tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 10, 2013 10:00am-12:01pm EDT
is a very reasonable people here in congress. there are many who want to do what is right. there are many who want to work together to conduct the business of our nation. i would say to them in all my colleagues, now is the time. now it's time for for congress to stop fighting battles. now is the time for congress to come together to do what is right for the nation and now is the time for congress to come together and fulfill america's financial obligations. i began my remarks and i thought appropriate to conclude with another one. lincoln once said, and i quote him, i am a firm believer in the people. if given the truth, they can be depended upon to begin a national crisis. and bo. that is why we are here today. we need to give the american people the truth. the real fact, only then,
whenever one understands the facts on the church would be able to meet this financial crisis. senator hatch. >> thank you, mr. chairman. 20 thank you for holding today's hearing on the debt limit. i also want to welcome you, secretary lew to the committee. we appreciate you coming. during debate over the debt increase in 2006, then senator obama's stated the fact that we are here today to debate raging america's data that is a of leadership here, unquote. leadership he said, quote, means that the buck stops here. instead, washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. america has a depth and a failure of research. americans deserve better, i'm zero. secretary lew on the day senator
obama spoke about our problem, our debt was $8.3 trillion. it is now twice that currently standing at $16.7 trillion. debt represents 107% of the size of our economy and as the congressional budget office has made clear, this causes large economic and fiscal risk. during that same 2006 deadline that debate, then senator biden said, quote, why vote against the debt limit increase cannot change the fact we have my vote against the debt would increase cannot change the fact we've incurred debt already and will no doubt occur more. it is a statement i refuse to be associated with the policies that have brought us to this point, unquote. what a difference a number two since then. now president obama and vice president biden presided over the frustration that tells us raising the cup may become your worst secretaries of three,
simply allow excuse pay our bill. he also publicly stated that only congress has the power to lift the debt limit. while it is extensively true come the congress has the power to raise the debt limit. there'll be no increase at the president does not agree. at the same time, despite your public statements to the contrary, it is not your raising the debt limit has only to do with spending congress has has already approved. this is based on a premise that congress make spending decisions unilaterally and i acted as ranch plays no role in the process. the premise is simply false. no amount of spam and can be enacted without the president signing it into law. furthermore, while president obama's budgets have not been received even by democrats in congress, the president has traditionally been deeply involved in congress suffers to set spending priorities. the administration issued
administration policy and veto threats on spending dozen other pieces of legislation. the presidents work with with congress all the time to enact their domestic agenda is. we all remember how president obama unveiled him push his trillion dollar stimulus to a democratic congress that he then signed into law. in addition, this president has made unilateral decisions with no input on congress on federal spending. for example, there is decision to delay the employer mandate, which cbo tells us will cost an additional 12 or put an additional $12 billion to a deficit. congress never voted on the delay. everything in the lateral choice made through a making of the department. so in short, the repeated notion the spending and debt limit that congress and congress alone to answer is to put it mildly in case of false advertising on the part of the administration.
there have been several other instances of false advertising for the administration concerning the debt limit. to president clinton on budget items have never before been attached to the debt limit increase. they claim to which a fact checker at the "washington post" assigns the maximum for pinocchio's as we have on the chart over here. in fact, of the 53 debt limit increase is passed since 1978, under both republican and democratic presidents, only 26 were quote clean, unquote. another in 2011 reenters some surgery brave new world in which for the first time in recent history people were commenting on the inability of treasury and coming obligations. if you would just go back to president clinton's administration in recent press on with his helmet and richard rubin, you will see that this claim is also false.
mr. chairman, i asked permission to enter reprint of the press conference of 1995 with ben secretary treasury rubén and land in another supports this position along with an associated article from "the new york times." >> objection. >> secretary lew, i hope during today's hearing sooner regress into comparative recollections of history. what is at stake is too big for that. the issue we face is yet another debt limit increase. there have been seven debt limit increases since the president came into office. collectively raising the limit from 11.3 trillion to the current $16.73 million, a cumulative increase of $5.4 trillion. when talking about the future increases in the debt limit, albeit in a station will say has one they won a quote clean increase and two, they refuse to negotiate. we don't know what that means,
what they mean by quote clean, unquote increase. we don't know how much of increase they want or for how long. apparently making such desires of what constituted negotiation. the posture is neither productive nor helpful towards resolving the current impasse over the debt limit. essentially what the administration appears to be saying is that it is entirely up to congress to increase the debt limit and to decide how much and for how long. this of course raises more questions than it answers. for instance, doesn't mean that if congress chooses to enact a two-week claim that limit increase the president will sign at? according to the administration public statements because congress is solely responsible for increase in the debt limit, such a hypothetical stopgap would be fine if that's what congress chose to do. yet somehow i don't and that is that the president is looking for when it comes to the debt limit. in the past couple days, the
president has expressed willingness to entertain a short-term increase in the limit, what sounds like a willingness to negotiate terms. i believe the president statements are still short on details. secretary lew come the lack of engagement on the part of the administration is an element of the current debt limit debate that i find disconcerting. it is also disconcerting to have the administration officials, including you publicly questioning sentiments of americans and financial market participants and suggesting people may be to calm an absurd -- in an apparent effort to whip up uncertainty in the markets. it is disconcerting that you have suggested that payment of social security benefits to retirees and disabled american workers are at risk, especially since you were a trustee of the social security trust funds. it is disconcerting that an administration officials are sounding alarms of emerging risk to financials ability arising from the debt limit. from the debt limit and past. while at the same time the
financial stability oversight council, which you chair, has been violent and refuses to tear the american people how it would respond to the spread. finally, it is disconcerting the administration refuses in the context of the debt limit to even have a congress nation with anyone concerning our unsustainable entitlement programs, which everyone agrees that the main drivers of our debt. the president has a spy refused to seriously discuss structural entitlement reforms without assurance that he first gets another tax hike. more often than not, what we hear from the administration on entitlement is a series of disclaimers as to what reform proposals they will no longer can enter in that list seems to get larger every day. the biggest question i have a 50 obama administration won't negotiate on entitlements in the context of the debt limit, when will they negotiate on entitlements? secretary lew, i will remind you
or put forth five modest bipartisan reform proposals for health entitlement spending and personally gave them to the president earlier this year. you have copies of these proposals yourself. get to this day i've yet to hear a response. i cannot even get near conversations from the administration about my proposals that i offered in good faith while before the debt limit was even an issue. most recently, the senate majority leader has introduced a quote, clean, unquote temperamental but senator baucus referred to that would increase the debt limit until january 1, 2015, which will likely raise the limit by $1.3 trillion or more. that apparently is the position of the senate democratic leadership that is somewhat inconsistent with the president's recent willingness to accept a short-term increase in the debt limit. as you can see, secretary lew, would've a lot to discuss today. my hope is during the course of this hearing we could get a real
sense of what the administration wants to go with regard to the debt limit. i also hope we get past the administration's rhetoric's regarding this issue. our nations debt is now larger as a share of our economy than at any time since the spike up in world war ii. despite the rhetoric of the administration, are growing debt is not solely the result of decisions made by congress. it is not all due to the financial crisis and it is not the result of tax who is enacted under the bush administration. instead, it is a problem that all of us, both congress and the executive branch need to deal with. the only way to responsibly deal with it is to confront an unsustainable entitlement spending by which will require the administration to do something it is now refusing to do, which is negotiate. secretary lew, if president obama said in 2006 regarding the
debt limit, americans deserve better. i want to thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate you holding this hearing. >> thank you am a senator. the secretary of treasury begins. i like to remind members in tank very much for the full attendance that we have to be very efficient with the questions and answers. the secretary has engaged a couple three minutes after 9:30. i urge us all to respect others as requested or that we all have a chance of the secretary has a chance to answer questions, our questions, mr. secretary. >> thank you, mr. chairman. chairman baucus, ranking member hatchet members of the committee, i appreciate the opportunity to appear today at it appreciate the invitation to discuss impacts to increase the debt limit. congress has an important choice to make to the american people and congress alone has the power to act to make sure that the full faith and credit of the united states is never called into question.
no congress in 224 years of american history as the latter country to default and it is my sincere hope is congress will not be the first. among the risks that we control, the against threat to sustained growth in our economy is recurrence of manufactured crises in washington and self-inflicted wounds. unfortunately today we face the manufactured
veterans' benefits. interest rates skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets, the united states has a special responsibility to itself and the world. molesting the u.s. economy need do they fight over whether we raise the debt ceiling. not whether we the series challenges domestically and internationally that require full intention, not when we know the kind of damage financial and economic crisis can cause. thank you and i'm a forward to entering your questions. >> i would like to focus a little bit on the concept some suggest as a way out of this problem which some suggest is feasible and that i disagree with called prioritization. you touched on that. could you briefly tell us what decisions you would have to make as treasury secretary assuming interest was paid on the debt
and you had to choose which other obligations add to be paid. i know you can't tell us which ones nor should you tell us, social security, medicare, military, but if you go through the process and describe what the actual beagle and administrative problems and consequences would be and include what it would be, 70% to 80% of those programs could be paid if they are all paid and what effect on the gross domestic product, walk us through prioritization please. >> let me start by saying what should be obvious. of we don't have cash to pay our bills we will be failing to meet our obligations and under any scenario we will be devolving on obligations. there's no plan and on raising the debt limit that permits us
to meet our obligations. when questions are raised about prioritization the first question is interest and principal on the debt and what else? the legal issues even regarding interest in principle on the debt are complicated. let me remind everyone principle on the debt is not something we pay out of cash flow of revenue. principal on the debt is a function of the market rolling over so there's a question of what we can do as a government and how the markets function when the government is failing to pay its bills. we have never been there and anyone who suggests they know what that means would be projecting after 220 years as history of passing the bills, what happens when we stopped the our bills? mr. chairman, i don't know all how you could choose between social security and veterans' benefits, between medicare and food assistance.
these are obligations we have made. we wouldn't have the money to pay our troops in full, wouldn't have money to pay veterans benefits in full. our systems were not designed to not pay our bills, they were designed to parables, i do not know how you could make the decisions, i do not think the legal authorities are clear at all and the administrative practice would permit the system to work. we right in million checks a month. the systems are automated to because 224 years the policy of congress and every president has been we pay our bills. you cannot go into the system can easily make him a somethings and not other things. they were not designed that whitaker the was not the policy of this government to be in the position we would have to be in if we couldn't pay our bills. >> my understanding as well that to some degree what your
obligations are, to make the social security payment due on october 23rd, interest on the debt, at the end of the month, major medicare bills, knowing the revenues that is lumpy, it comes in an anticipated announce. could you go over it that? >> that is the case. we have estimates and if these estimates are wrong there is the real risk of miscalculation. i would note even in the period of time i have been keeping congress informed we have seen swings in the normal course of things, $20 billion in terms of estimates of what cash on hand would be, not because anyone did anything wrong but quarterly tax receipts were not exactly where they were estimated to be. i would also remind everyone we are in an unusual position with a government shutdown. that is having economic consequences we are just beginning to understand. all the revenue projections we
have based our analysis on were based on a world where the government was functioning and all services that relate to government activity were happening. didn't take into account layoffs that might occur, didn't account for any reduction in payroll or payroll taxes so i have to assume the estimates are likely not to be an accurate predictor where we are. >> how do we program computers? >> mr. chairman. i don't believe there is a way to pick and choose on broad basis, and selectively, and multiple payment system that very complex that designed properly to pay our bills, they designed not to pay our bills. >> so prioritization doesn't work. >> prioritization is default by another name.
saying we will default on a subset of obligations, definition of we don't pay our bills. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and the position on the debt limit. position is the president will only accept a clean debt limit hike with no other accompanying policy or fiscal consideration attached to it. i have asked you repeatedly how much of the debt limit increase you would like and for how long? you responded it is up to congress and i believe the administrative position is unfortunate because it is clear we have a debt problem and a fundamental variable of the debt is unreasonable, unsustainable spending in the entitlement programs. the opportunity to address these problems. we mentioned five modest bipartisan proposals on
entitlement reform. i have heard no response to that and sincerely did that, and i just want to be clear concerning the business. as long as there is nothing attached to a debt limit increase the administration will say nothing more about it including preferred outcomes in terms of the increase for how long, is my understanding correct? do you wish to give me your preference how big the debt limit increase you like to have, how long you would like it, so at least we can begin discussions and negotiations on this particular issue. >> we have corresponded and number of times, a few days ago, stating what our viewers this economy would benefit from more
certainty and less brinksmanship so longer the period of time is the better for the economy. it is congress's decision how often it wants to vote on the debt limit. i believe more 70 is better, of the senate leader and chairman put forward a proposal. >> all i am asking is how much do you want and how long? though the two simple questions. how much do you want us to raise and how long? >> the question of how long is one i am answering as clearly as i can, as long as congress is prepared to extend, is the best. >> the president tried to be clear in his statement in recent days that if congress passes something shorter he was hoping, he is not looking for there to be a crisis but congress is dealing with it so the better solution is to go longer. we tried to be very clear and everyone knows the numbers that
are associated with different periods of time. >> it is not clear to me. the congressional budget office makes a number of things abundantly clear. first between 2009-2012 the federal government recorded largest deficit since 1946 crossing federal debt to is for a share of the economy to an amount higher than at any point in u.s. history accept a brief period in world war ii. now stands at 107% of gdp. second, the f-cat is unsustainable for lending to bring us to this fiscal crisis. and the government's major health care programs include not just obamacare but medicaid and medicare as well. and others. trust funds and social security and health entitlement programs face exhaustion. >> see the rest of this year on our web site, c-span.org. associated resources are reporting their may be progress
on dissolving debt ceiling issues. john boehner is expected to ask house republicans for a short-term debt ceiling increase. the u.s. senate is about to gavel in and will have more speeches on the government shut down and the debt limit. harry reid expecting to make a motion, that heads up a vote to head forward on legislation to suspend the debt limit until the end of this year. the chaplain: let us pray. immortal and wise god, may the memory of your past mercies sustain us during these challenging times. as we have reached the tenth day of this federal shutdown, strengthen our senators with your might, preserving them with your grace, and instructing them with your wisdom.
inspire them to take a step back from partisanship and to take a step forward toward patriotism, striving to strengthen and not weaken this land we love. lord, make them alive and alert to the spiritual values which underlie all the struggle of this challenging season. direct their going out and coming in, as you energize them with your presence. we pray in your strong name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance
to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., october 10, 2013. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable brian schatz, a senator from the state of hawaii, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i moved to proceed to calendar number 211, it the debt limit bill. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to calendar number 211 s. 1569, a bill to ensure the complete and timely payment of the obligations of the united states government until december 31, 2014. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the
majority leader. mr. reid: following leader remarks the time until 1:00 this afternoon will be equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees. at 1:00 p.m. the senate will recess subject to call of the chair to allow for a special caucus meeting with the president. i am told, mr. president, there are four measures at the desk due for second readings. the presiding officer: the senator is correct. the clerk will read for the second time. the clerk: h.j. res. 84 making continuing appropriations for head start for fiscal year 2014 and for other purposes. h.j. res. 89, making appropriations for the salaries and related expenses of certain federal employees during a lapse in funding authority for fiscal year 2014 and so forth and for other purposes. h.j. res. 90 making continuing appropriations for the federal aviation administration for fiscal year 2014 and for other purposes. h.j. res. 91, making continuing appropriations for death gratuities and related survivor
benefits for survivors of deceased military members and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: i would object to further reading of the bills. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the bills will be placed on the calendar. mr. reid: the president issued a warning to congress -- quote -- "full consequences of a default by the united states or even the serious prospect of a default by the united states are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. denigration of the full faith and credit of the united states would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and the value of the dollar in exchange markets." the president went ton warn, "-- went on to warn of the risks, the costs, the disruptions and incalculable damage. this was not obama pwo*efplt it-
this was not barack obama. this was ronald reagan. here's what he said and this is a quote, "this brinkmanship threatens holders of government bonds, those who rely on social security and veterans benefits. interest rates would skyrocket. instability would occur in financial markets and the federal deficit would soar." and yet, mr. president, three decades later an alarming number of republicans have denied or down played the seriousness of the first ever default on the full faith and credit of the united states. to these die -- deniers, east is west, north is south, black is white and right is wrong. let's talk about what this raising the debt actually means it seupl means we're going to -- it simply means we're going to pay our bills. it is not a plan to spend more
money. it is a vote to pay the bills. the federal government has already incurred these bills, bills for roads and bridges; we've already built them. for warships we've already commissioned. wars that have been waged and tax breaks that have been charged on our national credit card. a vote to avert default is a vote to pay the bills for all these things and more. many republicans are in the press today and have been for the last week or ten days arguing that why worry about it. it will all work out. these same republicans who argue that we should default on the nation's bills voted time and time again to spend borrowed money and lots of it, without any regard to the long-term effect it would have. these republicans voted to sell government bonds to china, saudi arabia, japan, to pay for the
wars in iraq and afghanistan. mr. president, republican senators have come to this floor and lamented raising the debt. we have to raise this debt because of two unpaid wars costing trillions of dollars, tax breaks for the wealthy costing trillions of dollars, all given to the rich with borrowed money, wars fought with borrowed money. during the bush administration, these same republicans were happy to run up america's credit card to the tune of trillions of dollars. their theory was let's lower the taxes. it will be great for the economy. they're now howling about the debt they created, the debts they voted for. never mind, mr. president, with little help from the republicans
in congress, president obama, president barack obama, has reduced the ratio of deficit to gross domestic product from 9% to 4%. pretty good. in spite of the debt that he's been trying to get charge of, that wasn't his. now that the bill for republicans' own excesses have come due, the bill for wars they supported and tax cuts they received, they're not willing to pay. they want to walk out on that check. many of these same republicans also say we can avoid default by prioritizing whom to pay and when we pay them. they say we should pay foreign debt holders first. they all agree with that. china will be first, and i guess saudi arabia and then maybe japan. but you know, mr. president, we
shouldn't and couldn't pay social security recipients under that scenario veterans or medicare. no matter how much we would want to, we couldn't do it. there would be no money to do it. in addition to having shockingly skewed priorities, republicans are also using very, very flawed logic. here's a real-world example. mr. president, let's say you have a mortgage, a car payment and a cell phone bill, and the presiding officer decides, well, which one should i pay? can't pay them all. which one should i pay. it doesn't matter. you pick one of them, you defaulted anyway because you can't pay your bills. you likely would never be able to buy another car, cell phone, certainly not a house. your credit would be ruined for the forseeable future.
mr. president, the same thing would happen to our country. one week from today -- and that's not a definite time. it could be a couple days before, couple days after, but we're there. so let's say a week from now, use that as a point of reference, the united states has no money. they can't borrow any more. the federal government paid china but failed to pay social security recipients, unemployment benefits, or the salaries of men and women fighting in uniform. the damage not only to our credit rating, world credit rating but also to our global reputation would be profound and irreversible. the risks, the costs,
disruptions and damage would be incalculable. that is what president ronald reagan said. why don't they listen to this man they say was such a great leader and was. and i agree, he was a tremendous president. i didn't agree with him all the time, but he was a real leader. he more than anyone else is responsible for ending the cold war. but there are many, many who say that he couldn't fit in the republican party of today. robert dole, who was the majority leader of the united states senate, from the state of kansas, a patriotic american, said himself he doesn't fit in the republican party of today. so, mr. president, the stakes couldn't be higher. global economic recession and possibly even depression face this great country. that's why president obama
reached out to house republicans, inviting them to the white house yesterday afternoon. guess what they say? we're too busy. we'll send a few of us but we're too busy. remember, the house is led by the same man who said he wanted to have a conversation but they were unwilling to have one with him. so i was disappointed to hear that the same intractable republican leaders who caused the current government shutdown were unwilling to even allow their members to meet with the president for a constructive conversation. again, i think they picked 17 out of the 232 they have. this great conversation is one, i guess they don't want. they want to talk, their actions tell another story. they've caused enough economic turmoil with the reckless shutdown of the federal government. and now if that's not enough,
now we have the debt ceiling coming in about a week. the republican forced default on the nation's debt. it would be magnitudes worse than the damage they have already caused our great country with this senseless created government shutdown. yesterday fidelity, the nation's largest mutual fund manager, $500 billion in assets, announced it would sell all of its short-term government bonds because of the threat of default. today there will be more. yesterday government bonds were considered the safest investment in the world. will it be so tomorrow? time will only tell. but if the united states fails to pay its bills, that safe haven will disappear very quickly. we're going to have a vote saturday on the ability to
proceed to a clean debt ceiling. we'll find out how senate republicans want to proceed. economists say the consequences of not paying our bills, not extending the debt ceiling would be immediate and catastrophic. this isn't a bunch of harvard left wingers, mr. president. even republican economist douglas aiken said debt deniers are dead wrong. this is what he said -- quote -- "a failure to raise the debt ceiling thraoedz to very bad economic outcomes -- leads to very bad economic outcomes and chaos in financial markets." fidelity's move is only the first sign of economic chaos that will continue to spread the closer america comes to defaulting on its bills. with every day that passes, it is more and more important for republicans to stop denying the reality of default and start working with us to find common ground.
mr. president, all we've said, open the government. let us pay our bills. we'll negotiate with them on anything. we'll have a conversation with them about anything. open the government, let us pay our bills. then we'll negotiate. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader.
mr. mcconnell: i'd like to start this morning by quoting something my good friend, the majority leader, said back in 2007, back when congress was weighing whether or not to raise the debt ceiling. here's what the majority leader said back then -- "until we change the policies that led down this path, we'll be back year and year, digging the hole even deeper." nd arcs of course, that's essentially what so many americans are saying today. if we're going to address the debt ceiling, then let's also address the root causes of the debt. it just makes good sense. you would think our friend, the majority leader, would continue to agree with this logic as well, but that's not what he has been saying lately. he's basically saying it would be irresponsible for congress to address the most pressing problem we face as a country, that it would be reckless to raise the debt ceiling if that also meant doing something about the debt. in other words, he now seems to
think the best thing to do about our crushing federal debt is to do nothing at all. that's why my friend, the majority leader, introduced legislation this week to now allow another trillion dollars to be added to the debt with no strings attached at all, none, just a trillion-dollar debt ceiling increase. keep raising the credit card limit and let someone else deal with it later on. we have now got a debt close to $17 trillion, nearly double what it was in 2007. we're borrowing nearly $2 billion a day. $2 billion a day. and apparently, our friends on the other side are fine with that. they want us to give washington a free pass to borrow and spend a trillion dollars more. he is so comfortable with all this that my friend, the majority leader, rejected the president's own proposal this week to do a short-term increase followed by a negotiation on
reforms. well, in my view, we were sent here to solve problems, not defer them. we were sent here to confront the challenges of the moment, not ignore them, and that's why the majority leader's proposal just won't fly, because it's completely at odds with the wishes of most americans, and that's something the president and a lot of other senate democrats agree with when a republican president was asking for a debt limit increase. and, of course, the problem's a lot more serious now than it was back then. here's something else. neither side wants to default on our debts. neither side will allow it. that's certainly the case, and people should know that. it's irresponsible to do nothing about the debt, and it's irresponsible to be stirring up anxiety about -- about default. but that doesn't mean the american people are wrong to ask that a debt limit increase include reforms aimed at actually tackling the problems that got us in this position in the first place, especially
since what our country has routinely done in the past is just that. going back to the eisenhower administration, requests to raise the debt ceiling have often been tied to important fiscal reforms nearly two dozen times, going back to the eisenhower administration. that's how we got gramm-rudman-hollings in the 1980's. that's how we achieved balanced budgets in the 1990's. that's how we secured significant spending reductions in president obama's first term, spending reductions he later campaigned on. now, president obama seems to think congress should just increase the borrowing limit on his already maxed out credit card without a single, single negotiation. he seems to think the representatives of the american people should just do what he says when he says it because he says it, no questions asked, no questions asked. you know, that's just -- it's
not just irresponsible. it's not the way presidents of both parties have dealt with this problem in the past. reagan negotiated, clinton negotiated, and if president obama wants america to increase the credit limit, he'll negotiate, too. i'd also like to address one of the president's favorite talking points these days. he says he won't negotiate over -- and i'm quoting here -- the bills congress has already racked up. look, if the president actually believed his own talking point, he wouldn't threaten to veto virtually every republican attempt to get spending under control. we have tried endlessly. the only times we can even get him to discuss sensible budget reforms is when he's absolutely forced to, when washington has to deal with things like the debt ceiling. but let's drop the tired talking point and just get about negotiating. i know the president doesn't like the facts that americans elected divided government, but they did.
we have divided government. no matter how much he tries to divide us, at the end of the day he is going to have to deal with a congress he doesn't entirely control. the american people can be persuaded to raise the debt ceiling, but they're not in any mood to simply hand over a blank check. they're looking for sensible reforms. so if the president wants to increase his credit limit, let's get to the table and negotiate. he has been inviting members of congress to the white house this week. in fact, we were just told earlier today senate republicans have been invited to meet with the president tomorrow morning. that's a good start, but only if it means he's decided to drop his refusal to negotiate on solutions, because if this meeting -- if this is just a meeting where he simply reiterates that he won't negotiate, then it certainly won't be very productive. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the time until 1:00 p.m. will be equally divided and controlled
between the two leaders or their designees. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant majority leader. mr. durbin: mr. president, i received an email this morning from an old friend. he's the father of a disabled veteran. this veteran is a quadriplegic, a victim of a roadside bomb in iraq. he's gone through multiple surgeries. at some point, most people would have given up on him. in fact, they even talked about his -- at the age of 24, being sent to a nursing home for the rest of his life. his father said no, we're not going to let that happen to our son. he brought him to chicago where he received extraordinary treatment at the rehab institute, and he started his slow, steady climb back in life. he's home now. he's a father, married, two small children. mom and dad live with him to help out. people in the community that he lives in, it's not in illinois, it's in north carolina, but the people in that community have
just been so generous, building the perfect home for him and his wheelchair and giving him as many opportunities as he could possibly enjoy in his life. it's a great story of a great family and a great american hero. the father wrote me an email today and said we're worried. we're worried about the november disability check. senator, we need it. we need that check. i wrote back to him and i said i'll move heaven and earth and do everything i can to make sure that payment's made, and i believe it will be made. somehow it will be made. but i had to tell him that we are facing an unnecessary crisis in america created by politicians on capitol hill. shutting down the government of the united states of america, what does that say about our nation? what cost it say about us, in the senate, in the house that we have reached this point. that we are deciding, today they
list four or five bills that just passed the house. see, the house is deciding what little agency of government, what little spending program they will approve each day, each day. it's estimated it will take them almost two and a half months to fully fund the government at this pace. two and a half months of uncertainty as they decide day by day what little program, what little agency they will reopen. well, that's just plain wrong. and every time we have -- they have offered that, we have said to them open the government. it's essential. we had this story two to three days ago about five american families notified that they had lost their sons and husbands and brothers, killed in afghanistan. traditionally, the united states government comes through quickly after the tragic information is shared with the family to give them a financial helping hand to arrange for them to come to dover, delaware, for the arrival and return of their fallen hero.
but because of the government shutdown, brought on by the republicans, there was a question as to whether we could even make that payment. luckily, a charity stepped forward, fisher house, an extraordinary charity that just does so many great things for veterans who are disabled and need help, and they said we're going to step in and help these families until the government gets its act together, until the politicians reopen the government. secretary of defense chuck hagel announced yesterday this new agreement. well, god bless the fisher house charity, but it shouldn't have been necessary. if we had done our job, it wouldn't be necessary. the government would be open. this family that i love, this disabled veteran, wouldn't be worried about that next check if we simply did the responsible thing and opened the government. and then there's a second issue which, hard to believe, is even larger in scope. you see, the republicans refuse to give us a chance to extend
the debt ceiling of america. what is the debt ceiling? it sounds -- in fact, this morning i listened as the minority leader said it's raising the credit card limit. no, it isn't. that's not an accurate statement. it is raising the authority of our government to borrow money to pay for what we've already spent. many of the same politicians who voted for the spending bills now don't want to pay for it. they don't want to extend this debt ceiling, the credit of the united states. that is totally irresponsible. it's ordering the biggest meal on the menu and then refusing to pay when the bill comes. that's where they stand. that's what they are arguing. but it's even worse. it would be the first time in the history of the united states of america that we will have defaulted on our national debt, the first time that we called into question the full faith and credit of the united states of
america. how serious is it? let me tell you how serious it is. pick up the morning paper. world leaders fear a default by the united states, in "the washington post." and i read it, and it says, and i quote -- "that default scenario is bringing increasingly urgent pleas from foreign leaders, some who describe their grave concern, others who chide the united states about the risks of political brinkmanship, beg its leaders to act responsibly and wonder whether the world's superpower is showing some cracks." now, are you ready for this? do you know who preaches to us yesterday about responsibility in governing the united states of america? are you ready for this? "this is highly important for all of us, russian president vladimir putin said. i am hopeful that all the political forces in the united states will be able to resolve this crisis as quickly as possible." so now we're being preached to by president putin about how to run a country.
well, that's embarrassing. and it's totally unnecessary. the failure to extend the debt limit debt of the united statess irresponsible and reckless, and it isn't just the russians who are calling us to task. our closest allies in the united kingdom. analysts there say the outlook for the british economy is decent but still fairly fragile. anything like a u.s. debt default with significant global repercussions would be bad news for the united kingdom. that was from harrod archer, chief u.k. economist at global insight in london. the japanese are now emerging from a terrible economic circumstance. one of our greatest creditors. and they're worried about their debtor, the united states, paying its debts. is anyone else embarrassed by this? we all should be. this is a creation of politicians in washington.
the republican shutdown, the republican refusal to extend the debt ceiling is irresponsible and reckless. it will not only hurt these foreign nations, it will not only hurt the reputation of the united states as an economic leader in the world, it's going to hurt families and businesses all over the united states. don't take the word of this democratic senator. go to the business roundtable, one of the strongest supporters of the republicans in congress, send us a letter -- sent us a letter last week and called the default on america's debt catastrophic, begging republicans and democrats not to do anything this senseless. and what impact will it have on families? hold on tight. watch what happens as we get up to this cliff or go over it when it comes to the debt ceiling and you can follow it every day if you have a mutual fund, if you own a stock, if you have a savings account, if you have a
retirement account. watch it melt away as the politicians give their speeches on capitol hill. it is totally irresponsible. and reckless. we need to open this government. we need to pay our bills. we can sit and negotiate everything and anything. that's the offer that's been made. only after we've met our responsibilities. and let me also add speaker boehner said last week and some of us were relieved to hear it, there will never be default on america's debt. he followed that up within 24 hours with a list of nonnegotiable conditions before he would agree to that. that is not responsible. it is reckless. it is reckless political conduct. how can we do this to the families, businesses, to the farmers and to our allies around the world? it is time to say, as the
chaplain of the senate did yesterday, enough is enough. it is time for grown-ups to stand up on the other side of the aisle and join grown-ups on this side of the aisle to do the right thing. open the government, pay our bills and sit down and honestly negotiate through these issues. mr. president, we don't have much time. october 17 is the deadline. today, october 10, we have one week, one week before the bottom falls out of our economy and the economies around the world. one last word. i listened to these economists on the other side, the so-called really conservative republican economists say it really doesn't matter, we can default, we really don't need to extend our debt ceiling. these flat earth economists are the same folks who are in denial when it comes to other scientific evidence in so many different areas. whether it's climate change, evolution, you pick it. they're entitled to their views. as fringe as they may be, as
extreme as they may be. but to think that members of congress, members of the senate are buying this line of baloney is hard to understand and impossible to justify to the american people. i yield the floor. ms. mikulski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: mr. president, i know we've been alternating on both sides of the aisle but i note that even with senator grassley's presence, if i -- may i speak, senator? because i think one of the things we ought to be observing here is at least courteous rules among ourselves. this is meant to be the greatest deliberative body in the world, and if we follow the rules and follow the regular order, follow the committee process, follow the ways through the committee process for resolving disagreement and dispute, i think we can get through this. i believe that on both sides of the aisle, there are pragmatic
people devoted to this country who want to solve the two major problems that we have here facing us right this minute; that is, to reopen government because we're now in the 10th day of the shutdown, and; number two, meet debt obligations of the united states of america as mandated in the 14 14th amendmet of the constitution. mr. president, i call upon my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the dome, let reopen government, let's pay our bills and let's get through the regular committee processes to solve our problems. now, there are those on the other side of the dome, in the house of representatives, that are proposing a new supercommittee.
well, mr. president, we've been there and we've done that. after the 2011 crisis, when we faced our debt limit, there was a process put in place called a supercommittee. it went nowhere. and this new idea will go nowhere as well. it is a new process that will only result in more delay. now, i think we have two supercommittees. i call them supercommittees because they're great committees, they're wonderful committees. that's the budget committee, chaired by senator patty murray, and her ranking member, senator jeff sessions, himself a distinguished judge from alabama. so he knows about conflict resolution. there is the appropriations committee that deals with
discretionary spending, chaired by me and my choice chairman, senator richard shelby, a seasoned, rockville fiscal conservative who knows thousand concentrate on the bottom line so that we can be a more frugal government but also be an effective government. let that committee do its job. also, there is the finance committee chaired by senator max baucus and i note the vice chairman or ranking member, senator grassley from iowa is on the floor, who has a incredible history of being a compassionate conservative and, again, knows the tax code and knows the values of iowa, which is let's put country above party. let -- instead of inventing new committees and new processes, free us up to do our job.
free us up to be able to do what the committee process is meant to be able to do. for me in the appropriations committee, we moved all of our appropriations bills. we are ready to come to the floor. we are ready to go to conference if called up -- if we have a method for being able to move. we are ready to do it. senator murray on the budget committee is ready to go to conference with the house, but 21 times she was blocked by six naysayers, primarily representing a tea party, a small faction within the republican party, the republican party, the grand old party has traditionally understand that you maintain the values of the county, that you're fiscally conservative but you follow the rules that were established.
the rules of the budget committee passed by the senate in the budget control act says they were supposed to have their job done on april 15. well, we moved the budget on march 23, over 200 days ago, and over 20 requests to go to conference to meet with senator -- excuse me, with congressman paul ryan and his house counterparts to work out what should our discretionary spending be, what should our revenues be, what should we evaluate in terms of our mandatory spending, where we can take a look at it but not shrink those deserved benefits like social security and v.a. that people count on and work their life for and even put their life on the line. we've got to be able to do our job. but i'll tell you what has been the latest coup -- not coup but latest situation that has just
so shocked me. we're on the verge of being a deadbeat nation. we are on the verge of being a global deadbeat nation. what is a deadbeat? a deadbeat is someone who does not meet their financial obligations. over the last three days, we've heard about how men and women who died in the line of duty serving their country, who their families are entitled to a death benefit, weren't going to get it because of a government shutdown. the fischer family, well-known for serving military families, well-known i and so deeply chair irddeeply --cherished, off to sd to pay for that. the philanthropy of the united
states instead of the united states. i want to thank them for stapg forward. but, my gosh, we're the united states of america, the strongest military in the world, to honor its obligation to its own, has to borrow money for the death benefit that. is deedbeat. deadbeat, deadbeat, deadbeat. i think it's humiliating. i think it's despicable. and it shows just how low we have sunk. now, we can get it back. it's in our power. because this isn't being inflicted on us. this is what is being inflicted on us by other americans sworn to uphold the constitution of the united states of america. and when they took that obligation, they didn't take that obligation to just uphold the amendments they like -- like
the second one -- but they took that obligation to uphold all of the amendments. and let's start with the 14th, which said that the debt of the united states of america should not be called into question. that says clearly in the constitution, hey, world, no matter what, america will pay its bills. the safety and reliability of the united states of america to meet its debt obligations is the financial glue that helps hold the global economy together. now, i'm not going to go into doomsday and armageddon or whatever, but if you actually read what the ambassadors of china and japan -- one a great ally and the other a formidable exert -- says, we are holding your debt, pay your bills or a fiscal crisis will begin to
unravel in your country and around the world. we cannot be a deadbeat nation. if we are a superpower, we must, first of all, show our power by meeting our financial obligations. now, how we get our public house in order -- by reducing our public debt -- is the subject, again, of the appropriations committee, the budget committee, and the finance committee. we have the capability to do it. i'm really calling upon my friends on the other side of the aisle -- and there are many -- and it's not that we're pals, it's that we've come together out of mutual respect, solving mutual problems, being of help to each other mutually that we've been able to keep the government functioning and doing it in a way that is smart and
affordable. so i say -- please, let's reopen government. i'm calling upon the house to pass the senate continued fiscal funding resolution that would reopen government till november 15. and that process to lay the groundwork for resolving our appropriations bills and canceling sequester. and i call upon the senate here, those six that are blocking u us -- blocking us, meaning the senate -- from going to the budget committee to do this. those are two simple acts within our power to do it. i hope that we can do it. i intended today to really speak about how the shutdown is affecting maryland. we are really being hard-hit. we are really being hard-hit. maryland and virginia is the
largest concentration of federal agencies, both civilian and military, in america, and, gee, we're proud of that. we are really proud of that. we're so proud of the fact that we have the national institutes of health, the food and drug administration, the national institutes of standards that works with our private sector that enables us to sell products around the world. we're so proud of the fact that we have the nuclear regulatory agency, the consumer product safety to make sure that we are looking out for things large and small, whether it's to make sure that our mattresses are not flammable and that our cribs and swimming pools are safe for our children. i'm proud of those agencies. and i'm sorry that my federal employees are not working. it is having a terrible impact on the maryland economy. both our comp temporary and ou our -- both our comptroller and our gorchteourgovern certificate tat
the significant -- governor is talking about the significant lost revenue because people aren't buying. when you talk to small businesses where these agencies are located, it is just terrible. i just want to tell the presiding officer one story. the social security administration, it's headquartered in maryland in a community called woodlawn. a wonderful community, vibrant, civic engagement, just great. across the street from the social security administration is a small business called the salsa grill. usually crowded with lunch hour people, early morning coffee, those little baby showers that we women like to have or a birthday party the guys are throwing for one of their pals at lunchtime. the salsa grill last friday, instead of 30 customers, had 3.
the owner was quoted as saying, if the shutdown -- if the shutdown goes on much longer, he won't be able to hang on any longer. this is what makes our economy great. i talked to one of the largest automobile dealers in maryland. the showrooms were empty in the baltimore-washington corridor last weekend, even though they have wonderful cars, new cars, ready to do deals, the 2013 models they wanted to move out. empty, empty, empty. this ripples through our economy. this isn't just, "oh, we're going to contain government." we are hurting ourselves. so, mr. president, the fight about obamacare is over. let's say goodbye to that fight. let's get on to the fiscal issues of the united states of america. i say here, as the chair of the appropriations committee, i am ready to negotiate.
i am ready to meet, to compromise, to see how we can have our domestic and our national and defense discretionary spending done in a way that begins to reduce our public debt but also have a progrowth way of public investments, making sure our country's safe, that we're building roads, building the super information highway, educating our young people and doing research and development. i know my time sup but i feel -- is up but i feel very strongly that we've got to solve our problem, so i'm ready to say to the other side of the aisle that i'm ready to work together. and actually because i've done it in the past, we actually like doing it. for we pragmatists to get into a room, solve problems, give-and-take and actually learn from each other. and i could give many examples of that.
but right now we need to set the example for the world that we are the greatest deliberative body. we've got to get back to deliberating instead of delaying. so, mr. president, please, for the house, pass the continuing funding resolution. for the senate, lift your objection to the budget committee going into conference. let's reopen the government. let's pay our bills and let's sit down and negotiate the way a great nation is worthy of, and let's honor the constitution of the united states. i yield the floor. mr. barrasso: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i appreciate the comments by the distinguished chair of the appropriations committee. as she said, she's ready to meet, ready to negotiate, ready to compromise, ready to work together. so, mr. president, i come today to say that tomorrow republican senators are finally going to get a chance to talk with
president obama about reopening the government and dealing with the debt that this nation has and dealing with the debt limit. until very recently, mr. president, president obama has been far more interested in speaking with the press than in actually speaking with republicans. and so we had this invitation to the white house. and then this morning in "the washington post," the, what the administration says -- the front page article continues over to page 4 -- it says "the white house emphasizes that obama will not be negotiating." we have the chairman of the budget committee saying ready to meet and negotiate and compromise and the white house says president obama will not be negotiating. the question is why are we going over to the white house in the first place if the president is not interested in negotiating? is it just to give him a photo o*p? i went to meetings like that during the health care debate
more than three years ago, mr. president. the president at the time would invite republicans to a meeting, and then he would reject every idea that we would offer. if he had been more willing to accept republican ideas, negotiate then, we would have had a bipartisan health reform bill that was accepted by the american people instead of a law that continues to have more people opposed than in favor of. and that's going to be my message to the president tomorrow morning when we meet. this needs to be a real discussion, a real negotiation when we agree on how we can reopen the government, reduce our debt, and help our economy grow. this is the sixth time in five years that president obama has requested an increase in the debt ceiling. how much is he asking for? according to the majority leader, i understand it's $1 trillion to extend between now
until after the 2014 election. that's an incredible amount of money, and just trying to figure out how much money that is, it's over $1 million a minute. $1 million every minute between now and 14 months from now. the president needs to realize that's unsustainable. we have a $17 trillion debt. it's a debt on the back of our children and our grandchildren. when we have families all across the country that have aspirations, anxiety and anger about the idea that their children and grandchildren will be able to get careers, get jobs. if we as a nation are going to incur more debt, we also have to find real savings. we cannot continue to increase our credit card debt, another new credit card after the president has maxed out the last one and then just send that bill to the american people. it is time to set priorities. we want to get moving on real solutions not just to our
short-term problems, but the long-term issues that face us as a nation as we try to work together in governing this nation. the house of representatives has passed 12 individual continuing resolutions. 12 individual continuing resolutions. these bills would open up many different parts of the government right now. things that we all agree should be kept operating. the house voted to pay for things like fema, head start, national institutes of health, open our national parks. those bills have been sent to the senate. they have been sitting here without action at all. now here in the senate i know a lot of democrats are saying they support these functions. i mean, it's interesting when you go and see this picture on the front page of "the washington post" this morning with the mayor, mayor vincent gray, the mayor of washington, d.c., on the steps of the capitol talking to the majority
leader saying, sir, we're not a department of the government. we're simply trying to be able to spend our own money. and yet, the majority leader, who is blocking these votes to allow the district of columbia to do what they are requested and what the house has said yes they should be able to do, the majority leader saying "don't screw it up; okay? don't screw it up." mr. president, the majority leader continues to object to votes on these bills. history supports bipartisan actions of the house and not the stonewalling of the president and the democrat leadership in the senate. in the middle of the last government shutdown, congress passed and president clinton signed laws to allow a wide variety of specific programs to function. it's a precedent that we should be following today. the president also keeps saying that he won't negotiate on the debt limit. he tries to make people believe that never before has congress
included -- quote -- "issues that have nothing to do with the budget and nothing to do with the debt." this is the president's quote, into its negotiation on the debt limit. again the facts are not on the president's side -frpblt even -- president's side. the fact checker in "the washington post" gave the president four pinocchios on that claim, saying it was completely not true. from 1978 until 2013 the debt limit has been raised 53 times. of those votes, the debt ceiling increase was linked to something else more than half the time. so, more than half of the debt limit increase votes since 1978 carried other provisions. they were not as the president claims, clean increases. the president wants to ignore that history. the president wants to pretend that raising the debt limit is something that has to be done without any deliberations,
negotiations, dissent and on his terms alone. he says he will not negotiate at all. well, it's strange to be tkproplg his mouth because -- to be coming from his mouth because it is a very different position coming out of his mouth when he was senator obama and that was not that many years ago. in 2006 senator obama voted against a debt limit increase because he said it was a sign that washington can't pay its bills. senator obama complained that the federal debt had increased by $5 trillion in five years. well, under president obama, washington's debt has grown by more than $6 trillion in four years. senator obama said the more we depend on foreign nations to lend us money, he said the more our economic security is tied to the whims of foreign leaders whose interests might not be aligned with ours. under president obama, foreign holdings of federal debt have
increased by 82%. senator obama said that washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today on to the backs of our children and grandchildren. he said at the time, "america has a debt problem and a failure of leadership." a debt problem and a failure of leadership. well, president obama is now asking for his sixth increase in debt in less than five years. why is this then not a debt problem and a failure of leadership? senator obama was right to say at the time, we have a debt problem. president obama should remember what made him say that in 2006 and do something about it now. he should join republicans willing to talk about real entitlement reform as part of negotiations over raising the debt ceiling. he should be willing and anxious to talk about his h*bg and how it's -- health care law and how
it's going to become a major factor driving washington's debt higher in the future if we don't replace it with responsible reforms today. the president should embrace bipartisan continuing resolutions passed by the house as a way of reopening as much of the government as possible while we have responsible and reasonable discussions, deliberations and negotiations. president obama should stop posturing, stop playing games and stop punishing the american people as he has been doing under this current government shutdown. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the republican whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, yesterday we learned that -- the presiding officer: we are in a quorum call. mr. cornyn: i beg your pardon, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, yesterday we learned that for the remainder of the government shutdown that one of america's great charitable organizations, the fisher house foundation will provide survivor benefits to military families who lost a loved one on the field of battle. fisher house is really almost a too good to believe wonderful charity that has helped military families all across our country including folks in seven different facilities in texas from the v.a. north texas health care system to the william beaumont army medical center in el paso, the carl r. darnell
medical center, the michael debanky medical center to the brook army medical center in san antonio, willford medical center and the south texas veterans health care system. i personally want to extend my thanks and express my gratitude to fisher house for making such a tremendous commitment to our military heroes and making such a generous offer for the families of the fallen. secretary hagel was quoted when he announced that fisher house was going to fill the gap left by the cutoff of federal funds. he was quoted as saying he was offended, outraged, embarrassed that the government shutdown had prevented the defense department from filling the most sacred responsibility in a timely manner. well, i agree with his outrage and sense of offense and
embarrassment. but i want to recall how we got here. if our friends across the aisle had simply agreed to delay the individual mandate and to eliminate the special congressional carveout under obamacare, this never would have happened. we've now reached day ten of the shutdown. over the last week and a half administration officials have done as much as they possibly can to make this shutdown as painful as possible. they made the decision to barricade the world war ii memorials and monuments along the national mall, hoping to keep our veterans, many near the end of their lives, for whom these monuments were built as a way of honoring their sacrifice, they kept these barricades in their way to try to impede or perhaps prevent them from visiting things like the world war ii memorial.
and the obama administration, we know is temporarily closed to privately run parks. why would the administration, in order to turn up the heat or increase the pain of the shutdown impose itself to shut down a privately run park? well, there's a reason for that, and it is because this is a cynical game, not one designed to get to a solution but one to gain political advantage, and we simply -- it should be offensive, embarrassing and outrageous, to use the words of secretary hagel, for a political party to try to use a shutdown for such craven political gain. well, meanwhile, our democratic friends have refused to support legislation that would reopen our memorials and national
parks, that would fund the national institutes of health. i heard the distinguished assistant majority leader come to the floor a few days ago and decry the fact that cancer research for children was being temporarily stopped because of the shutdown. we have come to the floor and offered a bill that would reopen it, along with clinical trials, and it's been refused by our democratic colleagues. and we've said -- and the house has passed these bills. we have come to the floor and said let's fund the veterans administration to make sure that backlog of disability claims gets taken care of, and so our veterans, who have given so much and sacrificed so much, don't have to wait on getting their disability claims processed. well, that was objected to by the majority leader. and they have also objected to funding our military reserves. as i have said, they seem intent on maximizing the pain in hopes
of gaining political advantages. that's outrageous. that's embarrassing, should be embarrassing. well, before i conclude, i just want to say to all of the military families out there who have lost a son, a daughter, a husband, a wife, a father or mother on the field of battle, i want to leave you with the words of a great american president who said i pray that our heavenly father may assuage the anger of your bereavement and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom. mr. president, those noble and inspiring words in that prayer is the type of tribute we should
be giving to those families who have lost loved ones on the field of battle, not the sort of short-sighted political treatment that's been given by the efforts across the aisle to shut down every reasonable opportunity to alleviate some of this hardship and to mitigate some of the pain. we have done it successfully together when it comes to paying our uniform active duty military. we got a unanimous consent agreement between the parties to make sure that our active duty troops are getting paid, so why is it we can't do the same thing with these survivors of those who have lost their lives on the field of battle? yesterday when i asked unanimous consent for the majority leader to agree to that piece of legislation, he asked to delay consideration of that request until the defense department could announce their -- their proposal with the fisher house.
well, again, i commend the fisher house for stepping up and trying to fill the void, but why should we -- why should we not do our job? why should congress not act? we should act, and i hope very soon we can do our job and honor these fallen and their families in an appropriate way by coming together as republicans and democrats and making sure that these survivor benefits to those who have lost -- to the families who have lost loved ones on the field of battle are paid on a timely basis without being caught up in the political games occurring inside the halls of congress. mr. whitehouse: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, i ask consent to speak for up to 15 minutes as if in morning business.
the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, a colleague recently described on this floor his experience flying in a private aircraft when a fire broke out in the cockpit of the plane. he observed that putting out the fire distracted the pilots from flying the aircraft and that they precipitously lost altitude just so this tea party shutdown and the tea party's threat to our country's credit, like that fire in the cockpit, are distracting us from flying the plane. and i dispute the notion that those who caused the shutdown have good standing to come to this floor and criticize the
obama administration implementing a shutdown that we don't want on our side of the aisle, that the obama administration does not want. the tea party and speaker boehner for their insistent on lighting that fire in the cockpit are answerable to history and to their consciences, but in the spirit of getting back to flying the plane, i will talk, as i usually have, about a real and looming crisis. not the man made fire that the tea party has lit in the cockpit of our government. that tea party shutdown can end tomorrow like that if the speaker of the house will simply call up the measure that the senate has passed. he refuses to do so, and it is his continued indulgence that keeps this shutdown going. well, climate change is for
real. it's not man made. it's not something the speaker can turn off with a vote. it's coming at us and it's time to wake up to what carbon pollution is doing to our atmosphere and oceans. regrettably, one of the reasons congress is still asleep is that the worst culprits, the big corporations that do the worst carbon polluting, are pretending that it's not that bad, that it's not serious. they should keep doing what they're doing. the status quo is fine. and it causes me to wonder why it is that corporations seem never to admit that they're wrong. why is oops a word they just can't seem to use when it turned out that people would be a lot safer with seat belts, did the car industry say oops, we should have put those in and put seat belts into the cars? no, they fought and they had to be defeated. then we got seat belts. when the cigarette makers found out that their product made people really addicted and
really sick, did they say oops, we better figure out a way not to kill so many people? no, they fought and they lied for decades. when it turned out that lead paint damaged children's brains, did the lead paint companies say oops, we better warn folks about that and clean it up? no, they fought against protections and had to be defeated. indeed, they are still fighting. when it turned out that aerosol refrigerants and propellants were eating away at the earth's ozone layer, did manufacturers say oops, that's dangerous, we better come up with a safer product? no, they fought the change but they lost. and now they're making money making those new safer products. when acid rain was killing off the fish in northeastern lakes, did the big utilities say oops, we better clean up our emissions? no, they fought the changes until they were forced to clean up. when the flame retardant
industry found out its product was both dangerous and ineffective, has it said oops, this flame retardant stuff is hurting people and doing really creepy things in nature, we had better knock it off? no. it's still fighting while whales turn into swimming, toxic waste. and now that carbon pollution has blown through 400 parts per million of co2 in the atmosphere, a first in human history. it has launched the most rapid acidification ever seen in the oceans. by that i mean going back into geologic time. are the polluters saying oops, we had better take our billions of dollars in profits and our trillions of dollars in capital and invest seriously in new fuels and power sources? fat chance. corporations that are harming people never say oops, and for
two big reasons. one, there is lots and lots of money at stake. they wouldn't be in the business if they weren't making and they don't want to stop. two, corporations don't have consciences. they have reputations. a reputation is something you can manage, and huge chunks of madison avenue and k street are dedicated to managing corporate reputations. so with no conscience and only a reputation, you manage the problem that you are harming people. by now, the strategy for managing a corporate reputation, while hurting people, is well developed. it's a common one, across cigarettes, acid rain, lead paint, flame retardants, refrigerants and now carbon pollution. there is a playbook. and guess what? the big carbon polluters are following the playbook. one, pretend to care. that's important. two, attack the science. and if you can't attack the
science, attack the scientists themselves. three, claim it will cost consumers a fortune. and four, make your goal not victory but doubt. so pretend to care. i don't know if you remember those phony baloney exxon ads that were all over the place a little while ago with guys in lab coats and had the lucite molecules floating around. they wanted you to believe they were really out there looking for tomorrow's clean fuels. well, you got had. since 2005, exxonmobil is making tens of billions of dollars in profit every year, and it's hard to pick through those numbers, but sources report that over that same time it only spent tens of millions per year on clean energy, about what it spent on advertising. they spent as much advertising their clean energy, it appears,
as they did investing in it, and it was a tiny fraction of their profits, let alone their revenues. remember b.p. and their green sun baloney? b.p. pulled completely out of solar and completely out of u.s. wind investments once it had laid down a fat barrage of advertising about being beyond petroleum. pretend to care. attack the science and even the scientists themselves. now, this the polluters have to do through proxies. nobody will really believe it if exxon's fingerprints are all over the attack on the science, so others do the dirty work. one example is virginia's tea party attorney general ken kucinich knell i, who -- cucinnelli who attacked the top climate scientists at the university of virginia. he used his powers of office, the special powers of office that are entrusted to attorneys
general, having been an attorney general, i know something about how precious and special those powers are, and he used them to harass and subpoena a college professor. well, u.v.a.'s lawyers stuck up for the professor, and the virginia supreme court threw that nonsense out, but for the polluters behind it, it was right out of the playbook. you may remember the polluters whipping up a phony scandal called climategate, pretending that a group of climate scientists was doing dishonest work. the scientists had to endure audit after audit after audit. every single one of which gave them a totally clean bill of health. turned out it was the cooked up, phony scandal that was dishonest, but the polluters, they had had a field day in the meantime, right out of the playbook. claim it will cost consumers a
fortune. this is a playbook classic. the big polluters are always talking about it will cost you to clean up their act. implicit is that they're going to put all the costs onto you, that they're not going to eat any of it, that their shareholders aren't going to bear any of it, but let's get past that. what they conveniently overlook is that, for instance, under the clean air act, yeah, complying with the clean air act did cost utilities a lot of money, but for every $1 that was spent cleaning up to comply with the clean air act, americans have saved about $40. they spend $1, you save $40, and they want you to believe that's a big problem? the office of management and budget does a little calculation called the social cost of carbon. the latest cost is $36 per ton
of co2 emitted. every ton of carbon pollution that the polluters don't sell, we save $36, but they will never tell you that side of the story. nor that there are more jobs now in green energy than in the entire oil and gas industry. nor that we are in an international race for tomorrow's clean energy technology innovations. and it's a race these big international corporations are perfectly happy to have america lose. it is no skin off their nose. at last, their goal is not victory, it is doubt. they don't want to convince anyone that climate change isn't happening. they don't need to do that. and, of course, they couldn't do that in any kind of a fair debate. all they need to do, the playbook strategy is to convince you, as you're driving down the
road listening to the radio, that nobody's really sure yet that there's some doubt, that we don't need to do anything just yet, that you can move on to your next worry; this one's still up for grabs. and they will keep trying to put action on carbon pollution and push it over that horizon of doubt, never having to prove their case. you, the american people, are being played for chumps in this game. it's a racket and you're the mark. even so, even with awful that, the facts -- even so, even with all of that, the facts around us, what's happening to our quood woods and shores and farms and weather, is becoming so clear, that even with the playbook, they're losing. just like they ultimately lost on seat belts and cigarettes and acid rain and lead.
here's what americans are saying. 61% of americans are saying the effects of climate change are already effecting them personally or they see it happening in their life time. 58% said the country should do more to address climate change, including 51% of independents. while just 14% -- 14% -- said we're doing enough already. 65% said of voters support -- and i quote -- "the president taking significant steps to address climate change now." 65%. and that number jumps up to 70% when looking at voters under 40 years old. 66% of young voters, two out of every three, say climate change is a to be from address, while just 27% say climate change is a natural effect that humans can't affect, and only 3% don't believe climate change isn't happening. 53% of people say they'd be less likely to vote for a politician who did not understand that
climate change is a real probl problem. even in texas. even in the red state of texas, 70% believe global warming is happening. and more than half say that more should be done about global warming at all levels of government. today is day 10 of the tea party shutdown. as we've pointed out over and over again, it is a manufactured crisis. it goes away the instant that speaker boehner stands up in the house, calls the measure that the senate has passed without amendments, without gimmicks, calls the measure the senate has passed to the floor, it will pass, the crisis will be over. this crisis, this is different. this is not a crisis of fire in the cockpit that's being kept burning by speaker boehner who could stop it at any time. this is for real. this is mother nature. 400 parts per million for the first time in 800,000 years is
serious. the tea party republicans are wildly out of step with the american people on both issues and it is time for them to wake up. i yield the floor. may i ask the distinguished senator from georgia to yield for one moment. anne that senators on the majority side be limited to 10 minutes each until 1:00 p.m. the presiding officer: without objection. i yield the floor. mr. isakson: mr. president? i ask to be recognized for up to eight minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. isakson: mr. president, on august 6 of this year, the six federal regulators of the banking industry, reported out on their charge to promulgate a rule by dodd-frank on the q.r.m. rule, the qualified residential mortgage rule. it was something that we put
into the dodd-frank regulation to provide for a parameter for those loans to be prevented from the risk preengsz if they met -- preengsz if they met a -- prevention ifs they met a certain -- preventions if they met to a certain standard. we're just now getting to the promulgation to the rule. but i'm happy to say i rise on the floor of the senate to memorialize my support for a job well done. the qualified mortgage residential rule which is being circulated now until october 28 is the right answer for the requirement of dodd-frank and for the american housing industry o. for the education of the senate and the public at large, the dodd-frank law, in desire to make sure that loans that were underwritten were better underwrirn and loans that were better made loans so there would be less default and less problems in the housing industry, required a -- the banking industry to make only qualified residential mortgages as defined. the original discussions by the banking industry as required would be a 20% down payment
which i and many, many people in america strenuously objected to because a 20% requirement to exempt from risk retention would be far too much for most americans to meet, would have meant a decline in the housing market even greater than we experienced in 2008, 2009, 2010 being and 2011, and would have had a negative effect on the economy. so the regulators did a great job in their rule which does the following. first of all, ity quawt ity quae q.r.m. mr. cordray did an outstanding job in going with the underwriting. it was total debts to total income of 43% so that you would
not have somebody borrowing more than half of their take-home pay or gross pay in order to service debts that. would mean people would have the money to their mortgages. required people verify their income, verify their credit, verify their employment, and verify the value of the property that's being purchased with the loan. all those things are the standards that served america well for years until the subprime lending took place from 1999-2006. so i commend richard cordray and the consumer financial protection bureau for defining a qualified mortgage as one that is well underwritten. a required down payment is not necessary to have a qualified mortgage because underwriting was what led us into the difficulties of the past five years in the housing industry. we went through a recession that was not a down payment recession but it was an underwrielgt resetting -- underwriting recession. when congress itself was partially to blame when it mandated that freddie mac and freddie mae hold a certain part of their portfolio was qualified residential mortgages for the purposes of meeting underserved
people in society. those underserved people in society inned up being credit risks or higher credit risks, they became known as subprime lenders, they got guaranteed by the government and they got sold in securities and when they defaulted, the securities went down, the american housing industry went down, the federal reserve had to bail out people like a.i.g. and we went through the worst housing crisis in the history of the united states of america. so the proposal by the six banking regulators to merge those, they are recognizing that underwriting is the key to sound loans. and by wrierg good wrurnd writing to ensure a 5%, we're ensuring a robust housing market, robust capital through fannie mae and freddie mac, and to ensure that america can ensure to the heights it's known in the fact. and we're never going to get below 7% unemployment. we're never going to get higher than 2% growth in our economy until we return to a robust housing market. and we're not going to do that
until we get liquid knit the credit markets for residential mortgages of a residential nature. and that won't happy until they can guarantee loans and guarantee them so they can be sold in the marketplace. the banking regulators who are now circulating the rule for public comment did precisely the right thing to recognize underrighting was the problem -- underwriting was the problem and not down payment. one thing the regulators did put in their proposal in their circulation for input is what if they did require a down payment for 30%, would that be an exemption for the risk retension under q.r.m. and i would implore the regulators not to consider during that because a 0% down payment would be even worse than 20%, it would restrict even more americans from being able to be homeowners and it would not address the problem. the problem was underwriting, the problem was not down payment. credit enhancements such as private mortgage insurance and things of that nature can
supplant that. richard cordray wrote a good rule. the consumer financial production bureau is enforcing that good rule and i commend the regulators for merging the q.r.m. rule with the q.m. definition to ensure that we return to a strong housing market. don't revisit the problems of the past with shoddy underwriting and instead look forward to a brighter future for the american housing market. and i yield back the balance of my time. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. udall: mr. president, i have watched for nearly two weeks the debate here on the senate floor and as well on the house floor and i've just become more and more frustrated, and my frustration is in part -- stay in large parted driven by the contrast to see what i see what's going on in my home state of colorado.
during the past several weeks, we've come together in the wake of biblical rains and beyond devastating flooding begin the long process of rebuilding our state better and stronger. we in the -- we in the west, and i think i could say we as americans, are rugged cooperators. sure, we're each strong individuals and that's no -- no bigger a point of view in the west, it's -- it's at the core of who we are, that we're strong at individuals. but we know we're best when we band together. despite any political or philosophical differences to face our shared challenges. and i'm doing my level best to bring that spirit here to washington, d.c. especially now in this time of shutdowns and ultimatums and ideology that doesn't make sense to the people i represent in colorado. and i -- i want to invite all my
colleagues to come to colorado and show them the collaboration that's occurring in these flood-ravaged communities like jamestown and lions and estes park, fort morgan. there's no games. there's no posturing. there's no approximately particulars. -- there's no politics. there's just a doggedness to make their communities better. and i would surely hope wha thae strength and focus of coloradans could be an insphoirgs all of us here as -- inspiration to all of us here as we tackle what are very, very pressing policy issues. and on that note, i want to talk about one of my constituents, someone who i worked for, jeff. he's a federal employee and he demonstrates the resilience to me of the people of colorado. but his situation also typifies the worst of what this shutdown and this brinksmanship is doing to the real people, the good people of my state of colorado. jeff is a federal employee. he was trapped for three days in
last month's flood. that flood cost him almost everything. he has very few possessions le left. once he was free, went immediately back to his day job. he was working for an agency that's integral to the flood disaster response. what happened? the government closed. so now he rents out an apartme apartment. his home is inaccessible literally due to the flooding. he doesn't have a paycheck. and he's being told he's nonessential and that he shouldn't come in to work. there are a lot of reactions that i have to that. there are a lot of reactions that anybody that's paying attention would have to that. one of them is that that's one less pair of boots on the ground helping with the flood response efforts in colorado. and, look, mr. president, to a certain extent, politics is about finding the right strategy to advocate for what you believe is right. but what's going on right now, mr. president, it's shameful.
what's happening to jeff is just flat-out shameful. what we're seeing is one faction of one party, in one chamber, in one branch of government holding this nation's health, economy and security hostage and in the process causing the federal government to shut down and threatening a government defiewlt our obligations -- default on our objec obligation. by doing so, these individuals are holding our flood recovery hostage. it makes no sense. i guess, mr. president, you've got to ask yourself why, why would a install group of facti faction -- group, a faction, be doing this? it strikes me that, in part, they're doing it because they're obsessed with undermining a law that's providing affordable health care to americans, some for the first time in their lives, a law that's saving
seniors hundreds of dollars a year on prescription drugs, and is leveling the playing field when it comes to providing health care and putting consumers back in charge of their own health care. madam president, i want to make this clear. after having legally passed both houses of congress, being affirmed by the supreme court and then serving as a referendum in the just concluded campaign that overwhelmingly reelected president obama, the affordable care act is settled law. let me say that again. the affordable care act is settled law. but describing it as settled law alone i know isn't enough to resolve this latest crisis. i'd like to take viewers and my colleagues back a decade when the presiding officer was a member of the house at that time as well, when george w. bush, president george