privatize and voucherize medicare. the ryan health plan would hurt more than 217,000 seniors in hawaii and millions across the country, including those who live in jamesville, wisconsin and rocksville, georgia. i wonder how speaker ryan and congressman price would explain to seniors in their districts, their states how voucherizing medicare won't hurt them. saving medicare is going to be a daunting fight, but i'm not going to shy away from it. i'm going to do whatever i can whenever i can to protect medicare for our seniors. i yield the floor.
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. a senator: i would ask consent that the quorum call -- the presiding officer: we're not in a quorum call. mr. cardin: i want to ask consent that my entire statement be made part of the record but i want to take a moment -- the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: -- to express my appreciation to the democratic leader, senator harry reid. he spoke earlier on the floor. i was here with many of my colleagues and listened to his incredible story about his background from searchlight, nevada, to his ascension to the
united states senate and the democratic leader. when i first came to the united states senate, senator reid asked to meet with me. i thought he was going to talk about my philosophy on different issues or what my interests would be or how i was going to try to move forward on particular bills, but what he really wanted to talk about was my family, what i thought was important in life. he was very interested in my family traditions and how that would be impacted by my life in the united states senate. and i must tell you, it was very personal. i think many of us see many sides of harry reid, but one side of him is clear, that he treats the senate as his family and treats each one of us as his family. and i just really wanted, mr. president, to express my appreciation for his service in the united states senate, for his public service for so many
years. myrna and i are friends of landra and harry. we wish him only the best as he moves forward from his career here in the united states senate. it's really been a pleasure to serve with him in the united states senate. this is an incredible place to serve and senator reid has certainly made this senator's life in the united states senate much more enjoyable and productive. with that, mr. president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. i ask my entire statement be made in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. cornyn: i would ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: we moved the defense authorization bill across the finish line. this authorizatio legislation a- encounter the i've involving threats emanating around the world. the defense authorization bill will also give our men and women in the uniform the most up to date weaponry and the other equipment they need including advanced aircraft, ships, and ground vehicles. and fortunately, the bill also authorizes needed improvements in military facilities, like those in fort hood, texas, joint base san antonio, red river army dee owe and -- depot and
ellington field. finally, it provides a much needed pay raise for our troops. i'm glad we were able to finish our work on that to better serve our men and women in uniform. i hope the president reconsiders his stated intention to veto this legislation. it makes absolutely no sense to mme and i think would be an insult to the troops who we all claim we support to deny them the resources and the pay raise that this bill provides for. we still have more work ahead of us, including the continuing resolution. now, i know there are moabs of this -- are members of this body who say we want to change that appropriation bill to add some other provisions, but i just came back from meeting with some of the members of the texas house delegation. they tell me the house is leaving. and so even if changes were made, the house is not going to be here in session to make changes to the continuing resolution. so our friends across the aisle need to face up to the reality
that if they somehow prevent us from passing this continuing resolution, it will be on their hands. so i hope they'll reconsider because they're not going to be able to achieve the goal that they are seeking. we're close to wrapping up the water resources development bill as well. this bill has also experienced a little bit of a hiccup. it's gotten held up over questions about how best to address the drought in california, but the bottom line is california needs this legislation to help deliver water to its people and to keep producing billions of dollars worth of crops each year. i know the folks in california consider themselves to be the breadbasket for america and literally the world because of all the food we export, but that's why -- that's one reason why this legislation is so important and why the senio senr
senator or the junior senator i guess from -- well, i forget who's junior and who's senior. senator feinstein and negotiated this package and i know senator boxer is not happy with it. the fact of the matter is under the current procedures, we're going to finish this legislation one way or another, perhaps as late as monday but we need to get it done. this legislative package will make sure that california and the rest of the country get the resources we need while complying with all environmental laws. with some cooperation, of course, we can get all of these moving parts done for the american people soon. mr. president, on another topic, i know it's always difficult to come down here and talk about the departure of our good friends and valued colleagues. the word that i've heard most mentioned this week is bittersweet. people looking forward to the next chapter of their lives but regret the fact that good friends and valued colleagues
are moving on to the next chapter of their lives. but every other december we find ourselves bidding farewell to some of our most admired and respected members. today i want to talk briefly about four of them starting with our good friend, the junior senator from new hampshire, senator ayotte. senator ayotte -- and i have more in common than may meet the eye, so let me explain. our hometowns are 2,000 miles away, so it doesn't seem obvious, but she served as attorney general of the state of new hampshire and holds the distinction of being new hampshire's first and only female attorney general. she was first appointed to that position by a republican governor, and she did such an outstanding job serving the people that she was rea pointed to that position by a democratic governor. everybody who knows kelly ayotte knows that she epitomizes the spirit of bipartisanship and camaraderie that makes a good
public servant a great one. and that's been evident in her work that she is done here in the united states senate, from the comprehensive addiction and recovery act to multiple national security issues, senator ayotte has been eager to work with members on both sides of the aisle when it comes down to doing what's best for the people of her state and for the united states. now, senator ayotte and i both come from military families. my dad was -- flew in the army air corps in world war ii, the 303rd bomb group in the air force. her great-grand dad also flew in the air force and her husband flew in the air force and air national guard and flew combat missions in bosnia and iraq. senator ayotte's firsthand knowledge of the military has been a great help to us, particularly in her role on the armed services committee. now, kelly will tell you that
she does her best to listen first, to take in the concerns of her fellow granite staters to discuss the merits of each side's policy position and then -- and only then call ofly and methodically reach a well-considered decision. that sort of patience and willingness to listen and consider all views has served her well during her tenure in the united states senate. and it's a lesson that we all should take to heart and learn from by her good example. so i want to add my thanks to our friend, senator kelly ayotte, for her years of service on behalf of the people of new hampshire and also thank her husband, joe daley, and their two children for their steadfast support of their wife and mom. i don't know what capacity kellically continue to serve her state and her nation but i know
we'll be seeing and hearing more from here in some capacity of service, and i look forward to seeing where and in what capacity she finally decides to serve next. next, mr. president, i want to recognize our friend from indiana, senator dan coats. senator coats is a well-known commodity, not just in hoosier country but across the united states. he has earned the reputation as a distinguished statesman who genuinely doesn't need an introduction because his sterling reputation precedes him. we know his impressive resume, after serving his country as a soldier in the army, he decided he wanted to continue in public service, so he worked as a congressional staffer for then then-congressman dan quayle. when his boss decided to run for the senate and won, senator coats took his boss' congressional seat to serve in the house of representatives, and when vice president quayle -- or when senator quayle
between vice president quayle, representative coats became senator coats, following on in his example. he broke that pattern of following in the footsteps of the former vice president when he was appointed ambassador to germany. in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, he was an instrumental diplomat, working with our allies in europe as we responded and as the world responded to the worst terror attack on our country in our history. i know i speak for every member here when i say that we're grateful that senator coats came out of retirement and came back to the senate in 2010. now, we've come to know that he is a warrior when it comes to wasteful washington spending, and every week he comes to the floor to talk about his -- quote -- ""waste of the week." it's a service to all of us really, to remind us that we have a lot of work to do in that area but also to point out how
we can save taxpayers' dollars and use them more efficiently. many folks wouldn't know that he regularly attends the weekly prayer breakfast we have here in the senate as well, which is a great time for senators to come together and to support one another. and it reflects dan's commitment to faithfully encourage his colleagues day in and day out. my colleagues know that senator coats is also a big fan of getting things done during votes, and he knows how to work a room. he's been on the deputy whip team and helped consult with and helped inform our colleagues in a way that's helped us to actually get legislation passed by unifying us. well, suffice it to say, senator coats is a true diplomat wherever he goes, and this chamber has been a better, more civil place with him in it. now, i know dan would be the first to tell you his decades of public service was made possible because of the equal partner he
has in his wife marsha. they met in college and have been married more than 50 years and are a great example to all of us. so thanks to marsha and their children and grandchildren for sharing dan all these years. now, i have a suspicion that senator coats doesn't have it in him to step totally away from public srvetion and there's been -- public service, and there's been some news and discussion about whether he might be in the running for another important position, perhaps in the next administration. but i know we all look afford to seeing where he goes -- but i know we all look forward to seeing where he goes next to serve our country, which we know is so important to him. mr. president, i'd also like tocy assay a few -- i'd also like to say a few words about the senior senator from louisiana, senator david vitter. back in the 113th congress in 02013 -- in 2013, i began my tenure as the republican whip, and at the same time i invited senator vitter to serve the
conference as a deputy whip. one thing you always know about david vitter, whether you are a colleague, a staffer, or a constituent is no matter what he's going to have thought carefully about the issue in ways that perhaps surprise many of us. and he's always, when he has something to say about an issue, it's always something worth listening to. i can't say that about all of us, but certainly senator vitter adds to the value of our deliberations every time he speaks. but of course nothing is more -- nothing is closer to his heart than the people of louisiana, and that's what he has done diligently and faithfully here to serve the people of his state. i've had the pleasure of working with him on issues we share in common, like coastal protection issues that affect both of our states with our gulf coast. senator vitter was sworn in to office the same year hurricane katrina struck new orleans, and as a matter of fact for a time
he and his family literally lived outside the houston area because of the devastation wrought by that terrible hurricane. a storm that fema called "the single most catastrophic natural disaster in u.s. history." katrina did billions of dollars' worth of damage, killed almost 2,000 people, left thousands without a roof over their heads, and cut the population of new orleans in half. about 100,0000,000 of those i'md made permanent residents in texas, having had their homes destroyed. but i know that senator vitter took this devastation as a personal challenge. he hit the ground running, and when the people of louisiana needed it most, he worked at every level of government to bring them together and to get the help 4 they needed. just a few years after ceerntion hurricanic -- just a few years after katrina, hurricane ike pomele--pummeled its way throug.
i've had a number of opportunities to work with senator vitter to make sure our communities along the coast stand ready to help each other and particularly as we prepare for future storms. i wish minimum and his wife wendy and their entire family well as they look to more adventures and more opportunities to serve, and i have to doubt he'll continue to take his passion for helping the people of louisiana with him wherever the future may lead. finally, mr. president, i want to recognize the junior senator from illinois, senator mark kirk. now, if you've noticed senator kirk's interest on the floor, you'll notice a trend. in addition to supporting measures that help the people of illinois, he is laser-focused on keeping america safe. and i'm looking around -- he provides us a declassified situation map that shows us where the united states military is engaged in fighting the war on terror in the middle east and
in africa. he is a former member of the united states navy and so has worked hard -- long and hard to strengthen our military at every turn. he's been a thoughtful and is recognizal critic of some of our nation's biggest adversaries, like north korea and iran. mark's never been one to shy away from more sanctions or steeper penalties for those countries, if it means the united states will be safer as a result. to put it sumly, mark -- to put is simply, mark kirk is a great patriot. we all know his personal story of overcoming a stroke and his great perseverance and fortitude. it really has been an inspiration to watch mark as he's recovered from that devastating stroke and continues to be an enormously productive senator on behalf of the state of illinois.
it's been a joy really to see him turn that difficult circumstance into a rallying cry to help others get the best care and rehabilitation available today. so i'm personally grateful to senator kirk for many things, but in particular i want to mention his strong support of antihuman trafficking legislation. i joined him in chicago a few years ago to speak with law enforcement about the connections between organized crime and sex trafficking. mark has never wavered from his support for important legislation that we passed here this last year called the justice for victims of trafficking act. he understood right from the beginning that human trafficking was essentially modern-day slavery, targeting as it did vulinerm children -- vu vulinerm children, typically a child 12-14 years of age, who has run
away from home, toll find themselves unable to leave because they have become a victim of slavery. so i am thankful to senator kirk for standing up for the victims of human trafficking and take care of and prioritizing our servicemen and wivment let me close by saying thank you to our friends, senator kirk, vitter, coats and ayotte for the undelible mark and contribution they made to the senate and my sincere appreciation for how they have faithfully served our country. i'm grateful for their friendship and wish them and their families well as they tackle new ventures ahead. mr. president, i'll just close by saying we have another colleague who's been nominated to serve as attorney general who is still -- who still has to go through the process of confirmation, advice and consent by the senate. that of course would be the junior senator from alabama, senator sessions. not to jinx him, i'll wait until
mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant majority leader. mr. cornyn: i would ask the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i further ask unanimous consent take the senate now be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes for debate
only until 3:00 p.m. this afternoon. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: reserving the right to object. i would like to have a colloquy with my colleague. it's my understanding, i would say, that senator carper was interested in five minutes. senator merkley was interested in five minutes. i was interested in five minutes. and i think senator enzi was interested in five minutes. could i ask my colleague if he would amend his u.c. so that each of those four senators would have five minutes? i think that would take us to about 3:10 as opposed to 3:00. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. the assistant majority leader. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i would like to accommodate my friend from washington, but the house message containing the continuing resolution is due here at 3:00. there's a number of procedural matters that need to be attended
to so we'll have senators coming to the floor for that purpose. i'm told that after that process which shouldn't take very long occurs, then the floor will be wide open for senators to speak as long as they like. so i would object. the presiding officer: is there objection to the original request? without objection. mr. wyden: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: i'm speaking in morning business with my colleague and friend senator merkley to talk about forestry policy and to give the senate a little bit of an update on where
we are because we have so many resource-dependent communities that just have been devastated as a result of a variety of policies. and i want to touch briefly and then yield to senator merkley on what some of those elements are. the first is our softwood lumber producers are now in a titanic battle with the canadians fighting the canadian system of heavily subsidizing their industry thereby cutting ours. and a group of 25 senators, a quarter of the senate, mr. president, have joined me in an effort so that our trade representative pushes back and continues to fight this unjust, inequitable system until we no longer see oregon and american
jobs destroyed as a result of the canadians unfairly subsidizing their industry. that's number one. number two, we feel very strongly about getting the harvest up in a sustainable fashion. we know that there's an awful lot of work to do in the woods. we can do it with an environmental ethic, with an ethic of forest health. and i strongly support that. i've introduced legislation to do that in my home state and have been supportive of colleagues' efforts to do it in their parts of the country. but the reality is and the forest service has said this, you would have to increase logging on our public lands by 400% in order to no longer need a third leg of the forestry
stool, which is the secure rural schools program. so i want it understood we're going to push back against inequitable trade practices that are hurting jobs in rural oregon and rural america. we are going to support increasing the harvest in a sustainable fashion, but there is no real -- no realistic increase that might possibly win a passage here in washington and be upheld legally that involves taking the harvest up to 400%. so you are going to need a safety net. and senator merkley and i, senator crapo, senator risch, many colleagues on both sides of the aisle have fought to get this program which is now expired extended for one more year. this program began in 2000 as a
result of a bipartisan piece of legislation that senator craig and i authored called the secure rural schools bill. it now benefit morse than 400 -- excuse me. more than 700 communities and we see that all over the country this program is depended on for education. it's depended on for roads. it's depended on in many areas for law enforcement. unfortunately our colleagues have not been willing to extend it. senator merkley and i and senator crapo and senator risch in a bipartisan way have wanted to work here in the senate in a bipartisan way to get this extended but to put these vital county payments on the back burner i think would be an enormous mistake. so i want to yield the remainder of our time to my friend and colleague, but there are really
three legs to this stool. fight unfair trade practices, get the harvest up in a sustainable kind of fashion, and understand that you're not going to be able to meet the needs of hard hit rural communities without the safety net program, the secure rural schools program. senator crapo, senator risch, senator merkley and i are going to keep coming back here again and again until we get it reauthorized. and i yield the remainder of our time to senator merkley. mr. merkley: mr. president? mr. president, i really appreciate the comments of my colleague from oregon who back in the year 2000 fought so hard to right a wrong. the wrong was that a variety of measures related to these timbered acres reduce the ability to pull as much harvest off as in the past. part of that was the fact that there was simply a lot of second growth that wasn't ready to cut
yet. another was a variety of rules related to environmental protections, to forest fire prevention, a whole series of things. but the bottom line is that these counties which originally had these lands before they transferred them to the federal government for safe keeping, that they are dependent upon revenue from the timber sales on these lands. and those timber sales, as my colleague pointed out, simply can't operate at the same level to provide the resources those counties operated on. so much as with payment in lieu of taxes o, we stepped in, my colleagues stepped in and led the effort to honor the promise made to those counties. and we've been doing so now for 16 years. one of the challenges that has really emerged is that we only reauthorize is for a short period of time. yeah, we'll still honor the promise but only for a year or two years which means the counties never know what's going
to be coming. they're really caught in limbo. and because they are rural counties, they don't have a great amount of manufacturing. a lot of these counties don't have a lot of farm land. they're really dependent on the forest industry as the heart of their economy. so this is very important to them. and we need to honor the promise to these counties just as we have through the pilt program. now, it is a -- certainly a situation where we can debate it what level that should be but it needs to be long term, a long-term commitment to a promise to these counties. these were county lands given to the government to essentially hold them. we need to address this that provides a strong foundation, a strong commitment to the properly mace made to rural forested counties.
as mentioned 720 counties in 41 states. that's a pretty significant deal across the country. we need to act, and we need to act now. and i turn this back over to my colleague. mr. wyde with -- mr. wyden: mr. president, i'm going to back this up by saying a program like this has contributed to community involvement. that's what we're going to have to have, mr. president to get this job right. it's called collaborative forestry. the secure rural schools program that senator merkley and i want to reauthorize is a textbook case of what you want to do for lacollaborative forest trivmento i come back as we wrap up, for people who are watching the way forest policy is being approached here -- and we didn't even get into forest health
because we all know our forests, a lot of them, particularly in the west, are just burning up, so senator risch and senator crapo and the two of us went into something called fire borrowing, which is an extraordinarily inefficient policy that discourages prevention with respect to fire. so we're going to be back to talk about the nuts and bolts of sensible forest policy. but if we build on this collaborative ethic, as we have sought do in our o.n.c. bill, the bill that senator merkley and i have been involved in, our bill according to the experts doubles the harvest, on average, for each of the next 50 years. so we want it understood at that we're going to be fielgt on a -- fighting on a number of frojtses. we're going to fight with respect to trade policy, which is long overdue as it relates to getting a fair shake for our softwood lum it ber produce,--
softbooed lumber producers. we're going t -- senator merkles talked about the promise of secure rural schools and i feel that it's very regret that will be when senator crapo and senator risch tried to convince the other side of the aisle to accept secure rural schools now, we couldn't get it done. but i think all who know us know that, a, we're persist ternghts and, b, we know you don't get anything done that's important without bipartisan support. stheets i would we'll be approaching forestry policy in the days ahead. mr. president, i yield back. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: so ordered. mr. mcconnell: so, i'd just like to call everybody's atongs the house vote that just occurred on the continuing resolution and on the wrda bill. the continuing resolution passed 326 to 96. 208 roons voted for it and -- 208 republicans voted for it and 33 voted against t on the democrats, 118 democrats voted for it and only 63 voted against it. on the wrda bill it passed 360-61. republicans voted for it 222-17. democrats voted for it 138-44. so the house is clearly with two overwhelming votes sent us the last two measures that we need
to deal with here before we wrap up this congress and head home for the holidays. now, in that regard, mr. president, i ask the chair to lay before the body a message to accompany h.r. 2028. the presiding officer: the chair lays before the body the following message. the clerk: resolve, that the house agree to the amendment of the senate to l bill h.r. 2028, entitled "an act making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2016, and for other purposes with an amendment." mr. mcconnell: i move to concur in the house amendment to the senate amendment to h.r. 2028 and i send a cloture motion to the desk on the motion to concur. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the
motion to concur in the house amendment to the senate amendment to calendar number 96, h.r. 2028, an act making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2016, and for other purposes, signed by 17 senators as follows. mr. mcconnell: i ask that the reading of the names be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i move to concur in the house amendment to the senate amendment to h.r. 2028, with a further amendment. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator kentucky, mr. mcconnell, moves to
concur in the house amendment to the senate amendment with an amendment in my judgment 5139. -- with an amendment number 5139. the presidin mr. mcconnell: i ask that the reading be dispensed with. officer without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask for the yeas and nays on a motion to concur with the amendment. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there is. the yeas and nays are ordered. mr. mcconnell: i have a second-degree amendment at the defnlg. the presiding officer: the
clerk will report. the clerk: the mr. mcconnell proposes an amendment numbered 45140 to amendment number 5139. mr. mcconnell: i ask that the reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: move to refer the house eighth to the committee on appropriations with instructions to report back forthwith with an amendment numbered 5141. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion. the clerk: the senator from kentucky, mr. mcconnell, moves to refer the house message to accompany h.r. 2028 to the committee on appropriations with instructions
to report back forthwith with an amendment number 5141. mcmu i ask for the yeas and nays on my motion. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there is. the yeas and nays are ordered. mr. mcconnell: i have an amendment to the instructions. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from kentucky, mr. mcconnell, proposes an amendment numbered 5142 to the instructions of the motion to refer the house
message to accompany h.r. 2028. mr. mcconnell: i ask that the reading be dispensed with. officer sph without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask for the yeas and nays on my amendment. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there is. the yeas and nays are ordered. mr. mcconnell: i have a second-degree amendment at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: mr. mcconnell proposes an amendment numbered 5143 to amendment number 5142.
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask the chair to lay before the body the message to accompany calendar number 65, s. 612. the presiding officer: the chair lays before the senate the following message. the clerk: resolved, that the bill from the senate s. 612 entitled an act to designate the federal building and united states courthouse located at 1300 victoria street in laredo, texas, as the george b.cazen federal building and united states courthouse do pass with an amendment. mr. mcconnell: i move to condition occur in the house amendment to s. 612 and i send a cloture motion to the desk on the motion to concur. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: cloture motion. we, the the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do
hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to concur in the house amendment to the calendar number 65, s. 612, an act to designate the federal building and united states courthouse located at 1300 victoria street in laredo, texas, as the george p. cazen federal building and united states courthouse, signed by 17 senators as follows. mr. mcconnell: i ask the reading of the names be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i move to concur in the house amendment to s. 612 with a further amendment. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from kentucky, mr. mcconnell, moves to concur in the house amendment to the senate amendment to s. 612 with an amendment numbered 5144. mr. mcconnell: i ask the reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask for the yeas and nays on the motion to concur with the amendment. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? the yeas and nays are ordered. mr. mcconnell: i have a second-degree amendment at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report.
the clerk: the senator from kentucky, mr. mcconnell, proposes an amendment numbered 5145 to amendment numbered 5144. the presidingmr. mcconnell: i ae reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i move to refer the house message on s. 612 to the committee on environmental and public works with instructions to report back forthwith with amendment numbered 5146. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion. the clerk: the senator from kentucky, mr. mcconnell, moves to refer the house message on 612 to the committee on environment and public works with instructions to report back forthwith with an amendment numbered 5146. mr. mcconnell: i ask for the yeas and nays on my motion. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there is. the yeas and nays are ordered. mr. mcconnell: i have an amendment to the instructions. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from kentucky, mr. mcconnell, proposes an amendment numbered 5147, to the instructions of the motion to refer the house message to accompany s. 612.
mr. mcconnell: i ask the reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask for the yeas and nays on my amendment. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there is. the yeas and nays are ordered. mr. mcconnell: i have a second-degree amendment at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from kentucky, mr. mcconnell, proposes an amendment numbered 5148 to amendment numbered 5147.
close, it provides us with an opportunity to acknowledge and express our appreciation to those members of the senate who will be retiring in a few weeks. one of those who will be retiring and will be greatly missed is dan coats of indiana. dan has had an interesting career, and through his more than 15 years in the senate has made a difference. he's been a reliable vote for the best interests of his home state and the future of the nation, and he leaves behind the legacy of which he should be very proud. dan's first years of service in the congress began in 1981 when he served in the house of representatives. he was then appointed to the united states senate when dan quail was -- dan quayle was elected vice president. he served in the senate from 1989-1999 when his self-imposed term limit pledge brought to an end his first years in the senate. it wasn't long thereafter that
dan was again asked to serve, this time as ambassador to germany. he arrived in germany and took up his service there just before our nation experienced the tragic event of september 11. our relationship with our allies took on prime importance after that, and we were fortunate to have dan abroad to maintain our strong friendship with the german government and people. several years later, indiana's senate seat was open again, and dan took up the challenge to run again, to serve the people of his home state in the united states senate. the people of indiana and our nation, conservatives and people of faith have been fortunate to have dan to rely on. he has been a steady and dependable force for taking better care of our nation's finances and keeping a close watch on our security. last year, after a great deal of prayer and thought and consideration, dan did announce
that he would not be running for another term in the senate. it was a decision he made once again with the people of his home state in mind. he has always been determined to have the best representatives in place to serve the people of indiana and address those issues that most concern them. with that in mind, dan announced that he believed -- quote -- the time has come to pass this demanding job to the next generation of leaders. we'll miss dan. we'll miss his background and experience. we'll miss his reasonable, appropriate and well-timed comments, and his ability to get results. i look forward to his next challenge or adventure and know that he'll continue to look out for what's best for our nation and our people. dan's been a great source of strength and support for our party, and he will be missed. to you, dan, diane and i join in
sending our best wishes and our appreciation to you and marcia. together, you have been great examples of the importance of public service. the organization you founded, the foundation for american renewal and the project for american renewal that you created have helped you to focus on and work toward solutions to many of our problems. that's also a part of your legacy and why you will continue to receive the recognition you deserve. you've also been a part of a number of community and volunteer organizations, and for these and so many more reasons, we thank you and marcia for devoting so much of your life to making our nation a better place to live. you've certainly achieved that goal, and we wish you both the best. mr. president, i also want to make -- take some time today to speak about the senior senator from maryland, barbara mikulski. in the years to come, senator
mikulski will be known for a lot of things that made her years of service to the people of maryland quite remarkable. it will always be mentioned that she has been the longest serving woman in the history of the united states congress. although that's important, senator mikulski didn't come to washington to see how long she could stay. she came here to see how much of a difference she could make. in the end, she served for so many years because of what she was able to do with her time in the house and then in the senate. the people of maryland have such a strong affection for senator mikulski because they always felt like she was one of them. she never lost touch with the people back home. her family name was well known to the people in her neighborhood because her parents ran a grocery store. every morning, they opened their store early so people could stop by to pick up something before they headed off to work. in that and so many other ways, her family played an important role in the day-to-day life of
their neighborhood, and her neighbors never forget that. when the opportunity came for senator mikulski to run for a seat in the house, representing baltimore, she didn't hesitate. she took her case to the people and they liked what they heard. she won what was to be the first of a long series of elections, each of which she won easily and impressively. senator mikulski has a number of interests, and one of the things i'm sure she enjoyed about congress has been her ability to take up a number of those issues to make a difference in people's lives. in everything she's done, she's always found a way to help the people back home. a key example of that is her fight over the road. the battle dates back to 1966 when barbara was a social worker in baltimore. the city council proposed building a highway to connect downtown baltimore to its suburbs, a plan that barbara worried would cause polish americans, african-americans and the lower income residents to
lose their homes. as is her way, barbara sprung to action by forming a community group of opposition. the road was blocked. barbara wound up on the city council, and the area where the road was supposed to be built is now one of baltimore's biggest draws. as far as her work in the senate goes, one of her many legislative victories that i will long remember is the work she did on something that came to be known as rosa's law. rosa was a 9-year-old young lady who was diagnosed with down syndrome. her mother was well aware of what a hurtful label things like mental retardation and mentally retarded were to those who saw them in the federal laws that were written to help them. barbara knew there was only one solution to this problem, and that was to eliminate those terms from federal law. i was pleased to be able to help in the effort to pass that bill, seeing how much it meant not only to rosa and her family but to senator barbara mikulski. our work on that bill will stay
with me and will be a reminder of the reason we work so hard to pass legislation and answer the needs of the people back home. in the end, it's all about making lives better, and that's something that barbara has done every day of her service in congress. as the longest serving woman in congress, she's continued to earn the title of dean of senate women. she has been a mentor and source of good advice to her colleagues who appreciated being able to ask for her opinion and her guidance on their work in the senate. she certainly helped me when i was a new senator and was advocating for low-income housing in jackson, one of the rich areas of our state. with her support, we got that done and made sure that there was a mix in the community of different occupations and people. her reputation has been to not only help the members of the senate with whom she has served, it also helped serve to encourage the women of maryland to get active and involved in
the work that must be done to make her home state and our nation better places to live. in a very real sense, her leadership skills have inspired the next generation of maryland's leaders. now senator mikulski is leaving the senate after having made a difference. one of the key things she'll be remembered for is her tireless support of n.i.h. i know they will miss her and her commitment to the principles and values that guided her through her career from her service on the baltimore city council to her work in the house of representatives and then in the united states senate. she made a difference everywhere she served, and for that reason and many, many more she will never be forgotten. my wife diana joins in sending our best wishes to senator mikulski for her years of service. now that her senate adventure h has come to an end she'll undoubtedly come up with more challenges to pursue in the years to come. i'm hoping these plans might
include a follow-up to her mystery novel that was set in the senate. we're looking forward to seeing what the amnesty chapter of her life -- what the next chapter of her life may include. good luck to these fellow senators. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, at the end of a congress we all know how easy it is for just one senator to block a bill. and i rise today to express my great disappointment that we have been unable to overcome objections from just one senator from the other side of the aisle that are blocking the passage of legislation called the senior
safe act, that is designed to help protect our seniors from financial frawpped and exploitation. this is a bill that i introduced with my colleague, senator claire mccaskill as a result of extensive hearings and investigations that we have conducted in the senate aging committee. and a companion bill passed the house on a voice vote. now, mr. president, nationally as many as five million seniors may be victims of financial abuse annually. this tsunami of fraud has been one of the top priorities of the senate aging committee. in the many hearings that we've held on this issue, what we
found is that scammers seek to gain the trust and active cooperation of their victims who are usually older americans. without that trust and cooperation, their schemes would fail. unfortunately seniors often do not see the red flags that signal that likely fraud is involved in these sophisticated schemes. sometimes they're simply too nice, too trusting. in other sad cases, they may suffer from diminished capacity. but just as often they miss these flags because the swindlers who prey upon them are extremely crafty and they know how to sound convincing. any of us who have received these calls at home know how
persuasive and persistent these con artists can be. whatever the reason, a warning sign that can slip by a victim might trigger a second look by a financial services representative who is trained to spot common scams and who knows enough about the senior's habits to question a transaction that just doesn't look right. in our work on the senate aging committee, we've heard of so many cases where an alert bank teller or credit union employee on the front lines has stopped a financial fraud in its tracks, saving seniors untold thousands of dollars. in fact, mr. president, the government accountability office estimates that our seniors lose
an astonishing $2.9 billion a year to this kind of fraud. and that's probably the tip of the iceberg because many times this fraud is never reported. let me give you an example. earlier this year an attorney in the small coastal city of belfast, maine, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for bilking two female older clients out of nearly $500,000 over the course of several years. the lawyer's brazen theft was uncovered when a local bank teller noticed that he was writing large checks to himself from his clients' accounts. when confronted by authorities, he offered excuses that the prosecutor later described as
breathtaking. for example, he put one of his clients into a nursing home to recover from a temporary medical condition, then managed to keep her there for four years until the theft of her funds came to light. in the meantime he submitted bills for services sometimes totaling $20,000 a month, including charging her $250 per hour for six to seven hours to check on her house which was a one-minute drive from his office. financial institutions are in a critical position to check these fraudsters. employees, if properly trained, can be the first line of defense. regrettably, certain laws can
inadvertently impede the efforts to protect seniors because financial institutions that report suspected fraud can be exposed to lawsuits. so our bill, the senior safe act, encourages financial institutions to train their employees and shields them from lawsuits from making good-faith reasonable reports of potential fraud to the proper authorities. as jay martin, the head of maine legal services for the elderly, put it in a letter describing her support for the collins mccaskill bill, said to us -- quote -- "in a landscape that includes family members who often wish to keep exploitation from coming to light because they are perpetrating the exploitation, the risk of facing potential
nuisance or false complaints over privacy violations is all too real. this is a barrier that must be removed so that financial institutions will act immediately to make a report to the proper authorities upon forming a reasonable belief that exploitation is occurring. these professionals are on the front lines in the fight against elder financial exploitation and are often the only ones in a position to stop the exploitation before it is too late. and, mr. president, i would ask that ms. martin's null letter appear in the record immediately following my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. collins: our bipartisan bill is based on the state of maine's innovative seniors safe program. it's been a collaborative effort by my state's regulators, financial institutions and legal
organizations to educate bank and credit union employees on how to identify and help stop the exploitation of older mainers. it was pioneered by maine's security administrator judith shaw, and it has led to a significant increase in reports of suspected senior financial exploitation and fraud. the maine program also servings as a template for podle legislation developed for adoption by the north america securities administrations association, which is known as nasa. the senior safe act and this model state legislation are compliment yeah efforts. and i'm very pleased that the state association of securities
administrators has endorsed our bill. now as i mentioned, the house financial services committee approved our companion bill by a vote of 59-0 in june, and it passed the full house by voice vote in july. the senate bill is cosponsored by a quarter of the members of this body, balanced nearly evenly on both sides of the aisle, and has the support of a wide range of stakeholders looking out for the interest of consumers, including the securities administrations association that i've already mentioned, the conference of state bank supervisors. these are all the regulators, mr. president, that are looking
out for consumers. and i would ask that these letters of endorsement also appear in the record immediately following my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. collins: mr. president, under our bill, liability protections are only provided for good-faith, reasonable efforts to report suspected fraud. the legal obstacles facing financial institutions that report this kind of suspected fraud and abuse can't be limited just to privacy laws because these institutions have also been threatened with claims such as breach of contract, bad faith, slander, unfair practices, and even harassment. as one compliance officer from one of my smaller community
banks put it, without this kind of immunity for good-faith reporting, small community banks will face the freeze effect and won't make reports that could help to protect our seniors, and thousands the effectiveness of this law would be undercut. mr. president, i just cannot believe that we cannot clear this commonsense bill for the president's signature when it would help so many seniors avoid becoming the victim of financial fraud and abuse when it is supported by groups like maine's legal services for the elderly, when it has won the support of national organizations of state
security administrators, state insurance commissioners, state bank regulators, when it would make such a difference. and sadly, because of the objections of just one senator from the other side of the aisle, we are stymied. and that means we will have to start all over again next year. and much-needed help for our seniors, help that could help them avoid being swindled out of what g.a.o. estimates is almost $3 billion a year will have to wait for another day. i just don't understand it. i've made many good faith efforts in this regard, but regrettably because we are at the end of the session, we don't have the time to go
through all of the procedural steps that would be needed to pass this bill, which i am sure given its broad bipartisan support would pab overwhelming overwhelmingly. -- would pass overwhelmingly. mr. president, i hope that the senator in question will reconsider and allow us to send this important bill to the president for his signature. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. grassley: mr. president, senator leahy and i are here for the same issue, and i'd like to defer to senator leahy if he prefers to go first. mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: i'd like to ask the
chairman if he'd like to go. mr. president, i've been here on the floor before, joined by senator grassley to share my frustration with the eb-5 regional senator program. senator grassley and i have been working for years to improve this flawed program set to expire tomorrow. but once again, unfortunately, the congressional leadership on the other side has rejected our bipartisan reforms. we've done this in a way we point out as a republican and as a democrat, as two of the most senior members of this body, that we have real reforms. time and again, the leadership has stayed behind closed doors to narrow corporate interests, and i believe that's a serious mistake. i think
the eb-5 program i once
championed seems like a distant memory. the program was designed to bring jobs to underserved rural and distressed urban communities. it sometimes did just that. communities in vermont like warren and vergennes. they have used eb-5 to save jobs during difficult economic times. but that's eb-5 yesterday. today eb-5 is mired in fraud and abuse. it suffers from obvious and outrageous flaws. security violations are rampant. the incentives of congress to promote investment and create jobs in the rural and high unemployment areas is the sole reason why i championed the program have been rendered obsolete to economic gerrymandering. only 3% of eb-5 investors now invest in rural areas.
3%. the distinguished senior senator from iowa and i understand what a rural area is, and they're not being served. less than 10% invest in true high unemployment areas. almost every other eb-5 project uses gerrymandering to qualify as distressed, despite being located in the most affluent areas of the country.
the fact that a luxury hotel in beverly hills can use gerrymandering to claim it is located in a distressed community is troubling. beverly hills is not rural iowa or rural vermont. but the fact is this type of abuse now represents almost 9% of the eb-5 program is appalling. anyone who maintains today's eb-5 program is about creating jobs is either a lobbyist for the real estate industry or simply not paying attention. an untold number of the luxury developments that now dominate
eb-5 would be pursued even if you didn't have eb-5 financing. the claim that eb-5 is responsible for all these jobs is false. eb-5 merely allows developers to replace their conventional financing with dirt cheap capital subsidized by the sale of u.s. visas. it's not just exploited by wealthy american developers, chinese developers. even the chinese government itself has now exploited the eb-5 subsidy. it's beyond troubling when a foreign government is permitted to earn tens of millions of dollars from the sale of u.s. visas. now, the proposal i developed for senator grassley would address this to require background checks, to require third party oversight funds, investments from investors. it would ban foreign government
ownership of an eb-5 company and end gerrymandering. it would provide small incentives to direct a small portion of investment to underserved areas. just 15% to both rural and urban poor communities. but even this was too much for the developers and some lobbyists. i think it's gluttonous, shortsighted corporate greed to block these critical reforms. greed that was given a voice by the u.s. chamber of commerce. the question of the leadership is allowing a couple of powerful developers to exploit this program's flaws to derail critical reports. i find it shameful. the worst abusers of this program have been given by some in congress the veto power over its reform. i commend secretary johnson and his efforts to improve eb-5, the
efforts to strengthen rules to address fraud, inadequate investment levels. i'll work with the chairman of the senate and house judiciary committees and the next secretary of homeland security to work to get these reforms implemented and enforced. the eb-5 regional senate program no longer serves the american people's interests. it certainly does not serve the rural and urban poor communities as congress intended. next year i'll be the vice chairman of the appropriations committee, and i'll continue to press for broad bipartisan reform. i know that senator grassley and feinstein, the incoming ranking member of the judiciary committee, will not sit idly by either. if the eb-5 cannot be reformed due to the paralysis of the leadership, it's very simple,
mr. president. it can't be reformed. let's end eb-5. it should be done with. and, mr. president, i yield the floor and ask consent that my full statement be made part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: with concurrence of the senator from iowa and the senator from new jersey, i ask that my remarks be printed in the record after the remarks to be given by the senator from iowa. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president, it is my sad duty to announce the passing of john glenn. john glenn was one of the original seven astronauts of this country. all of them were characterized as having the right stuff.
and if you knew any of them, that was certainly true. john glenn was not only a pioneering astronaut, a great senator, he was a first-class gentleman and also he was a devoted husband and father. he leaves behind annie, his beloved, who always stood with him as he ventured into the unknown cosmos. and it was unknown because john was the first to go into orbit as an american. he paved the way for all the rest of us, and now at his passing, america is in the
planning and the developing of the rockets that will take us, a human species, all the way to mars. john glenn was the pioneer. he was the one who paved the way. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? mr. leahy: i would ask consent that my comments follow the distinguished senior senator from florida. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president, i was a little bit delayed getting to the floor this afternoon because i was in tears, literally, when i heard the news about john. i think of my last long conversation with him just a few weeks ago. i will speak more on the floor about him, but i -- i came to
the senate with him, and i enjoyed traveling with him with the anonymity he gave me with people saying there is colonel glenn. it wasn't senator glenn. it was colonel glenn. after he had been sworn in. we traveled, me, my wife, he and annie all over the world. the time i remember the most was probably the weekend we spent at our old farmhouse in vermont because they wanted to see the foliage. borrowed a friend's seaplane, went flying around vermont, landing in little ponds, taking off, landing in another one. went to a trapper's convention where everybody was it's colonel glenn, it's colonel glenn, and some bald guy with him. that was me, of course. we -- we went there, flew back,
flew back to montpelier where marcelle and annie had been traveling around. john landed the plane in a stiff crosswind. pontoons were on it. had to bring it in sideways. i didn't worry. it was john glenn. then he turned to me with a big wink and said i've never been so frightened flying anything in my life. but i don't think john ever got frightened flying in anything, but my heart nearly stopped. i will speak more about him on the floor, and i appreciate my friend from iowa yielding while i do this. john was one of the best people
i ever served with. and i speak of what it was like coming here as a brand-new senator. every time i have been asked about that, mr. president. i talk about the fact i came here, i was sworn in with john glenn. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: a few minutes ago, you heard my friend and colleague, senator leahy, express his opposition, an opposition that i share about the eb-5 regional center program, so i'm here for the same purpose, to express the same opposition to the eb-5 regional center program that was extended without reforms. i could -- that was a year ago we made similar statements. i could easily read the same statement that i gave at that
time, and it would be just as relevant today. we're very disappointed that reforms were not included in the continuing resolution, which simply extended this very flawed immigration program. the eb-5 regional center program has been plagued by fraud and abuse. it poses significant national security risks. there are serious allegations that the program may be facilitating terrorists' travel, economic espionage, money laundering and investment fraud. yet, considering all those things, the continuing resolution before us fails to include much-needed reforms. so after a year we have yet
another missed opportunity. the chairs and ranking members of the house and senate judiciary committees have agreed on a package of reforms. we have worked in a bipartisan and bicameral fashion. we have agreed, all four, on every aspect. we instituted compliance measures. we instituted background checks, and we instituted transparency provisions. we made sure that world and -- that rural and distressed urban areas benefited from the program as congress already intended and as senator leahy very clearly laid out the problems. despite the bipartisan support, not a single one of our recommendations will be implemented.
instead of reforming the program, we will have the status quo. the status quo means this -- investments can be spent before business plans are approved. regional center operators can charge excessive fees of foreign nationals in addition to their required investment. none of the jobs created have to be direct or verifiable jobs. rather, they are indirect and based on estimates. not knowing for sure if there is jobs created or based upon economic modeling. again, not knowing for sure if jobs are created. investment funds are not adequately vetted. gifts and loans from anyone are
acceptable sources of funds from foreign nationals. there is no prohibition against foreign governments owning and operating regional centers or projects. regional centers can be rented or sold without government oversight or approval. regional centers don't have to certified that they comply with securities laws. there's no set of sanctions for any violations. in other words, no recourse for the bad actors. there are no required background checks on anyone associated with these regional centers. the investment level is lower than congress ever intended. gerrymandering