tv [untitled] CSPAN June 22, 2009 3:30pm-4:00pm EDT
visitors and travelers to come to our country to see the wonders of our great country, to spend some money here to create jobs here, to create economic development here. we're not doing that now. we're not even in the game. and so we suggest a private-public partnership that we believe could be very helpful in attempting to simulate international visitors to our country. the travel promotion act would encourage visitors from all around the country -- excuse me the world. we establish a corporation for travel promotion. we fund it with a very small charge on international visitors coming to our country. as most countries do, by the way, a $10 fee on those that are coming from the -- the countries that have the -- the visa waiver provision with our country.
so here's what has been said about our country recently. and here's perhaps why fewer people are visiting the united states. "the sydney morning harold" said coming to america isn't easy. i think there was a feel around the world post 9/11. we very interested in trying to keep some people out of here. obviously we want to keep tests out. we made it -- terrorists out. we made it difficult for people to get a visa. "the guardian" said "america, more hassle than it's worth. "the sunday times said "travel to america? no thanks." so a large group of us put some legislation together to say let's find a unique way to pro met our country and so we put together a travel promotion act. every other piece of legislation
that comes to the floor of the senate costs money and would increase the deficit if not paid for, the congressional budget office says enacting this bill would reduce budget deficits b by $429 million. that is almost a half billion dollars between 2010 and 2019. so this would reduce the budget deficit. we're not talking about something that spends money. this reduces the budget deficit over 10 years by nearl nearly $500 million. now, i just mentioned we fund this in large -- in large part with a small $10 fee from the visa waiver countries in which visitors are traveling to our country. and i just described australia has a $37 departure fee, guatemala $30, the philippines $15, the united kingdom $30 to$ 0. we're pro posed a plod -- we're
proposing a very modest fee. newspapers from all across this country have supported. this the "dallas morning news" it is a sensible first step it to putting a welcome mat on america's doorstep. the detroit free press, doesn't it make sense to encourage foreign visitors to come here and leave us some of their money. "l.a. times" considering the u.s. spends hundreds of millions of dollars on public diplomacy with dubious results with nothing in tourism, it might do us well to invest money in wooing traveling. congress can help by passing the travel promotion act by the end of this year. now, mr. president, this ought to be something that we bring up
and almost passed by unanimous consent. guess what kind of a tortured journey this bill has been on. first and foremost the bill is reported to the floor -- and you have to have a motion to proceed. you can't just bring it to the floor. if somebody insists, no, no, you've got to have a debate and then a vote on whether or not you should even proceed it the bill. so we did. not because we should have had it -- to do that. somebody said, you know what is this we're going to decide to be a human set of brake pads and slow down anything in the senate and prevent anybody from getting anything done. on a travel bill, a travel promotion act that reduces the federal budget deficit and tries to attract international visitors to our country, which would be a good thing. there's a lot to see here and experience. and almost everyone who leaves this country after visiting the united states of america has an unbelievably good opinion of
what we are about. this is a great, great country. yes, with a lot of attractions, but a country whose culture and character is something that we need to exhibit to everybody in this world to say here's who we are, here's what america's about, here's a grand idea that is the most successful democracy in history. come here. visit here. become a part of what we're experiencing on your international travels. we're not doing that now. but we suggest we should. so the bill that is broadly bipartisan to do that is to be brought to the floor of the senate and we're told, no, you can't do that. first, you must have a debate and then a vote on the motion to proceed. so we have to file what is called a cloture petition which takes two days to ripen. so you lose two days. then we have a vote. and the vote is 90-3 in favor of it. implication there is we shouldn't have had to have a vote and waste a couple of days,
but we did. so then after the cloture vote, 90-3, then we wrl told, no, you can't go to the bill yet, there's 30 hours postcloture and we insist on burning all 30 hours postcloture. we add 30 days to the cloture petition, and 90-3 vote an 90 hours wasted time postcloture. why? because somebody insisted upon it. so now, all of a sudden, we're on the bill. well, last thursday and friday, i worked and senator reid worked and many others worked to see, we're on the bill, now can we figure out what kind of amendments will be offered. we had a discussion in the middle of the aisle with senator mcconnell, senator reid, senator martinez, and others, and we agreed to begin with amendments on each side. perhaps we started three and two and five amendments on the republican side and three amendments to start the process. so can you give us a list of the
amendments? yes. we got a list of the amendments. five amendments on what is called the tarp program, troubled asset relief program. having nothing to do with this bill. we said, that's fine. you want to have five debates and votes on tarp, ok. so here are our three amendments, two of which had to do with studies and the other was an amendment by senator sanders that said to the commodity future trading commission that we want them to use all the authority they now have, plus any emergency authority, use the authority you now have to start finding a way to shine the light on these unbelievable speculators that are running up the price of gasoline. not a very controversial amendment. it doesn't give the cftc new authority it deals with the question of the runup of the price of gasoline, but it doesn't give anybody new authority but the republican side said, no. we're not going to allow you to offer that amendment. we're going to tell you which amendments we intend to offer.
and we say, ok, that's fine. whatever amendments you have, god bless you. just go ahead and offer them. but they say, but you can't subscribe to us a set of amendments, 553, and if the three includes an amendment to try to see if you can shut down some of the excess speculation, using the authority that the commodity future trading commission now has, we're not willing to do that. now, i know most people would listen to this and say, you know what? it's the same old thing. nobody can agree on anything. but, you know, in every circumstance where there's disagreement, there has to be someone holding out, right? so we come to the floor today without an agreement on amendments so the majority leader had to file cloture petition. we'll have a cloture vote at 5:30 today. this congress can't even agree on tourism for god's sake. it's unbelievable to me how dysfunctional can a legislative body become? you can't agree on tourism.
so -- but let me at least talk for a moment, before i talk about the importance now of having a cloture vote and requiring to have a cloture vote on this, let me talk about what the other side objects to with an amendment that my colleague wants to offer. and i agree that the amendment doesn't relate to the bill, but their first five amendments had nothing to do with the bill either why should the minority tell the majority what kind of amendments they can offer? that's absurd. here's the amendment -- people remember when the price of oil went from $40 up to $147 a barrel in day trading. it went up like a roman candle and came right back down. the same hot shots, the same speculators who made a fortune pushing up the price of oil, made a fortune on the upside, the same folks made a fortune on the downside. they were playing it both ways and the victims were those driving up to the gas pump i paying $4 $4 a gallon for gaso. let me show you what happened.
the commodity future trading commission, cftc. we have all of these acronyms. it's a group of people who have done their level best imitation of a potted plant for a long time. decided to do really very little in areas where much was needed. the oil futures market is it a very important market. you need to hedge. we understand that. it is an important market. but speculators have broken the back of that market. here's what happened -- 37% of the trades in the oil futures market were speculators in 000 and now it is 80%. that's what caused the price of oil to go up to $147 a gallon. they speculated on the way up and speculated on the way down and made money on both sides. now what's happened to the -- before i show you what happened to the price of oil now. and by the way it's starting
again. demand is down because of the recession and supply of oil is up and the price is going up. what does that tell you? it tells you the same is a man begans are -- shenanigans are going on and the cftc who is supposed to watch what is going and on taking action to shut some of it down, once again, not much is going on. senator sanders said we ought to can them -- at least ask them to use all of their authority to shut it down. we have a government agency called the e.i.a., environmental administration. it costs just over $100 million a year. their job is to know everything there is no know about energy and nike the best estimates they can make. i want show a chart that shows the runup. the yellow lines is the estimate by our agency, the e.i.a. saying
here's where we think the price of oil is going, each yellow line. this, for example, is january 2008. they say -- here's where we think the price of oil is headed. march 2008, here's where we think it is headed. and, of course, this is the price. one would ask the question and reasonably so who are these best people at e.i.a. that are supposed to give us an estimate of what's going on? well, what's going on now? what we see now is that e.i.a. projection made of january this year, it's the yellow line. environmental information administration says here's where we think the oil is going to go now. of course anybody who drives a car and stops at a gas pump understands what is happening to the price of oil. the price of oil is something like over $70 a barrel. on the march from $38 a barrel. and that is happening at a time when demand is down and supply is up.
now, i taught economics in college ever so briefly, but the supply-demand curve is something that you can learn the first day. when supply is up and demand is down, price is not supposed to go up. if it's going up, there's something wrong. there's something happening. and that's what's happening now. where will it go? will it go to $90? i notice in one of our big investment banks said they thought it would go close to $90. i would love, by the way, if i had subpoena capability, i would love the position that investment bank was holding in oil futures as they made that announcement. that's an aside for another day. the question is: is it reasonable to have an amendment by senator sanders to say that we want the commodity futures trading commission to use their authority to understand what is going on? the other side says absolutely not. we don't intend to allow you to offer that amendment. i mean, i don't understand why.
whose interest will they be supporting or protecting? the speculators? big investment banks? those that are holding oil offshore in ships? those investment banks that have actually bout oil storage for the first time in history to take oil out of the supply and store it and make money? is that whose interests are at stake here? well, let me come back to the point that i was making. we tried very hard thursday and friday to reach an agreement on amendments on both sides. we were -- we said, absolutely. you want -- you want all five amendments on tarp programs? it has nothing to do with the bill, by all means, feel free. start offering. we're ready. and the other side said, well, yeah, you give us all that we want, but we don't intend to agree to much of anything that you want.
and so a one-way agreement that was destined to fail. again, i do not understand how we have gotten to a point on a piece of legislation that should be so noncontroversial, sufficient so with a 90-3 vote on a motion to proceed, it is stopped by the united states senate. a bill that had over 50 cosponsors in the united states senate, a bill that deals with travel and promotion of travel an tourism. that we now have this unbelievable impasse. we had to do two days on a cloture petition on a motion to proceed, then a motion to proceed that passed 90-3, then 30 hours postcloture. now we -- we go around this merry-go-round last thursday and friday with an absurd proposition, that the minority wants to decide what amendments the majority can have, despite the fact the majority says you can have whatever amendments you want? i mean, they must have missed the last couple of elections.
they apparently think they run the senate. what runs the senate is consensus, consensus by people that care about getting things done on important issues. you can't do something on tourism, how on earth are you going to do something on health care and energy and climate change and a lot of things that matter a lot about this country? and the future? if you can't do tourism, what can you do? pretty unbelievable to me. now, i -- i know, we can have people come and explain until they're completely out of breath why they object to everything. i just described senate g.o.p. still saying "no," democrats need to know when bills are coming up, we're going to extend the debate as long as we can. you know, on and on and on. how about just picking out one or two little issues, one or two issues that would advance the country's interests and say, do you know what? on this issue, we'll just park the politics at home, we'll leave the politics back in the office, we'll come to the floor and say, what's good for the
country? i'll tell you what's good for the country here on this issue and that is in a very troubled world, where a lot of people have looked askance at this country -- and we've gotten some bad reputation around here and there and some bad information out about america. i'll tell what you good, is to have people come to this country and just be around for a bit and just experience this great country of ours and understand when they hit our shores, this is a citadel of freedom. you can do everything you want. this is an unbelievable place and we need people in the world to understand it and to understand especial this will, you're welcome to come -- especially this, you're welcome to come here, you're welcome here, we want you to come and see and sample and understand what america's all about. that's what this bill is. and if we can't even agree on that, how on earth will we agree about the big issues of the day? we'll have a cloture vote at 5:30. my guess is the minority will say we believe this vote needs to be a leadership vote.
all of have you to vote against cloture because the majority hasn't yet -- we haven't even offered the first amendment do you know why you haven't offered the first amendment? because you wouldn't agree on anything. we tried thursday, we tried friday, you wouldn't agree on anything. we agreed on all your amendments and you wouldn't agree on a thing. so here we are. i and my democrat and republican cosponsors on this bill that we've worked on now for two years come now to a cloture vote in which some will say to othe others, you can't vote for cloture because we haven't had any amendments. i hope perhaps between now, 3:50, and 5:30, if there are well-meaning people in this chamber who really wish to make progress for our country, i wish we could have an agreement on amendments and then just go forward. let's do that. i was there when senator reid said to the minority leader, look, let's just -- let's at least start. we don't have to have a whole list of all the amendments. let's just start.
you want the first five amendments? whatever it is you want, bring them on, we'll have the amendments. and we'll give you three of ours. let's just start the process. couldn't even get that done. thursday and friday. the american people deserve better than that from all of us. they deserve a senate that works. and if a senate can't work on bipartisan legislation dealing with tourism -- can you name a subject where it will work? my hope is that in the next hour and a half, perhaps some will come to the floor who have the interest and ability to reach an agreement so that we can begin the amendment process and finish the bill this week. we can do that. we should not defeat this cloture petitionmen petition. in fact, we should vitiate the petition if we could get the leadership from the other side to come to the floor and say, we agree with what you proposed last week, let's start. let's start now. let's have some amendments tonight and have some votes.
we can do that. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. kyl: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. kyl: mr. president, next week president aribe of colombia will be meze meeting with president obama at the -- meeting with president obama on obama aatthe white house. i support the colombia free trade agreement because of its importance to colombia but also because i think it's important for u.s. firms to gain access to markets of fast-growing developing nations abroad. our economy will revive only if we create jobs. enacting this colombia free trade agreement will help to do that. america's two-way trade with colombia reached $18 billion in 2007, making colombia our fourth largest trading partner in latin america and our largest export market for u.s. agricultural products in south america. exports are the only major sector of the private economy actually making positive contributions to u.s. economic growth. in my own state of arizona, nearly 40% of all of our
manufactured goods were export exported. on average, net exports added more than one percentage point overall to our economic growth last year, in part offsetting the negative consequences of the housing downturn. so if u.s. manufacturers and farmers were not able to sell their products abroad, the current economic downturn would be much worse. enacting the colombia free trade agreement would help more than 10,000 u.s. companies that export to colombia. 8,500 of which are small- and medium-sized firms by opening a significant new export market. america's market is already open to imports from colombia. in 2008, for example, over 90% of u.s. imports from colombia entered the united states duty free under our most favored nation tariff rates and various preference programs, such as the andean trade preference act and the generalized system for preferences. however, more than 97% of u.s. exports to colombia are subject to duties that range from 14% to
50%. once the agreement is approved, over 80% of u.s. consumer and industrial exports to colombia will enter duty free. so for each day congress does not approve the colombia free trade agreement -- colombia free trade deal, u.s. exporters pay $2 million in unnecessary tariffs. mr. president, let me just review very briefly the events of the past two years to understand the current state of affairs. on may 10 of 2007, democrats and republicans agreed to a framework that modifies future trade agreements to include provisions improving labor and environmental standards in order to move the peru, colombia, and south korean free trade agreements. after the peru trade promotion agreement was signed into law in december of 2007, democrats broke the deal with us in order to extract more concessions. this time they said that in exchange for passing the colombia free trade agreement,
the bush administration would need to accept an expansion of t.a.a. benefits by increasing the refundability of the health care tax credit from 65% to 80%, expanding the t.a.a. eligibility to service workers, and would double the mandatory funding for workers -- excuse me, for worker retaining -- retraining from $220 to $440 million -- $220 million to $440 million. when the bush administration tried to jump-start the process last year by introducing the colombia free trade agreement, speaker pelosi responded by unilaterally rescinding colombia's fast-track authority, essentially killing any chance of moving the agreement. we missed another opportunity to enact the colombia free trade agreement on the stimulus bill. although the majority did find room to enact a multi billion trade adjustment expansion -- trade assistance adjustment -- that's what t.a.a. stands for --
which was considered a prerequisite to any additional free trade agreement, now that it's the law, we're not moving forward on the colombia free trade agreement. interestingly, the president's budget would permanently extend trade adjustment assistance at a cost of $4.6 billion over ten years. but it does not include $1 to implement any of the pending trade agreements like those with colombia, panama, or south korea. i urge my colleagues to use president aribe's visit as an opportunity to move forward and renew this nation's commitment to trade not only to assist an important american ally who needs our hen but to en-- help but to enact a true stimulus bill that will promote american manufacturing exexports create e badly needed jobs. i ask that we get our staffs to begin working together to develop a plan to ensure passage of the colombia free trade agreement. and, finally, let me respond briefly to democrats' charges that colombia has not done enough to protect human rights.
the colombian government has demobilized and brought to justice over 31,000 members from 35 paramilitary groups, principally from the a.u.c. or the united self-defense forces of colombia. in addition, more than 10,500 members of the far left insurgent groups, farc, or f-a-r-c, the revolutionary armed forces of colombia, and the e.l.n., which is the national liberation army, have chosen to demobilize, individually leaving their units and turning themselves in to colombian authorities. the colombian government is also providing protection to over 10,600 individuals, the largest protection program is run by the ministry of interior and justice and provides protection to more than 9,400 individuals, including 1,900 trade union members. of the program's $39.5 million budget, one-third, over
$13 million, goes to protect trade unionists. as a result, president aribe has improved the security situation in colombia dramatically. kidnappings are down by 83%. terror attacks down by 76%. homicides decreased by 40%. and homicides against trade unionists have dropped by twice as much, over 80%. mr. president, this is important progress by the government of colombia. it is an important ally of the united states. it deserves our support. and as importantly, exporters in the united states deserve the congress's support, enabling them to export their products without the kind of barriers that currently exist. the trade agreement is in our best interest and i hope that my colleagues will insist that very soon we get the colombia free trade agreement back on track so that this important legislation can pass the congress, be signed into law and begin to help our
mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: madam president, as the debate over health care reform continues, a number of different approaches have now emerged, but one thing unites us -- all of us agree that health care reform is needed. the question is: what kind of reform? a reform that cuts costs and expands access? or a so-called reform that leads to a government takeover, where premium are increased but health care is delayed, denied, and rationed?
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