tv Senate Session CSPAN March 26, 2015 9:30am-3:01pm EDT
noon and continues voting on more than 60 know the name is. lawmakers may also offer other and minutes. mode expected to last until midnight or beyond. and now to live coverage of the u.s. senate. . the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. master of our hopes and dreams, who constantly works for the good of those who love you. teach us to strive to be
faithful as we anticipate a long and challenging day remind us that you call us not to success but to faithfulness. give our senators and the members of their staffs wisdom to make the commitment to be true to you and to serve your purposes. let not discordant notes destroy the melody of their labors as they seek your counsel and wisdom. lord guide our great nation. help it to be a lighthouse to a dark and turbulent world. prosper the works of our hands
until the kingdoms of this world become the spring board for your eternal reign. we pray in your holy name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the 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.
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: majority leader. mr. mcconnell: for years the democrat-led senate refused to pass a balanced budget. it usually failed to produce any budget at all. maybe this made special interests happy but it was infewer -- infuriating for many in the middle class. they called for change and today the senate is delivering that change. the new senate is prepared to deliver a balanced budget which could raise annual wages by as much as $5,000 per family and drive economic growth for hardworking americans. that's what the nonpartisan congressional budget office tells us, and it's no wonder. this balanced budget would embrace the energy revolution and allow for more environmentally responsible innovations. it would repeal unfair taxes
like those in obamacare and set the table for more comprehensive replacement of the outdated tax code with one that's simpler and more effective. and it would provide tools to repeal and replace obamacare itself leaving the law's higher costs and broken promises where they belong. in the past. in favor of a fresh start and the opportunity for real health reform. so while this balanced budget might upset special interests that's okay because it focused on the middle class instead. it's focused on helping the most vulnerable too. here's what we know about important programs like medicare. we can make commonsense improvements to save these programs today or we can allow draconian cuts to fall on the most vulnerable in the years ahead. these are essentially our only two options. we can't tax the problem away.
denying the facts won't help either. so we invite all of our friends to join us as positive reformers, not insensitive deniers. let's work together to improve medicaid as this balanced budget proposes. and while our balanced budget cannot solve every challenge, it will move us further down the path of positive reform. it will make government more efficient, more effective and more accountable to the middle class. the budget also contains a good-faith compromise to begin the legislative process for the defense authorization bill we'll consider later this year. when additional o.c.o. funds can be reallocated against the procurement and modernization needs of our military if only for the coming fiscal year. this is the best strategy short of refusing the e.p.a. for keeping faith with our armed services and it's the best option we currently have for leaving the next president in a better position to face global
challenges. so i want to thank chairman enzi for all of his good work in putting this balanced budget together. it certainly wasn't easy. it's a good balanced budget that everyone should want to support. it's especially true when you compare it to the other alternatives here. well the only alternative actually since our friends still don't seem to be in the habit of producing a budget of their own. the alternative on offer was the budget we voted on tuesday from president obama. someone called it the let's dream budget. but that dream ended up being so unserious and embarrassing that not more than a single democrat could muster the courage to vote for it. in a way it's hard to blame our friends. it would be pretty embarrassing to support a budget that contained almost $2 trillion more in taxes and hardly any serious ideas to save the programs for the most vulnerable. no wonder this budget went down in flames.
98-1. 98-1, that was the vote on the president's budget. the 98, by the way was against. and so only one budget remains. it's the balanced budget which focuses on growth, common sense and the middle class. it isn't perfect but it does represent honest compromise and the promise of a better tomorrow. if senators would prefer to amend it, they'll have that opportunity this evening. members of both parties will be able to offer amendments. i know many of our friends across the aisle are eager to do that. republicans will have their chance too. there's a lot we expect to consider. do senators want to be seen supporting a policy that will cost up to a million jobs or will they stand tall for american jobs instead? will senators support more tired tax hikes or will they support the jobs those higher taxes threaten to destroy? do senators want to raise the cost of energy or do they want to see the american people reap
benefits of our energy revolution? so tonight the american people will have their voices heard again here in the senate under new management. they'll see a new congress that's back to work again and on their behalf. and after considering all these amendments, we'll take a vote. when the budget passes, we'll conference with the house. that's how this process has worked historicically. it's what the american people have a right to expect now. and that's what we hope to see again shortly. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: before the republican leader leaves, in the weather reports today they forecast snow starting late today. so maybe thal -- that will calm down the generosity of offering amendments today because snow's going to continue until tomorrow. mr. mcconnell: i would say to my friend the democratic leader,
the history of this exercise is the lateness of the evening affects the number of amendments we have, and we'll finish the process just as early as members would like to finish the process. i know the democratic leader and myself both look forward to it. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: i appreciate the cooperation between senator sanders and senator enzi in our arriving at the point we're now here. the republicans had a totally different vision of what the country is and should be than we have. but the debate between these two good senators has been civil. it's been very polite and it's the way things should happen around here. i appreciate that very much. mr. president, the republican budget makes clear the priorities of the republicans. the republicans with two-thirds of their cuts to low-income americans but would not plug one single loophole for corporations and the rich. and i mean the megarich.
not a penny. they doubled down on harmful sequestration. this is automatic cuts that our across the board. we know how disastrous this has been. for the one year it was in effect take for example the national institutes of health, almost $2 billion they lost that one year. on the floor is the senior senator from the state of illinois. i've heard him talk here on the floor about how difficult the people at n.i.h. -- what a difficult time they're having because they don't have enough money to do basic research. the sequestration that was put upon us the last time at n.i.h., it caused n.i.h. to stop their research on the universal flu vaccine. hundreds of thousands of people die around the world every year. tens of thousands of people die in america every year because of flu. and they were close to having a universal flu vaccine that would take care of this.
sequestration is awful. it's part of the republican budget here. it would -- they're doubling down on this harmful sequestration on health, education and even national defense. talk about a gimmick, this is a doozy what they're trying to do with defense to try to pretend they're going to put $38 billion more in the defense budget. but it is pretend because even looking -- excuse me -- at the republican budget, it is not possible to do. and once even the republican hawks look at this, they'll say maybe we're not going to get that $38 billion. so mr. president their budget has lots of gimmicks. lots of gimmicks. it's been written about all over the country in editorials from east to west, from north to south. but fortunately for the country the republican budget will not become law.
would the chair announce the business of the day. the presiding officer: under the previous order the leadership time is reserved. the senate will resume s. con res. 11 which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar 31, s. con res. setting forth the congressional budget for the united states government for fiscal year 2016, and so forth. mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: good morning. this has been an important week for the senate as we've worked to set spending goals for our nation. and for this year the senate has only been able to pass two budgets in the past six years. now that congress is under new management we're on track to pass a budget after only threel threel -- three months. the reason we're working so hard to restore the trust of the american people who want and deserve a more effective and efficient government, this week
as part of the senate's regular order we've been debating and have voting more than a dozen times on how best to set spending limits and make government live within its means, including votes to protect property rights of all americans and to save medicare. the spending goals and limits we have set are why passing a budget is so important to our nation. they let congressional policy-makers who actually allocate the dollars get to work by following our spending limits. without that, they're delayed. we've had that for a number of years where the fiscal year actually ends and we don't have the spending bills done. that's what happens with government shutdowns. that's what happens with extending their ability to operate without having a budget. that shouldn't happen. so we want to get a budget passed by april 15 so that the spending committees can get busy looking at the specific areas that they're in charge of, the specific areas that they're desperately interested in to
come up with the best policies possible to have a total spending package that will keep government operating and meeting the objectives that we as an american people expect. but today is the day we've all been waiting for. soon the senate will begin voting on many amendments offered this week, affectionately known as a vote-a-rama. we'll start voting early this afternoon and we'll continue until we're exhausted until we're done, until people think that their amendments have been could have had sufficiently. that's the way we do it in the senate. the senate's debate of this balanced budget demonstrates that congress is doing it's part to deliver a healthy economy for each and every american. the important first steps we have taken this week will help deliver a government that's more accountable which is absolutely essential for strong job growth and job creation. this budget will help every american who wants to find a good-paying job and a fulfilling career. i'm incredibly proud of my colleagues who are working together to deliver real
solutions, real results and real progress to hardworking taxpayers. i find this a little bit stressful. i am an accountant. i have found a way to escape some of that tension. i've been reading the tax code, and it is time for us to reform the tax code. there are hundreds of pages on minor decisions on different ways of calculating it. i am excited that we're going to do that. one of the things that both sides of the aisle talked about has been speculation on tax reform. tax reform needs to be done in a bipartisan way. and if i know that the chairman of the finance committee and the ranking member on the finance committee have already been working on it. they've got sub groups set up to solve different parts of the tax code and i'm confident that we can do that. there are instructions in the -- general instructions in the budget bill that allow some latitude to the finance
committee in a number of different ways, and i'm hoping that we can wind up with a simpler tax code, one that will not take care of my frustrations in future years but will ease the frustrations of the american people on handling taxes. there have been a lot of speculation on where budget cuts are being made. i know there's a lot of frustration on the other side. our budget sets limits for the different spending groups. it doesn't get into the detail. the people that know the detail in those areas are on those committees and they can make better decisions that we as a budget committee can make. i do point out frequently that part of my discovery during this process was that there are 260 programs whose authorization is expired. that means the specific committees that came up with the idea for these programs haven't looked at them for some time. and that didn't stop us from going ahead and funding them
anyway. they've expired but in some cases, we're spending four times as much as what was originally envisioned for that particular program. does it amount to much money? it amounts to $293 billion a year. $293 billion a year. if the committees do their work, there's a lot of money available for the areas outside of defense. defense has had their authorization done every year, so they're in a different category than all of the rest of the programs that the federal government does. so if you -- if you're thinking there's a lot of hands tied on what can be done, there's $293 billion out there that's being spent that's expired that ought to be looked at. in businesses, they have to look at their expenses every single year and see where they can cut in order to be able to continue the business. around here, one of those programs hasn't been looked at since 1983. so there's a lot of work for us to do.
it isn't all included in the budget. i'm hoping we can get a budget finished tonight and get everybody busy on these extra tasks. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: mr. president i just heard my friend from wyoming say that he's relieving his stress over the budget by reading the tax code. in my religion, when you go to confession you're given a penance for your sins. i cannot think of a more awesome penance than reading the tax code and i certainly hope that it gives my friend from wyoming a good frame of mind as he attacks this vote-a-rama. i'm going to be brief because our ranking member on budget has arrived on the floor at this point, but i do want to say this -- budgets make choices and there is one or two choices -- certainly more than one or two but one or two i'd like to highlight that i think are worrisome. the republican budget eliminates health insurance for 27 million americans. that's about 9% of the people in america who would lose their
health insurance protection because of the republican budget. part of it is the passionate refusal of the republicans to accept the affordable care act which now in itself protects 15 million to 16 million americans. we have said to them if you don't like the affordable care act, give us an alternative and they have yet to do so. and frankly because it's very, very difficult as it was passing this bill, but to take health insurance away from 27 million americans and say that's going to make better -- a better life for working families no, it won't. it'll create a challenge for these families which will be extremely difficult. secondly, i am worried and i think other members from both sides of the aisle share concerns about sequestration cuts when it comes to areas like biomedical research. how in the world can we justify cutting research at the national institutes of health to find cures for diseases like cancer,
alzheimer's, diabetes? the list just goes on. and if we believe we're making a better america by cutting back research and innovation particularly biomedical research it's extremely shortsighted. when i take a look at the 200 or so pending amendments before us on budget resolution, it looks like there are about ten of them including one i'm going to offer, relative to medical research. democrats and republicans are saying spare this area of federal spending. i would like to propose that all of us who share this goal on both sides of the aisle join in an effort to make sure that this is treated differently in our budget. it shouldn't be subject to mindless and deep cuts in biomedical research which will deny to a lot of suffering people the hope that they need and deny cures that will not only save lives but save dramatic amounts of money. i yield the floor. mr. sanders: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont.
mr. sanders: when we look at budgets, we look essentially at two things. for a start we look at what the budget actually does because it is a set of priorities, and we look at what the budget does not do. any sensible group of people, whether it is a family, whether it's local government, state government, whether it's a business, people sit around the table and say okay, these are our needs, this is what we have got to address or this is no longer relevant or this is wasteful and we've got to get rid of it. that's what a budget process is about. and when you examine the republican budget, it almost seems that they turn that equation upside-down and that they do everything that we should not be doing and they don't do what we should be doing. the overall reality of america that most people understand is
the middle class of this country for the last 40 years has been shrinking. yes, we are in a lot better shape today than we were when president bush left office, but really unemployment is 11%. we have the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world. despite the modest gains of the affordable care act, 35 million americans still have no health insurance. millions of families, whether it's in nevada or vermont are wondering how in god's name they're going to be able to send their kids to college when school is so expensive and what happens to those young people when they leave school deeply in debt? people are working in vermont in nevada, in wyoming for horrendously low wages because we have a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, and people are wondering why it is that they work 40 hours a week and still
have to go to the emergency food shelf to put food on the table. those are some of the issues that the american people are talking about and they're thinking about and then they wonder how does it happen that while they are working longer hours for low wages the people on top and the large profitable corporations they're doing phenomenally well? how does it happen then in the last two years 14 of the wealthiest people of this country have seen a $157 billion increase in their wealth? how does it happen that one family the walton family, owns more wealth than the bottom 40% of the american people? how does it happen that 99% of all new income generated in america since the wall street crash goes to the top 1%? those are the issues that the american people are wondering about. why, with an increase in productivity am i working
longer hours for low wages? why if i'm a woman worker do i make 78 cents on the dollar compared to a male worker? those are the questions. and then you look at the republican budget. and, mr. president the republican budget does nothing to address the real problems except to make them worse. and one of the problems, to be very frank with you and works to the republicans' advantage -- and i have to say this frankly -- the republican budget is so outrageous that when we explain it, people don't believe what we're saying. senator durbin made the point. no debate here. if i'm wrong somebody come up and correct me. the republican budget eliminates the affordable care act. right. it does that. 16 million americans lose their health insurance. 16 million people have no health insurance. but that's not enough. the republican budget cuts over $400 billion in medicaid.
that's another 11 million people losing their health insurance. 16 must 11 is 27 million people losing health insurance. does anybody in america think that that makes any sense at all? these are men women children. when you cut medicaid and you throw people off. these are pregnant women who need to go to the doctor to make sure that the baby that they're carrying is healthy or little babies who are born. that's what they do. but meanwhile here's something that they do not do. and they are firm. when they get up there and say this budget does not include any tax increases they're right. i concede that. they're right. but what they're really saying is we will not, we will never ask the billionaires in this country to pay a nickel more in taxes. we will not ask the one out of four major corporations who pay nothing in taxes to start paying their fair share of taxes. we'll make it harder for kids to go to college. we'll throw people off of health
insurance, but we will not ask the rich and the powerful to pay more in taxes. that is what this budget debate is about and i hope the american people pay attention to that. and with that, mr. president i would yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: mr. president i ask unanimous consent that we set aside the pending amendment and call up my amendment number 689. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from ohio mr. portman proposes an amendment numbered 689 on page page 104 line 16, after shall provide -- mr. portman: i ask unanimous consent the reading of the amendment be dispensed with, mr. president. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. portman: thank you mr. president. we have had an energetic discussion br this morning about the budget that's before us. the amendment that i am going to offer will help us to have a
better process to get to pro-growth tax reform to actually get this economy growing. my colleague senator sanders just talked about the fact that real unemployment is actually far higher than the numbers that are officially reported. i agree with him on that and i agree with him that the economy is not out of the woods. i agree with him that a lot of people are being left behind and will continue to be until we can get this economy growing the way you normally see an economy grow during a recovery. it's the weakest economic recovery economists tell us, since the great depression. that's whether you measure it in terms of the economic growth, the g.d.p., or in terms of the job growth. so what this budget does is it puts in place the process for us to actually get pro-growth policies yes on health care, yes on taxes on regulations and so on to be able to move the economy forward. it was president john f. kennedy who said a rising tide lifts all boats. now some people get stuck on the shoals. we need to take care of them, too. that's why this budget has a strong safety net. but necessary is to get that
economic growth. not sufficient but necessary. that's what we are not seeing right now. so that's what this budget does. by the way the nonpartisan congressional budget office, not the republicans you know, not me the nonpartisan congressional budget office looks at this budget and says, you know what? by balancing the budget in ten years, balancing the budget, therefore reducing the amount of deficits and this huge debt overhang, a record level of debt remember we have in our country right now, that will result in more economic growth and more jobs. that's what the congressional budget office says. so this notion that somehow by actually dealing with the debt and deficit by actually having a balanced budget is somehow bad for the economy it's just the opposite. this is a first but incredibly important step to getting this economy back on track and to bringing back these jobs. and by the way, this is about not just economic growth but it's about better jobs. it's about rising wages. it's about getting to a situation where instead of having wages going down, which is what's been happening over the last six years we can actually see wages go up.
on average wages have gone down about 8%. so for working families in ohio and around this country we've seen wages go down 8%. and by the way half of that reduction in wages came during the so-called recovery. so something's not working and part of what's not working is running these hundreds of billions of dollars of deficit every year, spending more than this place takes in every year and building up these levels of debt that are unprecedented. over $18 trillion. we did vote on the president's budget yesterday. it's the only alternative we've got out here to be able to compare what this side of the aisle wants to do and what the other side of the aisle wants to do and in that budget that the president put out, there was an $8 trillion increase, increase, in the debt over the next ten years. that's adding to the over $7 trillion of debt that has been added over the last six years under the obama administration. that may be why not a lot of people voted for the budget that the president presented. in fact, only one person did. one out of a hundred.
the reason is it adds so much more debt and so much more annual deficits that it actually puts that wet blanket over the economy, it doesn't enable us to be able to see the economic growth that we want. so one element of growth, as the chairman of the budget committee talked about this morning is tax reform. i think everybody action nodges our tax code is antiquated. it's out of date. it's not efficient. it doesn't let us compete around the world. so workers in ohio are competing with one hand tied behind their back. because our tax code is so inefficient that it doesn't let them compete effectively around the world. so let's reform the tax code. everybody who looks at it, economists right left or center, agree the tax code doesn't work. they have different ideas on how to fix it but they also say if you could fix this tax code, you'd see more growth. and by the way you'd see not just more jobs but better jobs. if you look at the issue of business tax reform, well, there's actually a lot of similarity between what the administration is talking about and what members of congress on my side of the aisle are talking about. the economic analysis there is the number-one impact of having
the highest business tax rate in all the developed world is on wages and benefits, that the number-one beneficiary will be workers because they're going to see their wages go up, they're going to see their benefits go up. these are the middle-class jobs that we want to create in this country so let's have this tax reform. let's make sure it's pro-growth. now back to this amendment why it's so important to that. this is an amendment that says let's require the joint committee on taxation -- that's the group that handles scoring these tax reform proposals -- to give us the right analysis so we can come up with pro-jobs, pro-growth tax reform that will actually enable us to bring back these good middle-class jobs. that's what this amendment says. it requires them to provide us what's called macroeconomic scoring. right now unbelievably when you provide a tax reform proposal on the floor of this senate which to get back is just a static score that has no relationship to what the impact will be on the economy.
it assume there will be a zero impact on the economy. now, nobody believes that. everybody knows that tax changes will have some impact on the economy good, bad indifferent and yet we don't have that information to be able to ensure that we are writing the right tax reform to get to the result we all want. seems absurd, i know, but that's the current situation. so what this amendment says is let's have a requirement that the joint committee on taxation provide to this united states senate a dynamic score a macroeconomic score. by the way they railroaded do it. -- they already do it. they already have a model to do it. atthey just don't provide it to us. would there be a static score too that shows no economic changes? yeah, you'd have that too. and i can't remember that any member of this body, republican or democrat, would not want to have that information would not want to know what the actual impact is on the economy. think about this. if mcdonald's raises the price of their big mac to 10 or 12 bucks, what's going to happen? under a static score it would say mcdonald's will get more revenue. we know what will happen. we won't go to mcdonald's. our kids won't go to
mcdonald's because it's too expensive, their revenue will go down. we need to have that kind of commonsense analysis here on the floor of the united states senate so we can indeed, put forward tax reform that makes sense for the economy makes sense for the american people and helps us to do precisely what senator sanders is talking about, which is to get that unemployment down and provide better jobs, higher paying jobs. if we don't do that we're letting down the people we're elected to represent. so mr. president, i hope that this amendment number 689 is supported by democrats and republicans ea like as a commonsense approach to this. let's apply macroeconomic analysis to anything that's a tax reform proposal over $15 million. that's the right level. the house has similar analysis in their legislation so this is something that could actually end up being something the house and senate can agree on. let's ensure that we have the information we need to write the right kind of legislation to get this economy moving and to deal with both sides of the coin. one, spending restraint. we all know that has to happen.
but, two growth, get this economy moving. and if we do that we'll see more growth revenues and be able to make this objective we've set out in this budget which is to actually for the american people who can't understand why we can't do it balance this budget. they have to balance their budgets. we have to in our families. we have to in our businesses. we have to in our states. we ought to do it here in the united states congress as well. with that, mr. president i yield back my time. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mrs. capito: thank you mr. president. i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up amendments number 415 and 416 en bloc. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection the amendments are called up en bloc. the senator from west virginia. mrs. capito: i ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendments be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. capito: thank you.
mr. president, i want to briefly address these two amendments. the first amendment simply says that the united states should not sign an international environmental agreement that would do serious harm to our own economy. that commonsense principle passed the united states senate by a vote of 95-0 in 1997. last year, the administration announced a climate agreement with china. that agreement requires significant short-term carbon emission reductions here in the united states but china is allowed to continue increasing its carbon emissions until 2030. that disparity could place the united states at a significant economic disadvantage. in november global talks begin in parris paris on a broader international agreement. my amendment simply states what every senator said voting in 1997 -- no agreement should cause serious harm to the american economy. my second amendment protects the reliability of our electricity grid.
north american electric reliability corporation released a report that found that the targets set forward in the president's clean power plan will be difficult if not impossible to achieve without degrading the reliability of the grid. we all want to have our lights turn on, our heat and our air conditioning work and this is in peril. my amendment simply makes sure that families and businesses have reliable electricity that they expect by blocking the e.p.a. from finalizing, proposing or issuing any regulation that would reduce the reliability of the electricity grid. i ask my colleagues to support these amendments, and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. [no audio] the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection.
the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from michigan mr. peters, proposes an amendment numbered 437. at the end of title 3 add the following. mr. peters: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. peters: thank you mr. president. the -- the amendment that i've just called up that is pending before the senate deals with what i think is a critical issue for this country and that's to make sure that we can continue to move forward with innovation to grow the economy. there's certainly many debates that are going to be held as to how we get the productivity in this country to increase, how we create more middle-class jobs and grow the economy from the top to the bottom but i think there's broad consensus that what has really driven our economy really through the centuries, but certainly most recently here in the united states, has been innovation. it's about innovation, creating the next big thing big products that transform people's lives. and in order to do that, companies that come up with these ideas need to have patent protection so that the -- the effort that they put into that product the money that they put into that product they're able
to protect as they market that product and get a return on their investments. so the -- unfortunately however, the -- the backlog of patent applications in the united states patent and trademark office has become completely unacceptable. the america invents act made a number of very important changes to our patent system that targeted the reducing of the backlogs and driving innovation and at that time that that act was passed there was more than 700,000 patent applications at the united states patent and trademark office. those applications had an average review time of three years or longer before the applications were granted patent protection. three years is simply an unacceptable amount of time to wait as these inventors are trying to get their patent protections, they have to wait several years before they can bring those products to the market and have the protections of patent. what makes it even more unacceptable is that these folks
who are applying for has to patents pay a user fee they pay a fee in order to have this work done, and yet with sequestration and other types of budget maneuvering the patent office actually cannot fully utilize the fees that are generated by the people who are paying these fees. so in a sense, this is an innovation tax. people who are innovating pay a tax while they're innovating, when what we should be doing is accelerating their ability to bring these products to market, create jobs and advance the economy. the -- the backlog now after the passage of the act still stands at 600,000 with an average review time of 2.3 years years. so we've made some progress but we still have a long ways to go. so in order to reduce the patent application backlog, the uspto needs the ability to access all of the fees it receives in order to hire the additional examiners and administrative patent judges. that's what this amendment does before us is it gives the patent office the resources they need
in order to do their job effectively and the end result is a stronger american economy. and i urge my colleagues to adopt this amendment. and, mr. president i also ask for unanimous consent that the pending amendment be set aside and call up peters amendment 521. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from michigan mr. peters, proposes an amendment numbered 521. at the appropriate place insert the following. mr. peters: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. peters: mr. president, this amendment is very -- is similar to the previous amendment in that it focuses on innovation. it focuses on what this country does best, which is create new products and advance the knowledge with scientific discoveries and new inventions. this amendment however deals specifically with scientific discovery and technological breakthroughs that drive our economy. we have known throughout human history that the drivers of that have been the big breakthroughs
whether it's the cotton begin or the internal combustion engines or the railroads. these have been inventions that have transformed the entire planet. we need to continue to have those innovations, but in order to do that, we need to invest in basic scientific research. investments in basic research have resulted in countless innovations that improve our day-to-day lives and support the nation's overall productivity and competitiveness. the federal government has long played a crucial role and this has always been in the past a very bipartisan issue that the federal government invest in this basic cutting-edge research and development. however, we have seen a very i think disturbing trend over the last few decades as r&d spending has fallen, the amount of money in which the federal government puts into basic scientific research now is less than 1% of g.d.p. this is simply unacceptable. we have to look at basic research basic scientific research as the seed corn for our economy and we need to
invest in seed corn so we can harvest the rewards of that investment. this amendment would strengthen congress' ongoing commit to responsibly increasing investments in science technology and basic research and help ensure u.s. science and technology leadership in an increasingly competitive world. i urge my colleagues to vote "yes" on this amendment, to show our commitment to investing in basic scientific research so that we can continue to make the u.s. economy the strongest in the world. and with that, mr. president i also ask unanimous consent that the pending amendment be set aside and i call up peters amendment 639. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from michigan mr. peters, proposes an amendment numbered 639. at the end of title three add the following. mr. peters: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. peters: thank you mr. president. this amendment deals with another critical aspect of growing our economy. certainly innovation, basic sin
scientific research are the real drivers of long-term economic growth. but another very important aspect of that is international trade. the united states has the best workers in the world, we have the best entrepreneurs, we have the best innovators, we need to be in a position that we can continue to promote trade across the -- across the world. so i rise to offer an amendment that will support trade and travel through our u.s. ports of entry. as we all know, trade and travel drive economic development. in fact, they generate over $2 trillion in economic impact and support nearly 15 million jobs nationwide. however, i'm -- it's unfortunately to say that many of our busiest ports of entry are in need of modernization in order to safely and efficiently process travelers and goods. i speak about this with firsthand experience. in michigan, our manufacturers and agricultural producers rely on efficient trade with canada which is our nation's largest export market. our top customer as well as our
closest ally. however, existing infrastructure at our ports of entry often do not allow for the most efficient processing of trucks and cargo. we have two major crossings in detroit and windsor with canada as well as port insrnia. both of those trade years need additional investment in their plazas their customers plazas, to efficiently handle the trade between our two countries. those investments are important investments in the future of this country and important in order to make sure that we can continue to expand trade and economic activity. and i would urge my colleagues in the senate to support this amendment as well. thank you mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: mr. president first let me thank senator peters for the amendments that he just offered. we had a hearing in the small business and entrepreneurship committee in regards to the patent issues and it's clearly a huge concern by the innovators, the small business, biotech and
high-tech firms. so i thank you very much for giving us an opportunity to act on that matter. secondly let me compliment you on the research issues. i took to the floor yesterday and talked about the budgets at the national institutes of health and how critical that is not only for their direct mission which is to find the answers to diseases but also to provide the building blocks for private companies that do incredible work. ii was at asit ra zeneca and they depend very much on the budget. i thank you for the chance to act on them a a little bit later. i ask unanimous consent that the pending amendments be set aside so i may offer amendments 364 367, 439 440 899 900. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection.
the amendments are called up en bloc. the clerk will report the amendments by number. the clerk: the senator from maryland mr. cardin, proposes amendments en bloc numbered 364 367, 439 440 899 and 900. mr. cardin: i would ask to dispense with the reading of the amendments. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: let me take a few minutes to talk a little bit about these amendments. i see senator portman on the floor and i want to talk about 899 which provides the deficit neural reserve fund for financial literacy. the two of us have been working to increase the amount of savings for america particularly retirement savings. we know at early ages people need to understand the importance of saving. i offer this amendment and senator portman has been very helpful to me in developing this amendment. i hope we'll be able to act on this a little bit later. in regards to amendment 364 which deals with oral health,
which establishes a deficit-neutral reserve fund related to improving oral health care for children and pregnant women under medicaid, let me just point out to my colleagues something they may not be aware of and that is the oral health of pregnant women very much impacts the baby. and, therefore it's important that pregnant women have attention to their oral health care needs as transmitted to their babies. and i would just urge my colleagues to help us in supporting this effort. we've taken major steps to improve pediatric dental care. here's another step we can take by dealing with pregnant women. in regards to amendment 367 which sets up a deficit-neutral reserve fund to provide funding for voter reenfranchise initiatives. once again i think my colleagues should learn there are an estimated 3.58 million citizens
that cannot vote as a result of criminal convictions and nearly 4.4 million have been released from prison. we have 4.4 million released into our community that we will expect to be productive citizens but they are disenfranchised from voting. african-americans at a rate four times the national average. latino citizens are disproportionately overrepresented in the criminal justice system. states have vastly different approaches to dealing with criminal convictions. this patchwork of state laws caused confusion among election officials and the public and sometimes resulting in disenfranchisements of eligible voters. this amendment would provide needed information to the hands of citizens returning from incarceration. mr. president, i would like to thank my colleague senator paul for his work in regards to this issue. the two of us are trying to find a way that we can bring forward
together a workable way that can help many who have been released from our prisons having the right to vote and participate in our community. in regards to two amendments i'm offering amendment 439 and 440 both are related to my work as the ranking democrat on the small business and entrepreneurship committee. one would set up a deficit reserve fund to deal with surety bonds. we've increased the limit of the surety bond participation by the s.b.a. for small companies which is very, very important. this would help make that a more permanent increase. the small companies if they try to get a surety bond they have to pledge just about every one of their assets in order fo get it. the s.b.a. program helps with that credit so they can g.e.d. g.e.d. -- get affordable surety bonds. this amendment addresses that
need. i set up a deficit-neutral reserve fund for family funds within the small business investment company. i want to thank senator risch. she is been working -- he's been working on this issue and i've been helping with him. i think we'll be able to come together on legislation that will increase opportunities on small business investment companies which is, again an avenue for capital for small companies, the driving force for job and innovation in our community. this amendment would allow us, again, to focus on that legislation which we hope to move through small business and entrepreneurship committee. lastly mr. president i offered a deficit-neutral reserve fund amendment 900 concerning civic education. i've taken the floor to point out that, yes we need to stress areas of excellence in sciences, et cetera, in education. but let's not forget civic education, the bedrock of our
country's values are based upon our civic system, and it's important that young people have a full understanding of civic education. this amendment would give us an opportunity in this congress to move forward in promoting civic education for our school system. with that, mr. president, i would of yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. carper: mr. president i applaud my colleague from -- mr. portman: i am happy to be a cosponsor. this enables our citizens to save and invest more particularly with regard to retirement savings. the savings rate is low. baby boomers are retiring without adequate savings lifetime savings and financial literacy is critical for them. it's also critical for our young people to give them the opportunity to start saving early with the power of compound interest and then be able to
make wise decisions for their future whether it's for retirement, whether it's for education, whether it's for health care or other purposes. i enjoyed working with my colleague senator cardin over the years and proud to cosponsor his amendment. mr. president, i'd also like to call up another amendment if i could this morning. i think it is very important for all of us in this chamber because all of us are affected by it. so i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendments and call up my amendment number 681. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from ohio mr. portman proposes an amendment numbered 681. at the appropriate place insert the following section -- mr. portman: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. portman: mr. president this is a commonsense amendment that calls for prioritizing investments to tackle a really important issue for cities and towns across our country especially those that were hardest hit by the housing crisis. main streets unfortunately across our country have becomes littered with abandoned and
blighted properties. in ohio, by the way, there are about 80,000 of these be a ban donned -- abandoned homes. hundreds of thousands across the country. i've had the opportunity to walk the streets in some of our cities in ohio with some of our far-sighted mayors tackling this issue. i've been in warren, ohio; toledo ohio; lima ohio. when you walk these streets and talk to the people in the neighborhood they let you know how they're feeling about this. they don't like these blighted properties. in part because it reduces the values for the whole neighborhood. in fact, there is some evidence out there that these blighted properties can cost neighbors up to 80% of their home value. one of the best thing you can do for tumbling home values in america right now in struggling neighborhoods is demolish these abandoned properties. second -- and this is really important -- they become magnets for crime for arson for other dangerous activities that put neighbors at risk, that put first responders at risk.
there are stories around the country and unfortunately in my home state of ohio where some first responders, firefighters have gone to a fire in an abandoned structure and have been injured and in one case lost their lives. this is something neighbors feel strongly about. when i was in toledo with the mayor of toledo observing one of the demolitions, it was a house that was about ten feet away from a neighboring home, and the mother was there with some of her young children, and she said thank goodness this is happening because every night i go to sleep, i put my head on my pillows praying that the house next door is not going to be subject to the arson attacks that have happened around the city of toledo in these abandoned structures and praying that my children are not going to be injured by an arson next door to me. so this is critical that we provide this help. land banks in these areas have done a terrific job. cleveland in particular, i would hold up is doing a great job. in states like mine, other manufacturing states, states like florida states like
michigan and other states around the country these land banks are doing the best they can but they need additional resources to demolish many of these properties in order to help struggling neighborhoods recover. this has been a bipartisan issue. we've been able to direct some funding there including from the hardest-hit funds. i want to continue to make progress on this because it is so important again for our neighborhoods, for the safety of those people who live in these neighborhoods that are affected most directly by abandoned homes. i hope that we can get support from both sides of the aisle for this amendment today and make it clear to those local officials across our country and to those neighbors in these communities that we are going to do p what we can to help provide the resources to be able to deal with these blighted and abandoned structures. thank you mr. president. with that, i yield back my time. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president i ask consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up my amendment number 944. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection.
the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from florida, mr. nelson, proposes an amendment numbered 944. mr. nelson: mr. president i ask consent to dispense with the reading of the amendment. the presiding officer: would i -- without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president what this amendment does, support the first amendment of the united states constitution: freedom of speech, to prohibit censorship of federal agencies and federal employees from speaking in scientific terms about the oceans, the weather the atmospheres and the climate now, you would think mr. president, that this is so commonsense and so understood under our freedom of speech in our united states constitution
but we have all read news reports at the state level, at the local level maybe even at the federal level that indeed some folks are trying to muzzle scientists from speaking about the science involving the oceans the atmosphere climate and the weather. you know, i have the privilege of knowing something about the space program. when i hear people saying that they don't want nasa to get involved in climate well, nasa builds the satellites. nasa launches the satellites. but then noaa, in the department of commerce, operates these
weather satellites. other satellites that are taking measurements of the earth to understand what is happening to our atmosphere, what is happening to our climate. mr. president, when i start talking about the atmosphere, i can't help but flashback 29 1/2 years ago looking out the window of a spacecraft back at our planet and looking at the rim of the earth and seeing the thin limb -- the thin, limb film that is the atmosphere that sustains our life. there is a lot about it that we don't know. there is a lot about it that we in fact can measure scientifically. and yet for some reason there
is some commentary going on in america today that we want to muzzle our scientists. so this amendment is a simple, little commonsense amendment that says you can't muzzle a federal agency or a federal employee telling them that they can't use their first amendment right of freedom of speech to speak in scientific terms about the oceans, the weather the atmosphere and the climate. now, can you imagine if we were going to muzzle researchers at the national institutes of health and censor them, saying that they couldn't use medical terms like asthma, cancer. what if that was off limits?
i mean, that's not even a question that we would consider. last week when you get into the matter of climate a study suggested that the massive antarctic glacier is melting. the water from that melting glacier will impact global sea levels potentially raising them by ten feet. and this week, researchers tell us that the melting of greenland's ice sheet is slowing the cyclical ocean current that drives the warm gulf stream which comes right along the southeastern coast of my state and goes out through the middle of the atlantic and warms parts of western europe.
and so to understand it it's critical we have this information which has the potential to impact all of us, no matter where we live. mr. president, at times of seasonal high tide the streets of miami beach are flooded. the mayor of miami beach campaigned in a kayak on alton road, which is on the west side of the city of miami beach campaigned in a kayak at the time of seasonal high flood paddling in a kayak about what the city needed to do because of what nasa scientists tell us and have testified to our commerce committee. not forecast.
not projections. measurements. of the rise of the sea level in south florida over the course of the last 45 years. six to eight inches. not forecast. measurements. so do we want to muzzle that nasa scientist who by the way in this case that testified to us is also a nasa astronaut. we'll muzzle him. and so scientists simply must have the tools and the ability to tell us what they observe without limitation on the terms that they can speak. so let's make clear that public science cannot be muzzled that we won't support censorship and that the taxpayers deserve an
amendment and call up my amendments en bloc number 346 425, 426 427 442 and 810. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the amendments will be called up en bloc. the clerk will report the amendments by number. the presiding officer: the senator from maine ms. collins proposes en bloc amendments numbered 346 425 426 427 442 and 810. ms. collins: thank you mr. president. mr. president, there will be very little time later today when we start voting for there to be full explanations of any
of these amendments which i think is very unfortunate. i do want to let my colleagues know about some of these amendments and i'm proud to say that for the most part the amendments that i have filed and now called up are bipartisan amendments that enjoy support on both sides of the aisle. for example my amendment number 427 would create a deficit-neutral reserve fund to support sufficient investment in alzheimer's disease research to achieve the goal set by the national plan to address alzheimer's disease of having the means to prevent and effectively treat that disease by the year 2025. this amendment is cosponsored by senator moran senator warner,
senator mccaskill senator toomey and senator donnelly. it is modeled very much on a bill that senator klobuchar and i have introduced to increase funding for alzheimer's research. just yesterday mr. president the senate aging committee which i lead, along with senator mccaskill, held an extensive hearing on alzheimer's disease. we listened from preeminent researchers, from individuals like b. smith who unfortunately has been inflicted with early onset alzheimer's. we listened to a caregiver and from a geriatric physician from portland maine. we had testimony from the mayo
clinic. we had testimony from the individual who heads the institutes on aging at the national institutes of health. and to a person, they pointed out that we are spending $226 billion a year caring for people with alzheimer's and yet we are investing less than $600 million in this disease. the experts tell us that if our investment were at the level of $2 billion a year, that we could explore the promising breakthroughs, the therapeutic targets that are needed to develop a means of prevention or better treatments or ultimately even a cure for alzheimer's. and think of it, mr. president. that $2 billion figure that is
recommended by the expert advisory council headed by dr. ron peterson from the mayo clinic is less than 1% of what we're spending caring for people on alzheimer's with alzheimer's. this disease is going to bankrupt the medicare and the medicaid programs. we're currently spending $154 billion from those two programs for care of patients with alzheimer's. so that's one of the amendments that i will be proposing. i see the senator from illinois is on the floor who has been another real leader in this area. mr. durbin: would the senator from maine yield for a question? ms. collins: yes i would be happy to yield. mr. durbin: first let me thank you. i took a look at the 200 pending amendments on this budget resolution. i think ten, at least ten relate to biomedical research from both sides of the aisle. this is clearly a bipartisan
issue. and i thank you for speaking out on this alzheimer's issue because they came this week to visit with us, and it is stunning just stunning to think for a moment that we diagnose a person with alzheimer's in america once every 68 seconds. when my staff told me that, i couldn't believe it. i said that's got to be wrong. it's right. it's an indication of the rapid development and growth of this terrible disease and i thank you for putting in perspective the fact that we spend over $200 billion a year already on it and that doesn't calculate all of the sacrifice of caregivers in helping members of the family. it would seem to me that amidst all of this budget debate, there should be certain areas that are sacred and i think biomedical research should be one of them, and i thank you for speaking up on alzheimer's and i hope that we can continue this dialogue on behalf of n.i.h. and the other
agencies doing the research. ms. collins: mr. president, i want to thank my colleague and friend from illinois for his comments. i happened to catch his speech yesterday, and there was a sea of purple at our hearing. purple representing the alzheimer's cause. i hope one day that purple will represent alzheimer's survivors. and wouldn't that be wonderful. so this is a high priority for me and i agree with the senator from illinois, i believe that we should be increasing our investment in biomedical research particularly for alzheimer's but many other areas as well, and the irony is ultimately it will reduce not only human suffering but the cost of health care. and the trajectory of alzheimer's is such that if we do not develop better treatments
and means of prevention or a cure by the year 2050, the estimate is we're going to be spending more than a trillion dollars taking care of people with alzheimer's. and for all of us in the baby boomer generation, the estimates are that by age 85, nearly one out of two of us will be afflicted with alzheimer's if the current trajectory is unchanged. and, frankly we're going to be spending our golden years either with alzheimer's or taking care of someone with alzheimer's. so this is a crisis. it deserves our attention. i know that senator moran also has a broader amendment on biomedical research, which i'm proud to be a sponsor of. this is an area where i hope we can come together in a
bipartisan way as my colleague has suggested. mr. president, there are other amendments that i'd like to briefly discuss seeing no one seeking the floor immediately i don't believe. i will have my staff check on that. i'm also going to offer an amendment to create a deficit-neutral reserve fund to increase access to higher education for low-income americans through the federal pell grant program including an innovative idea that i'm very interested in, that the chairman of the help committee senator lamar alexander is very interested in, that would allow for year-round pell grants so that individuals could complete their education more quickly. mr. president, before i was elected to the senate, i worked at a college in maine hudson
university in bangor maine and i saw firsthand the difference that pell grants made in the lives of these students, and indeed on my staff today, there are highly talented individuals who were able to go to college solely because of the existence of pell grants. their families did not have experience with higher education and have not afford higher education, and pell grants made possible a bright future for these two women on my staff. this is the kind of opportunity that should unite us and that all of us should rally behind, and allowing year-round pell grants would allow students to complete their education more quickly and join the work force
more quickly which would help them financially as well. so i hope that this is something that we can pursue and that will be adopted as well. another of my bipartisan amendments number 442 would establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to change the definition of a full-time employee under obamacare so that a worker could work for more than 30 hours per week before the employer mandate penalty would be triggered. this too is bipartisan. senator donnelly, senator murkowski, senator manchin and i have all been working on this. and i'll tell you mr. president, i'm hearing from workers who are telling me that their hours have been cut to 29 hours a week because of these
penalties that their employers simply cannot afford. and it's not just in the for-profit hospitality industry. it's also in school systems community colleges. so that is yet another of my amendments that i hope will enjoy support later today. mr. president, i see there are a number of my colleagues now on the floor so i will yield the floor. thank you mr. president. i suggest the absence of a quorum until my colleagues are ready. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: would the senator withhold her request? ms. collins: i do withhold the request. the presiding officer: thank you. the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: mr. president i'd like to set aside the pending amendments in order to call up two of my amendments en bloc,
amendments 877 and 878. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection the amendments are called up en bloc bloc. the clerk will report the amendments by number. the clerk: the senator from hawaii ms. hirono, proposes amendments numbered 877 and 878. ms. hirono: mr. president, thank you. before i briefly outline my amendments i need to say a few words about the budget before us us. the vision outlined in the budget before us is truly a disaster for the middle class and our economy. this budget lays out priorities that would undermine the gains that millions have made in getting affordable health insurance. it would undermine the ability of millions of students to get a college education. it puts tax cuts for the wealthy ahead of giving even a modest wage boost to those who are
working hard to get ahead. this budget would give big corporations the opportunity to write their own rules without reducing the opportunity for the disabled veterans and children to live a decent life. democrats have tried to improve this budget. we tried to eliminate the sequester in a fair way. republicans said no. we tried to make sure our commitments to those on social security and medicare remain ironclad. the republicans said no. we tried to close a foot tax loopholes to invest in our communities and create jobs. the republicans said no. and we tried to give students the opportunity to get an affordable college education. the republicans said no. given all these problems, i cannot support this budget. this budget favors the wealthy he and special interest on the backs of middle-class families and students and seniors in hawaii and as co the nation.
but i want -- and across the nation. but i want to offer two ideas that i hope can improve this budget just a little bit. amendment 877 would restore year-round pell grants without increasing the deficit. many college students juggle work and family schedules. to balance these commitments they need to attend college year-round. but pell grants can only be used in two semesters currently. my amendment wouldly allow studentswould allowstudents to being assess pell grants year-round, like they could from 2008-2011. this has been a bipartisan idea in the past. in fact, senator collins just now offered her similar amendment amendment 810 that i also support. and we should adopt this commonsense bipartisan policy. and i want to thank senator collins for her work in enabling students to complete their college educations in a way that would allow them to do so the without disruptions and additional costs. and i look forward to working
with her as we move forward on this bipartisanly supported idea. the second amendment i'm offering amendment 878 is very simple as well. the budget resolution allows for energy legislation provided it's paid for only with cuts. it also lays out what i think is a very limited view of our nation's energy priorities, particularly the heavy focus on fossil fuel development. my amendment would provide a broader, more forward-looking view of our nation's energy priorities. my amendment allows for energy legislation that reduces our dependence on foreign oil increases energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment and innovation and addresses carbon pollution. hawaii relies on imported oil for energy. the u.s. military recognizes that overreliance on fossil fuels is a national security risk. we have to recognize that our
future can't be based on fossil fuels. hawaii and other states are leading the way in transitioning to a clean energy economy. my amendment would ensure that congress' priorities are more will in line with where hawaii and our nation are heading in the future. i hope that my colleagues will join me in supporting these two amendments. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. gardner: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up my amendments en bloc 445, 448 and 449. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report the amendments en bloc. the clerk: the senator from colorado mr. gardner proposes amendments en bloc numbered 445 448, and 449. mr. gardner: mr. president, i yield the floor.
the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. gardner: i would suggest the absence of a quorum -- i would with holdhold the request. the presiding officer: thank you. ms. stabenow: thank you very much. mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: mr. president, i would ask that we -- unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up stabenow amendment number 523 and ask that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report the amendment by number. the clerk: the senator from michigan ms. stabenow, proposes an amendment numbered 523. ms. stabenow: thank you mr. president. mr. president, i believe every worker every business deserves a fair shot to get ahead. that's really a basic american
principle is creating opportunity. and we all know that our workers are the best in the world. and when we have a fair fight we can -- we can work hard and we can win. but part of that fair fight is making sure that we can do something about the broken tax code in the system that we have. and my amendment would address that the bring jobs home amendment. we all know there are companies that unfortunately are able to game the system to avoid paying their taxes. they move on paper and they -- in order to be able to register in another country while still having the benefits of our country. or they move overseas and through the tax code we as communities and their workers pay the cost of the move. and it's important to recognize that the revenue that's being given up helps pay for our
american way of life. our roads and airports and clean water and clean air and opportunities for education innovation medical research science, all of the things that create the wonderful quality of life that we have in our country that everyone contributes towards, those things that we need to do together. and unfortunately the tax code is rewarding too many companies to be able to take advantage of not doing their fair share. and that's really what my amendment addresses. as i indicated moving their business on paper around to different countries to avoid contributing to our american way of life our american quality of life. they invert costing americans tens of billions of dollars and the revenue that could go to support our veterans our
national defense. rebuilding america with roads and bridges and water and sewer systems. and it is particularly feighansive i believe to -- offensive, i believe to americans when people find out that in fact a company can decide to pick up and move and the costs of the move, the costs of packing up and leaving our country is a cost that they can write off their taxes which means we all pay the price. the workers that are packing people up the communities that are losing the jobs, our country in terms of the lost revenue and we pay for it. over the last 10 years 2.4 million jobs were shipped overseas and american taxpayers were asked to foot the bill. it makes no sense. surely we could come together on
a bipartisan basis and agree to stop that, to stop that write-off. that's what this amendment does. over 20 million more jobs are at risk of being shipped overseas today. in fact, in michigan, we've lost more than 700,000 jobs to offshoring. now, i understand we're in a global economy. i understand there are a lot of decisions being made around the globe as to where companies will locate but our tax code should not have loopholes in it that incentivize companies to actually continue to either get the benefits of america while pretending to be someplace else or moving and having us help pay for it. so this is a very serious part of tax reform. and as we debate a budget resolution that has over $400 billion in cuts to medicare for seniors in it that has over a
trillion dollars in cuts to medicaid 80% of the dollars in medicaid going for low-income seniors in nursing homes people in nursing homes when we look at the fact that we have been trying to pass a bill to create millions of american jobs good-paying american jobs by rebuilding america by rebuilding our roads rebuilding our infrastructure -- we can't get support to do that. people say we can't afford to pay for it. well, this is the opportunity to create the revenue to pay for it. to create the revenue to lower the costs of student loans so that more people have a fair shot to go to college, have the opportunity for the american dream so they're not coming out of college being riddled with all kinds of debt mounds of debt that mean you can't buy a house, you can't buy a car you can't get started in life with a family because you're buried in debt. when we raise these issues on the floor we hear we cannot afford as a country to fix those
things that affect every family. people struggling to get into the middle class and stay in the middle class. well, i think this budget ought to be about the middle class. i think we ought to be saying, this is a middle-class budget. and i think if we're going to do that, we have to come together on fair ways to be able to fund those things that benefit everyone, that grow the economy by creating and expanding the middle class. we won't have an economy unless we expand the middle class. that means good-paying jobs here -- here. i'm all about export, mr. president. i just want to export our products, not our jobs. and we have a tax code that is encouraging the export of our jobs. so i would hope we would come together around the bring jobs home amendment agree that there is one area of the tax code that everybody ought to support
fixing and that's where folks are using loopholes and games and gimmicks, frankly to avoid contributing to the quality of life in our country. we can create opportunity without adding one more dollar to the costs of middle-class families or small businesses or those who stay in our country and decide they want to continue to be a part of our great american economy. this is about closing for the tax cheaters that are avoiding stepping up and being a part of solving america's problems. my amendment number 523 will bring jobs home and invest in the middle class of our country and i really hope that this is an area that we can come together on. and i would urge support from my colleagues. thank you, mr. president.
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendments and call up my amendments en bloc amendments number 781 565 562 552, and 590. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report the amendments en bloc. the clerk: the senator from florida mr. rubio proposes en bloc amendments numbered 781 565, 562 552 and 590. mr. rubio: mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. warner: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. warner: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and bring up three warner amendments en bloc. amendment 991 amendment 636
and amendment 638. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report the amendments en bloc. c the clerk: the senator from virginia proposes en bloc amendments numbered 991 636 and 638. mr. warner: mr. president was 991 reported in that bloc as welling? the presiding officer: the senator is correct. mr. warner: mr. president i'd like to speak to these amendments for a couple of moments. mr. president, the first amendment, 991 targets improper payments and fraud in our largest entitlement programs. it's remarkable, every elected official that i've ever met at any level of government often
rallies against waste and fraud in government. that means it's so unusual that this budget that we have before us leaves out critical funding to fight fraud and abuse in medicare medicaid, social security disability programs. the amendment i'm offering today would restore all program integrity funding to the republican budget to the levels allowed in the budget control act. program integrity activities have a proven track record of saving money. when we invest in programs that track and eliminate overpayments and a fraud lent claims, we end up reducing costs and lowering budget deficits. for example, according to the social security actuaries program integrity efforts to conduct -- quote -- "continuing disability reviews specifically to weed out beneficiaries who have received and are no longer p defined as disabled, save
taxpayers $10 for every $1 spent on program integrity efforts." i'm introducing this amendment because this is good use of taxpayer dollars a critical way to ensure that money we invest in important programs like medicare medicaid and social security disability goes directly to the beneficiaries. and any elected official who has ever said we ought to root out waste and fraud in entitlement programs should obviously be supporting, restoring these critical funds. the second amendment i wish to raise is a bipartisan measure 636, filed along with senators crapo and king, dealing with consumer data security. recently we've seen major data breaches that have affected hundreds of millions of american consumers, those who shopped at target and home depot have accounts at j.p. morgan chase. in the aftermath of the target breach working with senator kirk, we recommended various industry groups in the private
sector coordinate on information sharing to ward off data thieves. with continuous advances in technology, it's vitally important that we continue to strengthen our efforts to protect consumers from cyber crime by enacting smart targeted protections. our bipartisan amendment simply recognizes that we need to provide reasonable notification to consumers when thairl -- their personal information is compromised and encourage greater cooperation in the private sector to safeguard that data. i urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan amendment. finally i'd like to introduce a third amendment number 638 along with my colleague senator ayotte that mirrors language including in the chairman's mark of our last budget resolution. this amendment encourages congress to act on recommendations from the g.a.o. to improve federal government efficiency while reducing fragmentation, overlap and duplication. the senate has a bipartisan
history of working on these issues and i think it's important that our budget resolution this year includes our continued commitment to that work. in 2010 the congress passed the bipartisan government performance and results modernization act or dpra that required federal agencies to report how their money was being spent as well as top priorities and possible avenues of consolidation. last year we passed the data act which works with dpra to further track hour agencies are spending money. it's important that the savings from these actions should go towards reducing our deficit. and that's why the warner-ayotte amendment is actually a deficit-reduction reserve fund. again, i urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan amendment. thank you mr. president. with that, i yield to my good friend, the senator from kansas. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: i thank the
gentleman from virginia for yielding to me. i would like to talk for a moment about, first of all the budget. i'm pleased that the united states senate is working on a budget. we're required to pass one by april 15. it's been awhile since we've been able to accomplish that. i'm hopeful that the budget will be reconciled with the house-passed budget giving us the opportunity to develop 12 appropriations bills within this budgetary outline. it's unfortunate that by the nature of a budget, it's a partisan endeavor, and the expectation is that no democrat will vote for the budget that ultimately will pass the senate today. i hope that doesn't continue to be true in another issue that i am encouraging and am encouraged to know will be considered by the united states senate, and that's the sustainable growth rate fix the so-called s.g.r. fix. back in 1997 a budget act was passed that created a formula by which physicians are reimbursed under medicare.
that formula has been very damaging to the practice of medicine the ability to sustain a practice of medicine, particularly in areas of the country in which the population is elderly and that patients are generally on medicare and most of the physicians' income then is derived from reimbursement from the medicare system. the s.g.r. created a series of problems. at least annually there's been a problem that we've had to fix. over a decade we have spent millions of dollars. in fact $150 billion in short-term so-called doc fixes. and what i hope happens after the consideration of the budget today, tonight, in the morning is that there will be unanimous consent, an agreement that we take a vote on finally fixing permanently the problems created by this s.g.r. formula. in my state of kansas, there's
127 hospitals community hospitals across our state who care for patients every day every hour. most of those hospitals have a significant volume of medicare patients and the physicians that admit patients to those hospitals and see patients on an ongoing basis in those communities see a significant portion of their patients, and their bills are paid by medicare. in the last several years the reduction in payment for a physician that medicare reimbursement has been in the neighborhood of 20% to 30%. i think all of us know, i think evidenced by the fact that every year we do a patch. we fix this issue. what we know is that in the absence of fixing that formula either on a periodic basis or today potentially permanently physicians will no longer be able to see medicare patients. in many of the communities that i represent the physicians are
employed by the hospital, and so this becomes not just a physician issue not just a hospital issue the reality is it's a patient issue. will you have a doctor in your community who is willing to see who is able to see a patient who is of the age at which medicare is providing medicare health care benefits? the opportunity we have today is important. we can do so many things by a permanent fix to the s.g.r. and the outcome is that communities across our country communities across my state of kansas have a much brighter hope that their hospital doors remain open and physicians continue to practice medicine in their communities. our health care providers face tremendous challenges today related to the affordable care act, related to the ever increasing amount of regulatory burden placed upon hospitals and doctors, upon the costs associated with moving toward computerized medical records.
our health care providers in many instances are hanging on by a thread, and whether or not a community has a doctor has a hospital determines whether or not that community has a future. i know it in my own hometown of plainville the ability of my parents who lived into their 90's to remain in their hometown was determined by whether or not there was an active quality medical community quality physicians who cared about their patients and hospitals who were there to admit those patients when that care was needed. and only because that existed in our hometown were my parents into their 90's able to continue to live in a community that they called home. the s.g.r. fix is a significant component to make certain that no people have to move, no senior citizens have to move someplace closer to a doctor or a hospital because their hospital no longer is in existence or their physician no longer cares for folks who have
medicare. the s.g.r., which i didn't support when it was created has caused a volatile and unsustainable system for both patients and health care providers. the uncertainty of knowing when and if congress is going to fix by a patch creates its problems in and of itself in addition to the ultimate reimbursement rate that physician receives. the time to act is now. we are as close to a permanent s.g.r. fix as we've been in my time in congress, and it would be a very sad occurrence if we let this opportunity slip by and one more time in a few months we'll be back trying to figure out how to patch the s.g.r. once again. we will spend more money. we will create greater uncertainty. and we will hasten the day in which citizens of our country medicare recipients are no longer able to see a physician of their choice or be admitted to the hospital in their
community. so mr. president, i am of the view that we ought not move on to other business, we ought not recess for this april period of time until we make sure that tonight or in the morning the s.g.r. fix is permanently put in place. mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendments and call up the following amendments en bloc on behalf of senator blunt. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection the clerk will report the amendments pending en bloc. mr. moran: those amendments are number 468and 467. the clerk: mr. moran proposes en bloc amendments numbered 467 and 468. mr. moran: mr. president i yield to the gentleman from massachusetts. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the pending amendment be set aside and i be able to call up
amendment 707 7 # 67, 896 897 and 5373 en bloc. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. the clerk: the senator from massachusetts, mr. markey, proposes amendments en bloc numbered 707 967 896 897 and 573. mr. markey: mr. president i just want to -- thank you so much for your consideration. i yield back the balance of my time.
mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: mr. president, a lot of things are happening. we are on the path to, i hope, be able to pass a budget that balances in ten years. it's got some problems with it, but i think it would be a major change in the course we've been on and i would support that. i hope to be able to support that although things could happen, i guess between now and our final vote. one of the things i want to share with my colleagues is simply this, the proposal to fix the doctors' payments, the doc fix, the s.g.r., has been around for a long time. i consider it one of my highest priorities. it is indeed unreasonable and
unjustified to require doctors to be uncertain every year whether they're going to get a 25% or so reduction in their payments for doing medicare work when they can hardly do the work at that fee level. so we do need to end this and fix it. however, on the same day that we are now declaring that we want to pass a budget that puts us on a financial path and that will balance in ten years by a meager $3 billion but is a balanced budget plan and it's a responsible plan, an idea and goal to achieve we're talking about passing an unpaid for not responsible in my view plan to spend and borrow another $170 billion to pay for the doc fix. this is what brings this
congress in disrepute. the same day we assert that we want to have a balanced budget and we've laid out a plan that will get that in ten years we're now considering passing a -- an unpaid for increase in spending that would add $170 billion to the debt. so we just can't do that, colleagues. to my physician friends who i've talked to a lot about this and worried a lot about it, let's all work together to lay out a plan that would pay for this expense. we can do that. miya mcginnis at the committee for responsible budget, a well-respected bipartisan group basically has been shocked at this proposal and has submitted papers that said over 20 years it would add $500 billion to the
debt. some have been saying over 20 years, it would pay for itself. it won't according to her analysis and we don't have official data now. so why would we allow this legislation to pass through so fast? so i would urge my colleagues, let's do a short-term fix again but this time let's do a permanent fix one that's responsible, one that's grown up one that's paid for not just one that adds more debt to the credit card of america at a time when we can't do that anymore. so mr. president i'm so disappointed that we may not be able to let this legislation clear today because i don't think it's going to be beneficial to us. we can come back, maintain the payment levels that we're supposed to, and let's do it in the right way and we can be proud of. i thank the chair and would yield the floor.
the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: i would ask unanimous consent that the pending amendment be set aside and on behalf of senator menendez call up amendments number 435 number 473 number 593 and number 993 en bloc. the presiding officer: without objection, the clerk will report the amendments en bloc. the clerk: the senator from vermont, for mr. menendez, proposes amendments en bloc number 435 473 593 and 993. mr. sanders: thank you mr. president. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up my amendments en bloc. number 665 677 678 667 666
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i'd ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up the following amendments en bloc on behalf of senator sullivan -- number 504 number 505 number 506 and number 1011. the presiding officer: without objection, the clerk will report the amendments en bloc. the clerk: the senator from wyoming, mr. enzi, for mr. sullivan proposes amendments en bloc numbered 504 505 06,
1,011. mr. enzi: mr. president, i have six unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and the minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that those requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. enzi: i'd suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. sanders: mr. president i would ask the quorum call be ended. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont, without objection. mr. sanders: i ask unanimous consent that the pending amendment be set aside and on behalf of senator wyden call up amendment number 1012. the presiding officer: without objection, the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: is the senate in a quorum call? the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. isakson: i would ask unanimous consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. isakson: further i ask unanimous consent that senator shaheen and senator isakson be introduced for up to ten minutes to call up a bill -- call up an amendment. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. isakson: i'd like to set aside the pending amendment and call up amendments 321, 611 and 839 en bloc. the presiding officer: without objection, the clerk will report the amendments. en bloc.
611, 839. mr. isakson: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: mr. president i'm glad to join the senator from new hampshire on a very important piece of legislation that is being proposed as an amendment to the budget today. it's called the by annual budgeting and brooption act which two years ago passed this senate with 68 votes. it has bipartisan support this year. it's the right way to solve our biggest problem, which is responsible spending in washington. the biennial budgeting and appropriation act assumes the following. what we have been doing has been broken for years. 20 of the 50 states in the united states of america have a biennial budget. it's time we did budgeting and oversight and allowed time for both. what this bill basically says that in odd numbered years we'll do our appropriating and in even numbered years we'll do oversight of appropriations. wouldn't it be great to change the paradigm in america where during the election years and even years instead of saying about how much bacon you're going to bring home, how much savings you're going to find in
the appropriations and budget process, we can find new money to fund new programs without raising taxes or raising revenue of the federal government? it's a responsible way to run our government. it's a way that we ought to run our government and it's a responsible way for america to return to fiscal accountability. with an $18.1 trillion deficit and with spending going haywire and us not being able to do budgeting or appropriations acts at all it's time we called time-out fixed our problem and moved forward. i'd like to yield to the distinguished senator from new hampshire, who as governor of new hampshire for six years did biennial budgeting and has great experience in that effort. the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: thank you very much mr. president. i'm pleased to join my colleague from georgia senator isakson in supporting biennial budget amendment. this is legislation that we've been working on. this will be the third session of congress now. and it's a response to what i think we would all agree is a broken budget process here in washington. since 1980 we've only had two
budget processes that have been finished on time, according to established process. in that time frame since 1980, when as senator isakson pointed out, every president has endorsed biennial budgeting congress has resorted to more than 150 short-term funding bills or continuing resolutions. that's no way to govern. and while we've made progress in recent years to reduce our deficits, we need reform of our budget process. senator isakson pointed out very eloquently how this proposal would work. in new hampshire where i served three terms as governor, i had a legislature that was -- were members of the other party and yet we were able to pass biennial budgets three years on time that were balanced. it worked in new hampshire. it works in 19 other states. it can work here. this is an opportunity for us to begin to reform our budget process. it won't fix everything but it will go a long way in addressing
our opportunity to provide oversight in the second year of the budget process. so i hope our colleagues will join us, that we will again as we did in 2013, have a majority to support biennial budgeting in this body. thank you mr. president and i yield the floor. mr. isakson: mr. president, i want to thank the senator from new hampshire for her remarks and thank her for her commitment. you know there's an old saying that the height of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and over again expecting a different result. it's time we had a different result in washington which is balanced budgets fiscal accountability and balanced spending and the biennial budget will do that. in our remaining time, with the permission of the senator from new hampshire, i want to address one other amendment that we've called up to be pending which is amendment 839. which has already been reported. 839 is very simply an amendment that recognizes the fact that 52 americans in 1979 were taken captive in iran at our embassy. 44 of them are still alive. they remain the only hostages ever taken american hostages
ever taken who were never compensated for their time. we have revenue accumulating because the iranian sanctions. everybody in the foreign relations committee is supportive and i think the state department is, too of seeing to it we take a portion of those sanctions and compensate the iranian -- the american hostages of the iranian government from 1979-1980. as the presiding officer will remember, it was the day ronald reagan was sworn in that jimmy carter finally made an agreement to get those hostages out of iran. but they suffered torture physical abuse and terror for 444 days. they deserve to be compensated. we deserve to take the money that the iranians have been paid for the sanctions in dealing business with iran and see to it these americans are compensated for what they suffered in 1979 and 1980. i appreciate the time from the chair and i will yield back the balance of our time. and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i'd ask that the
quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. enzi: i'd ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up the following amendments en bloc on behalf of senator lee: 750 855 749 856 and 759. the presiding officer: without objection, the clerk will report the amendments en bloc. the clerk: the senator from wyoming, mr. enzi, for mr. lee proposes en bloc amendments numbered 750 855 749 856 and 759. mr. enzi: mr. president, i'd note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. tillis: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up my amendments en bloc. oh, i request the quorum call be dispensed, unanimous consent. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. tillis: thank you mr. president. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up my
amendments en bloc, amendments 925 and 926. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report the amendments en bloc. the clerk: the senator from north carolina, mr. tillis, proposes amendments en bloc numbered 925 and 9256. and -- 925 and 926. mr. tillis: thank you mr. president. amendment 925 recognized the judicial conference work done to make less costly. amendment 926 addresses the 15th amendment that no denial or abridgement of the right to the vote shall be in our budget. thank you mr. president.
the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. tillis: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. sanders: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: i would ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up the following amendments en bloc -- amendment number 729
the clerk: the senator from vermont, mr. sanders proposes en bloc amendments numbered 729 342, and 588. mr. sanders: i ask unanimous consent that the reading be dispensed with. mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up my amendments -- call up these amendments en bloc for senator johnson -- 402 596 597 865. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report the amendments en bloc.
the clerk: the senator from wyoming, mr. enzi, for mr. johnson, proposes amendments en bloc numbered 402 596 597 and the 865. mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i ask unanimous consent that the time until 12:00 noon today be equally divided between the managers or their designees and that at 12:00 noon, the senate vote in relation to the following amendments in the order listed with no second-degree amendments in order prior to the votes but with side-by-side amendments allowed to be offered by senator sanders or his designee on the scott amendment number 692 and the vitter amendment number 515 and that that vote occur on the listed amendment second.
the order then would be sanders number 881. kirk number 545. stabenow number 523. rubio number 423. wyden number 1002. paul number 940. murray number 798. moran number 356. baldwin number 432. collins number 810. franken number 828. scott number 692. coons number 96. -- 966. and blunt number 928. durbin number 817. vitter number number 515. bennet number 547. murkowski number 838. inhofe number 649. i further ask consent that there be two minutes equally divided
between the managers or their designees prior to each vote and that all votes after the first in this series be 10 minutes in length. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. enzi: for the information of all senators, this will be the first series of votes today. i'd suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. cochran: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. cochran: i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and to -- first of all suggest that the quorum be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cochran: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up my amendment number 932. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from mississippi, mr. cochran for himself and ms. mikulski proposes an amendment numbered 932. at the appropriate place -- mr. cochran: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. cochran: mr. president, i urge the senate to support this amendment. the amendment i'm offering along
with the senator from maryland, the vice chair of the appropriations committee senator mikulski, this amendment proposes the creation of a biennial budget resolution process. having a two-year budget could enable the annual appropriations process to run more smoothly and it might also benefit other committees. the appropriations process often bogs down due to the failure of the budget resolution process. if there is no budget resolution in place, there is no framework to facilitate consideration of appropriations bills. establishing a biennial budget process does merit serious
consideration, but biennial appropriations are another matter. proponents of biennial appropriations argue that having an off year in which there are no are not appropriations bills -- no appropriations bills will mean more oversight during the off year. well this ignores the close relationship between oversight and the appropriations process itself. each in the appropriations process, in the hearings before the committee meetings, informally committee reports and the bills themselves, congress provides guidance admonitions sometimes and funding adjustments based on program performance and changing priorities. the appropriations process is
one of the best tools congress has to reform, improve eliminate, modernize programs under its jurisdiction. having an off year would not translate into more oversight. it might well have the opposite effect as congress would not possess any hammer or useful tool of the year's appropriation bill to modify agency actions. so you're yielding more power to the executive branch to spend money borrow money try new programs, without having a proper oversight of the appropriations and the authorizations process. writing and debating annual appropriations is an essential
part of the congressional oversight responsibility that was condemn he testimony plated by the framers of the constitution. it does not detract from the power or minimize or inprimping on -- infringe on authorizing committee's abilityings to perform additional oversight. there is no limitation under this process of legislative committees' prerogatives. it provides the money though, as the constitution contemplates through an appropriation of funds approved by the people's representatives, not the executive's, not the people who run the departments not the president himself. we change things -- changed things with the king of england process during the colonial era. the people recognized they
wanted the people in charge. here sir the people govern, became a watchword of the revolution and the establishment of the united states of america. so congress under this suggestion which we are criticizing at this moment, congress would be compelled to do one of two things. either adjust appropriations in the off year through supplemental appropriations, or give agencies themselves greater flexibility to move money around among different programs and activities that are part of the government spending process. the second is a further expansion of executive power. you're building up the executive with more tools to do its will
without respect of what the people's representatives in the congress might prefer. the second is the further expansion of executive power generally, that we should be wary of granting the -- the executive has an enormous amount of power but under our system here we should seek as equally powerful a role for the people's representatives, and for the direct election of members of the united states senate whose responsibility includes the power to help ensure that the states have the funds they need to carry out their responsibilities. congress can improve its performance in budgeting but it does not have to abandon the
annual review of the federal appropriations process in the fix mix. it doesn't have to be part of the answer to the question. so i hope senators will carefully review what's at stake here and what is being suggested and consider that before you vote. i hope the senate will support my amendment. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: i want to thank the senator from new jersey for allowing mere to speak but i wanted to associate myself with the senator from mississippi's remarks, the chairman of the appropriations committee senator cochran. what i want to be sure that we understand that this idea of biennial budgeting is really a bad idea. well intentioned but a bad
idea. it goes beyond the isakson amendment, goes beyond a two-year budget resolution and calls for establishing two-year appropriations bills. the power of the purse is one of congress' most powerful tools. we shouldn't give it up. and what would happen if we go with the isakson amendment -- and shaheen amendment and not follow cochran-mikulski, you need to know we would be putting too much power in the hands of the executive branch, unelected bureaucrats, and o.m.b. so proponents of biennial appropriating will not improve congressional oversight. just the opposite. without annual appropriations bills agencies will have little incentive to be candid in their testimony and responsive to congressional will and congressional directives.
we sacrifice our most poverty tool. and the other thing is the practicality. under biennial appropriations, the time lag between initial forecast and actual budgets could be 30 months. then we can't also respond to emergencies. threats change every day isis isis ebola embassy security the tragic that just happened to dear colleagues and allies in germany. we have to be able to respond. congress should not tie its own hands and limit its ability. support cochran-mikulski, defeat isakson-shaheen. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. sanders: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: i ask unanimous consent that the senate settle aside the pending amendments so that i can call up amendment number 881 which is pending at the desk. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from vermont, mr. sanders proposes amendment numbered 881.
the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. booker: thank you mr. president. i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and to call up three of my amendments en bloc, amendments 720, 721 and 722. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report the amendments en bloc. mr. booker: i ask that the reading of the amendments be dispensed with. the clerk: the senator from new jersey mr. booker, proposes en bloc numbered 720 721 and 722. mr. booker: i ask that the reading of the amendments be dispensed with. i hope to have the opportunity later today too speak about amendment 720 and 722 but i do -- would like to speak about
721, which is a freight rail amendment. i am very happy to see the presiding officer senator rubio, who i've worked with on other legislation having bipartisan work on important critical issues is essential i'm happy to join with senator fischer on this important amendment. it really focuses on the urgency to improve the movement of freight and strengthen our economic competitiveness by investing in a comprehensive multimodal national network that includes not just our major highways but our rail, seaports roads and intermodal facilities. i'm happy to see senator sanders here who has had the courage to speak about the truth about the infrastructure deficit in our country and call for bold, sound, fiscally sound investments. i want to make sure as we move forward that freight planning and investment as seen by this
amendment is prioritized. -- prioritized. along with senator fischer we support broadening our approach to freight policy that would promote greater national connectivity. why is this important? hundreds of millions of tons of freight are annually shipped through our ports and rails and highway networks. the freight quarter that runs through my state, new jersey, from new jersey to new york, to philadelphia, move over $55 billion in goods each year. and is one of the most significant choke points in the u.s. transportation network that moves $17 trillion in goods between metropolitan areas each year. the incredible freight network drives our economy boosts economic competitiveness and creates jobs in america. thousands and thousands of jobs. with a slight adjustment of our priorities and a strong national commitment to investing in our infrastructure, we can
dramatically reduce congestion, improve the health of our american communities and make sure goods get where they need to go faster, cheaper all while strengthening our economy and creating jobs. i urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this important amendment and look forward to continuing to work on critical transportation and infrastructure priorities. mr. president, thank you very much. the presiding officer: a -- the presiding officer: all time for debate has expired. mr. heinrich: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. heinrich: mr. president i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and ask for consideration of amendment 1024. the presiding officer: without objection, the clerk will report the amendment. objection is heard. mr. enzi: we could have 50 more people coming down and offering additional amendments. they'll have an opportunity to put those amendments in. the presiding officer: objection is heard. there are two minutes of debate prior to a vote on the sanders
amendment, number 881. mr. sanders: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: this is a very simple straightforward amendment. it calls for a substantial increase in the minimum wage. the simple truth is that in america people working full-time should not be living in poverty. since 1968, the real value of the federal minimum wage has fallen by close to 30%. and people all over this country and in state after state on their own have voted to raise the minimum wage, and, by the way, in state after state where the minimum wage has gone up, more jobs have been created. let us stand today with the tens of millions of workers who are struggling to put food on the table, to take care of their families. let us raise the minimum wage.
mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i'd urge my colleagues to vote "no." this isn't the proper place for this. it can be done as regular legislation at any time. this budget resolution is focused on balancing the budget in ten years. that's important in itself because balancing the budget renews job growth and expands opportunity for hardworking families. c.b.o. analyzed our budget for its economic growth impact. that report makes it clear that the economy grows as the government cellulose slows its spending rate. with that growth comes new jobs. it is clear that over a million new jobs could be created if our budget took full effect. that will create competition for employees. that will drive up wages. the minimum wage was designed to be a training wage that teaches people how to show up for work on time and how to learn a job before transitioning to new jobs and those that do get advanced really quickly. so i would ask that there be a "no" vote on this.
the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. heinrich: i would ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment -- the presiding officer: is senate in this a quorum call. mr. heinrich: i would ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. heinrich: and i would also ask unanimous consent to ask for consideration dosh to -- to set aside the pending amendment and ask for consideration of amendment 1024. the presiding officer: without objection, the clerk will report. the clerk: mr. heinrich proposes amendment numbered 1024. mr. heinrich: i ask unanimous consent that the reading of the allot be waived. -- of the amendment be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. the presiding officer: question now occurs on the sanders amendment 881. mr. enzi: i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there is. there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
if not the yeas are 48, the nays are 52. the amendment is not agreed to. mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: mr. president, i understand that there is a bipartisan agreement in the works -- the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: mr. president, i understand there is a bipartisan agreement in the works to modify the kirk amendment number 545 and therefore i ask unanimous consent that the vote on the amendment 545 occur after the vote on inhofe amendment number 649. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. there are now two minutes of debate prior to a vote on the stabenow amendment number 523. ms. stabenow: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator prosecute michigan. ms. stabenow: mr. president, i would hope we could all come together and agree that we want to bring jobs back to america --
the presiding officer: let's have order. ms. stabenow: thank you very much. this is about saying if you are a business in america and you want to pretend to move offshore on paper but have the benefits of clean air and clean water and roads and all of the benefits of our american way of life, you ought to be contributing to that way of life. so this closes tax loopholes that are being used by companies right now to avoid paying their fair share. small businesses are here paying their fair share. individuals are. the workers are. and yet we have a code where you can pack up and move overseas and american taxpayers have to foot the bill for the move. the workers losing their jobs have to foot the bill for the move. it makes no sense. we want to bring jobs back to america. this simply closes egregious loopholes to make sure everybody is a part of america everybody is contributing to our quality of life and our way of life in america. i would urge a "yes" vote. mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i urge my colleagues
to vote "no" on this amendment. senator stabenow's tax reform ideas may have merit but they should be dealt with in the context of comprehensive tax reform rather than a stand-alone proposal. otherwise we'd have a whole busmg ofbunch of these stand had stand-alone proposals. the united states tax code is overlie complicated archaic. it pushes american businesses overseas. any discussion of international or corporate tax reform should be dealt with in the context of comprehensive tax reform 10 simplify the whole system. that budget resolution assumes that the tax writing completes will adopt a tax reform proposal that reduces marginal rates but broadens the tax base to create a fair, efficient competitive pro-growth tax regime and that the revenue is neutral. i oppose the amendment. i'd ask for a "no" vote.
the presiding officer: are there any members in the chamber wishing to change their vote? if not the ayes are 46, the nays are 54. the amendment is not agreed to. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the vote on wyden amendment number 1012 occur after the vote on the stabenow amendment number 523
and that amendment number 940 be modified with the changes that are at the desk. the presiding officer: is there objection? hearing none, so ordered. mr. wyden: mr. president? the presiding officer: there are two minutes of debate prior to the vote on the wyden amendment number 1012. mr. wyden: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: mr. president earlier this week i was encouraged when republicans voted with democrats to approve an amendment i introduced with senator sanders that would protect medicaid beneficiaries from benefit cuts under the budget. but when you actually look at the republican budget on medicaid it's impossible to square that budget that has $1.2 trillion in cuts, with the vote that was held earlier this week to protect medicaid. and you can't get those savings without cutting reimbursements
for nursing homes and long-term care services, medicaid pays 40% of all nursing home care. colleagues let us be consistent with our medicaid vote that was cast earlier this week and support my amendment. mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i'll urge my colleagues to vote no. the budget before us suggests we modernize the medicaid program based upon the successful and bipartisan model. children's health insurance program. the senate budget strengthens and improves medicaid and protects the most vulnerable among us who rely on the program. the budget does not cut medicaid it slows its rate of growth. the senate finance committee, of course will determine the details of any reform and it would require legislation. i urge my colleagues in opposing the -- to join me in opposing the amendment.
the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. er sanders: this budget makes massive cuts in medicaid, that will throw women children, wintry mix off of that vitally important amendment. i strongly support the wyden amendment. let's protect medicaid. the presiding officer: the question is on the amendment. mr. wyden: ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not the yeas are 4 the nays are 53. the amendment is not agreed to. there are two minutes of debate prior to a vote on the rubio amendment number 423. mr. rubio: mr. president? the presiding officer: the sphror florida. mr. rubio: this is a pretty straightforward amendment. it funds defense solely on the gates burkt the last defense budget put together, based solely on the threats we face. the national security of our country is the predominant obligation of the federal branch of government. it is the one thing that only the federal government can do and it is the first thing that it is tasked with doing. if it cannot protect us from foreign threats and protect our national security, all the other issues that we're contemplating become elementary. so this is a critical component given the fact that around the world today there's an increase in threats from radical jihadists and non-state actors to rogue states sufficient as iran and north korea to massive military buildup on behalf of the chinese and the asia-pacific
region to the challenges faced by nato and our allies if europe as vladimir putin tries to rebuild the post soviet era in europe. i urge my colleagues to support this. it puts us at the gates' budget number, the last number that we arrived at, that was presented to us that fully funds the needs of our military based truly on the threats of the modern era. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. sanders: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: this is truly a remarkable amendment because it runs directly in opposition to everything the republicans have been talking about. they say that we got to cut medicare and medicaid and education because of the terrible deficit. well you know why we have a deficit and a large debt? because we went to war in iraq and afghanistan and we forgot to pay for it. and now senator rubio says, hey let's continue spending more money on war but just put it on the credit card. we don't have to pay for it.
enough is enough. if you want to go to war start paying for that war. let the american people know what the cost of war is. mr. president, i raise a point of order that the pending amendment violates section 312-b of the congressional budget act of 1974. mr. rubio: mr. president? the presiding officer: the the senator florida. mr. rubio: pursuant to the congressionalcongressional budget act of 1974 i move to waive all applicable sections of that act and applicable budget resolutions for the purpose of my amendment and i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
vote: the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to change their vote? on this vote the yeas are 32. the nays are 68. three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn not having voted in the affirmative the motion is not agreed to. the point of order is sustained and the amendment falls.
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i just want to remind everybody that these are supposed to be ten-minute votes. i'm going to be asking for a little bit closer tally on this. we've got hundreds of them to go yet today so we need to be a little more responsive, getting in and getting votes done. it's a ten-minute vote. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: there are two minutes of debate prior to a vote on the paul amendment number 940 as modified. mr. paul: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky. mr. paul: national defense is the number-one priority of the federal government. my amendment increases defense spending but pays for it with spending cuts. it is irresponsible and dangerous to continue to put america further into debt, even for something we need. we need national defense but we should pay for it. america does not project power from bankruptcy court. we need a strong national
defense, but we should be honest with the american people and pay for it. mr. sanders: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: mr. president the republican budget throws 27 million people off of health care. it denies nutrition programs for hungry kids and pregnant women. it cuts $90 billion for the pell program, making it harder for young people to get a college education. and it raises the price of prescription drugs for the elderly. but for senator paul, that is apparently not enough. he wants over a two-year period, $189 billion in cuts to discretionary programs, which will be devastating to the working families of this country. stop the war against working families. vote "no" on the paul amendment. and i make a point of order that the pending amendment violates section 312-b of the
congressional budget act of 1974. mr. paul: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky. mr. paul: pursuant to section 904 of the congressional budget act of 1974 and the provisions under applicable budget resolutions i move to waive all applicable sections of that act and applicable budget resolutions for the purpose of my amendment and i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there is. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
if not on this vote, the yeas are 4 and the nays 96. three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn not having voted in the affirmative the motion is not agreed to. the point of order is sustained and the amendment falls. mrs. murray: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president this amendment that i'm offering today would simply expand access to paid sick days and give -- the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mrs. murray: thank you mr. president. it will expand access to paid sick days and give our families some really much-needed economic stability. you know, working families should not have to sacrifice a day's pay or sacrifice their job altogether just to take care of themselves or a sick child but today in this country 43 million of our nation's
workers do not have access to paid sick days. this amendment would allow workers to earn up to seven paid sick days over the course of a year, and it will not only help our families, it is good for business. paid sick days boost productivity and in cities and states that already have paid sick leave laws, many employers say that this policy has not affected their revenue. allowing workers to earn paid sick days would take us a step closer to having an economy that works for all of our families, and i urge its support. mr. enzi: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment. under the current law the family and medical leave act provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave for employees following the birth of a child to care for a seriously ill family member or for their own serious help. voluntary paid leave programs work precisely because they are voluntary, thereby offering flexibility to both employees
and employers. the one size fits approach does not permit the flexibility we need to help all the kinds of businesses all the kinds of employers, workers the federal government is not best situated to know the best benefit compensation that should be provided. this again is a bill that should go through committee. it might be very successful if it went through committee but it ought to go through committee, it shouldn't be a part of the budget. i ask for a no vote. mrs. murray: i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: the question is on the murray amendment number 798. mrs. murray yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
amendment, number 356. mr. moran: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: mr. president thank you. the moran amendment is an attempt to address the issue, in fact it is addressing the issue of the 40 miles the requirement contained in the choice act that congress passed in august. mr. president, i don't know -- the presiding officer: can we have order please. order. mr. moran: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: the moran amendment addresses are the issue of 40 miles and the choice act. you may recall in august we were successful in coming together and passing legislation to give veterans greater options. if you live more than 40 miles from a v.a. facility or if you can't get the services within 30 days the v.a. should provide those services if you choose at home. this amendment makes clear that the v.a. should provide those services in the circumstance where there is a v.a. facility within 40 miles but it doesn't
provide, if it doesn't provide the service the veteran needs it doesn't count against the 40 miles. this is common sense very bipartisan amendment. and i would ask that it be adopted, and i would ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? mr. sanders: mr.? the presiding officer: there appears to be. the yeas and nays are ordered. the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: mr. president i appreciate senator moran raising this issue. last year we wrote the veterans access choice accountability act. we included language to allow veterans living at least 40 miles from a v.a. facility to access care in the community. like senator moran i represent a rural state. i'm the first to understand the unique needs of veterans. i have spoken with senator moran and understand his intention is to ensure that veterans living at least 40 miles from the facility that provides the care they need can seek care in the community through the choice program on a case-by-case basis.
the presiding officer: are there any senators that wish to change their vote? if not those in favor are 100. the nays are zero. the moran amendment number 356 is approved. there are two minutes of debate prior to a vote on the baldwin amendment number 432. ms. baldwin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin. ms. baldwin: mr. president my amendment would create a free community college program making a bold investment in our nation's students, its work force and the future of our economy. it pays for this investment in a balanced way and my amendment would actually reduce the deficit by enacting the buffett rule asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair
share of taxes while giving our students a fair shot at the opportunities a higher education brings. inspired by programs in tennessee and chicago this spring president obama proposed a program that would allow students to attend community college for two years at no cost. this was a bold step, and passing my amendment will show that congress is ready to act to give every student a fair shot at an affordable education. voting for this amendment means you believe that a college education should be a path to the middle class and not a path into debt. i would urge all of my colleagues to vote yes on the baldwin-schumer-sanders-stabenow amendment to support free community college and i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the yeas and nays are ordered.
mr. enzi: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: for the one minute in opposition i do urge my colleagues to vote no on this amendment. the amendment spends more than $50 billion and pays for it by raising taxes. it's again telling the finance committee exactly how to do something, but worse yet, the president's budget proposal for a community college tuition free-for-all is not free for the states. the federal government will pay 75% but the states have to pay 25%. that's a 25% unfunded mandate. there's no provision for the states to be covered under this thing. so we're telling them that they're going to provide free college, although a lot of them already do. for the poor, the pell grant is $575,000 and the average community college tuition is $3,347. but it's not clear exactly what
strings the administration would attach to community colleges and states in exchange for this 75% match. some of senator baldwin's tax reform ideas may have merit but they should be dealt with in the context. i ask my colleagues to vote no. the presiding officer: the question is on the amendment. the yeas and nays are ordered. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to vote or change their vote? if not there are 45 votes in favor, 55 votes opposed. the baldwin amendment number 432 is not approved. there are two minutes of debate prior to a vote on the collins amendment number 810. ms. collins: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: mr. president i offer this amendment on behalf of myself and senator hirono. our amendment would create a deficit-neutral reserve fund to expand access to higher education for some of our neediest students through the
pell grant program. it would allow for-year-round for-year-round -- for year-round pell grants so students who want to accelerate their degrees by taking additional courses including the summer can take an additional pell grant when they need it and complete their education more quickly without having to wait for the next academic year to begin. i urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan amendment. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i want to thank the senator from maine. we should be making to -- college more affordable and reducing the crushing burden of student debt and the underlying budget makes scratching cuts to pell grants and would increase the average student's debt by thousands of dollars. the senator from maine's amendment would make college more affordable by reinstating
the year-round pell grant which is much-needed investment to improve student success. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mrs. murray: and i urge our colleagues to support this amendment. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i believe we have agreement to take this on a voice vote. the presiding officer: if there if there is no further debate, all those in favor signify by saying aye. those opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the amendment is agreed to. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: on vote 98 i voted no when i intended to vote aye. tennis since it will not change the outcome i ask that i be recorded as voting aye. the presiding officer: without objection. there are two minutes of debate prior to the vote on the franken amendment number 2828.
mr. franken: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: mr. president i would ask for order. the presiding officer: order in the chamber. mr. franken: we just voice voted a vote to let students use summer pell grants but the fact of the matter is, is that this budget cuts pell grants. minnesota alone more than 1,660,000 students were able to go to college thanks in part to pell grants, and the same holds for millions around the country. when my wife frannie and i were in college a full pell grant paid for about 80% of a public college education. today it pays for less than 35%. and yet this budget would cut this program. and make it harder for students to pay for college.
my colleagues want to cut them further. we should not be doing that. that's why i offer this amendment to restore funding for pell grants. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. franken: i urge my colleagues to vote yes. the presiding officer:s to the senator wish to call up his amendment? mr. franken: i would say yes. i hereby -- i ask consent to lay aside and call up my amendment. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from minnesota, franken for himself and others, proposes an amendment numbered 828. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i'd urge my colleagues to vote no. first, this amendment would increase deficits relative to the budget resolution, it increases spending and function 500 with no offset.
second the budget resolution doesn't cut the pell grants, the primary program helping millions of people. the budget does encourage restoring the pell grant program to its original status as a discretionary program subject to the annual review by congress. the tuition purchasing power of pell grants is at an all-time low even though the pell grant spending has tripled in the past decade. since since 2008 there's been anest to increase the maximum pell grant but the college tuition goes up faster than that. this is a program again that needs tock reviewed by the applicable committee to see what needs to be done. we think there's the parameters in the bill to take care of it. it provides sufficient funding on the discretionary side to maintain the maximum pell grant level, which is set to rise to $5,775 for the upcoming academic year. so i'd ask my lesion to vote "no" -- my colleagues to vote "no." i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: question is on the amendment. is there a sufficient second?