for other purposes. the vice president: the question is on the passage of h.r. 3590,