tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN November 6, 2013 10:30am-12:31pm EST
may we place our hope in you and never forget how you have sustained us in the past. lord, give our senators the wisdom to trust you in the small things, realizing that faithfulness with the least prepares them for fidelity with the much. may they trust you to do what is best for america in good times and in bad. inspire each of us to stand for right even though the heavens fall. we pray in your sacred name. amen.
the president pro tempore: 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. he will. the president pro tempore: the majority leader. mr. reid: following leader remarks the motion to proceed to s. 815 the employment nondiscrimination act will be adopted and the senate will begin consideration of the bill. senators will be notified when votes are scheduled. mr. president, kimberly kates is no stranger to the struggles that come with living without health insurance in america. she works at a health clinic that treats uninsured kentuckians. the clinic doesn't provide its employees with health insurance. over the last few years she's racked up $15,000 in medical bills and recently filed for bankruptcy.
last week after a month of considering her options, ms. kates signed up for health insurance for the first time in many, many years. the plan will cost $17 a month. i repeat, $17 a month. and every hospital near her home will accept her new insurance. this is the difference obamacare is making, and ms. kates is only one example of kentucky's new health insurance exchange created under the affordable care act. more than 1,000 kentucky residents signed up for the affordable care act every single day since the exchange opened according to huffington post which reported ms. kate's story. across kentucky, americans are signing up for quality affordable insurance plans often for the first time in many, many years. the national rollout of obamacare web site was rocky to say the least. problems with the site must and will be fixed. we should not lose sight of
important victories happening in living rooms and libraries and community centers across the country, victories like the one ms. kate celebrated last week. obamacare is more than a web site, madam president. for tens of millions of americans who have been living without insurance, obamacare is a lifeline. but rather than working with democrats to fix the problems with this landmark law, republicans in washington are busy complaining about it instead. meanwhile republican governors in states like nevada, ohio, new jersey and michigan are helping more residents and their states access health care by expanding medicaid coverage. one nevada woman contacted my office to say she's counting down the days until january 2014 when her new health insurance plan will take effect when she can finally go to a doctor. in the past she's been denied insurance because of a preexisting condition but now she qualifies tor a plan she can afford under nevada's medicaid
expansion led by republican governor brian sandoval. thanks to obamacare americans like her can no longer be denied insurance because they are a cancer survivor, a woman, a diabetic or had acne when they were younger. that's one of the many benefits of this new law. under obamacare, insurance companies will no longer be a thousand dollar cancel your -- will no longer be allowed to cancel your policy when you get sick or because you're a woman. in nevada alone, tens of thousands of seniors saved tens of millions of dollars on medicine because obamacare closed the gap on prescription drug coverage. more than three million young people including 33,000 young nevadans stayed on their parents health insurance because of obamacare. and hundreds of thousands of businesses that already offer their employees health insurance are getting tax credits for doing the right thing because of obamacare. a new study shows 17 million americans will also qualify tor tax credits to purchase
coverage, and many more are eligible for medicaid because of obamacare. unfortunately, five million people living in states that did not expand medicare eligibility will be left out in the cold. five million. it's shameful americans who simply want access to lifesaving medical care will be denied insurance for political reasons. now there's no better example of that, madam president, than texas. they have far more people who are eligible for medicaid coverage who won't get it. that's unfortunate. we know that healthcare.gov is not perfect. i know that obamacare is not perfect. but obamacare is worth more than a web site, and whenever republicans are willing to stop complaining and start working to improve the law, democrats are ready and willing to work with them.
mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: nearly every day we see evidence of more americans losing their health coverage. just take a look at this map right here to my right. 105,000 losing their coverage in idaho. 215,000 in pennsylvania. 330,000 in florida. out in california, it's getting close to a million. all of these people have lost -- lost -- their health coverage. and in my home state of kentucky, which has been frequently referred to by some
as a success story, let's get the facts straight. 280,000 people probably on a per capita people more than any he other state in america, 280,000 folks are losing their private insurance as a result of obamacare, despite the president's repeated promises that such a thing couldn't possibly happen. that companies with only about 5,000 who have been able to sign up, that compares by the way, with only about 5,000 who have been able to sign up for new private plans on the kentucky exchange. so let's go over that again. in my state, 280,000 people have lost their health care policies while 5,000 have signed up on the exchange. most of the people in kentucky who are signing up for something new are signing up for medicaid, for free health care. i think we can stipulate that if you're giving out free health care, you're going to have more people sign up.
but on the exchanges in kentucky, 5,000 signed up and 280,000 have lost their policies. in other words, so far about 56 times as many kentuckians have lost their private insurance plans as have gotten new ones on the state exchange. hardly what most people would define as a success. but if obamacare has gotten off to a troubled start in kentucky, the same is also true in many other parts of the country. and that's why one of the most senior democrats said just yesterday that obamacare is facing a -- quote -- "crisis of confidence." i certainly agree with her. she cited the dysfunctional nature of the web site as just one reason for the ebbing confidence. she also pointed to the cancellation of policies and the sticker shock as two additional points of concern. cancellation of policies and
sticker shock. well, she's right. americans are far less concerned about a web site -- a web site -- than they are about the availability and affordability of their health care. the white house has tried to dismiss stories about folks losing insurance by saying they had lousy plans to begin with. and those americans should be happy -- they should be happy that the government is now forcing them to get a different one. in other words, the government is smarter than they are. you had a lousy plan to begin with, so i'm going to make you get a different one. but what so many have discovered is that obamacare is actually worse. take matthew flasher. he's 34 and recently wrote "the los angeles times" to share his experience with obamacare. matthew recently found out he'd be one of those one million or so californians losing their health insurance, and he says he's being funneled into an
exchange plan that would drive his premiums up by more than 40%. here's some of what he wrote. "my old plan was as bare bones as they came, so i assumed that even though the new plan would cost more, my coverage would improve under obamacare, at least marginally. it did not," he said. "under my old plan, my maximum out-of-pocket expense was $4,900. under the new plan, i'm on the hook for up to $6,350. co-pays for my doctors' visits will double," he said.. "for urgent care visits they will quadruple. though slightly cheaper plans exist if i decide to shop around on the exchange, i will lose my dental coverage should i switch. needless to say," matthew says, "i'm not pleased."
he's one of millions who have been blind sided since obamacare's debut last month. look, our constituents are worried. they feel deceives. they're very upset. and they should be. not only with the law itself, but with the way the administration has basically brushed their concerns aside. just brushed their concerns aside, concerns it doesn't seem all that interested in solving. if the past two weeks are any indication, the administration seems far more concerned with shifting the blame. that's why the president's p.r. team has been scrambling to readjust his now debunked promise, if you like your plan, you can keep it. how many times did we hear the president say that over the last three years? but every new variation basically amounts to this. this is what it really amounts
to. if the president likes your plan, you can keep it. that's the truth. if the president likes your plan, you can keep it. not if you like your plan, you can keep it. and the truth is all these rhetorical adjustments only prove the point. they are a tacit admission that the administration did in fact -- did in fact mislead the public about obamacare in order to pass it. many of our friends on the democratic side are starting to realize this too, and they're starting to panic. we've seen some of the most vulnerable senators even putting forward proposals that might allow some folks to keep their plans. from a policy perspective, we republicans welcome that. we've long argued that americans should be able to purchase the plans that suit their needs, not just the plans that meet with
the president's approval. but the concern these democrats are now showing seems hard to take seriously when you consider the fact that they have continued, continued to support obamacare for so long. even as republicans, health officials and policy experts across the country warned that exactly what is happening would happen. and the fact that back in 2010 the entire democratic caucus -- back in 2010 the entire democratic caucus voted against legislation that would have specifically allowed the americans now losing their plans to keep them. let me say that again. back in 2010, the entire democratic caucus voted against legislation that would have specifically allowed the americans now losing their plans to keep them. now this doesn't mean
republicans won't now consider good legislative proposals. of course we will. but for senators looking to absolve themselves, for senators looking to absolve themselves of past obamacare mistakes, there's only one escape. it begins with repealing obamacare, and it ends with working together on bipartisan reforms that can actually work. now, the white house keeps promising americans that once healthcare.gov is fixed, everybody is going to love obamacare. but it's hard to see how that could possibly happen. an i.t. guy isn't going to give americans their health care plans back. an i.t. guy isn't going to make obamacare premiums anymore affordable or its cofnl coveragy
better. an i.t. guy isn't going to allow americans to keep seeing the doctors they hike or continue going to hospitals that deliver the care that they want. and let's not forget, there is no software fix for undoing damage this law has already inflicted on the paychecks and lost hours of our constituents. there's no string of code for repairing obamacare's harm to jobs and to our country. the president could not be more right when he says that obamacare is about more than a web site. it sure is. i couldn't agree more. it's about people. i.t. about thit's about the peoe represent, folks like matthew fleischer, folks like edie sunday, who i mentioned yesterday. here is a woman battling stage 4
gallbladder cancer. she's about to lose access to affordable care that she credits for keeping her alive. it's about folks like a constituent of mine named mark. mark owns a small business and thought he'd be able to keep his current insurance. but then he got a letter from his insurer terminating the plan anyway. so after looking into its options on the kentucky exchange, he disofd that his monthly -- he discovered that his monthly premiums would rise by 300% -- 300%. it's not right, and i.t. not fair. -- and it's not fair. here's an important lesson. obamacare would not be law today if the president and his allies in congress had told the truth about the consequences it would bring. and people like edie and matthew and mark would not be in the troubling circumstances they're in now if the president had
simply been honest about obamacare. so the president can keep talking about a web site, if he wants, but republicans are going to keep fighting for the middle-class americans who are cuffinsuffering under this law, because that's where the focus should be. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the motion to proceed to s. 815 is agreed to and the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 184, s. 8 is 5, a bill to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
mr. reid: some of the best things are done over conversations like this. aifn amendment to the committee-reported substitute to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: mr. reid for mr. portman proposes amendment in mnumber 2012. mr. reid: i ask for the yeas and nays on that amendment just reported. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. there is. the yeas and nays are ordered. mr. reid: i have a second-degree amendment at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, for mr. toomey, proposes amendment numbered 2013 to amendment number 2012. mr. reid: i have an amendment to the underlying bill, which is at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, proposes an amendment numbered 14 to the language -- numbered 2014 to the
language proposed to be strick tongue the substitute. mr. reid: i ask for the yeas and nays on that amendment that was just reported. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. there is. the yeas and nays are order. mr. reid: i have a second-degree amendment at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, proposes amendment numbered 2015 to amendment number 2014. mr. reid: i have a motion to recommit s. 815 with instructions, the instructions at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the measure. the clerk: mr. reid moves to recommit the bill to the committee on health, education, lakers and pensions with instructions to report back forthwith amendment number 2016. mr. reid: ask for the yeas and nays on that, madam president. officethe presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. there is. yeas anthe yeas and nays are or. mr. reid: i have an amendment to the instructions. the clerk: mr. reid proposes
an raiment numbered 2017 to the instructions of the motion to recommit. mr. reid: i ask for the yeas and nays on this matter. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. there is. the yeas and nays are ordered. mr. reid: i have a second-degree amendment at the desk. the presiding officer: looter. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, proposes amendment numbered 2018 to amendment number 2017. mr. reid: i now move to proceed to h.r. 3204. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the measure. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, notifies proceed to calendar number 236, h.r. 3204 an act to a.m.t. amend the federal food, drurks and cosmetic act. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. a senator: i suggest the
plunts plunts madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: madam president, last week -- the presiding officer: the sno senate is in a quorum call. mr. blunt: could we dispense with the quorum call, vitiate? the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: madam president, last week our nation lost a true american hero. in the last 40 years no member of the congress has been more dedicated to america's defense and those who defend it than my good friend and former colleaguicolleagueike skeleton. his dream of joining the military like his father was cut short when he was diagnosed with polio, a true sign of his determination occurred when he overcame this hardship and went on to serve his nation in a way that he could never have
imagined as a young man, a young patient at warm springs, georgia, at a center founded by president franklin roosevelt and he focused there on their common challenge, how to overcome polio. ike served in the missouri state senate for four years. he was encouraged bay family friend, another missouriian named harry truman, to represent missouri at the national level. and a few years after that encouragement he eventually followed president truman's advice and was elected to the united states a house of representatives where he started to serve in 1977 to continue his dream of serving and protecting americans. as member of the armed services committee ike skeleton successfully led earchts that transformed whiteman air force base to house one of the most iconic military aircraft in u.s. history, the b-2 bomber. phot leonard wood grew from a training extra for the newly enlisted to a center for many of our military schools and for the
army corps of engineers. by ensuring military bases remained in mo and expanded there, ike skeleton's legacy continues to pregnant our military and provide thousands of jobs while it's doing that in our home state. from the time he was a young boy, congressman skeleton loved our country and its history and now after years of service he's earned his own spot in our nation's history. it was truly a great privilege to serve missouri and the congress with him and to benefit from his friendship and advice. madam president, i'd like to talk about another topic, and i'm sure it's no surprise to anybody thea's that it's been more than a month now since the embarrassing web site rollout of the president's health care plan, and it still isn't working. the obama administration has been forced to take down the web site on numerous occasions and often didn't work at the critical moment when they were trying to explain.
while report reports have surfad showing that only six people managed to enroll on the first day, the administration still refuses to put out any real numbers about how many people have actually signed up for cofnlg. i have sponsored a bill demanding we have more transparency and more answers about how this $400 million has been spent on an exchange that wouldn't work. three and a half years to get ready, interjecting ourselves into 16% of the economy and everybody's health care coverage, and still not working. the administration acted surprised, president obama claimed the system was temporarily overwhelmed by a large volume of interested shoppers. another person in the administration estimated that there might have been hundreds of people on before the web site crashed. in a time like this, the web site crashing for any reason, it
really is not a very good excuse. prior to the launch, h.h.s. officials had insisted that the exchanges were on track. they insisted that they had been tested, insisted that it was working the way it was supposed to work, just like people are now insisting that the president's health care plan is going to work the way it's supposed to work. at recent committee hearings in the house, marilyn tanover, the administrator for the centers of medicare and medicaid services and secretary sebelius, each testified they were confident that these glirchtion as they called them, would be improved by the end of november. these are the same people that were saying it would work the 1st of october. in its long -- it's long overdue for the president and the administration just to be level with the american people about this. it's also important to understand that the web site is the easiest thing that they're going to be asked to do.
the president recently said during his white house rose garden speech, obamacare is not just a web site, it's much more. well, i couldn't agree more. i couldn't agree more, and i will say again, the web site is the easiest thing that they will be asked to do, the problem they'll be asked to solve. it should not become a proxy for whether this plan can work or not, and i think most americans are going to figure that out. like senator mcconnell who was talking earlier about the kentuckians, he's heard from, i've heard from all kinds of missourians who are seeing their hours of work reduced, their hem premiums rise. we know this is not going to be are a good thing for theworkforce. we've seen too many people responding with part-time work and trying to keep numbers under 50 so they don't have to comply with a law they think they can't comply with. in 2009, the president famously promised, if you like your
health plan, you can keep it, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. he was still saying that in 2012 when he said, if you already have health insurance, you can keep your health insurance. unfy that's not the case for the three and a half million people in the individual market who have already received letters that they're not going to be able to keep their health insurance. "the washington post" fact checker gave the president four pinocchios for his repleted pledge that you could keep your policy if you have it, and maybe that's because five pinocchios aren't possible. four pinocchios are the most they give for a statement that just turns out not to be correct. nbc news reported last week that 50% to 75% of at least 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a cancellation notice. the administration comes up with something like this only affects something like 5% of the people
in the country. if it affects your family it affects 100% of the people in your house. if 5% of the people in the country are 14 million people and whoever is insured under their policy, we shouldn't act like that's no consequence at all. it's no surprise. they had plenty of time to prepare. the springfield news leader, my hometown paper, recently reported on becky st*upack, who is 63. she suffers from blood clots and had insurance through the missouri high-risk pool. one of the things that republicans wanted to do, conservatives wanted to do when this bill was passed was figure out a way to expand these high-risk pools. the idea that there were no other ideas out there is just wrong. the missouri high-risk pool, like all the others, goes out of existence december 31. becky's insurance has been costing her, monthly premiums of around $650 a month. remember she's got a preexisting
condition. she hadn't had insurance before she got in the high-risk pool. but she was in that pool, it was serving her needs. now her insurance, she's been told, will cost her $1,043 a month, a $400 increase on a working salary. that would allow her, she hopes, to keep the same doctors that she has now. one of my constituents said his wife, who had a preexisting condition, will lose her policy the same way, thanks to what's happening haoerbgs they don't know -- what's happening here they don't know if they can get more coverage or not. they're going to have to close the high-risk pool, look for coverage other places. and it's almost certain that coverage is going to be higher than they have had and almost certain to have less coverage than they have had. grady pastor said he received a letter from his health care provider of over ten years
announcing it will no longer be his health care provider as of january 2014. he was happy with his old insurance. he's now forced to find another plan. he wants to know why they canceled him. the only explanation he can get is the machine that says due to health care regulations, they're being forced to drop some of their older clients. sarah and hannibal comes from a family of quintessential small business owners. if their business had been affected, their choice who have been to close businesses. she recently received a letter stating after this year her current choice of policies won't be available. so it turns out that it's actually only the white house that likes your plan if you get to keep your plan. this idea that you should just shop around, the idea that it's going to be less expensive just doesn't work. the "wall street journal" this morning talked about states that are beginning to tell insurance
companies, no, you really need to offer these policies for at least another three months. and in california, if their insurance commissioner is right, three months of additional offering of the 115,000 policies that have already been canceled would mean that those policyholders could save as much as $28.6 million in three months. so whoever thinks these costs are going to go down apparently the insurance commissioner in california says costs for these people are going to go up annually by over $100 million. maybe that's why we're going to find out a lot more once the web site starts working. in missouri and in all states, we're seeing more americans receiving cancellation letters announcing their dropped coverage. some people will also be forced to pay higher premiums. i think we're going to find that
most people are forced to pay higher premiums. now is the time to work together. now would be the time, i think, to start over and come up with good plans that would make the best health care system in the world work better. as my colleague from new hampshire, the senator and a mom, senator ayotte has said as only maybe a mom can say it, it's time for a time-out for obamacare. and i will yield the floor. mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: madam president, there is no shortage of reasons why i'm proud to represent my home state of washington. our state is an economic leader. we are home to the american aerospace industry, a thriving
agriculture sector, dozens of companies creating new products and new jobs with cutting-edge technology. we are a leader in protecting the environment and educating our children, and washington state is the place that tens of thousands of service members and veterans call home. but, madam president, i am here today because i'd like to talk about another way washington state has set an example for the entire country, and that is our state's proud history of protecting the rights of all our citizens, including members of the lgbt community. madam president, in 2006, washington state passed one of our country's strongest antidiscrimination laws, one that serves as a model for the federal legislation that we are considering here today. in 2007 and 2008, we passed additional legislation to further protect the rights of same-sex couples.
and one year ago today our state voted proudly to uphold landmark marriage equality legislation. and what we have to show for it is really two things. first, we have a thriving lgbt community made up of individuals and families who can feel safe and respected and valued like anyone else. and second, we have a growing economy that's anchored by businesses who respect their employees and judge them by the only thing that matters: their hard work and ability. so, madam president, i rise today to simply ask my colleagues who don't yet support this legislation to take a look at my home state of washington, because in places like seattle and spokane, we are proving every day that protecting the rights of our lgbt friends and neighbors isn't just the right thing to do. it works and it makes our country stronger. madam president, some of my
colleagues have said that extending employment protections for our lgbt family members is too hard. some said it will create problems for businesses and communities. i invite them to come to seattle and ask businesses there whether it's been problematic to respect their employees' rights. i'd invite them to visit amazon or starbucks or nordstrom's or microsoft, just a few of our state's successful businesses who have taken the lead in protecting the rights of their lgbt employees. because, madam president, we know in washington state that it is just wrong to discriminate against people. we know that a person's race or religion and gender has nothing to do with their ability in the workplace. and we know that sexual orientation and gender identity don't either. madam president, most of all -- most all of our constituents, four out of five americans, falsely believe lgbt americans
already have the protections that are included in this bill. and most people believe that because just denying americans their rights doesn't make sense. it doesn't make sense that some men and women can be fired from their job just because of who they are or who they love. we know that's not fair in my home state of washington, but people in every state, from virginia and mississippi to arizona and idaho know the same. and, madam president, many of my colleagues have cited these statistics but they are worth repeating. two-thirds of all americans, including a majority of republicans, believe in protecting lgbt citizens from employment discrimination. but despite that, more than half our country lives in states where their rights are not protected. i'm proud that my state does protect those rights, but we can't stop working until the same is true in all 50 states. so, madam president, for any of my colleagues who still aren't convinced that lgbt americans
deserve the same rights as all of us, my invitation to visit washington state stands because it's not enough that my constituents are free from discrimination. their constituents deserve the same. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. martin luther king madam president, i rise this morning with high hopes but with deep concern. the high hopes are that a budget conference at long last is taking place, that representatives of the senate and the house are meeting together, met last week, and i know have been meeting informally this week in order to try to achieve finally a budget for this fiscal year. my concern is that it's been so hard to get here, that it's been so difficult and that we are now in a process where we don't seem to be able to function. i'm worried about the country. i'm worried about whether we are going to be able to address our problems. this is not a speech about subject matter. it's not about global climate change or employment or the
minimum or healtminimum wage or. but it's about whether or not this institution can function in order to confront any of those problems. when i was a young map, there was a famous book. it was kind of a cult fasts called "been down so long it looks like up to meevment" sometimes i feel like that's where we are here. this institution has been so in its ability to fuption that it's become the norm. people have low expectations, even people who are here. i remember being on the floor a few months ago when one of the senators stood up and said, this amendment should be subject to the normal 60-vote requirement. and my head snapped back because there's no such thing as a normal 60-vote requirement. for 200 years we did not function with a normal 60-vote requirement. that has become a rather new innovation.
and i'm not going it talk about the filibuster, or the 60-vote requirement. but the idea that this senator asserted that it was normal indicates a change in attitude about the way this place functions. another example is that to my knowledge the cfns committees that are going -- conference committees that are going on now on the budget and farm bills are the first two conference committees convened in this entire year. i worked here as a staff member 40 years ago and remember going to conference committees rather frequently. walking through the capitol with my boss and going to the meetings and seeing the senators and the congressmen sit down and argue and disagree and agree and compromise and reach settlements on legislation on a fairly regular basis. now it's cause for celebration. it took a government shutdown in effect to produce a simple conference committee. statistically, i'm told this is the least productive congress in american history thus fample fa. no budget in four years, which a
budget is the basic function of any government. i understand there's been one appropriation bill out of 48 in the last cepha several years ane result has been a complete and total loss of confidence from the public. that has significance. that is important because in our economy, confidence is the mai mainspring. this is not an academic concern. i am not giving a lecture about civics. this is a -- the lack of functionality of this institution is damaging the country. we know, for example, from studies that just the shutdown cost our economy $24 billion, for no purpose that i could discern. but there's on told broader -- but there's an untold broader cost. the reality is that two-thirds of the american economy is
driven by consumer spending and consumer spending is driven by confidence. by the millions of individual decisions that people make in their daily lives based on how they feel about their future, how they feel about their country, how they feel about their personal situation. and part of that is whether they feel that they have representatives in washington that are representing their interests and in fact are capable of serving the needs of the country. ironically this, lack of confidence that's generated by events like the shutdown harms the economy and, therefore, makes the deficit worse. the very best way to solve the deficit problem isn't necessarily taxes or cuts. it's growth in the economy. if the economy grows, the deficit shrinks. that was part of what happened in the late 1990's, the last time we had a budget surplus,
because the economy was roaring along. it's also about national security. i was provoked to come to the floor today by reading a speech made recently by robert gates, one of our most distinguished public servants, former secretary of defense. and he talked about the defense posture of the country and the national security situation, and here's what he said toward the end of his speech. "let me close with a word about what i now regard as the biggest threat to national security. the biggest threat to u.s. national security, the political dysfunction within the two square miles of washington, d.c. encompassing the white house and capitol hill." those are strong words, madam president. that's not -- he's not talking about al qaeda. he's not talking about a resurge in china. he's not talking about a world threat of terrorism.
he's talking about us as the greatest threat to u.s. national security. he said, he went on to say "american politics has always been a shrill and ugly business going back to the founding fathers but a result of several polarizing trends we now have, it's lost the ability to execute even the basic functions of government, much less solve the most difficult and divisive problems facing this country." basic functions of government, passing a budget, operating the government itself, paying our bills. the basic functions the government. secretary gates said "looking ahead is unrealistic to expect partisanship to disappear or even dissipate. but when push comes to shove, when the future of our country sat stake, ideological zeal and short-term political calculation
on the part of both republicans and democrats must yield to patriotism and the long-term national interest." this lack of functionality, this chaos, if you will, also affects us internationally. tom freedman this weekend had a column, the title i thought was rather provocative. it was "calling america. hello? hello? hello?" few americans, freedman says, "are aware of how much america has lost in this recent episode of bringing the american economy to the edge of a cliff. people always looked up to america." he quotes a citizen of singapore. "people always looked up to america as the best-run country, the most reasonable, the most sensible. and now people are asking can america manage itself? and what are the implications
for the rest of the world?" madam president, our constitution has always been based upon two somewhat competing principles intentioned with each other. one is the fundamental purpose of the constitution which is to create an effective government. the constitution was not what ran this country immediately after the american revolution. we experimented with something called the articles of confederation, and it didn't work. and the chaos and the economic problems of that period is what led the framers to draft the constitution in that blessed summer of 1787. but the one principle in the constitution is right in the preamble. to form a more perfect union, to establish justice, to provide for the common defense, to ensure domestic tranquillity and promote the general welfare.
that's government. at the same time the framers were concerned about the ancient question of who will guard the guardians. how do we control the government we've just created in order to protect ourselves from its own abuse? and they built this elaborate system of checks and balances. they never heard of rube goldberg in 1787 but if they had that's what they did. they created an elaborate, cumbersome, slow system. they wanted it to be that way in order to curb the excesses of the government that they had created. they wanted it to be slow and cumbersome, and they succeeded beyond their wildest imagination. those two principles -- governing and checks and balances -- as i say, are intentioned in the constitution. the problem is, madam president, we seem to have reached a moment in time where the governing part has been taken away, and all we have left are checks and balances. and we have a system that is ridiculously easy to monkey
wrench. if you don't have the basic commitment to governing. and that's the problem that we face today. so what do we do? we have to do something, and that brings me back to where i began at the budget conference. this budget conference is very important. this isn't one of many conferences that are going on. this is a -- i don't want to say a last chance, but it is one of our last chances to show the american people we can govern. it's almost less important what's in the deal than that there be a deal. that the probt most positive thing we could possibly do for the economy.
by the same token a headline that says congress once more fails to act would be one more weight on the future of the country, one more stone in the pile of evidence that we can no longer function that this system that has served us so well for so long can no longer serve us as it must. what do we do to get there? as i say, we do something. and i hope and pray and urge and support the chair of the budget committee, the house chair of the budget committee, the members of that conference to try to find solutions that won't make everybody happy by definition but at least will show that we're able to do the most basic function of governing. how do we get there? we listen. we have a company in maine that has a sign on the wall i think
we ought to put in this room. it says, "all of us are always smarter than any of us." the wisdom of the group, there's tremendous experience and wisdom in this institution. if we can bring that to bear. but it doesn't work if people aren't listening. if people say, "i know the answer. i have all the results. i don't need to listen. i don't have anything to learn." we'll never get there, madam president, if that's the idea. when people say to you, i'm not going to compromise, what they are really saying is, i have all the answers, i'm entirely right. and i've never known anyone that was entirely right. so we need to listen. yes, we need to compromise. and we need to remind ourselves of our pretty simple oath that we take. the oath that we take when we come into this place is to the constitution of the united
states. it's not to a political party. it's not to an ideology. it's not to a particular issue, no matter how precious to us or our constituents. it's an oath to the constitution of the united states. i hope and pray that if we can hold to that and remind ourselves of why we're here and the heavyweight of responsibility that we bear, we can find solutions, we can solve problems, we can begin to rebuild the trust that the american people want to have in their government if we can only prove ourselves worthy of it. it is a heavy responsibility, madam president. it is one, i believe, that we can meet and do so with honor and good faith to that oath that we all took. thank you. i yield the floor.
ms. collins: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: i see that the senator from the commonwealth of massachusetts is on the floor. i would inquire through the chair how long she is seeking to speak. we are about to proceed to the consideration of the amendment that has been filed by senator portman and cosponsored by senator ayotte, senator heller and senator mccain. and this is a rather complicated parliamentary situation. and then there's going to be a debate. if the senator from massachusetts is going to speak very briefly, i would withhold. if she's going to speak at
length, then since we have members on their way, i would proceed. if we could inquire through the chair. mrs. warren: i would tell the senior senator from maine, my plan had been to speak for less than 10 minutes, but if that's not -- if that doesn't work, i certainly will yield to the senator from maine and do what she requests -- or whatever she needs here. ms. collins: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: i would ask unanimous consent that the senator from massachusetts be permitted to speak for no longer than 10 minutes, and if it were a little shorter than that, it would make the senator from maine very happy. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. warren: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mrs. warren: and i want to thank the senator from maine. and i will do my very best. madam president, i rise today to speak about the importance of
passing the employment nondiscrimination act, a bill that i'm proud to cosponsor and to support. it has taken us far too long to arrive at this day. for nearly four years, members of congress have worked to pass legislation that would protect lgbt americans from discrimination in the workplace. much has changed since bella abzug introduced the equality act of 1974. equal marriage is now the law in 14 states. 21 states and the district of columbia have enacted laws to protect against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. and 16 states and the district of columbia also protect against gender identity discrimination. the supreme court has rejected doma, a law that legalized discrimination against same-sex spouses by calling that law exactly what it was -- unconstitutional. in the private sector, a majority of fortune 500
ms. warren: senator paul tsongas wrote legislation to prohibit discrimination against lgbt americans. progress has been slow. the last time the full senate voted on endowas 17 years ago when a version of the law championed by senator kennedy failed to pass by a single vote -- 49-50 back in 1996. in 2007 the house passed a version of enda introduced by congressman frank, but the bill made no progress in the snavment today there are 55 cosponsors of enda in the senate, democrats and republicans representing the broad majority support for the bill, signaling that tremendous progress has been made.
it is all the more shameful that it has taken us this long to arrive at this day because americans believe in equality. according to one survey, some 80% of americans believe that it is already illegal to discriminate against workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. unfortunately, however, this is one of the rare instances where the american people are giving congress way too much credit because the truth is, we haven't acted yet. and the consequences of congressional inaction remain all too real for millions of lgbt americans. despite the successful efforts in many states to pass nondiscrimination measures, americans living in over half the country can still be discriminated against in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity. and it happens. between 15% and 43% of lgbt americans have reported
experiencing discrimination or harassment in the workplace. a quarter of transgender americans have reported being fired from a job due to their gender identity, and a whopping 90% reported experiencing harassment and mistreatment. there's been a lot of progress toward a more inclusive nation, but for lgbt workers,a law to stop employment discrimination can't come fast enough. the employment nondiscrimination act pending in the senate will protect lgbt individuals in the workplace, update the law to reflect when the vast majority of americans already believe is the law and help fulfill our constitutional responsibility to protect equality in this nation. enda doesn't provide any special rights to any particular group of americans. it does not compel any religious organization to change its views. it just creates a level playing
field for lgbt workers. it makes sure that all workers are judged by the work they do, not by who they are or who they love. america is ready for this day. an overwhelming majority of voters, both democrats and republicans, support the enactment of this law. they know it reflects the values of our nation. and america's businesses are ready, too. recent polling shows that a large majority of small businesses support the employment nondiscrimination act. as for big businesses, 88% of fortune 500 companies have already implemented policies patriopatriotpoliciesprohibitinn against gays in the work place. raytheon is a proud massachusetts-based company and bars lgbt discrimination. one executive at raytheon is quoted as saying, "the organization's culture of
inclusion absolutely gives us a recruiting edge when it comes to hiring the best and the brightest." shortly before his death in march 2009, senator kennedy joined with senators merkley, collins and snowe in what would be his final attempt to push bipartisan legislation o.e.f. the finish line. -- oarv over the finish line. he explained his continuing support for enda by noting that the promise of america will never be fulfilled as long as justice is denied to even one among us. those words were true in 1974 when bella abzug introduced the equality act. those words were true when the senate came within one vote of passing enda in 1996. those words were true when senator kennedy offered them in 2009. and those words are true today. the promise of america will
never be fulfilled so long as justs ijustice is denied to evee among us. we deal with a lot of different legislations in the senate. this week we have a chance to vote on a law that is a mairve who we are as a -- that is a measure of who we are as a peevment nibble a world where equal means equal. that's why i will be voting to outlaw employment discrimination against my neighbors and friends. senator kennedy, senator tsongas, and congresswoman abzug are no longer with us, but like so many others, they fought hard to get us here, to get us one step closer to equality for all of us. it has taken us far too long to arrive at this day, but we are here now and we are not going back. thank you, and i want to thank the senator from maine for giving me this time.
senator from maine. ms. collins: thank you, madam president. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. ms. collins: madam president, i would request unanimous consent that proceedings urpd the call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. collins: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate resume consideration of senate bill 815 and the pending portman amendment, that the toomey second-degree amendment be withdrawn, that the senate proceed to a vote on the portman amendment, that upon disposition odispositionof the -- that uponn of the portman amendment, the toomey amendment be made pending as a first-degree amendment to the committee-reported substitute, that a reid second-degree amendment to the toomey amendment, which is at the desk, be made pending, and following the reporting of the reid second-degree amendment,
the senate resume the motion to proceed to calendar number 236, h.r. 3204 with all of the above occurring with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. under the previous order, s. 15 is now pending and amendment 2013 is withdrawn. s. 815 is pending and amendment 2013 is withdrawn. the question now occurs on amendment number 2012. is there no further debate? all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it.
and the amendment is agreed to. under the previous order, the toomey amendment is now pending. ms. collins: madam president, i call up the reid amendment number 2020. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: ms. collins for mr. reid proposes amendment numbered 20 to amendment 2013. ms. collins: madam president, ask for the yeas and nays oned reid amendment. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. there is. the yeas and nays are so order. under the previous order, snat the senate resumes consideration of the motion to proceed of h.r. 3204. ms. collins: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: madam president, i would -- that was an extremely
complicated parliamentary request, and perhaps it would be helpful to my colleagues if i gave a little bit of explanation of what just occurred. the good news, in my judgment, is that the senate has adopted by voice vote an amendment proposed by senators portman, ayotte, heller, hatch, and mccain. i voach appreciate their willing -- i very much appreciate their willingness to work with the sponsors and cosponsors of this legislation. many of the sponsors of this amendment are tied up in here, but i expect them to be coming to the floor very shortly to debate this amendment after the fact. but let me just explain a little bit about what the
portman-ayotte-heller-hatch-mc cain amendment does. the underlying bill, enda, includes a pretty broad exemption for religious organizations based on current law in title 7. what the portman, et al amendment does is it ensures that federal, state, and local government agencies will not be able to discriminate against these exempt organizations. for example, the amendment would ensure that exempt religious organizations cannot be denied grants or contracts for which they would otherwise qualify from government agencies. it also protects them from discrimination by government
agencies, from participating in government-sponsored activities. so i believe that this amendment improves the bill. it ensures that these organizations, these religious-based organizations, that are exempt under enda cannot be subtlely penalized for having that exemption by being denied grants, contracts, other licenses, fees, whatever that they would otherwise be entitled to just solely based on the fact they are exempt under enda. so i want to commend senator portman, senator ayotte, senator heller, senator hatch and senator mccain for making sure that these important protections are in place and that if an
organization has a legitimate exemption under this bill, that the federal government or state government cannot discriminate against that organization that is legitimately claiming an exemption under enda. so i believe this amendment improves the bill and provides significant protection for exempt religious organizations, and i'm very pleased that it was accepted by a voice vote. now i know that senator portman and senator ayotte are on their way and want to speak on the amendment we just adopted. let me explain the second part of the very complicated
parliamentary action that we just took. at least i will attempt to. what it does is preserve senator toomey's right to get a vote on his amendment. it's my understanding that that vote will require 60 votes of the senate in order to be approved. but it essentially guarantees that he is next up. he's next in line for a vote. so his amendment will be the pending amendment. again, i know this was a complicated process. i want to thank the chair, the president presiding over the senate and i want to thank the floor staff on both sides of the aisle. senator reid's staff and senator
mcconnell's staff. in making sure that we protected everybody's rights in this debate. and i think that's very important when we're talking about a bill as significant as enda. madam president, i know, as i said, that some of the sponsors are on their way, but since they have yet to reach the floor, rather than filibuster the successful conclusion of the portman amendment, i will suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. ms. ayotte: madam president, i rise today -- first of all, i want to thank senator susan collins. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. ms. ayotte: may the quorum call please be vitiated. the presiding officer: without
objection. the senator from new hampshire is recognized. the presiding officer: thank you, madam president. madam president, first of all, i want to rise today to thank my colleagues. and, first of all, i'd like to thank my colleague from maine, the senior senator from maine, senator susan collins, for the important work that she's been doing on the employment nondiscrimination act. i would also like to thank my colleagues for supporting an thapld that was brought forward -- an amendment that was brought forward recently and passed by this body, the portman-ayotte-heller-hatch-mc cain amendment. i firmly believe that people should be judged based upon the quality of their work. discrimination has no place in the workplace. in my home state of new hampshire, we have a long bipartisan tradition of working to advance commonsense policies,
and new hampshire already has in place a state law preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation. i appreciate that the employment nondiscrimination act is legislation that is important in terms of who we are, our values, making sure that people are only judged based on the quality of work in the workplace. i also appreciate that the legislation on the floor right now includes important protections for religious institutions. i have long been a strong supporter of the rights of conscience, of the rights under the first amendment of the constitution to religious freedom, and so these protections are very important within this bill. and i was pleased to work with members on both sides of the aisle to strengthen those approximates by passing -- strengthen those protections by passing an amendment to make sure religious organizations cannot be retaliated against for
exercising their religious freedoms. specifically the portman-ayotte amendment affirms the importance of protecting religious freedom in the employment nondiscrimination act. it ensures government cannot penalize a religious employer because it qualifies as exempt from nondiscrimination requirements of the employment nondiscrimination act. the amendment protects religious institutions from adverse actions by the government on the basis of adhering to its religious tenets. in practical terms, the government may not use activities protected by the religious exemption as a basis to deny a religious employer a government grant or tax-exempt status or any other benefit that may be conferred by the government. i want to thank my colleagues for passing this amendment which will strengthen the protections for religious institutions within the employment nondiscrimination act, and i
thank you, madam president, for giving me the opportunity to speak today. the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: thank you, madam president. i again want to commend the senator from new hampshire, senator ayotte, for her excellent work on this amendment. as i indicated earlier, i think the portman-ayotte amendment, which is cosponsored by several other colleagues as well, it provides a very important protection against retaliation for those religious organizations that are legitimately exempted under enda. i also salute them for broadening the purposes section of the bill to recognize not only the need to address the
widespread pattern of discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, but also they've added a new subsection to recognize that another purpose is to help strengthen civil society and preserve institutional pluralism by providing reasonable accommodations for religious freedom. and i think both those changes strengthen the bill and i want to commend the senator for her leadership on this issue. thank you, madam president. ms. collins: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
objection. mrs. feinstein: i've come to the floor to give my views on the employment nondiscrimination act, better known as enda, because this is essentially a bill with a long history. and it means a great deal to me personally because of work that i did in the city and county of san francisco a long, long time ago. actually, over 40 years ago i was a brand -- in 1978, i was a brand-new president of the board of supervisors. actually, it was my third term as president. that's not quite right. when an ordnance to prohibit discrimination in both housing and unemployment on the basis of sexual orientation was actually passed by the board. i think it was a vote of 10-1. it was the first such legislation introduced in a major city in the state. it was difficult to pass. there was a long debate. i look back on the press, it was a two-hour debate but it did
pass back in 1978. and it's true, i at the time had some concerns and so i watched the legislation implemented over the last four decades. it has protected people's jobs and livelihoods from unfair treatment. it's been a good thing for people and for business. i had some concerns. would there be a lot of objections? well, actually, in the time i was a supervisor and in the nine years i was mayor, there were no objections. and all of a sudden the city really came to see what equality meant. i know then and i know now that this legislation is the right thing to do. and it's not going to result in inappropriate behavior in the workplace or any of the other hobgoblins that the legislation's opponents raise. in 1986, enda came to this
floor. an up-or-down vote on this bill was negotiated the same day the defense of marriage act, or what we call doma, would have such a vote. these votes happened on december 10, 1996. the defense of marriage bill passed. i was one of 14 senators to oppose it. 85 of my colleagues supported it and president clinton signed it into law. and as we all know now, what it essentially did was say that any gay couple that was legally could not access more than 1,100 federal rights that were accorded to married couples. and now some 14 states have legalized gay marriage, and just recently it looks like illinois is on its way to doing the same thing. enda failed by a single vote
back then. that was a vote of 49-50. today things are very different but there's still a long way to go. in an historic decision? june, the supreme court struck down the core piece of the defense of marriage act but doma is not yet fully repealed and repealing it remains necessary. so in my view, the defense of marriage act must and will be one day repealed for all. and all the legislation liken da has been -- and although legislation like enda has been adopted in many states, there is still no federal end to discrimination. that means that most gay, lesbian and transgendered individuals are without critical protections against employment discrimination. in fact, most people, over 56% of the population, live in the
29 states that have not enacted employment protections against gays and lesbians. over 66% of people live in 34 states that have not enacted such protections for transgendered individuals. and there is no question discrimination in the workplace against these groups be -- remains a big problem. let me give you just a few examples. there is the case of miamacy, a a -- mia space, a case in which the justice department's found that miss macy's gender status played a role in the hiring process. she for 12 years had been a police detective in phoenix, arizona. she was a veteran. she applied for an open position in an a.t.f. ballistics lab to do ballistics imagery work
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