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tv   Tonight From Washington  CSPAN  April 12, 2011 8:00pm-11:00pm EDT

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this is a great resource of what the original intent is and what our founding fathers have said about the constitution. but, you see, back to something i mentioned earlier, god says, my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. i have heard that beginning line preached a number of times. seldom do i hear a pastor go past that a-line. the whole verse says this, and remember, this is a promise from a wholly righteous god that can do nothing else but fulfill the promise. and his promise is this when he spoke to the israelites, he speaks to us ood. he said my people are destroyed
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for lack of knowledge because you have rejected knowledge. i also will reject you from being priests for me because you have forgotten the law of your god, i will also forget your children. i get goose bumps every time i say that, because it is a promise from a wholly righteous god who -- wholly righteous god who can do nothing but fulfill that promise. we, the people, the most powerful political force in this nation becoming knowledgeable, becoming knowledgeable about the constitution, getting a copy and looking at it on-line. my district, my people can come by my office and get a copy. we give them by the hundreds out of my office here in washington. get a copy of the federalist papers. if you don't want to read it in the old-style english, get it in
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modern language. . read what our founding fathers said. you see in the federalist papers, those who are arguing for a strong centralist government, we have enumerated very limited and fine powers as james madison states. thomas jefferson states. former u.s. senator one time said, when he feels the heat he cease the light -- he sees the light. members of congress in the house and the senate need to see the light. by feeling the heat of we the people. you see, psalm 11 god asks a question, if the foundations be
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destroyed, what are the righteous to do? god's given us a free will. he's given us freedom. he's given us lipt liberty. unlike any society ever in history has ever said, ever seen , ever experienced. but we lose it. and the only way we're going to put it back on the right course is for people to become knowledgeable about the foundational principles so that we can put this country back on a solid foundation, so that it's not built on shifting sand, so that we can change the course of history. the direction we're heading today is going to destroy everything that's been good about this country. it's going to destroy our liberty, we're not going to have the freedom that we've enjoyed.
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even in the past few decades, which is much less freedom than they experienced in this country 100 years ago. look at these questions. i think they're very reasonable. is it right, does it fit the judeo-christian principles that the nation was founded upon? is it constitutional in its original intent? not this perverted idea that we're operating under today. do we need it and can we afford it? if we went to these questions, we wouldn't have $14.5 trillion debt. we wouldn't have all the unfunded liabilities of the federal government which are tremendous. we wouldn't have the loss of liberty and freedoms that we see
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going on here today. we wouldn't have a lot of the debates that we have here in congress. we the people need to start holding every single member of congress, every president, every public official, local, state as well as federal, because they all take that same oath, to defend the constitution. the vast, vast majority are violating that oath and the only way that we the people are going to change things, the only way we're going to put this country back on the right course is for we the people to demand it. so please contact your neighbors, your friends, get them to read the constitution, read the federalist papers, read what our founding fathers said about government. understand how far we've gotten
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away from those original principles, how much we have lost our freedom, how much we've gotten away from liberty and how close we are becoming a socialist communistic nation in this country, that's where we're headed, and the only way it's going to change is if the american people will stand up and demand something different. start throwing people out of office that violate their oath of office and to put people in office that are going to stand firm for freedom. for liberty. i'm going to stand for the constitution as it was sbepped -- intended and i'm going to continue to fight for the constitution as it was intended. there are precious few here in this body that will stand and even vote that way, the only way we're going to change it, the only way we're going to save america is for we the people to
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stand up and demand it. i believe we can, i believe we will. i believe that we're at the beginning right now today of a new dawn in america, a dawn of liberty, a dawn of freedom, a dawn of limited government, a dawn of strong national defense and national security, a dawn where our children and grandchildren are going to grow up in an economically prosperous nation where they're going -- there are going to be jobs in the private sector, where people are going to be able to operate within their society without all the constraints of government. we've got to demand it. the future of this country depends upon it. your children and your grandchildren depend upon it. join in the fight. mr. speaker, i yield back.
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the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. under the speaker's announced policy of january 5, 2011, the gentleman from kentucky, mr. yarmuth, is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader. mr. yarmuth: thank you, mr. speaker. it's a great honor to be here on the floor of the house of representatives talking to the american people about one of the most critical things that this body does. and that's to decide how much money we ask our citizens to contribute to the government and how that money is going to be spent. you know, i didn't come here intending to respond to the gentleman who spoke before me, but he cast in one respect the whole debate over our budget very well. when we had mr. broun's four-way test. and the first thing that mr. broun put on there is, is it
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right and moral? and i agree with him. because when we debate the budget of the united states, when we debate how we're going to spend the taxpayers' money, the first question we should ask is, is it right? and is it moral? and the converse is, if we don't spend something, is it wrong and is it immoral? today i had the great honor of visiting walter reid hospital -- walter reed hospital andly there got to speak with several of our -- and there i got to speak with several of our extremely brave, courageous soldiers who have been injured in battle and one young man who lost both legs, one just above the knee, one all the way to his pelvis, and lost a little bit of a finger on one hand, was on what can only be described as bionic legs which
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he said are extremely good, the technology is extremely advanced, but they still don't help him walk. and he talked to us for a long time about what he had been through, the progress he had made and what he hoped to achieve with technology. and his parting comment to us was, you know, this is the result of the federal government spending money on medical research. this is helping people not just in the military, knot not just in the armed forces -- not just in the armed forces but also in the private arena as well. and i look at what the republican budget that we will consider later in the week has done and it slashes money for medical research. and i say, let's apply mr.
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broun's four-way test. is it right? is it moral? also, does it make any sense to cut medical research when we have brave men and women who are reacquiring some of their lives after making incredible sacrifices because of the money that we have spent, the taxpayer money we have spent, funding critical research? it would be immoral to deny, don was his name, to deny don his request that we continue to fund medical research that's going to help him regain his capabilities, his physical function, and the thousands of young men and women who have sacrificed so much for us. so, as we enter this debate this week on the republican budget proposal, the democratic alternative budget proposal, we have choices to make.
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that's always what government is about. it's about choosing. how do we spend the taxpayer money that we asked our taxpayers to contribute to the general welfare of this country? last week we sat in the budget committee and considered the republican budget. and i'm sure that my characterization of the republican budget will be different than the republicans' characterization of their budget, but i will say one thing, that we all agree that we have a fiscal challenge in front of us. we have enormous deficits, we can argue about how we got here, i'm not going to spend time debating that tonight, but we clearly have a challenge. and the future is even more challenging. so the question is, as we
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approach this budget deficit, this future of deficits, a very, very large national debt, what is the best way to approach it? now the republican answer is that there is only one side of the ledger. now most homes, most businesses have two sides to the ledger. they have an income side and they have an expenditure side. as far as the republicans on the budget committee are concerned, we only have an expenditure side. you've heard the speaker of the house say we only have a spending problem, we don't have a revenue problem. you've heard my senior senator from kentucky, the minority leader of the senate, say we don't have a taxing problem, revenue problem, we have a spending problem. well, in fact if you look at our situation right now, we're no different in a lot of respects than the average household or the average business.
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if we have a challenge, a financial challenge, we do a couple of things. we say, ok, where can we cut costs? and then we say, how can we generate more revenue? those are the two options. as far as republicans are concerned, there's only one option. it's cut expenditures and unfortunately my characterization, they cut it on the programs which help the most vulnerable people in our country. on the other hand, what do they do on the ref revenue side? -- revenue side? they say, well, let's see, millionaires and billionaires haven't done quite well enough over the last decade or so. 20 years ago they only earned 9% of all income in the country, now they own 35% of all income in the country, that's not quite good enough, let's give them another tax break. the bush tax cuts were ok but they weren't quite large enough. so instead of cutting their rate from 39.6% to 35%, let's cut
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their maximum rate to 25%. and let's see what that does for the economy. well, i think most of my democratic colleagues would agree that if we're going to approach this deficit and the national debt in a responsible way, we will look on both sides of the ledger, we will ask people who have done extremely well, who have the capacity to give more, to pay a little more, and we will make responsible cuts that are balanced across the sector. but there are so many ramifications to this debate and we're going to be debating it all week and i'm proud to have with me today to help me discuss this some members of the budget committee from the democratic side, it's my great honor now to yield to the gentleman from new york, mr. tonko. . thank you for leading us in this discussion. it's interesting to hear you speak of the approach of one
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side to the ledger. what is the message are what we have are these cuts that translate into savings so we are going to save at the expense of the middle class but cut programs for seniors, veterans, for children, working families, for small businesses and you know, that will produce savings, pro pencity of tens of billions of dollars worth of cuts. a thursday for cutting domestic -- a thurst for cutting domestic spending. we saw what happened when we invested in job creation and gained over two million private sector jobs in the last year. we know those investments will lead to dividends and will relate to programs that are required for our working families, our middle-class
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americans across this great ount try and also it -- country and also it provides opportunities, the sort of mix that down payments, the priming at the pump, if you will that makes it happen. you are correct in talking about this as a one-sided approach. but what troubles me is that there this is -- messaging that would try to convince the american public that it produces savings. where do the savings go? there are trillions of dollars of cuts to the middle class in this republican plan and those trillions of dollars of cuts that they deem savings, that fuel, that provides the resources to cut, you know, the trillions of dollars worth of millionaire-billionaire tax cuts, to provide for the
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continuation of services that contractors will provide that have been deemed wasteful or at times fraudulent with the pentagon. they'll continue to protect those investments. they will allow for additional relief for corporations. so it's sliding dollars out of the pockets of the middle class and investing them, the spending that they do, as they accrue those savings, the new spending that they do is tax cut delivery for those in the upper class. and to me, it sounds very much like the pre-recession situation under the president bush administration that led us to this deep, painful and long terming recession. their plan has been dubbed by themselves, their own members as the path to prosperity. i would suggest it's a road to ruin for the middle class and it's a road to riches that paves
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the streets with golden opportunities with those who are the most comfortable in society, those on top of the perch. this is an interesting scenario that is being placed before this body and all of cock congress for that matter and we need to message to america what is happening. you take from the poor and middle class and slide it off to most comfortable, corporations, millionaires, billionaires, mindless handouts, that's how they pay tore those, sliding the cash down the splipry slope, spending on tax cuts for those who didn't get quite enough under the bush tax cuts. and i want to go towards the medicare situation. they want to end medicare. i want to hear from some of our other colleagues. road to ruin, road to riches, a
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complete situation, a dichotomy of special needs coming at the expense of middle-class america. it's a raid on our middle class, paving the road for the fortunate and ruin for america's middle class, without a strong middle class and without enhancing the middle class, we have a weakened middle class. thank you for bringing us together on a very important discussion here in the house of representatives as we continue to fight for the middle class that has been impacted severely and would take even more hits if this budget were allowed to pass through. mr. yarmuth: i thank the yeah. and it's a road we have been down before. it's a road beff been down before. back under the reagan administration, the theory of trickle-down economics was
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developed. the idea was, people at the top make as much as they can and that will trickle down and help everybody else. and the man who was largely responsible for that policy under the reagan administration, david stockman, his dugget director said it last year, i find it unconscionable that the republican leadership could possibly believe that good public policy is to maintain tax cuts for the top 2%. that was last year when they were debating whether to return to the clinton-era tax rates. the clinton era which resulted in the most impressive decade of job growth. they want to double down on that. they don't want to go back to the clinton-era tax cuts, but cut it even further. and their theory is by cutting the tax rate by 10% more on the
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wealthiest people in this country, that they will create more jobs. where do they get this stuff? the only source they have for that theory is the heritage foundation. the heritage foundation was also the group that said if we cut taxes in the bush administration and we will have this job growth and surplus, didn't quite work out so well. this is the harry potter budget, you wave the magic wand and make anything sound true. cut taxes further on the rich, slash spending to help the low and moderate income people in this country and the economy will bloom. well, i'm not buying it and most americans won't buy it. it's a road we have been down before. i would like to introduce and yield time to a great new member of congress, gentlelady from
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california, ms. bass. ms. bass: thank you for your leadership in this effort. as a new member on the budget committee, we had an interesting week last week. we completed a week where we saw the far right of the republican party take their party off the ledge and way out of the mainstream. they declared war on seniors, on the disabled, sick, children and on the underserved by proposing to end medicare and medicaid as we know it. they champion the budget, entitled the path to prosperity. this is a plan that at the same time ends medicare while giving billions in tax breaks to big oil and the wealthiest americans. mr. tonko called it the path to ruin. i thought about calling it the ryan ruin plan and gitches seniors a gift. and that gift is a voucher to purchase health care. the senior citizen then has to
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identify an insurance carrier that will take the voucher. and if the person is lucky, the voucher will cover all the costs. i do think this would be rare and i don't know what happens in this plan if after a couple of years or a couple of illnesseses the insurance company drops the person or raises the rates. if the ryan plan does what he wants, he wants to repeal the affordable care act and all of that would come under play. the person would have to pick up the rest of the costs under the ryan plan. now i believe we are simply foolish and we are fooling ourselves if we think all seniors will be able to just write a check and pay the difference. they'll just pay the difference and have to absorb more costs. a more likely scenario is seniors will not have medical coverage and question will be sent back in time to when seniors did not have coverage
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because insurance companies didn't want to cover them. i say to people you can judge a society by how it treats its elderly and its children. the path to ruin plan hurts both populations. you know what i wanted to do is share a story and talk about the ryan plan when it takes us back to 2022, 11 years from now. the average senior would receive an $8,000 voucher to buy insurance. what i wanted to share with you are the years that i spent working in the emergency room. i worked in los angeles county, one of the largest in the united states. and the emergency room is so large that it is divided in sections. one section is called ambulatory care, the walking wounded. they shouldn't have been in the emergency room, but the reason why they were there was because
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they didn't have health insurance. they didn't have access to care. and what typically happens if you don't have access to care, by the time you eventually see someone, you are much sicker than you would have been. so i remember a case where a diabetic patient who was not 65 and couldn't access medicare and came into the walking wounded area with a soar on his foot. he told me in the history he was a diabetic but tried a series of home remedies and came to the e.r. when his heel started turning purple. he told me he had been diagnosed with diabetes years ago but couldn't afford his medication and trying to watch his diet. a patient with a history of poorly controlled diabetes who presents to an emergency room is likely to have a series of
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complications. this man ended up as an a.m. pew tee because the sore on his heel developed into gangrene. thinking about the cost of this, the total of this visit was $12,000 and his leg, that included a $2,000 for his emergency room visit and lab tests, $6,000 charge for an amputation and detail charge of $1,400 for after-care. if this patient had access to routine preventative care, he would still have his legs and $12,000 would have been saved. why do i share this story? we are fooling ourselves if we don't understand that turning medicare into a voucher and leaving seniors to fend for themselves is simply denying adequate health care that in the end will cost us much more in
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suffering and hospital costs that will be borne by taxpayers. today in my office i met with representatives from several hospitals who are describing the challenges that they face now. so there is an area in los angeles county where 600,000 people lived and last time i checked, that was around the entire population of the state of vermont. 600,000 people, where there is not one trauma center, not one emergency room because all of the four hospitals in that area have closed. now that's today. under the ryan plan, for seniors, vouchers for seniors and vouchers for states, because that's the bottom line what a block grant is, is a voucher, voucher for individuals and for a state. all who border this area that has no trauma area or no emergency room, they would essentially have to absorb and
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they have been absorbing the population of these 600,000 people. they were concerned and came into my office today concerned that they could potentially face closure now given the situation. if we were to adopt the ryan plan, pathway to ruin, however you want to describe it, would simply be setting the stage for hospital closures to continue, for more patients to come into the walking wouppeded areas of emergency rooms, for people to be sicker and eventually come to the emergency room which is incredibly shortsided because in the end it costs taxpayers so much more money, because these people are going to be cared for. so we are fooling ourselves if we think that seniors are just going to be able to meet what the voucher doesn't cover. thank you very much for your leadership in this. and i yield my time back to mr.
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yarmuth. mr. yarmuth: i thank the gentlelady and somewhere towards the end there, the gentlelady mentioned jobs, and this is something that is kind of at the core of what we are trying to work toward. we are trying to develop a budget that will stimulate the economy, create jobs and we know that under the ryan budget, again, according to the heritage foundation, the way they get to some kind of physical sanity, they predict that unemployment will be reduced to 2.8% by 2016. i don't know anyone in the country who sees that is feasible particularly when you are slashing government spending that slashes jobs particularly in the health care arena, but no one has been more vockal and more knowledgeable and more articulate about what it takes in this country to create jobs
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than mr. garamendi and i welcome him to the discussion. . mr. garamendi: the republicans have simply attempted to ram down the throats of this congress a really unacceptable budget, one that does destroy, does destroy opportunities. i would love to talk about make it in america and i will in a moment, but i was just listening to my colleague from california and she raised the issue of the medical care here in the united states. it was 1964 that the united states set out on a very, very important mission and that was to provide health care to seniors. prior to that time, and i know from my own county where i grew up in california, if you became a senior you were destined for a very, very rough road. there was literally no insurance available for you and there was
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no opportunity for you to get yourself out of poverty unless you happened to be among the wealthy. it was a terrible situation. so during the lyndon johnson period, 1964, they created a program called medicare, medicare so, that when you became 65 you had an opportunity to get a solid health care program available to you. a dr. program, a hospital brother -- a doctor program, a hospital program, you have to pay a little bit for a hospital program, but it was guaranteed available to you and every american 65 and over had that policy. here we are 40-some years later and what's taking place? our republican colleagues are determined to terminate, kill, stop, eliminate medicare. they do it in a subtle way. they do it in a subtle way. but i want everyone to know that this year, this year if the
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republican budget goes forward this will be the tombstone for medicare. medicare, 1965-2011, created by l.b.j., destroyed by the g.o. . how did they do it? they do it by saying everyone that is 55 years old today will never get medicare. it's over. and for those that are on medicare, their lives will move on and eventually they'll be gone also. and medicare dies with this budget. this is a central part of the american promise to every senior and the republicans are determined to terminate medicare. and put a tombstone dated this year, 2011, you'll get a voucher but as my colleague from los angeles so eloquently said, that voucher will be worth very
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little when the time comes. and you'll be thrown to the insurance sharks. i understand insurance. the insurance commissioner in california for eight years and know what the health insurance companies want to do. they want to make sure that they insure somebody that will never get sick. pre-existing conditions, raise the rates, change the benefit, increase the co-pays and the deductibles, all of that. so the future population of seniors in just 10 years will be thrown to the wolves and they'll be at mercy of the shealt insurance companies. we cannot -- at the mercy of the health insurance companies. we cannot let that happen. this is the fight of the very nature of america. this is a fight not only to protect seniors but to protect those who want to become seniors. i want to know what american out there today does not want to live long enough to get to medicare.
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they know that today, today, because of the democratic congress they have an opportunity to get insurance the health care reform act. but they know that the republicans want to take that away, too. the very first piece of legislation that the new republican congress passed was the repeal of the affordable health care ac. this is step two -- act. this is step two to dismantle. i'm going to take another 30 seconds to turn it back to my colleagues on the budget side, but here's what we must do. we must get to the root cause of the underlying inflation in health care. terminating medicare does not stop health care inflation. what could stop it are the kind of reports and the kind of suggestions that i made five years ago when i wrote this document called "priced out." 43 separate things that we can do specifically for california but it's am cable for america, 43 separate things that we can
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do to bring down the cost of medical care. it turns out that about a dozens of those were in the affordable health care act. very specific things to rein in the cost of medical care. two examples. one, hospital infections. not only deadly, but costly. now every hospital in the united states is forced by the affordable health care act to pay attention to hospital infections. it's probable that one of our colleagues who was with us here in this house last year died as a result of a hospital infection. just last week. this is serious stuff. it's in the affordable health care act. hospitals will be penalized. secondly, electronic medical records so that the mistakes are eliminated. let me turn this back to mr. yarmuth and mr. tonko. you on the budget committee have served so well, so hard, fighting the initial battle to
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protect america's seniors and to protect this nation's future. thank you for the opportunity to join you. mr. yarmuth: i thank the gentleman for his contribution and also want to segue from what he said because he talked about medicare and the ability to save money in medicare. and one of the ironic things about this debates that been that last year when we were passing the affordable care act and found $550 billion over 10 years that we could save in medicare and reinvest in new benefits and during the campaign that year we were chastised for slashing medicare and yet those same republicans in developing their budget and saying how great they are at cost cutting are using the same savings that we found, the same savings of $550 billion that they ran millions of millions of dollars against democratic candidates last year, and they're taking credit for that in their budget. which is interesting.
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i know mr. tonko is chomping at the bit to talk about medicare so i yield to him at this point. mr. tonko: thank you, representative yarmuth, and representative garamendi. thank you both for your input. representative bass talked about the medicare transformation that would really hurt people across tch great country. and it seems as though would you expect everyone that serves here to be an avid fan of history. that we would want to be taught by the history that has built this great nation and we heard earlier from representative yarmuth about, you know, the repeats of the tax cuts that were recent history. we with saw it during the second bush presidency, we saw it during the reagan era where we did this trickledown theory, if we reduce the burden at the top it will trickle down and everyone will have jobs galore. well, you look at the history and those two scenarios just did
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not work. they did not work and as students of history all of us as representatives, we should absorb that lesson and we should know that a repeat that have kind is only going to damage -- wreak damage on the american economy and more importantly on the american families, the middle class. what did work, what lesson in history stands very strong and tall is that during the f.d.r. presidency when this country was hurting from one of the worst economic struggles it had to face they came up with a program that invested in job creation, invested in the american worker, invested in american families and we created infrastructure, we built across america the needs of this great nation and today some of those institutional efforts are still serving our needs. they stand as a monument of government responding in a way that embraced compassion, that came forward with an intelligence that enabled us to grow out of those economically
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difficult times and we were benefited by that sort of leadership. what we need today is an investment in job creation. think of it. as we enter into a global race on clean energy and innovation, our nations are bulking up and we are defunding with this budget, we're defunding r&d, research and development, for science and tech jobs. how can we expect to win a race, a global race, when with we're tying our hands behind our backs and are not allowing us to go forward? but to medicare, the history learned there and representative garamendi pointed it out. pre-1965 people were being cherry picked, they were being led along without appropriate health care coverage, without insurance because they were perhaps dealing with a pre-existing condition, they were a complex case, they were ignored, they were totally, you know, just abandoned by an insurance opportunity. and because of that our nation
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with compassion again, the history it wrote through those l.b.j. years was to establish a medicare program, look what happened. this chart will tell us. when we get rid of medicare when this republican plan, if it had its way, ends medicare, we're going to see this very impact coming upon our seniors. we will go back to the pre-1965 years. look at this, this is the current medicare program where benefits for our seniors enable them to avoid oftentimes the out-of-pocket expenses. it is forecasted by independent groups out there, not by partisan thinking here in the house but independent bodies are suggesting that it will double in the early years in terms of what is expected of our seniors, digging deep floor their pockets and by the year 2030 it's forecasted triple what they are paying today. this is another way to provide
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savings for the sole purpose of investing those savings in millionaire, billionaire tax cuts, in oil company handouts, in corporation relief. this is an effort here. it is a reverse robin hood. it is going after the middle class which is the strength of america, give that middle class its purchasing power, give our middle class seniors their medicare program, let them have dignity, let there be a quality of life, let there be the opportunity for work, for employment, and let the masses enjoy the benefits of those sorts of programs. that's what we're talking about here. history repeated, bad history repeated, good history ignored. and our seniors will suffer from this medicare program. the end to the medicare program will bring about suffering for them because of greed and because of the road to ruin that has been established by this so-called path to prosperity. representative yarmuth, i
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believe that we need to do better than this, we should not fail our seniors, our disabled and as representative garamendi said, future generations of seniors, an anunslaught of baby boomers that will be impacted by this. mr. garamendi: thank you very much, mr. -- mr. yarmuth: thank you very much, mr. tonko. there are so many aspects of this that deserve to be discussed. one of the thanges that kind of is sad is that the republicans in talking about their plan to privatize medicare say, oh, this is just like the plan that member of congress have. well, first of all, members of congress have the same plan as every other federal employee so it's not necessarily anything special that we have. but the only thing that is somewhat similar about this is that you have some options and the private sector we buy insurance from private venders and we have a certain allowance and under the ryan plan, the republican budget, they would -- seniors, all those under 55 now, when they turn -- become
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seniors, they would have a certain amount that they could spend, not just coup could spend, had to spend in the private seconder because they wouldn't be allowed to buy into any medicare program or public option. the difference is, as you pointed out in your graphic there, that members of congress and federal employees pay about 28% of the premium. what under the republican budget, seniors are going to pay 68% of their premium. this is shifting the burden, the cost and putting it on seniors who are on fixed incomes, who don't have the ability to pay. and what's going to happen to them? this is so unlike the federal insurance programs, it is pretty, i mean, it's frightening in its dishonesty. but i want to talk about one thing quickly and then yield to mr. garamendi again. we talked about taxes and tax rates. and in the budget committee last week i offered an amendment to the ryan but budget that would have restored the clinton era tax cut, highest tax rate of
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39.6%, on americans making $1 million a year or more. now, that is a very small percentage of americans. very small percentage. less than 1% of the americans make over $1 million a year. and i said, let's just have them pay what they paid under the clinton era. not one republican vote for that. and their argument was, and i know they believe this because they keep saying it and have always said it, that if you raise the tax rate on the highest income americans that they're going to lose incentive, that they're not going to worka as hard, they're not going to make investments because you're eliminating their incentive. . well, those with the longest memory,, under the
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eisenhower administration, it was 91%. when my father built his company , the highest was 70%. when reagan took office, 50% and now down to 35% and want to cut it further. they have this belief if you raise rates you are going to destroy incentives. i have built a company and my brothers built successful inspects, my father, not one of us has ever said, my gosh, because i can only keep of 60 cents rather than 64 crepts or 65 crepts, i'm not not going to make make that dollars. that is not human nature. i have one brother who is in the
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barbeque restaurant business. i asked him, what about this marginal tax rate thing? he said if people can't afford barbeque, it doesn't matter what the tax rate is. we have let the middle class decline, because their buying pour has declined not just in relative terms, while the wealthiest americans, people making $1 million, $1 billion and more and have done streamly well. 1% of the american people make as much as the bottom 90% combined. we have the greatest disparity in income and wealth in this country than we have had in almost 100 years. and yet, ask millionaires and billionaires to pay a little
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more, not go to 70%, but 39%, not one republican vote. we have seen in the past what's happened with tax rates. we have been talking about history tonight. under the clinton administration, top tax rate of 39.6%, 20.8 million jobs created. after the bush tax cuts, 653,000 jobs lost. that is not evidence for cutting the marginal tax rate on the highest americans even further. we have seen again right now, the bush tax cuts, this is a job loss thing, the economy floundered after the bush tax cuts went into effect.
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so, again, all we're saying is, we're going to make people, ask people to sacrifice as we get our fiscal house in order. in particularly, we need to ask the people who have done the best and earned the most and have the most wealth. and again, the person who has talked more what it takes to create jobs in this economy is my colleague from california, and i yield to him again. mr. garamendi: thank you very much, mr. yarmuth. this is a different way of saying the same thing. this is over the period of time from 1979 toe 2005, and this -- to 2005, and this is the income growth by each 20% of the population. those people at the bottom saw almost no income growth at all, 200 bucks. next 20% and 20%, you get up to the last 890%, they did ok.
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they made $745,000. that's the 90% to 99% population. those are wealthy people and did ok. go to the top 1%, the top 1%, excuse me, i'm wrong, that's the top 1/10 of 1%. not even 1%, that population saw their wealth increase by nearly $6 million each. and that's what you were talking about, different way of displaying it. what's happened in the united states is this enormous shift of wealth to the super wealthy. and our republican colleagues want to reward them by reducing their tax rate. so much for shared sacrifice. and as mr. tonko pointed out, the sacrifice is the middle class because the benefits that
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the middle class have, the future opportunity for medicare is paying more, getting less, as the republicans terminate medicare as we know it today. the other point on taxes and i want to turn to one of my favorite subjects, republicans want to continue giving $12 billion to $15 billion, this is tax money, you, i, the stenographer here, the men and women across america, $10, 12 billion and want to hand it over to the oil companies. why do they need a tax cut. they need a subsidy like -- well, they don't need it. why? because in the last decade, the oil companies, the big oil companies have earned $947
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million -- billion, billion in profits. that's just shy of $1 trillion in profits. and yet our republicans demand that we give them another $12 billion to $15 billion a year. that's bad enough. i just came across this fact. exxon mobil was the most profitable company in the world in 2008. in 2009, exxon mobil made $19 billion in profit. well, good for them. and i'm sure they paid their fair share of taxes, right? wrong. their affected tax rate was zero. so essentially, didn't pay any taxes, give them another $112 billion. this is plain wrong and not good
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economic policy. and i know you want me to talk about make it in america. but i get so concerned when people talk about the democratic deficit. hello. not so. not a democratic deficit. really a republican deficit. that fellow over there, that's ronald reagan. president ronald reagan left at the end of his eight years with a projected $1,400,000,000 deficit. followed by george w. bush at the end of that period, the projected deficit going forward would be $3,300,000,000. between the two of you, you
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really ran up the deficit. and along this democrat, bill clinton. voted on policies, raised the tax rate, 39% to the super wealthy and put in place pay-go. that pay-go required that any new spending had to be paid for with cuts or new taxes. the result, bill clinton left office in 2001 with a projected $5,6,00,000,000 surplus. then came along george w. bush junior. what did he do? first year in office, tax cut. you were here, weren't you, mr. yarmuth. mr. yarmuth: i wasn't here. i didn't have the honor. mr. garamendi: so you weren't here. tax cut year two, a war, two wars, afghanistan and iraq,
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followed by a medicare program that wasn't paid for and the deregulation of wall street. the result, he left office with an $11,500,000,000 deficit going forward. this is where we are. the day president obama came into office, $1,3,000,000. we worked ourselves out of here and thank goodness you were here. that chart shows the growth of the economy. we need to understand that we aren't going to get out of this deficit with the kind of cuts. it is going to take a balanced approach. president obama said no growth, no growth in the discretionary
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federal budget. he will probably talk tomorrow about how to hold down medical costs and i gave you examples a moment ooling. those are the big drivers and the military. you want to deal with this deficit, end the war in afghanistan. we can do this. tax policy, let the wealthy pay their share and the oil companies pay their share. hold the expenditures steady and reduce it, as has been proposed and create economic growth. i know you gentlemen on the budget committee fought hard. republicans refused. their plome is 30 years before gsh their proposal is 30 years before that. i will talk about make it in america. i'm going to turn it back to
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you, mr. yarmuth. but it's important for the american public to understand where the deficit can be solved without harming seniors, without taking away medicare and making the critical investments that you talked about, mr. tonko, medical research, education. mr. yarmuth: to elaborate on the issue that what creates jobs and what kills jobs. h.r. 1, which was the republican continuing resolution that was passed earlier this year, we are still fighting that battle, but these are the principles that were reflected in here and reflected in the ryan budget. and this is what various economists have said would happen if h.r. 1 would go into effect and this is for six months. ben bernanke, again, this is six
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months, 200,000 jobs lost, mark zandi, john mccain's economic adviser, 700,000 jobs lost. economic policy institute, 800 ,000 jobs lost and that is over six months. as we saw in the chart before, contrast that with what has happened under the obama administration and the policies we adopted when we were in the majority. job growth now, over 200,000 private sector jobs just created. we are on the right track. and to slash spending the way the republicans have proposed without an accompanying increase in revenue is going to do further damage to what is now a solid recovery that is under way. and i just have to laugh a little bit again about the projections of the ryan
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republican budget because they made a big deal of saying this is $6 trillion better than the obama budget over the next 10 years. the way they get to that, once again he we said it earlier is unemployment would come down to 2.8% in five years, but more importantly, they say that we will increase revenues by almost double from 2.2 trillion to $4.3 trillion, 10 years from now. now to put that into perspective, the 10 years before that, we went from $1.9 trillion in revenue to $2.2 trillion. we have been up higher. been up around $2.5 trillion. that's the highest. now they are saying we are going to cut taxes on corporations and cut taxes on the wealthiest americans from 35% to 25% and yet we are going to experience
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unprecedented growth in revenue. again, they can't get anybody to verify this except the heritage foundation, which has not been particularly accurate in the past. this is the harry potter budget, this is their theology, cut taxes, the economy explodes. we have been down that road before, mr. tonko, and i would like to yield to talk to about this about what we are being asked to drive. . .
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that was the driving dynamic, i believe, at the voting booth. and look at our track record here for the first three months and a half for the 112th session of congress. not one bit of legislation that would produce jobs brought to the floor. however, a budget, as you just pointed out in your slashonomics bar graph, that might take as much as 905,000 jobs off the picture for american workers a. we spent just over a year creating over two million private sector jobs. now, that's in contrast with 8.2 million lost under the bush recession. so we've got a long way to go, but why would you reverse progress with a budget that reduces nearly what will even take some of the lower estimates of 400,000? why would you want to do that as a time -- at a time when we're recovering from that very difficult economic time?
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i think it's so important for us to inform the constituents out there and tell middle class america, this is a tipping point in our history. this is whether we fix an economy, create a situation where we come forth and produce products not yet on the commercial scene, a leading nation can do that when it embraces its intellectual capacity. you build products yet not discovered and engineered. that's making it in america. that's what we can do if we invest in our work force, invest in our education, but we're denying all those investments with this budget. just like this medicare chart which as you indicate will have seniors receiving 32 cents on every dollar, health care dollar they require and they're going to have to send for the rest. so we're asking middle class america to pay everything but 32 cents on the dollar for their
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health care as seniors qualifying for medicare and then we're going to take and destroy this economy and snuff out the dreams, the opportunities for america's middle class. you know, we were told in november, america, start growing the economy, stop draining and reducing the middle class. you're reducing, you're snuffing out that middle class. and that was the message. and also on taxes, i believe america is waking up to what has happened here with some of these scenarios. they understand it's not about who's cutting taxes but whose taxes are you cutting? whose taxes will you cut? there's a big difference. and when do you this mindless handout to profit-rich oil companies, historically profit -rich, sitting on about $1 trillion of profit and mindlessly for nearly a century we have handed out these benefits to oil companies, it's wrong, we can do better. this plan is the road to ruin.
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mr. yarmuth: i thank the gentleman and we have a couple minutes left but i'd just like to yield once again to my friend, mr. garamendi, for some closing comments. mr. garamendi: let's just carry on with mr. tonko. if america's going to make it, we have to make it in america. once again, manufacturing matters. the problem with the republican budget is it hollows out, continues the hollowing out of american industry by denying the research, reducing research, reducing job training and continuing the kinds of tax policies that actually give corporations tax breaks when they send jobs offshore. we want to reverse that, we're putting together the make it in america agenda, a real jobs agenda for the middle class. mr. yarmuth, thank you so very, very much for bringing this to our attention and carrying this discussion tonight. mr. yarmuth: i thank the gentleman and thanks for his participation and i just want to say in closing that budget battles are more about dollars and i think all of us on both sides of the aisle believe that
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and live by that. or want to live by that. budgets are about values. budgets are about what we care for in america. and one of the things that i think we have always stood for in america is the idea that anyone has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential and to be wealthy but certainly to be happy and to be healthy. what the republican budget does is destroy much of that hope. destroy much of that dream. slashing education, slashing research and development, slashing investment and infrastructure while at the same time giving more and more tax breaks to wealthy individuals, millionaires, billionaires, oil companies, wall street hedge fund managers and the people who have already had more than their share of the american blessing. so as we proceed in this debate
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this week on the budget and throughout this -- these next few months in the congress, i want to make it very clear that our values are at stake, not just our dollars, but our values. and whether you call it the road to ruin or, as i like to call it, the payback for the prosperous, the republican budget does not reflect our values, it does not lead to a brighter future for the vast majority of americans and it should be rejected and we should move forward with a budget that invests in our dearest, dearest asset and that is the american people. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: under the speaker's announced policy of january 5, 2011, the chair recognizes the gentleman from nebraska, mr. fortenberry, for 27 minutes.
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mr. fortenberry: thank you, mr. speaker. you know, any american that may be watching tonight is probably bewildered but all of the -- by all of the discussion of budgets and continuing resolutions and perhaps debt ceilings as well as the appropriations process. in order to understand where we are currently it's important to look back where we were. what i'd like to do today is -- tonight is share a little bit of information about what the government spends, where the revenue comes from and then how we got into this current situation that we're in. right now we have a $1.6 trillion deficit. we have $14 trillion of debt. that means every man, woman and child in america, if we were to pay it off right now, owes $45,000 and the trajectory of spending is simply unsustainable. we are borrowing about 40 cents on every dollar that we spend. america cannot continue to do this. we all know that. we all know we're going to have to act with bold resolve to get the fiscal house in order. but let's look at this chart,
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mr. speaker, for a moment. it shows the president's 2011 budget proposal. now there was no budget in 2011 and this is part of the confusion. there was no finishing of the appropriations process. right now we're trying to finish the appropriations process, cleaning up the mess from last year by passing what's called a c.r., continuing resolution, that will fund the government for the rest of the year. but a lot of the numbers are based off of somewhat mythical budget and it's just easier to talk about, i think, the president's 2011 budget, to give a snapshot of currently where we are in terms of the fiscal situation. here is what the government spends and the categories in which it spends. if you look on that blue side of the chart there, that's what we in washington call discretionary spending. and defense is about 20% of the discretionary spending here in the united states. the other section of the blue slice of the pie there is what we call nondefense discretionary spending. that's about 14% of the overall budget. a lot of the negotiations about reducing the budget at this time
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has centered around that particular slice of the pie. the other aspects of government that we fund, social security, this maroon slice right here, is about 20% of the budget. medicare is about 13%. medicaid about 8%. and then another mandatory spending category, these are programs that are on auto pilot, whatever the demand is, we spend, we write the check. and it has grown very rapidly since the year 2008 when it was 11%. it is now 17% of the budget. but this includes unemployment, welfare, supplement -- supplemental security income for the disabled, jobs programs as well as some of the tarp money, the bailout money for banks and wall street. that's the lion share of the budget here. 57% is called mandatory spending, discretionary 36%, that's defense and nondefense discretionary, and then we add interest on the debt, that yellow section right there, and that's about 7%. so that's basically what the government spends right here and that total, about 3 -- $3.8
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trillion in last year's projected budget for this year. now, where do the revenues for the government come from? it's important to remember this number. $2.67 trillion, $3.8 trillion expenditures, $2.567 trillion in revenues. in that blue area over here, that's the largest area in which we obtain income for the government, that's the individual income tax. and that's about 44% of overall revenues to the government. now, about half of americans are paying income tax. this orangish area here is what we call payroll taxes, that's about 36%. anybody who's working is going to pay a payroll tax. corporate income taxes, this yellowish area here, is about 12% and then the rest of the budget receipts come from estate and excise taxes as well as customs and other receipts. but the important number to remember again is the $2.567 trillion as opposed to the $3.8 trillion in spending.
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and this shows you the imbalance and again remember, this was last year's projections. we were projecting a $1.267 trillion based upon this spending level and this amount of receipt. but in reality we've just found out the new deficit estimate is actually about $1.6 trillion, it's skyrocketing, it's simply unsustainable. now let's look at the next chart which was the budget proposed for this year. by the president. and it has spending a little bit less, down from about $3.8 trillion to $3.7 trillion. revenue up slightly to $2.6 trillion. this is due to some spending reductions as well as tax increases and that's what slightly gives you a different balance here and you have a deficit projection of $1.1 trillion based upon these numbers. remember, mr. speaker, i said this is somewhat bewildering. give than we don't have a 2011 budget or finished appropriations bill for this
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year and we're now starting to consider a 2012 budget in the midst of potentially as well bumping up against a debt ceiling shortly. i think it's very important to understand how we got here with such enormous deficits. if we look back in time, the last 20 years, look at spending. in 199100 it was $1.25 trillion in the year 2000 it was $1.79 trillion. this year, $3.8 trillion. the size of the federal government has basically doubled in the last decade. now if you look at deficits as well, in 1990 we were talking about $200 billion deficits. now i was a much younger person then but i remember how shorking -- shocking that figure was back then and how there was demand that something be done. in the year 2000 with, because of extraordinarily productivity gains in the late 1990's, we had a $200 billion surplus to the federal government. but this year ads 1.6 trillion
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deficit -- a $1.6 trillion deficit. off the charts. our debt in 1990 was $3.3 trillion. in the year 2000 it was close to $6 trillion. and again this year it will be $14 trillion. and it's set to continue to skyrocket in the coming years. the debt per person per capita, $13,,000. it's doubled to about $45,000 now. now, mr. speaker, i used to be on the lincoln city council in lincoln, nebraska. and one of the responsibilities that we had every year with our $90 million budget was that it had to balance. and let me just tell you, mr. speaker, there was never enough money to have the ideal number of police officers that we wanted or the exact amount of fire fighting apparatuses that we would have preferred or the precise amount of street and road maintenance and park maintenance that we would have
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ideally liked but you had to make a decision. you had to make a decision about what were appropriate tax rates and reasonable public services and balance those. and then we were also by law we had to set a little bit aside. and yet washington doesn't have to do that. they can get away with enormous deficit spending because we have a big credit card. and for a long time that really didn't matter. at a negotiating table up here there are really only three factors. spending and debt and guess which loses every time? debt. because the consequences can be hidden from the american people. but the numbers now have gotten to be so shocking and the reality is coming home that i believe, i know, most nebraskans and most americans want this congress to act with bold resolve to tighten the belt, to ask for some shared sacrifice, to get this fiscal house in order because this level of spend something unsustainable, businesses can't do it, a family
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can't do it, a government should not be able to do it. because the consequences are really threefold and they're no longer hidden. they're out in the open. this amount of debt and deficit creates three problems. one, it pushes off the obligation for the way in which we are currently living this and spending onto children and grandchildren in terms of future taxes on them. it's unjust. the second problem is it creates the potential for inflation. there's already an argument going on that the federal reserve policies are monetizing our debt, basically printing money, and now you're seeing commodity inflation. with price hikes and gasoline and other commodities. the affects are very real. the third problem is we're transferring ownership of america to foreign countries. china officially owns about a trillion dollars of this debt, but if you look at the numbers for closely, it could be as high as $2 trillion that means
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the transfer of assets overseas. this level of debt, i believe, and i think most americans know, is actually undermining the ability of the economy to turn around and create jobs. and now it's not only creating economic volatility and economic problems, it creates national security problems as we transfer more and more of this debt overseas and sell the assets of the country to others. so it's simply unsustainable, mr. speaker. we have to act with bold resolve. we are staring at white water rapids. the choice is this, we can either build -- build a boat, put on life jackets and try to navigate those waters as best we can, or we're going to be swept away by them. we're going to have to go through them. that's what all the debates are this week and in the coming weeks, as to how do we set up the right framework of responsible budgets, responsible popingses, so we
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can reset our economic course, get our fiscal house in order, begin to get the economy some stability, create jobs and then in turn, guess what happens, revenues come into the treasury. mr. speaker, i did want to talk about another topic tonight as well. it's very important that in the midst of this budget set of negotiations that are going on we not overlook the fact that the state department recently released its -- its annual report on human rights around the world. this report spanning 194 countries calls out those governments that routinely and brazenly violate their stated commitments to universal human rights. i think it's important that we draw back the veil on cruelty that's often perpetuated by the world's most powerful against the world's most vulnerable and appropriately elevate the issue of human rights in our national dialogue as well as our
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international diplomatic efforts. the report again spans 194 countries and to the extent it is available, the report's detail the prevailing human rights conditions over the past year. first let me start with good news, of the countries surveyed, colombia, guinea and indonesia stand out for human rights improvements. the first democrat click elected president since 1958 and consistent improvements across a range of indicators respectively in those country, countries where human rights conditions, sadly, prompt serious concerns over the past year, include the ivory coast, where vicious fighting in recent weeks pursuant to a contested election has cost numerous lives. in addition, the democratic republic of the congo, where rape is used as a political
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weapon. iran, which still supports the stoning of women, russia which routinely and often violently suppresses freedom of the press, and china, which has a history of forced abortion and euthanasia as well as sterilization to its demographic detriment. other countries highlighted in particular this year include nigeria, sudan, north korea, vietnam, belarus, ukraine, bahrain, libya, syria, afghanistan, pakistan, uzbekistan, cuba, nicaragua, and venezuela where rapid deterioration of civil rights and evidence of tightening dictatorial rule are particularly tragic. the fundamental message this report conveys to the world is that responsible governance rests upon two pillars. the first is a respect for human rights and the second is
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a respect and responsibility for the rule of law. no society can flourish and prosper without these important transcendent principles as they are exercised in the form of religious liberty, freedom of speech, the right of assembly and peaceful protest, as well as fair and free commerce. the human rights report describes abuses that shock the conscience and tear at the elaborate fabric of the community of nations in which we live. these include ill treatment of dissidents, appalling prison conditions, extrajudicial killings and forced abortion and sterilization. policies that treat human beings like animals. violating their most intimate and fundamental human dignity. the report presents detailed accounts of systemic corruption, security forces run amok, acting with state sanctioned impunity, kangaroo courts that condemn innocents
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without recourse, making a mockery of the rule of law. these dark trends are very often deeply entrenched, creating enabling environments that fuel violence and even genocide in some countries toward vulnerable persons and ethnic groups. the report addresses the barbaric scourge of human trafficing for sexual and other forms of exploitation such as forced labor. the report speaks truth to perpetrators of heinous crimes against women and children and highlights the feckless enforcement of laws to protect civilians against torture and other forms of cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment and punishment. taken together with related reports on human trafficking and freedom of religion, this particular report on human rights provides keen insights into the state of the world in which we live today. but mr. speaker, even as we consider these sobering
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matters, let's also recognize with due humility that the struggle here in the united states for the right to life, the most basic of human rights, particularly for unborn persons, as well as the terminally ill and elderly and those suffering from cognitive disabilities that render their deplorable marginalization as, quote, vegetables, even in our most esteemed medical, political, and social service -- circles is a very deep problem we must wrestle with here in our own country. yet we have one basic advantage. this nation has learned through bitter experience -- experience that self-determination and reasoned discoursed are far more powerful engines of growth and prosperity than subjugation in the nature of a police state. sadly, too many countries in the international community lag
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in this fundamental ideal, the notion of the people having a basic say, having a voice, shaping the government under which they live, and the ability to shape their own futures according to transcendent and universal norms of justice. over the past year as natural disasters summon us to compassion for people in japan, new zealand, chile, china, colombia, haiti, iceland, indonesia, pakistan, as well as other nations rah vadged by violent storms, including our oh, we're witnessing another upheaval, an important -- a remarkable upheaval in a world region that calls for our attention. the arab spring movement has been driven by individuals joining their voices, motivated by a common thirst to realize their human potential and the design to -- desire to secure a decent space a decent operating space within civil society.
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this movement is emblematic of lessons learned throughout the centuries. history has shown us that rule by suppression in its various forms and degrees is very difficult to sustain over the long term. particularly now. with the opportunity we have for the sharing of ideals and principles. state sanctioned forced and co-sergs against the innocent in various manifestations have tended to backfire against their enforcers and enablers sooner or later. the human rights reports challenges today's leaders to shake off the archaic deand instructive patterns of abuse that foster so much needless human misery, sapping the productivity and vitality of countless millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, mr. speaker, in our world today. as useful as these reports are, they do not tell the full
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story, however. as the difficult work of societal trns formation begins were newly enfranchised citizens in the key countries of egypt and tunisia, for instance, many people throughout the world in places like china, north korea, and iran, continue to suffer silently with no one to tell their story or document their plight. they are far from the gaze of cameras that convey realtime images for all the world to see. but these reports hold an important message for us as well. in this interdependent world of shared technology, shared communication, travel and commerce, we have failed to recognize a shared vision of justice. the united states is constantly called upon by the nations of the world to stand up against the forces of brutality. we are constantly called upon
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to engage in all matters of complexity that are causing human misery. this really is due to three factors. it's the generosity of the american taxpayer, the philosophical ideals that govern us that do not allow us to sit by idly when we see human misery and suffering, as well as the fact that we are an exceptional and unique superpower. though other nations are growing in economicle strength, our philosophical ideals and historic role as that exceptional superpower, it is a bit ironic that the world still turns to us even though many other economies are growing very, very rapidly when people cry out for justice. so mr. speaker, it's time to elevate at the table of dialogue and negotiation basic norms of human dignity. and the governmental structures which will nurture and protect that dignity. let those norms sit alongside
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the negotiations over trade, commerce, and security. for ultimately, for this is ultimately more valuable than any economic gain which is transient and passing. mr. speaker, i believe it's time to focus on the permanent things that which lasts. and that will be the legacy which we will leave to the future of our country and the future of the world. with that, i yield back my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from nebraska is recognized for a motion. mr. fortenberry: i move that we adjourn. the speaker pro tempore: the question is on the motion to adjourn. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have it. the motion is adopted. accordingly, the house stands
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10:55. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: mr. president, the american people have high expectations of their leaders. they should have that, and they should demand that. and one of the basic expectations that we should have for our president that he would be honest and forthright in discussing the critical issues facing our nation. he should engage in the nation's most important debates and provide leadership and take all appropriate steps to protect our nation when we face a clear and present danger. clearly, the dominant issue of our time, i think there is no dispute within this chamber, that issue is our fiscal path, the debt course we're on, the fact that we want to see our
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country be prosperous and grow, create more jobs, not losing jobs. and to do that, we've got to confront the large soaring debt that we have. it dwarfs all other issues. the american people know it. they gave a shellacking to the big spenders in the last election. it's what i hear whenever i'm at home, what my mails and e-mails and phone calls say. people are worried about the future of our country economically, and they are exactly right. the people that are not right are those who say change is not necessary. people who are in the n denial -- people who are in denial, government agencies and departments, people who receive governmental grants and programs think that nothing has changed in their own minds, but things have changed. i wish it weren't so, but it is so. so the congressional budget act requires that congress pass a budget every year by april 15.
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that's this friday. the budget that congress has received from the white house a few weeks ago, i have described as the most irresponsible budget ever submitted by a president to the congress and to the nation because it did nothing to confront the problems we face. it made no recommendations about the entitlement programs -- social security, medicare, medicaid. zero. it increased discretionary spending, increased taxes by $1.7 trillion. and according to the congressional budget office who analyzed the president's budget, they conclude that had it increases the debt, when it's all over, more than the debt would have been increased if we hadn't had a budget from the president, even with the $1.7 trillion in new taxes.
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that's why it was irresponsible. it did not confront the issues that we so seriously confront today. and he said when he announced it that that budget would cause us to live within our means, that it would not increase the debt and that we're not going to spend any more money than we're taking in. fact check organizations have all found that to be false. it's plainly false. the lowest single year in which we have a deficit -- and we have a deficit every year under the president's budget -- is $740 billion. and it's increasing in the tenth year to $1.2 trillion. the highest deficit president bush was $450 billion. the lowest president obama projects in ten years is $750 billion and going up in the out years to $1.2 trillion.
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in contrast, house budget committee chairman paul ryan has made the most serious attempt, i think, maybe in history to deal with the systemic threats our country faces to tackle our long-term fiscal challenges. now, the bowles and simpson debt commission cochairmen appointed by president obama -- his own commission -- described paul ryan's budget this way: a serious, honest, straightforward approach to addressing our nation's enormous fiscal challenges. they went on to say -- quote -- "going forward, anyone who issues an alternative plan to chairman ryan's should be held to the same standard when offering their solutions. we simply cannot back away from these issues." close quote. rather than defend the president's budget or offer an alternative, what we've been
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seeing in this chamber are just attacks on congressman ryan, attacks on anybody that says change has got to occur. they act like nothing has to change. many remain in denial. our chairman, senator conrad, who said so many good things -- our democratic chairman -- about the need to challenge the status quo and make changes to put our country on the right path, said representative ryan's proposal is partisan and ideological. he provides dramatic tax cuts for the wealthiest financed by draconian reductions in medicare and medicaid. his proposals are unreasonable and unsustainable. close quote. well, is this going to be the nature of our discussion? i thought we were supposed to be trying to reach a bipartisan
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understanding of the challenges facing us and do something about it. you saw what the president's own debt commission cochairman said respectfully of the ryan proposal. and this is what our leadership says. others have called it extreme. they say it's driven by these evil tea party people who don't know anything. they know something. they know the government is spending us into virtual bankruptcy and that congress has failed in its basic responsibilities to protect the nation from economic danger. the american people are right. well, so the president now says that after really not once discussing with the american people why we have a crisis, i
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called on him before the state of the union message to enter into a dialogue with the american people, to look them in the eye and explain why we're in trouble, why we've got to change. who wants to go and propose any reduction in any spending? the presiding officer: senator sessions, you have five minutes left. mr. sessions: i thank the president. and who wants to do that? we're in a position where we have to make those kind of tough choices, just like our counties, our cities, our mayors, our state governors are make every day. so now we're told the president is going to give a speech. he hasn't yet even discussed the danger we face. and we're told that the president is planning this major speech to discuss our long-term fiscal problem. well, i'd say, first of all, it has to be considered a dramatic
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admission that his previous claims that his budget calls on us to live within our means, to pay down the debt and not add to the debt were false. they say that the president will support some of the recommendations in the fiscal commission, his own commission, bowles and simpson. i hope that's true, but i just want to say this: at this point in history, with the budget supposed to be passed in the senate friday, and we haven't even had a markup to have a hearing on a budget, we've not seen one other than the president's previous budget which is so utterly irresponsible, i think he owes more than a speech. we hear a lot of speeches in this country, a lot from the president. all we need is numbers. what he needs to do is submit a new budget. if he's going to change his projections for the future and
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go into -- propose alterations in our entitlement programs, let's see the numbers. he's got, what? 300, 500 people in the president's office of management and budget. so if this is serious, let's have a serious proposal. the house has done it. the house, republican house, they've got a budget. they're going to move that budget. i suspect we'll have that budget passed in the house by friday. it's got real numbers, real integrity, real change. it puts us on a path to prosperity, not debt and decline. the american people know this is serious. they know we're in a dangerous time. and all we have to do is rise up and make some tough choices like mayors and governors and families are making around their kitchen table every day. this is not -- when we get through this exercise -- and we
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will; over a period of years probably -- we're not going to find that the government sank into the ocean because we reduced agencies 15%, 20%, 25%, even if they need to be that much. most won't have to be that much. so the president needs to lay out concrete specific details about how he intends to solve these challenges that we face. not a general speech. and the house and senate budget committees must be able to review what he proposes, as the budget act presumes, in real numbers, and add them up. and the congressional budget office needs to be able to analyze it, the nonpartisan budget office to, see what will actually play out in terms of dollars. the executive office of o.m.b.,
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the president can do this, in 1996 president clinton produced four budgets, and that shutdown occurred during that time, and they had a big fight during that time. but you know what happened three years later? the budget was balanced. yes, it was a messy fight and people made a lot of mistakes. but the end result was the american people said you're spending too much. congress rose up and said we're not going to keep doing this. and they balanced a budget. we're in a deeper hole today. it's going to be a lot harder, but it can be done again if we meet the challenges. so the questions that must be answered by the president in the new budget are some of these: the fiscal commission recommends $1.3 trillion less in discretionary spending than proposed in the president's budget. how does the president plan to alter his budget to achieve
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those savings? the fiscal commission recommends finding $600 billion in entitlement savings. but the president's budget would increase entitlement spending by $905 billion. that's his budget he submitted already, a few weeks ago. how does he intend to achieve these savings in enstphaoeuplts the fiscal -- in enstphaoeuplts the fiscal commission recommendations would reduce our debt by $4 trillion. the ryan plan would reduce it by $5 trillion. but the president's budget would increase the debt by $10 trillion and would not produce any savings really. how would the president alter his original budget to reduce the debt by $4 trillion. i'd like it to see something more than a speech. give me a break. i'd like to see some numbers. sphwhr so we can discuss it.
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-- where? so we can discuss it. once the president engages, we can have that long overdue national dialogue about solving the nation's problems. but he's got to acknowledge we have one, as every wince has told us. the debt commission chairman, sirch does on an bowles, said this nation has never face add more predictable financial crisis. they see it coming. we've got to change. so i hope in his speech he'll discuss entitlements, discuss whether it is good to burden the energy companies with new taxes, discuss whether we should tax small businesses even moshings discuss the military budget. these are real tough issues. i think the president should talk about that. rather than trying to drain every cent of tax revenue from the american people, washington
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should try to drain every cent of waste from the federal budget. i hope this does not continue the pattern of retreat that is already emerging where the president supports deficit reduction in theory but resists it in pravmen practice and clait when he's forced to accept reductions. for a presidency to abdicate his responsibility to lead the effort to meet one of the greatest challenges of our nation's history would be tantamount to leaving the battlefield in a time of war. so i hope we have a speech. i hope it's backed up with real numbers, and i hope and pray that it represents a recognition by the president of the united states that we have a serious fiscal challenge before us. business as usual cannot continue. change is necessary, and that he intends to participate in that
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and help lead the good change that's necessary. i thank the president and would yield the floor. and i note the absence of a quorum. inhofe. the presiding officer: witut objection. mr. schumer: so, mr. president, just resuming my remarks, paul ryan, the author of that blueprint, called it the path to prosperity. mr. president, it may be a path to austerity, but it is hardly a path to prosperity. nonetheless, with the negotiations finished just days ago on last year's bget, congressman ryan has succeeded in jump-starting the debate about next year's. the president himself will join th conversation about how to do long-term deficit reduction in a major address tomorrow at g.w.u., george washington university. this is a debate we must have, and the president's entrance to
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it comes not a moment too soon. it will make for a powerful contrast with the republicans' plan. the contrast we will hear from our president tomorrow will likely not be in the commitment to deficit reduction. paul ryan's goal in his budget is to trim the deficit by by $1.6 trillion over the next ten years. he does not succeed in meeting this target, according to c.b.o. in fact, budget experts say his proposal only achieves achieves $155 billion in net deficit reduction, but the number itself is not the issue. without a doubt, we must be ambitious in setting a target for deficit reduction. we cannot be gun-shy about achieving fiscal discipline. so no, the contrast will not be in how much we seek to reduce the deficit. it will be in how we -- we go
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about doing so. the republicans would like the looming debate to be one about numbers, but instead, it will be about priorities. and, mr. president, the ryan budget has all the wrong priorities. the house republican budget puts the entire burden of reducing the deficit on citizens, students and middle-class families. at the same time, it protects corporate subsidies for oil companies, lets waste at the pentagon go untouched, and would give even more tax breaks to the millionaires amongst us. in short, the ryan budget puts the middle class last instead of first. as a result, it will never pass the senate. in the day days -- e takes since he first rolled out
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his budget proposal, congressman ryan has hailed for taking on the tough challenges, and we certainly salute him for putting out a plan. but a closer look at his proposal shows that it is not bold at all in leaving pentagon spending and revenues completely untouched, ryan budget used exactly to his party's orthodoxy. some of the columns i read that says it takes courage? well, maybe it takes courage for someone from a different political philosophy so say what he said but not for a conservative republican to say what he said. ryan's budget doesn't gore a single republican o it is a rigid, ideological document. consider what congressman ryan wants to do onedicare. in the name of ideology, paul ryan's budget proposes getting rid of medicare as it exists today and replacing it with a private system that would cut
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benefi. mr. president, we've seen this movie before. five years ago, president bush tried to sell the country on a an to privatize social security. the public rejected it. well, if you didn't like what president bush tried to do so social security, just wait until you see what paul ryan and the house republicans want to do to medicare. madam president, their budget plan proposes putting the medicare system into t hands of private insurance companies. that is a recipe for disaster. it would mean an end to medicare as we know it. beginning in 2022, americans turning 65 would no longer be enrolled in medicare but instead would receive a voucher to go shopping for their own health insurance on the open market.
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insurance companies, however, would not be required to honor that coucher, which would average abo $8,000. many private insurance plans for seniors far exceed that price already today. but under the ryan plan, seniors who cannot find an affordable plan at the value of their voucher would simply have to make up the difference themselves out of their own pockets. this problem would only worsen over time as health care costs rise ryan caps medicare spending at the level of inflation, even thoughistorically health care costs rise higher than that. as ryan's voucher covers a smaller and smaller fraction of actual healthare costs, seniors would have to cover the gap out of pocket. which is why alice rivlin, a democrat, and president
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clinton's former o.m.b. director who worked with congressman ryan on his approach for a time, has distanced herself from this final product. she told "the washington post" that she opposes the ryan plan -- quote -- "in the rya version, he has lowered the rate of growth and i don't think that's defensible. it pushed too much of the cost on to the beneficiaries." let me repeat that last part of alice rivlin, congressman ryan's partner for a time in this proposal. toy pushe"it pushed," she writet pushed too much of cost on to the beneficiaries." other medicare experts agree with rivlin. steven zuckerman, a health care economist at the nonpartisan you urban institute said -- quote -- "the most serious flaw of that approach is that limiting federal spending on medicare without concern about the
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potential of this change to shift costs t medicare beneficiaries." a better waymadam president, to rein in medicare spending would be to trim the waste and inefficiencyut of the delivery system. anyone who's gone through the health care system knows all the waste and inefficiencies. the legendary stories of a doctor waiving as you go into the emergency room and then you -- and you neveree them again and then there's a $4,000 charge. these kinds of things. but it turns out that ryan's plan does nothing to reduce overall health care costs. it increases. they we have to preserve the benefits to people but make the cost of delivering them less expensive. that's what every other country in the world does. that's what we have to do. but the ryan plan doesn't do that. the ryan plan not only doesn't
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try to eliminate the waste and efficiency out of the delivery system but it does nothing to redu overall health care costs. it actually increases them. according to the nonpartisan congressional budget office, in 2030, traditional medicare insurance would cost just 60% of a private policy purchased with ryan's voucher. in other words, the ryan health care plan would cost two-thirds more than traditional medicare. not only would the ryan plan increase insurance costs, it would force seniors to shoulder a higher share of these costs. c.b.o. said -- quote -- this is c.b.o., not check schumer, the nonpartisan c.b.o. -- c.b.o. writes, "under the proposal, most people
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entitled to premium payments would pay more for their health care than they would pay under the current health care system." how much more? madam president, it'staggering when you look at the numbers. here they are. the seniors' share of health care costs. we all know that even with medicare, seniors have to pay some of it themselves. but now they pay 25%. under the ryan budget, 68%. so there's this voucher and it goes to the insurance companies, health care costs more and seniors pay more. why the heck would we do that? this is a crippling burden that would drive the average medicare recipient into poverty. it is not oy to much to a for our seniors, it destroys the foundation of our health care system. madam prident, just to check on the time. i believe i said after i finished, i asked unanimous consent that congressman inhofe would follow me?
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the presiding officer: the senator has used 10 minutes did the senator wish for more than ten minutes? mr. humer: i did. and that was the intention of my unanimous consent request. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: thank you, madam president. i'll be finished in a little while and i thank my colleague from okloma. so the bottom line is the house republican budget would cause the cost of health insurance to rise and then would me seniors pay a greater share of that higher cost. it is a cut in benefits plan -- it is a cut-in-benefits plan, plain and simple. if we are serious about reining in medicare spending, there's a far better starting place than the ryan budget. it's the health care law passed by congress last year. republicans are patting themselves on the back lately for leading on entitlement reform, but when it comes to reining in the runaway costs of medicare, the truth is the president did it first and he
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did it better. in the health care law, mr. president, we certainly didn'tomplete the job but we ma a good start on in fact, his budget calls for the repeal of the health care law forever. this would reopen the doughnut hole, another hit to medicare beneficiaries. if the ryan's budget goal was to end medicare, that would be cause enough to work tooth and nail to defeat it, but the ryan budget doesn't put most of its
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savings towards deficit reduction. it cuts medicare and ends medicare as we know it and takes whatever savings it produces and gives more tax breaks to the wealthiest americans. that's right, madam president. ryan's budget not only seeks to extend bush's tax cuts for millionaires, but wants to take their tax cuts lower than the bush levels. in fact, under the ryan budget proposal, they would pay a rate so low it was last seen in the days of herbert hoover. what about shared sacrifice. as unbelievable as it sounds, congressman ryan wants to give them an extra tax break. ryan's budget proposal would bring it down from 35% to 5% for those who are wealthy, and this would make for the lowest level
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of taxing the wealthiest among us since 1931 when the great depression was raging and herbert hoover was president. this is the trade that congressman ryan proposes we make. cut medicare benefits for seniors so we can afford to give millionaires an extra tax break. this is the opposite what the public wants. they don't think the millionaires and billionaires should be getting george bush's tax cuts let alone an extra one on top of that. i have nothing against them. god bless them. they don't need a tax break when we're cutting medicare and cutting everything else. and last month, most americans agree with me. in last month, a poll that asked americans what proposals they agree to reduce the deficit, 80%
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of americans said they would report a tax -- support a tax on millionaires, the highest polling answer, one of the lowest polling answers was, you guessed it, cutting medicare benefits. so the ryan budget has its priorities upside down. if he puts all his savings from medicare into tax breaks, how does he propose any deficit reduction, but proposing cuts to the middle class. it trns out the republican plan to end medicare is a plan to end other important programs. for example, the republican plan to end medicare is additionally also a plan to cut tens of thousands of teachers and the republican plan is also a plan to cut head start for kids and the republican plan to end
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medicare is additionally a plan to cut medical research on diseases like cancer. and the republican plan to end medicare is also a plan to cut clean energy projects that create jobs and help us become energy independent. in all, the ryan plan assumes a steady squeezing of government until by 2050, the total cost of everything save for social security and health care is shrunk from 12% of the g.d.p. to just 3%. but he doesn't spell out a single detail of how to achieve those cuts. he has a number, but no specifics. that is a definition of a meat ax approach as opposed to an approach that uses a sharp scapell. even though he doesn't spell it out, it isn't a total mystery.
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it is a a hint of what cutting spending is. in the debate we just had, republicans wanted to cut the very programs that would help the middle class. they targeted everything from cancer research, to financial aid to college. we are pushing republicans to include 17 billion to include from the mandatory side and compared to their original budgets. this was not the republicans' preferred way to reduce the deficit. because of ideology they targeted the domestic discretionary part of the budget for cutting. but our deficit problems weren't caused byhood start and cancer research and won't fix them by going after head start and cancer research. in the budget debates to come,
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we need to extend the playing field. we should include waste in the defense department. the pentagon makes up half of the discretionary side of the budget, but republicans continue to treat it as off limits. ryan leaves it untouched save for its symbolic trim. to say there isn't waste at the pentagon, like there is waste everywhere else in the else in the budget is absurd. it is ultimately not serious. we need an all of the aabove approach that puts all parts of the budget on the table. a dollar cut from mandatory spending from the pentagon is as good as nondiscretionary spending. deficit reduction is an important goal but the sacrifice should be but the ryan budget fails that. the democratic senate will not
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look at proposals that seeks to reduced hit will class and i look forward to hearing the president's remarks tomorrow and as for congressman ryan, i would encourage him to go back to the drawing board and come up with a fairer, more balanced plan. thank you, madam president. and i yield the floor. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> president obama will meet with congressional leaders tomorrow morning on the speech he is making on federal spending. see that speech on 1:30 p.m. eastern on c-span3. >> a few months ago i was ail to sign a tax cut for american families because both parties worked through their differences and found common grouped. now, the same cooperation has made it possible for us to move forward. >> watch all the events from the current spending debate and the debate about next year's budget as well, from capitol hill, to
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the white house and around washington, online with the c-span video library, search, watch, clip and share with everything we have covered since 1987. it's what you want when you want. >> the senate environment committee hears about the what the u.s. can learn about the u.s. nuclear disaster in japan. and an ceremony to honor the military. secretary of state clinton on lellings relations between the u.s. and muslim countries.
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>> i want us to get started, because we have a number of witnesses today and i want to say welcome to my distinguished ranking member. just over one month ago today, japan was hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that measured roughly 30 feet high. the devastation brought on by these catastrophic events is heartbreaking and our condolences go out to the victims and their families and today we're hearing that this event now, in terms of radiation leaked is equal to that of chernobyl. the tragedy serves as an
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important yakeup call to us. one thing we agree to is we must plan for the unexpected and when we know of threats, we must act quickly to address them. what can we learn from the tragic situation in japan? the u.s. has 104 commercial nuclear power reactors operating 65 sites in 31 states. 23 reactors are boiling water reactors with containment systems like the ones in japan. the n.r.c. has instituted an improvement program for this type ofry actor. the lessons from japan reinforce the assessment of the safety. they were built on a set of assumptions regarding a potential magnitude of natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis. some u.s. nuclear facilities are
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located in activities with high seismic activity. we have a couple of those. the situation in japan has shown us we must take a hard look of the risk assumptions that were made when the reactors were designed. in japan, they ziped it for a lower magnitude quake. as a result of the catastrophic situation in japan, senators tom carper who is going to chair this hearing, tom carper and i have called on the n.r.c. to conduct a review of all facilities in the united states to assess their capacity to withstand to natural or manmade disasters. senator feinstein and i requested special and immediate attention be given to those u.s. nuclear reactors that are subject to seismic activity or located near a coastline. the n.r.c. has identified both
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of these plants in california as being located in high zones. the commission has found another nine plants located in north carolina, illinois, georgia, south carolina, georgia and tennessee and they are in moderate zones. both reactors in california are located in high density areas. 425,000 people live in one and 475,000. 425,000 people live within 50 miles of diablo and 475,000 live near the other one. they are located in highly populated areas. the one in new york, it's about 17 million people live within the 50-mile radius. evacuation plans are a state and local concern, there have been calls for more involvement from fema to assess those plans.
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today, we'll hear testimony from a number of our colleagues as well as chairman of the n.r.c., who has been so helpful to us as we move forward and of course we will hear from our administrator of the e.p.a., lisa jackson. and i'm very interested to hear how the e.p.a. is monitoring the radiation in the u.s. lisa and i have talked over the weeks just making sure we have accurate information on the radioactivity. we know low levels of radiation have been detected from japan. we can only imagine what the potential impacts on health and environment would be if, god forbid, we experience the same type of accidents that occurred in japan. a small but elevated levels of radiation have been detected in milk and other food. we will talk about that.
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experts say that, you know, we're ok right now. i want to make sure of that. and whether it's the n.r.c.'s review process or e.p.a.'s monitoring of our drinking water, complete transparency and prompt disclosure are utmost to maintain the federal government. we must heed the wakeup call working with everybody on both sides of the aisle. i will provide vigorous oversight to ensure we learn the tragic things that happened in japan. our common goal is to ensure we are prepared and obviously we take another hard look at what's
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going on in our country at a time when we need every bit of energy we can get. there is no question about that. but as we know from looking at what's going on over there, it's the unthinkable and we have to avoid it. with that, i turn the gavel over to senator carper and ask senator inhofe to make his statement. >> first of all, senator johannes was going to be here and was unable to be here and asked that i put into a record a statement from from the omaha district which i enter into the record and chairman, i appreciate your efforts to ensure the nation that the plants here in the united states are safe and i appreciate administrator jackson, your
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repeated assurances that traces of radioactivity that have drifted here from japan will not impact public health. we need to study the accident at fukushima. as chairman frequently reminds us, we can't be complacent with nuclear plants. harnessing any nuclear source carries a level of risk and we need to manage that risk. ensuring the nuclear energy is a serious job. in 1974, congress established an independent commission and charged five individuals to protect public health and safety. the public is best served by a commission that functions collectively to pool their expertise and concern that the public may currently be getting less than it deserves. i was surprised to learn from my
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staff that chairman yasko has invoked emergency authority to himself in the wake of the earthquake in japan after speaking with me by phone and appearing before this committee. let's get our dates straight because i want the commissioner to address this. it took place on the 11. our phone call took place on the 14 and phone call on the 16 and never was this mentioned that this was going to be invoked. the law confers emergency authority on the chairman in the wake of an emergency at a particular facility or materials regulated by the n.r.c. at present i'm not aware of an emergency condition that exists in the united states, any united states facility. i want to work with you as the n.r.c. tries to understand what happened in japan, what the united states can learn from it.
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but our collaboration and all of us in congress can proceed if we have openness and fairness and transparency. that applies to your office. as we move forward, i hoach you will provide us with full and complete information about your activities and that you will work with your fellow commissioners in the same spirit and i look forward to your testimony and yours, administrator jackson, and working with you on imagining a full understanding of the full impact on the fukushima accident. i think it is significant i get my request in here. i'm anxious to see progress on the nominations of the two commissioners, which i hope president obama sends us soon. it's important to have our commission full with all the members appointed and confirmed. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much, senator
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inhofe. thanks very much for holding this hearing and giving me the opportunity to co-chair it with you. let me begin by saying, our thoughts and prayers go out to all the citizens of japan, and the victims in this difficult time. as this tragedy unfolds i encourage the nuclear regulatory commission to continue to coordinate with the japanese government to provide assistance. in the events that struck japan are reminders that we are vulnerable to unexpected disasters. while we cannot predict when or where the next major disaster will occur, we know it will occur and we know that adequate protection, adequate preparation and response planning are vital to minimize both the injury and death when it does happen.
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today's hearing is one of many i hope that this committee will have to make sure our nation has prepared for the worst in order to prevent any lives lost from nuclear power in this country. the united states, we have, as you know, 104 nuclear power plants which generate a fifth of our nation's total electric consumption. nuclear power has helped to curb our reliance on dirty fossil fuels and reduce air pollution. over the years, the n.r.c. has strived to create a culture of safety in the nuclear energy industry and as long as i have been on this subcommittee, we have worked hard to reinforce those efforts. we have not seen any direct deaths from plant radiation exposure in this country in over 50 years. as part of this, n.r.c. requires facilities to withstand natural
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disasters and terrorist attacks. the in r.c. looked at the nuclear industry and put in additional safety requirements. despite all of the protections in place, the crisis in japan is a clear reminder that we cannot be complacent when it comes to nuclear safety. i often say and my colleagues are tired of me hearing me say, if it isn't make it better. and that is why chairman boxer and i asked for the n.r.c. for a review of our nuclear fleet. we want to make sure there are safeguards to protect the american people sfment the n.r.c. is getting started and i await their results. today, i look forward to hearing from our witnesses and update on fukushima nuclear plant and update on our response to that
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crisis. i look forward to hearing what we can learn from the ongoing crisis in order to prevent similar events from occurring right here. i'm interested in hearing about the state of emergency planning process from the delaware department of safety and homeland security secretary. as chairman of the subcommittee on nuclear safety, i take seriously my responsibilities to make certain that we are taking the appropriate measures to make the nuclear industry as safe as they can possibly be. as i said before, while i'm a proponent of clean energy, my top priority is public safety. i look over to my right and see senator alexander of tennessee and await your comments. >> thanks, mr. chairman. i want to thank you and senator boxer --
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>> thanks, senator brasso. i thank everybody. i thank senator boxer and senator carper. i think nuclear power is something we ought to have more oversight of. and that's because it is complex science, complex engineering and important to the future of our country. i remember when i was governor of tennessee in the 19 0's, we had a question that was presented to me when t.v.a. was building one of its nuclear power plants and about to distribute i dine tablets to people. and people said don't do that because you'll scare people to death. and other argument was, well, if people understand what they're for and they are only to be used in the event of an emergency, then it's better to go ahead and talk about the process that
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we're using and let people know what we're dealing with. i made the decision, let's go ahead and people who live near the nuclear power plants to get access to tablets. and what happened in japan, i can't imagine a future for the united states that doesn't include nuclear power to create electricity. i mean it's only 20% of our electricity, but 70% of our clean electricity. senator carper has been very consistent and he cares deeply about climate change. this is one way to deal with it. he and i worked hard on clean air in the smokey mountains and east coast and one way to deal witness. on the on the other hand, those of us who find it important to have a special responsibility to see that there is cleaver oversight and public
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understanding of this complex system of science and engineering so people are comfortable with whatever risks there are. and as we look at our own history, we have done a fair job of that. at three mile island spawned several improvements such as the institute for nuclear power operations, which has improved safety. while three mile island was a significant accident and a big problem, that no one was hurt at three mile island. it's important to know. september 11, that had nothing to do with nuclear power, but it caused nuclear power operators across the country to look at what would happen if there was a terrorist attack and go on youtube and see when an f-4 phantom jet runs into a concrete wall at 500 mile an hour. hurricane katrina had nothing to do with nuclear power but caused
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operators around the country to think about what would happen if we had a horrific event of the size of hurricane katrina. i think we still have a lot to learn from what happened in japan. for example, unspent fuel storage, a locality of talk about that -- a lot of talk about that helps us to think about how long should it be in pools, how long should it go to dry cast and important to know as the chairman of the nuclear rgla tower chairman has said, that it's safe to store spent fuel on site for 100 years and important to know that all the fuel that we have produced that's used fuel from commercial reactors on the united states would fit on one football field to a depth about 20 feet, that's the mass we're talking about and
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important to ask what about yucca mountain? we need to dispose of it. we have collected $30 billion to pay for an evental disposal. why don't we do it? we could ask about safety improvements and knew reactors. t.v.a. has people building a new reactor. how can we know that it's even safer than the other 104 reactors we have had at which senator carper has said we have not had one death related to a reactor in the history of those facilities. there are important questions to ask. there's a lot of information to learn from the japan disaster, but it's important that at the same time to recognize the safety record that we have for this form of energy production in the united states and keep it all in perspective.
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and senator carper and senator boxer, i welcome these hearings, the more of them the better. i believe the more we understand and talk about this complex system of energy production, the safer it's likely to be and more useful it will be to produce clean air in our country. >> i'm going to go to senator udall and back to you. >> thank you senator and thanks for holding this hearing and appreciate very much and welcome my colleagues that i serve with over in the house and look forward to hearing their testimony. and as senator carper and others have said, i think our thoughts and prayers really go out to the japanese people for this tragedy and what has happened to them. i know when i talked the other day with japan's ambassador to the united states, he was very, very appreciatetive of the level of scientific support that we were giving japan.
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i know many scientists have come from california, new mexico from our national labs and that's something that they appreciate and i think we are all very proud of. this is a three-part disaster, earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis and americans should focus on assisting the japanese from recovering from it. nubling collar energy has potential for good and also for harm. nuclear accidents are rare but their consequences can be severe. nuclear accidents should be the top priority and should be the top priority for the industry as well. the japanese crisis underscores the need for information transparency. nuclear energy will almost certainly continue to be part of america's energy mix. we have 104 reactors today and
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if it's economic, more will be built. but it will be harder to build reactors if the public lives in fear of them. our role in congress is to conduct the oversight to ensure that the n.r.c. and e.p.a. do their job and ensure u.s. nuclear power plants are safe. safety standards are of the utmost importance and we should be highly skeptical of proposals, to, quote, streamline or cut corners on safety standards. it will be up to the banks and investor community to decide whether to invest in power projects compared to the other options out there. nations like france, which rely heavily on nuclear power also have taxpayers picking up most of the tab, and that is not realistic with the united states ' current budget situation. i appreciate this list of witnesses today and i'm going to yield back my time so we can get
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click quickly to the witnesses. >> senator grassley. >> i appreciate our guests for being here to testify and i want to associate myself with the opening remarks of senator udall regarding his concerns for the people of japan, incredible challenges and loss. and all of us have great concerns for the people in japan. the tsunami and earthquake occurred in japan, not in the united states and the emergency that preceded the earthquake and tsunami occurred in japan sm the emergency response is occurring in japan with the help of the united states. the -- some people want americans to believe that the disaster occurred here, and that's not the case. as ranking member inhofe has pointed out, the current chairman of the nuclear
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regulatory commission is operating under his emergency powers since the disaster occurred. the reason these emergency powers are in effect and the implications that has for the future doesn't have implications for the united states -- does have implications to the united states nuclear safety response. this is one of the reasons i believe the hearing today is so important. somewhat to want to use this crisis in japan to wipe out nuclear power in the united states. there is an april 6 e.p.a. story entitled quotetivists step up. environmentalists are stepping up their efforts to push e.p.a. to strengthen its oversight of uranium mining and processing operations in the wake of the japanese nuclear disaster targeting the process metal because its extraction marks the first step in the nuclear fuel
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cycle as a low alternative to fossil fuels. how uranium mining is tied to the japanese nuclear emergency is beyond me. i would hope that the e.p.a. administrator would ignore these attacks which would have occurred whether the japanese disaster occurred or not. earlier today on this very committee, we heard testimony from those who want to stop hydraulic fracturing. this is the process where we can tap america's natural gas reserves. apparently these activists don't want natural gas either. by attacking all of the affordable energy sources including nuclear and natural gas, activists are driving up the costs of energy. they are raising the cost of heating and cooling homes across this country. this will cost thousands of jobs during our economic downturn. we cannot reach a clean snrg future without natural gas and
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nuclear power. we need all the power, not just means, coal, natural gas, solar and wind. and as we discussed and gee, the cheapest energy is energy that's not used so we need to be more efficient in how we use our energy. we need to vr homes cooled and heated. germany is discovering this fact. "washington post" ran an associated press story on april 6 entitled, utilities, germany now inputs energy after taking nuclear power plants off the grid. angela merkel's plan to take some off line means germany is importing power from its neighbors. germany now imports about 50 gigawatt hours.
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from entrance and the czech republic every day. this is from the germany association of german and water industries. this same pattern we are seeing in germany will occur in the united states. american states that declare themselves nuclear free, whether california or elsewhere and shut down the nuclear plants will have to have power shipped in from neighboring states. it's an energy shell game and not hide america's growing need for affordable domestic energy to power our economy. let us not jump to conclusions. let's work together to make america's energy as clean as we can without raising prices and costing americans jobs. >> senator lautenberg. >> as said, we all agree that our sympathies, our concern and our desire to be of help to the
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people in japan who are affected as a result of the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear emergency, but we want to learn from it and we want to make sure we are doing what we can for the people in our country since the latest disaster began unfolding, americans have had one question on our minds, could it happen here. and i'm not willing to find out. we need to answer that question now. soon after the meltdown in japan began, i asked the nuclear regulatory commission to conduct a comprehensive review of new jersey's four nuclear power reactors which provide our state with about half of its electricity. i also requested the chief executives of new jersey's nuclear power companies to join me in my office where they agreed to a thorough safety review of each of the four
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reactors. the people need to know if our state's nuclear plants are safe and we are determined to make sure they get the piece of mind that they deserve, that the reality of being protected. but this isn't the only issue. nuclear energy provides 20% of america's electricity and so we have to make nuclear safety a national priority. the united states has a good track record of keeping our plants safe. there have been few accidents and few fatalities. but we have to remain vigilant if we want to preserve this record. japan, leader in technology and its plants were built to resist earthquakes, but it wasn't enough. here in the united states, we can't take anything for granted. keeping america safe means we give our citizens a clear guidance during emergencies. i was troubled that american citizens were told to stay 50
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miles away. in our country, the n.r.c. emergency guidelines require people to stay away 10 miles. make no mistake, nuclear power generates emissions free energy and it should and will be part of our energy future. but we cannot ever trade peoples' safety for the sake of meeting our energy demands. we saw at chernobyl a quarter century ago, the feats of a single nuclear accident that will linger for generations. i look forward to hearing from today's witnesses and i thank our colleagues in the house about how we can learn from the past mistakes and nuclear remains a clean, safe energy source. and i want to respond to something we talked about morning a that is well, costs.
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nuclear power does so much for us. but it has risks. when we think of the contribution that nuclear power brings to our energy needs, we know that we are going to keep on having nuclear power created. but burning fossil fuels has an extra cost. it has a lasting effect on our environment and on the health and well-being of our citizens. so when we look at the cost for energy, we have to look at the cost of ire, those who have asthma or otherwise and pollution generally. we have to look at the whole picture and i assure you we would like to do just that.
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>> though who are working around the clock to contain the radiation that is being released. it is very much our worst nightmare that a natural disaster should cause a similar tragedy in the united states and that's why it's certainly appropriate and important that we do everything possible to take and look at the lessons in japan and apply them to our own system just as we apply a stress test to the banks in the financial crisis, we need to apply a stress test to our nuclear plants and understand what the weaknesses are. when the disaster happened in japan and a lot of the discussion was around the cooling pools for rods, i was
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taken back to when i was traveling through hanford 14 years ago and looking at the cooling pool and you had the blue at the pool and i said if an earthquake occurs and what happens if the water rushes out and a blank look with, that would be bad. and certainly we have to be prepared in far better ways than simply saying than saying something would be bad. we only built three new nuclear reactors because the cost is so high, time we count for terrorist attack and plan accordingly. and we have to take into account because the upside risk is so substantial and that is certainly a factor.
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we have strategies that have been put forward by groups like research and that has been done on pebble bed strategies that have fail-safe mechanisms or passive protections that i think certainly should be -- we should look into and understand that part of this conversation, whether fundamentally different designs would greatly mitigate the risks. these disasters occur because we lose the heating transfer immediate yums. but they are designed to in whether it be water or helium and that needs to be part of the national discussion. with that, thank you very much, madam chair and i yield back the balance of my time. >> senator. >> thank you so much, mr. chairman, for holding the hearing. i appreciate you holding this hearing.
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this is an issue that we share a great passion for and in light of the disaster in japan. i thank you for drawing attention to a serious issue. i thank you so much for spending time with us to answer our questions. i may not have the opportunity to ask my questions, but i want to highlight some of the areas of my concerns and i will submit the questions for the record but i hope you will address this part of the hearing. one part is part of issuing licensing exemptions. one serves 30% of york's electricity right now, within a r50-mile radius, it hits 16 million people. we have significant concern to make sure they're safe. with india point there have been a number of waivers given. i would like a review in what instances are exemptions given. with you look to see whether
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they are legitimate and should be considered and perhaps withdrawn. the issue of waivers is something i care about. second issue is evacuations. in japan, we have evacuated american citizens within a 50-mile radius. i would like to know why there are difference is in evacuation plans. to do a 10 milian -- milian evacuation at independent wan point takes 10 hours. one is going to a diesel system. but a battery system that lasts three hours. how do you reconcile evacuations and how capable they are in such situations. i also care a lot about security issues. obviously, we are soon on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11. and one of the recommendations was to secure all nuclear facilities. i would like to have an
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opportunity to talk to you about those security measures and where they stand and what kind of investigations are you doing with regard to employees, with regard to background controls and other potentially vulnerable infrastructure issues and the last issue is the spent fuel pool and dry cast storage issues. are these pools designed to be long-term storage, what do you intend to move them from fuel pool to dry cast storage facilities as a general matter for safety. so obviously that's a long list of concerns and issues. if you do get to address them, i will be grateful. thank you very much. thank you for your testimony. >> thank you for your statement. and introducing congressman capps and congressman bilbray, let me say to congresswoman capps, let me thank you sharing your former member of your
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staff. we would like to recognize congresswoman capps, 23rd district of california followed by congressman bilbray. glad you're here and recognize you and please proceed. >> thank you. chairwoman boxer and ranking member inhofe and chairman carper and members of the committee, thank you for holding this hearing and for the opportunity to testify. i'm here today because my congressional district includes a nuclear power plant which has become the central focus in the weeks following the japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis. i called on the n.r.c. to have further studies that the plant's design can withstand an
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earthquake. pacific gas and electric asked the n.r.c. to delay its renewal while it completes the studies. just today in light of the action, i'm renewing my request to the n.r.c. to halt the relicensing process. i do not make this request lightly. i towered the power plant. following that visit i was convinced of two things. first, that the employees are committed to getting it right, and second, we're not there yet. i'm not alone in that assessment. i'm grateful to be joined by california stat senator who represents the power plant and its surrounding communities. the state senator will testify today both in his role as state elected official and also as a scientist. i'm confident that our shared assessment of the situation will offer the community valuable insight into the current and future landscape of nuclear power in california.
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the bottom line is this, we do not have the answers we need to move forward in extending the licensing agreement of the power plant. we should not move forward until we have those answers and because the reactors don't need to be relicensed for more than a dozen years, we have plenty of time to find those answers. mr. chairman, what happened in japan offers us an opportunity to question and question again whether we are ready, whether we can handle the unthinkable. the n.r.c. had already determined that it is noncredible there could be multiple catastrophes such as an earthquake and a meltdown. the n.r.c. has maintained and this is a quote, the chance of such a bizarre catastrophic events is extremely small. not only is this conclusion supported by the record events, it records with commonsense notions of statistical probability. yet the unthinkable did happen
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in japan, earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident. a bizarre catastrophic events is not merely hypothetical. mr. chairman, let's be clear. we know uncertainty exists at the power plant site. while the plant was originally under construction, scientists discovered the fault less than three miles away, forcing a major redine and pushing the project billions over budget. scientists discovered another fault which lies offshore less than a mile from the plant. the stakes were raised last month when the n.r.c. confirmed that it was one of two nuclear power plants in the highest risk activity for seismic activity in the entire country. we need answers. can this plant, including the spent fuel pools withstand the earthquake and nuclear accident at the same time. how long will the plant be sustaining in the event of such
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damage and what is their plan. most of us remain that the n.r. c has not taken actions so much so that the california energy commission has recommended and our state public utilities commission has directed that independent per-review studies be performed. i gee with this assessment. it is important to halt the relicensing process. we need to take time to get all the answers and important to note that i'm not calling for the power plant to be shut down. i'm not calling for pacific gas and light to be operating the license but asking that the relicensing process be halted until updated state of the art studies and mapping are completed and be considered as part of the relicensing process and the studies be done by third-party independent scientists. failure to do so is unwise and
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irresponsible. and it could cause taxpayers billions of dollars to once again address issues that should have been dealt with beforehand. i'm hoping n.r.c. will work with stake holders to get answers to the questions which at this point remain unstudied and unresolved prior to the continuation of the relicensing process. once again, i thank you for the opportunity to testify today. >> thoonchings forsome coming. congressman bilbray -- thanks for coming. congressman bilbray. >> as a lifelong resident of san diego county i have the same concerns that everyone who lives downwind of a nuclear power plant. every one of my children and gand children except for those that have been exiled to montana live within not only the
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downwind area from a power plant but within the tsunami zone of san diego county and i speak not just as a father and grandfather but somebody who had the privilege of serving two terms as the chairman of the disaster council for the three million people of san diego county that designed the evacuation and response to not just the nuclear issue but the tsunami issue and also as privilege of serving on the california coastal commission, an agency that has oversight and review of the nuclear power plants in california. this issue did bring back memories of all the hearings and processes we have had. frankly, there is still the facts to be taken, still research that needs to be done, but i think there are some indications that are very enlightening. one was the fact that even though the japanese plant was not designed to those of our california plants, that it did
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survive an earthquake that's well over what our plants ever perceived to be. the 9 that has struck this plant, we are looking at 7 maximum or 7.2 max number in california. that frequency of 7.2 as pointed out by secretary chu occurs every 7,000 to 10,000 years and gives you the idea of the engineering. the japanese were hit with a ground motion of .52. our california power plant is designed not for a .52 but a .67. you have to remember this is also in a region that geologists say will not get anything over a 7.2 and that will be between 7,000 and 10,000. those are the challenges we have to have. the biggest concern it was not
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the earthquake that we got the information but it was the tsunami and as a surfer let me tell you, this is not one thing that is not joking in my manner but one that is very disconcerting. the fact is that japan had a 10-foot surge wall, the power plant is sitting on a 20-foot elevation with 30-plus surge wall and diablo is 35. all the experts say that the tidal waves would never reach that level. but the difference between the california facility and japanese facility, the california facility have gravity-food cooling and pump sums are protected by the japanese did not have and fuel tanks were not protected and that's where good assessment can be made on this issue. remember as we talk about nuclear, ladies and gentlemen, as a former member six years on
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the air resources board, 20% of our energy that avoids emissions equal to 96% of all the always that are driving on american soil. we have to recognize that the challenges that we have to go forward, especially those of us addressing environmental issues need to remember that even the u.n. council on climate change says a rebus commitment to nuclear has to be part of any plan to address climate change. one of the things we need to get out of this madam chair and mr. chairman, is that where are we today, have we overgeared and what that is proof. the one thing in california, we have and that should be reassuring. my biggest concern is we don't talk about the fact, we aren't just talking about the power plant in san diego but many nuclear reactors that are within
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yards of residents in san diego that the united states government owns. those are issues that we sort of ignore and i think it's one we address. the biggest issue and i agree with you strongly, senator, not just how do we address the technology that is 40 years old that we have on the ground operating today, but how do we move forward with technology that's been upgraded that not only avoids the threats of meltdowns. also creates the opportunity to address that the waste problem, 100 yard by 20 foo foot that nuclear waste could not only be a fuel that could be burned and safe, but also a technology that could use up our weapons-grade material as we talk about going to zero options. i appreciate the chance to address you today, mr. chairman. >> great of you to come. thank you so much for your contributions. look forward to seeing you soon. thank you.
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within we will invite ourl second panel, administrator of the n.r.c. and administrator jackson. neither of our guests on the second panel are strangers to this community. great to see both of you. we appreciate your stewardship and hard work you are doing in response to the disasters in japan and first we'll hear fl lisa jackson, administrator of the environmental protection agency and following her testimony, we will hear from the chairman of the nuclear regulatory commission. five minutes for your statements and then we'll have some questions.
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>> thank you to all the members of this committee, thank you for inviting me to testify in responding to the tragedy in japan. i express my sympathy for those who have lost loved ones from the earthquake and tsunami and my support though those who are working to control the radiation at the fukushima plant in japan. their efforts are selfless and heroic. as japan works to address the challenges, many americans are concerned about what the radioed logical releases to the atmosphere may mean to them and what their government is doing to make sure they are safe here in the united states. let me begin by speaking directly to those who are concerned about radiation detections that monitoring and sampling that e.p.a. are picking up throughout the united states and let me be clear. e.p.a. has not seen and does not expect to see radiation in our air or water reaching harmful levels in the united states. all of the data that we have
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seen, which we continue to make public and available on our web site indicates while radiation levels are elevated in some places, they are significantly below problematic levels. to put this in perspective, days after the tsunami, we detected radiation consistent with the event on the west coast. they were 100,000 times lower than the daily exposure we receive. all of us are exposed from radiation from minerals in the ground and medical x-rays. that said, we will continue to monitor the environment for radiation. we will continue to make the data public and continue to explain what the data means to the people and families we serve. as i said to this committee, transparency and communication with the public is a priority for our agency and will guide all of our actions. e.p.a.'s main role in its
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response is simple but very important. using a variety of techniques we monitor radiation and releases into the environment in the united states. these releases range from ones that dissipate within days to those who have half lives of thousands of years such as plutonium. let me speak about those monitoring efforts. e.p.a.'s radiation monitoring network continuously monitors the nation's air, drinking water, rain water and milk. scientists estimate long-term trend and radiation levels. they monitor and made up 106 stations that create a network of detection across the united states. over the last five years, e.p.a. has been enhancings the capabilities of the system by replacing existing monitoring equipment with new air monitors that send real-time data to our
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laboratories. in response to the nuclear incident in japan, we added to this system by deploying air monitors to far westerly locations including alaska to detect radiation as it moves from japan. several times a week, we collect filters from these air monitors and perform a detailed analysis that let us find radiation in the air. e.p.a. sam lts rain water and monitoring stations across the country submits precipitation samples. under usual circumstances, they are analyzed by scientists quarterly, but during this response, we are analyzing precipitation responses as they come in and quickly post the results on our public web site. also, e.p.a. routinely samples milk and drinking water from sites across the nation. these samples are collected and analyzed on a quarterly baces
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but in response, we have accelerated the sampling schedule. the levels detected have been far below levels of public health concerns. the information is all available on e.p.a.'s web site w.w.w. e.p.a. the general public, especially those without physician sicks can monitor. it has been featured extensively on fox, cnn and facebook answer ands the questions that your quints may be answering. thank you for your leadership on these issues. i want to assure you that e.p.a. will continue our coordination with our federal partners and continue our outreach to the public and elected officials to provide information on our monitoring results.
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>> we appreciate all you have stepped up to respond and we appreciate your continued vigilance and encourage you not to let up. please proceed. >> thank you, mr. chairman and madam chairman. i appreciate opportunity to appear before you to address the response of the new regulatory commission to the recent tragic events in japan. people across the country and around the world who have been touched by the magnitude and scale of this disaster are closely following the events in japan and the repercussions in this country and many other countries around the world. along the world are following this in japa about two weeks out to those dealing with the aftermath of these national


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