Amendment Text: S.Amdt.804 — 112th Congress (2011-2012)

Shown Here:
Amendment as Proposed (10/18/2011)

This Amendment appears on page S6649 in the following article from the Congressional Record.

[Pages S6638-S6653]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. CASEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in 
morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

[[Page S6639]]

                           Amendment No. 740

  Mr. CASEY. Mr. President, I have a short presentation to make 
regarding trade adjustment assistance, which of course is legislation 
that was passed through the Senate not too long ago. There was a long 
debate, an important debate about trade adjustment assistance, which is 
basically a program we have had in place for decades. That program 
recognizes that sometimes workers and companies are caught in a 
position, because of the unfair trade and unfair competition, where 
they are left not only without a job but sometimes without the prospect 
of retaining their position in a particular trade or work they have 
done for many years. So trade adjustment assistance allows us to 
provide some help to that worker or that company so we can retrain 
folks for the jobs of the future and so that worker can be retrained 
and adjust to the changes in the economy.
  In particular, today I rise in opposition to amendment No. 740, which 
would eliminate funding for trade adjustment assistance for firms. We 
provide it for workers but there is also a part of the act that 
provides help to firms. U.S. trade policy should, I believe, work in 
the best interests of the American people, especially American workers 
and American companies. Of course, as a Senator from Pennsylvania, I 
want that policy to work for our workers and our companies. 
Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Past trade deals have sent 
jobs overseas. Several administrations have not done enough to crack 
down on China's unfair trade policies. Our workers and our companies 
need safeguards against employment disruptions caused by our trade 
policies or sometimes caused by our lack of a trade policy. That is one 
of the reasons why trade adjustment assistance is so important, that we 
extend it as we have to help workers and the companies they work for 
deal with the repercussions of bad trade deals and unfair competition, 
unfair trade that impacts our workers.
  There is an effort by this amendment to somehow change the dynamic as 
it relates to firms. I know in Pennsylvania, in calendar 2010, 51 
companies in our State were accepted into the program. Fifty-one 
individual companies were accepted into the trade adjustment assistance 
program to help those companies rebound, to recover from the ravages of 
international trade.
  Supporting these firms as they work to better compete against foreign 
imports will help protect the jobs of the workers in those firms. I 
have worked to ensure that the TAA program is reextended, including 
this help we provide for individual firms. The legislation that was 
recently passed maintains trade adjustment assistance for firms but 
returns funding authorization to its pre-2009 levels. I think this is a 
critically important point to make.
  Maybe the best evidence, though, of what has happened is evidence 
from individual States but more particularly individual companies. I 
ask unanimous consent that a news article that is dated Tuesday, June 
21, 2011, from the Bethlehem Express-Times be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

               [From, June 21, 2011]

  Sen. Bob Casey Visits Bethlehem Chemical Manufacturing Plant, Urges 
                    Need To Renew Assistance Funding

                           (By Andrew George)

       Over the last five years, Bethlehem chemical manufacturing 
     company Puritan Products has tripled its sales and created 15 
     new jobs.
       According to company President Lou DiRenzo, much of that 
     success is owed to a federal grant for $75,000 awarded to the 
     company as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.
       U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., visited the Bethlehem facility 
     Monday to meet with workers and discuss the impact Trade 
     Adjustment Assistance has had on the company.
       Casey, who is chairman of the Senate Joint Economic 
     Committee, urged the need to renew federal funding for the 
     TAA after touring the facility, citing the success Puritan 
     Products has had with the program. ``It's a remarkable story 
     over here at Puritan Products because you're not only seeing 
     all of the job growth results over the last couple years . . 
     . (but) adding jobs and innovating and adapting to new 
     environments in a very complicated part of our economy,'' 
     said Casey.
       According to the U.S. Economic Development Administration, 
     TAA aims to provide technical and financial assistance to 
     manufacturers or producers who have lost employment, 
     production or sales due to increased imports and foreign 
     competition. It also provides aid to workers who have lost 
     their jobs due to foreign trade agreements.
       Some Senate Republicans have expressed reluctance about 
     renewing TAA, which cost about $2 billion last year, 
     according to a Bloomberg report. They say the program 
     benefits only a small segment of the unemployed and want it 
     dismantled, according to the report.
       The press secretary for U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., did 
     not return a phone message this evening.
       Casey said the benefits of the program are extensive.
       ``In a very tough economy, businesses need help,'' said 
     Casey. ``They need help with the results of unfair foreign 
     competition. We have to compete every day of the week with 
     countries that frankly cheat and make it much more difficult 
     for us to have a level-playing field for folks that are 
     trying to manufacture a product in this difficult 
       Casey is urging Congress to renew federal funding for the 
     TAA through 2016 at the stimulus rate adopted back in 2009, 
     which includes coverage to service firms and workers. This 
     enhanced version has recently expired and funding has receded 
     back to pre-stimulus amounts.
       According to Casey's press secretary, while there is no 
     official estimate yet for just how much an extension would 
     cost, Casey has pledged to find an offset for the cost so 
     that it will not increase the deficit.
       In a recent letter to President Barack Obama, Casey asked 
     the president to consider delaying the consideration of 
     upcoming free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and 
     Colombia in order to focus on the American manufacturing 
       Casey has recently been visiting manufacturing plants 
     across Pennsylvania attempting to rally support to renew 
     funding in the upcoming federal budget for both the TAA and 
     the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
       The MEP is a nationwide network, which works with small to 
     mid-sized manufacturers to help create and sustain jobs, 
     increase profits and provide innovation strategies.
       According to the MEP, for every dollar of federally 
     invested money into the partnership, $32 of new sales growth 
     is generated. They also claim that for every $1,570 of 
     federal investment, the MEP is able to create or retain one 
     manufacturing job.
       Alongside Casey and DiRenzo was Jack Pfunder of the 
     Bethlehem-based Manufacturers Resource Center.
       Jack Pfunder said that with the technical and financial 
     assistance provided by TAA, the manufacturing industry is 
     able to innovate and better prepare itself for a successful 
       ``People ask me, `What is the future of manufacturing in 
     the United States?'' Pfunder said. ``To me it's pretty 
     simple, manufacturing is the future of the United States and 
     it rests with the researchers of innovation like what we're 
     seeing here today at Puritan Products.''
       Puritan Products senior vice president Thomas Starner 
     believes it's ``absolutely'' important for a manufacturing 
     company of Puritan Products'' size to receive government 
     funding in this economic climate.
       ``We don't have the funds internally to do some of these 
     things so getting some government support certainly helps our 
     cause,'' Starner said.

  Mr. CASEY. This article talks about a visit I made to a chemical 
manufacturing plant. The pertinent part of this article speaks volumes 
about why trade adjustment assistance is so important for firms. I am 
quoting from a statement made by a gentleman who heads the 
Manufacturing Resource Center in Bethlehem, PA, Jack Pfunder. Here is a 
summary of what he said. The article says:

       Pfunder said that with technical and financial assistance 
     provided by TAA, the manufacturing industry is able to 
     innovate and better prepare itself for a successful future.

  That is someone who is on the ground every day, working on 
manufacturing issues in Bethlehem, PA. He knows what he is talking 
about when it comes to the impact of trade adjustment assistance for a 
firm and in particular for this firm.
  Another part of the article talks about one of the vice-presidents at 
the company I visited, Puritan Products:

       Senior vice president Thomas Starnes believes it is 
     `absolutely' important for a manufacturing company of Puritan 
     Products' size to receive government funding in this economic 

  I am quoting here from the last line of the article:

       We don't have the funds internally to do some of these 
     things so getting some government support certainly helps our 

  That is one company and the leadership of one company telling us in a 
very concise way why trade adjustment assistance for firms is vitally 
needed. I know we are going to have debate about this issue that will 
be ongoing even after passage of the legislation,

[[Page S6640]]

but I rise in opposition to the amendment of Senator McCain, amendment 
No. 740, and urge all Members of the Senate to continue to support not 
just trade adjustment assistance for workers but trade adjustment 
assistance for firms as well, especially in this very difficult 
  I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BINGAMAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. BINGAMAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for up 
to 15 minutes as in morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                         Continuing Resolutions

  Mr. BINGAMAN. Mr. President, on November 18, exactly a month from 
now, the current law that permits funding of the government will 
expire. Something will have to be enacted in its place since it is 
clear to all of us, I believe, that we will not have passed and sent to 
the President all of the appropriations bills by that time.
  The normal procedure for enacting funding bills is for them to 
originate in the House of Representatives and be passed there, and then 
they come to the Senate for consideration and get passed here.
  I come to the floor today to urge that before the expiration of the 
current continuing resolution; that is, before November 18, the House 
enact and send to the Senate a funding bill which extends funding to 
the end of the current fiscal year, which is September 30, 2012. My 
simple point is that, in my view, it is irresponsible for us to 
continue funding the government just a few weeks at a time.
  Already this year, we experienced a near shutdown of the Federal 
Government in April, a near default on the country's debt in August, a 
partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration in August, and 
another near shutdown of the Federal Government 3 weeks ago because of 
a dispute over disaster funding. These repeated ``Perils of Pauline'' 
scenarios have understandably shaken the confidence of Americans about 
their government and, more particularly, about this Congress.
  This government-generated uncertainty also has real economic 
consequences. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said:

       The negotiations that took place over the summer disrupted 
     financial markets and probably the economy as well, and 
     similar events in the future could, over time, seriously 
     jeopardize the willingness of investors around the world to 
     hold U.S. financial assets or to make direct investments in 
     job-creating U.S. businesses.

  So these are self-inflicted wounds that the economy can ill afford, 
and reducing the risk of them occurring in the future would provide a 
modicum of certainty to businesses in this country and throughout the 
  Congress can readily eliminate the risk of a government shutdown 
during this fiscal year simply by enacting a full-year continuing 
resolution. The sad reality is that in recent years the Congress has 
more and more relied on short-term funding bills or so-called 
continuing resolutions to keep the government functioning while we try 
to reach agreement on appropriations levels.
  So some would ask, why are the circumstances different this year? 
They are different for the simple reason that we have already settled 
on the level of funding for the government. The Budget Control Act of 
2011 that was enacted in August set the spending levels for the Federal 
Government for this year and for each of the next 9 years. These 
spending levels were passed with large bipartisan majorities in both 
Chambers. Here in the Senate, the vote was 74 to 26. Therefore, 
enacting a full-year continuing resolution that sets Federal spending 
at that level should not be controversial.
  We should not have to rehash the debate on spending levels every few 
months. Adopting a full-year continuing resolution would free up 
valuable time in Congress to work on other legislation intended to 
create jobs and to help the economy.
  A full-year continuing resolution also allows the government to 
operate more efficiently than it can under a series of short-term 
continuing resolutions. Short-term continuing resolutions make it 
difficult for Federal agencies to enter into construction contracts, 
such as to build or repair roads, or to enter into long-term supply 
contracts that are often less expensive than short-term supply 
contracts. In other words, short-term continuing resolutions delay 
critical projects and increase the overall cost to taxpayers. Adopting 
a full-year continuing resolution would address both of these problems.
  It is clear that passing a long-term continuing resolution does 
nothing to preclude Congress from going ahead and passing individual 
appropriations bills as they are agreed upon. Stan Collender, a 
respected budget expert, has written about this issue. I will quote 
from an article he wrote. He said:

       If the tried and true procedure is used, the CR will simply 
     stop applying to the departments and agencies when the 
     separate appropriation is signed. In appropriations-speak, 
     those covered by the individual spending bill will 
     ``disengage'' from the CR.

  The only argument I have heard against passing a continuing 
resolution for the rest of the year is the argument that doing so will 
take away the pressure on the appropriations committees and the 
Congress to pass the remaining appropriations bills. That is 
essentially an argument to force those of us in Congress to do what we 
ought to do; that is, to pass appropriations bills. In order to do our 
basic job, do we need to subject the rest of the government and the 
country to a series of threatened shutdowns? And especially, do we need 
to do that at a time when we have already agreed on spending levels?
  I question this argument. It seems to me that both parties--Democrats 
and Republicans--and particularly the appropriators both in the House 
and the Senate have substantial incentive to reach agreement and pass 
appropriations bills whether a yearlong continuing resolution has been 
adopted or not. And if it were true that passing a yearlong continuing 
resolution would lessen the incentive to complete action on 
appropriations bills, then so be it. To my mind, the benefit from 
eliminating the threat of a series of government shutdowns far 
outweighs any disadvantage that might result from failure to pass full 
appropriations bills.
  So, to me, the conclusions are clear. First, we have already as a 
Congress agreed on spending levels for the current fiscal year. Second, 
we should make every effort to pass all the appropriations bills 
reflecting those spending levels as soon as possible. Third, while we 
are making that effort to pass the appropriations bills, the 
responsible course is to pass a continuing resolution that extends to 
the end of the fiscal year. Here is a chance for us to provide at least 
a modest degree of predictability for the remaining 11 months of this 
current fiscal year. I believe we owe it to the American people to do 
just that.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Franken). The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, Americans have a right to know how their 
government is spending their money. If Congress were more open and 
honest about where their tax dollars were going, I think they would be 
shocked by what they would see. It is even worse than people think.
  My commitment as ranking member of the Budget Committee is to fight 
for honest budget practices. I have joined with Senator Olympia Snowe 
to introduce the Honest Budget Act, stripping away some of the most 
outrageous gimmicks that are being used in Congress to advance spending 
beyond our limits. In fact, I will be filing an amendment today to stop 
the use of a gimmick called ChiMPs in one of the very bills that is 
before us this week. We will explain how that leads to improper 
increases in spending as we go forward.
  President Obama is taking his bus tour around the country, riding in 

[[Page S6641]]

taxpayer-funded, million-dollar campaign bus, telling people we must 
raise taxes to prevent dramatic cuts in Federal spending. What the 
President does not say is how much spending has increased in just the 
past few years, including through a number of gimmicks, and how much of 
that money is being improperly spent and wasted.
  Indeed, since the President has taken office the first 2 years, we 
saw a 24-percent increase in nondefense, nonwar discretionary 
spending--not Social Security, not Medicare, but discretionary spending 
went up 24 percent at a time when this country has never faced larger 
  According to the Congressional Budget Office this fiscal year, 
Washington set record high spending levels this year despite our debt--
$3.6 trillion went out the door and $1.3 trillion of that was borrowed. 
We spent not less but more than last year, a 4.2-percent increase, but 
we do not have the money.
  My challenge to the President is this: During his next speech, before 
he calls for higher taxes on American people, would he be able to look 
them in the eye and tell them he has cleaned up spending here, that 
Washington is not wasting their money. Would he be able to look them in 
the eye and tell them their money is being spent wisely and effectively 
with strict oversight. Would he be able to look them in the eye and 
tell them he is reducing spending, not increasing it.
  I fear the answer is no. I fear any increase in tax rates will amount 
to nothing more than a bailout for the big spenders here and an 
incentive to continue business as usual, an excuse to avoid the hard 
choices that are being made by families all over America when their 
incomes are down, by cities and counties and States all over this 
country making the kind of tough choices that eventually will help them 
be a more productive institution for the taxpayers.
  Let's consider the situation in the Congress. The Senate Democratic 
majority has not had a budget plan for over 900 days. Indeed, Sunday 
was the 900th day this Congress has gone without a budget. The 
Republican House has produced a historic, effective budget that would 
change the debt trajectory of our country in a positive way. It would 
not do everything that needs to be done, but it is a significant, 
positive historic step. The Senate? Nothing.
  Hard to remove waste from a budget when we do not even put together a 
budget plan. We should bring these spending appropriations bills that 
we have on the floor now through the regular order one at a time, not 
three at a time, trying to find savings in each and every one of them 
every place we can. We owe it to the people who send us their tax money 
that we disburse up here. Cramming three bills through in one is no way 
to run this government.
  We, I suppose, are supposed to thank Majority Leader Reid for 
allowing us to have some amendments on this bill because we have only 
three appropriations bill in one, rather than all of them in a 
superomnibus, as we have been having. There is time to move these bills 
through the Congress. Our leadership would tell us there is not. We 
have not done much at all this year. We could have passed a budget. We 
could have been moving appropriations bills long before now, one at a 
time, brought forth under a full amendment process, under strict 
scrutiny, with every possible effort to see what we can do to fulfill 
our responsibilities without running up the debt.
  I would ask, how can my friends on the other side of the aisle ask 
anyone to pay more in taxes when they are not even willing to comply 
with the Congressional Budget Act and produce a budget plan in the 
regular order? Washington asking for more tax revenue is akin to an 
alcoholic asking for more cash before a trip to the liquor store. Even 
if the alcoholic asks a millionaire for the cash, it does not change 
the fact that the money is not being wisely used. For example, just a 
few weeks ago, we learned that lawyers at the Department of Justice 
went to a conference where they were billed $16 apiece for muffins. We 
all know about the $\1/2\ billion loan guarantee to the now bankrupt 
Solyndra--yet another big business ally of the White House.
  President Obama has coined the term the ``Buffet Rule'' in his push 
to raise taxes. The rule relies on a little sleight of hand, since 
Buffett pays mostly a capital gains tax. The upper brackets, as we all 
know, pay the highest income tax rates. That is how our system works. 
But this debate about taxes is a little premature.
  That is why I would like to suggest something called the ``Solyndra 
Rule.'' Under this rule, before any proposals are offered to raise any 
taxes, we first put an end to wasteful and inappropriate spending in 
Washington. Until we do, raising tax rates only funds Washington's 
continuing abuse of all American taxpayers.
  But the waste is not limited to headline-grabbing controversies. It 
is pervasive throughout, I am afraid, virtually every aspect of our 
government. The Food Stamp Program, now called the Supplemental 
Nutrition Assistance Program, is the largest item in the agricultural 
  In the appropriations bill before us this week, the Democratic 
majority would propose to increase this by 9 billion, a 14-percent 
increase for fiscal year 2012. This $9 billion increase in funding over 
last year's level would amount to a quadrupling since 2001. In fact, 
food stamp appropriations have nearly doubled since President Obama 
took office.
  Eleven million more Americans are on food stamps now than when the 
President took office. The size of the benefit has increased 31 percent 
since 2008. When the Food Stamp Program was expanded nationally in the 
1970s, food stamps were used by 2 percent of the population. At the 
beginning of the last decade, they were used by 6 percent of the 
population. Today, that figure has risen to 13 percent--one in eight 
Americans. This sevenfold increase in food stamp usage demands honest 
examination. It is time to look under the hood of this program. What is 
going on?
  A recent article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that 
Wisconsin food stamp recipients routinely sell their benefit cards on 
Facebook. The investigation also found that ``prosecutors have simply 
stopped prosecuting the vast majority of [food stamp] fraud cases in 
virtually all counties, including the one with the most recipients, 
  In Michigan, a $2 million lottery winner continued to receive food 
stamps because his winnings were counted as an asset and not income. I 
kid you not. Apparently, he asked about it and they said it is not 
income, it is an asset, and you don't count assets. But you are 
supposed to.

       Eligibility standards have been loosened across the board. 
     People are getting food stamps that don't fit the program's 
     requirements. We have always had a problem with this program. 
     As a Federal prosecutor, an assistant U.S. attorney for 
     almost 15 years, I personally prosecuted fraud in the Food 
     Stamp Program. They were used as currency among drug dealers 
     in many areas of our country. There are all kinds of 
     problems. We have done little or nothing about it--nothing 
     about it. One glaring example is something called categorical 
     eligibility. This basically means that even if your level of 
     wealth would ordinarily make a person ineligible for the 
     benefit, those assets are not examined and they will still 
     get food stamps simply because they have used another 
     government program. So if they use another program, they can 
     qualify for it.

  In one State, they have included information for a pregnancy 
hotline--in other words, if a person uses a pregnancy hotline, 
apparently, their assets are overlooked and they can qualify for food 
stamps. They automatically become eligible for it. In many States, all 
that is needed to become food stamp eligible is to be mailed a brochure 
by the government--again, regardless of the assets the individual might 
  The amendment I am filing today would eliminate categorical 
eligibility. Only those people eligible under food stamp requirements 
would be eligible to receive the benefit.
  It is too much to ask of an applicant for benefits who is worth 
thousands of dollars to file an application, under oath, that assures 
that the person is truly in need and truly qualifies under the law to 
receive a benefit paid for by the taxpayers of this country. Is that 
too much to ask?
  The second amendment I will be offering today would set next year's 
food stamp funding at the same level the House of Representatives 
passed. Eliminating the proposed $9 billion increase would amount to 
nearly $100 billion in savings over the next 10 years in the Food Stamp 
Program assuming no further increases in the program.

[[Page S6642]]

  By the way, I just met an Alabaman who is familiar with the Alabama 
harbors and the waterway system. That program totally, nationally, 
comes in at less than $\1/2\ billion. We have had three ships run 
aground in recent months because we didn't have the money to do the 
dredging--a few million dollars. This is talking about saving $9 
billion a year; $1 billion is $9,000 million--when just a few hundred 
million dollars would fix our waterways and harbors all over the 
country. One-half billion dollars would double the current waterway 
bill in the entire United States of America.
  So surely Members on both sides of the aisle can agree we need to be 
focused on making the program more effective before we increase it 
beyond the 100-percent growth it has experienced already.
  The greatest danger our economy faces, in my opinion--and I believe 
that from experts from whom we have had testimony in the Budget 
Committee--is that the cloud the debt places over our economy is 
endangering it, costing economic growth, and costing jobs this very 
minute. The first thing we need to do is see if we can't reduce that 
debt without raising more taxes on a weakened economy. That is the 
first responsibility, I believe.
  Under the President's leadership, the deficits have increased 
dramatically each year. No one can deny that. Meanwhile, the 
President's stimulus plans have resulted in not less but more 
unemployment, actually.
  To restore prosperity, we need an honest, concrete budget plan that 
restores confidence, ends waste, and creates private sector growth. 
Such a plan must reduce the deficit, the experts tell us, by at least 
$4 trillion over the next 10 years.
  If our committee of 12 reaches the agreement they have been asked to 
reach, they would, in effect, reduce the projected deficit increase by 
$2.4 trillion. But the experts tell us we need to reduce it by $4 
trillion. It is bipartisan. Erskine Bowles, who was appointed by 
President Obama to head his debt commission, said $4 trillion. Mr. 
Zandi, who has been advising the Democratic majority and who testified 
in the Budget Committee a couple weeks ago, said you have to have $4 
trillion in reduced spending and reduced deficit.
  We are not getting there. We are not doing the things necessary. I 
truly believe that we are still in denial in this Congress. We have not 
realized how serious the threat is and some of the things we are going 
to have to do. Business as usual cannot continue.
  I hope that, as we go forward with this legislation, we will get some 
votes that can actually begin to reduce spending in a number of areas. 
I hope that, during the course of this debate, the people of the United 
States will begin to focus on what is happening in their Congress and 
hold us all accountable, make sure we are managing their money 
effectively. If we do that, we might surprise ourselves--indeed, we 
would surprise ourselves on how much could be accomplished in one 
decade of sustained, smart effort to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse, 
to focus on our spending that can be contained.
  The defense budget has to tighten its budget, no doubt about it. But 
you cannot balance the budget all on the Defense Department. Their 
budget makes up less than half the deficits this year. Our deficit this 
year will be about $1.3 trillion. The defense budget is about $529 
billion. It is way less than half of it. We have to do it across the 
board in programs not being run well, that are surging out of control, 
such as food stamps. They need to be brought into control.
  We may not have enough money for the highway bill. It is about $40 
billion. We are now spending twice that on food stamps, having 
quadrupled it in one decade.
  I say to my colleagues, we need to get serious about spending. I 
believe we can do better and we can surprise ourselves if we make a 
firm determination to do better. I look forward to offering amendments 
that will help us get there.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut is recognized.
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that I be 
permitted to speak as in morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

             Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act

  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, I agree with my colleague from Alabama 
that the Senate can no longer deal with serious issues relating to 
economic and national security as if we were doing business as usual.
  I have slightly different views--in some instances, radically 
different views--but I hope, on the issue I will discuss, we can come 
together on a bipartisan basis in support of the Teachers and First 
Responders Back to Work Act, which I am cosponsoring. I hope for a 
bipartisan support because this bill should be about as far from a 
partisan issue as can be.
  I hope we can all agree that what America needs, at this moment in 
our history, is policies that put America back to work and help to 
protect and create jobs. We need to put Connecticut back to work and 
every State in our Union, with policies that favor not just our 
national security and make us safer and more secure but also invest in 
our workforce for the future. There is no better place to start than 
with teachers and first responders.
  Funding these professional areas is much more than an immediate need; 
it is a commonsense solution and a national priority in promoting safe 
and secure communities and a highly educated workforce.
  We all know the numbers. Tens of thousands of jobs--300,000 jobs, to 
be more precise, in our schools have been lost due to budget cuts in 
the last few years. In Connecticut alone, 3,600 jobs have been lost in 
our schools.
  Those numbers are not just abstract, speculative statistics; each of 
them attests to an individual whose potential creativity in the 
classroom and possible contribution to our young people has been lost. 
It attests to the loss of individualized attention to students at a 
critical point in their lives, when they need that kind of care. Every 
one of them means that an educator--probably another educator--is 
stretched further, burdened more in the capacity to provide a positive 
learning environment for our kids.
  The teachers that would be supported by this bill are not numbers, 
not statistics; they are vital to our most precious resource, our 
children. This bill is not about only their fate, it is about our 
children. It is about the quality of their learning, and it is about 
the quality of our future workforce in this Nation.
  When manufacturers tell us, as we go home, they need people with the 
skills to match jobs that exist now or will be created in the future, 
this measure will help to provide them with the workforce they need and 
deserve to make things in America and to make sure America is 
competitive in the world economy. This measure meets our most urgent 
priorities--our children, our competitiveness in the world, and our 
security and safety in our communities.

  We all know that fiscal challenges have forced our towns and cities 
to make cuts to the bone, cuts to programs that are fundamental and 
essential to our schools and also to our first responders. This bill 
is, in a sense, an emergency response--a first response--to those 
needs, because if we fail to meet this challenge, the lives of our 
children will be changed forever. The lives of children in Connecticut, 
affected by those 3,600 laid-off teachers, will be diminished and 
degraded forever by the loss of classes and tutoring that will be 
  Our first responders need this bill as much as our teachers, and not 
just our first responders, but the people they serve. Every day we urge 
our children to follow their example, their integrity, their 
commitment, their service. Yet as budgets have been cut, we have been 
all too willing to cut the first responders, who should be the last to 
be subject to budget cuts. This approach not only weakens our economy, 
it weakens the safety of our neighborhoods and our communities. This 
bill is just common sense. It is about putting first responders back on 
their routes, back in their emergency vehicles, and back in their jobs 
where they belong.
  The numbers are not sufficient to tell the whole story, but those 
numbers are staggering. This bill will invest $30 billion to support 
State and local jobs which otherwise would be lost. These efforts to 
retrain, rehire, and recruit

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good people for these jobs in Connecticut and around the country are 
absolutely essential. Connecticut had a budget shortfall of $2.9 
billion as a result of this fiscal crisis. We have been forced to slash 
funding for programs, and the 3,600 teaching jobs lost in Connecticut 
will take their toll in the form of a slowed recovery and an extended 
  The Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act will provide 
Connecticut with an additional $336 million to support 3,800 positions 
that are essential to our children and the safety of our communities. 
This money will give a boost to the State's economy and improve 
education. And we know--it is undeniable--that we need these positions 
in Connecticut and we need them in the country. America needs to get 
back to work, and we know that teachers and first responders are the 
right place to begin.
  Let me close by saying, as I go around my State, what people tell 
me--and they are not politicians; some of them could be not less 
interested in politics--they are concerned that classes are canceled, 
that teams are uncoached, that music and arts programs are ending, and 
that their students are untutored. They want action. They want 
decisions from this body. We have an obligation to meet those needs and 
to provide this response for teachers and first responders, and I urge 
that we do so on a bipartisan basis in an effort that is fully funded.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in 
morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                        Banning Tobacco Products

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, tomorrow night we expect 15 million 
Americans--including a lot of children--to tune in to watch the first 
game of the World Series. It is a big deal for a lot of people and a 
lot of families. We watch our heroes in the championship of that great 
American sport of baseball. There are many fans on both sides, of 
course, with Texas and St. Louis facing off. I know where Senator Blunt 
will be--rooting for his Cardinals--and I will be joining him in that 
effort. It will be a great contest and we look forward to it.
  But I want to raise another issue related to baseball, which several 
of my colleagues joined in today, in a letter we sent to Major League 
Baseball and to the players association. Senators Lautenberg, Harkin, 
Blumenthal, and I today called on the Major League Baseball Players 
Association to ban the use of all tobacco products, including smokeless 
tobacco, on the field, in the dugout, and in the locker rooms at all 
Major League Baseball venues.
  You see, unfortunately, among those 15 million fans are a lot of 
children who watch every move their heroes on the diamond make. And as 
they watch them, they undoubtedly note that little puff in the lip, the 
can in the pocket, and they think that is part of being a great 
baseball player. They decide they too want to be great baseball 
players, and so they imitate the conduct of those Major League Baseball 
  The 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey found the use of 
smokeless tobacco products has increased by 36 percent among high 
school boys since 2003, and the proportion of high school boys using 
smokeless tobacco is now an alarming 15 percent of all high school boys 
in America.
  It is no wonder tobacco companies spend millions on advertisements 
tailored to attract young people to use tobacco products. The industry 
more than doubled its marketing for smokeless products between 2005 and 
2008 to a record $547.9 million. The letter we sent points out that 
Major League Baseball players who use smokeless tobacco at games are 
providing celebrity endorsements for those tobacco products which 
encourage many young people to take up smokeless tobacco. It is a 
dangerous product. We know every year tobacco kills 443,000 Americans, 
most of whom started their tobacco addiction as teenagers. The Surgeon 
General, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the 
National Cancer Institute have concluded that smokeless tobacco causes 
cancers of the stomach, larynx, and esophagus; oral cancers--which can 
result in disfiguring surgery--and pancreatic cancer, one of the 
deadliest forms of cancer. The use of smokeless tobacco is linked to 
cardiovascular disease, gum disease, tooth decay, and mouth lesions.
  This is a battle I have been engaged in for a long time. I started 
battling the tobacco companies over smoking on airplanes over 25 years 
ago. I won that battle. I didn't know at the time, but that victory, 
fought with my colleague Senator Lautenberg, was a tipping point in 
America. From that point forward, people started asking questions. If 
it is not safe to smoke tobacco in an airplane, why is it safe on a 
train, a bus, in an office, in school, or in a hospital? One by one 
those opportunities to smoke in those places started to close up.
  People today find it incredible--in fact, many young people still 
can't believe it--that we allowed people to smoke on an airplane, but 
many of us remember it well. America has changed. But when it comes to 
smokeless tobacco, I am calling on Major League Baseball and the 
players association to be part of a positive change on behalf of their 
young fans. Let them set an example in their negotiations with Major 
League Baseball owners to eliminate tobacco from the baseball field, 
the dugout, and all aspects of the game of baseball. That would be a 
great message. It would not only show responsible conduct on the part 
of the baseball players, but it would show their fans how much they 
love them that they are willing to make an extra sacrifice to protect 
them from the dangers of smokeless tobacco.

  It is not a new battle. I have been involved in this before, and I 
have called on Major League Baseball before. I can tell you that Bud 
Selig is strongly in favor of what I am asking for. I talked to him on 
the phone just a few weeks ago. But it really comes down to this 
negotiation--the contract between the players and the owners--and 
usually it becomes a bargaining chip at the table.
  Let's not let the health and safety of young baseball fans across 
America be a bargaining chip between the Major League players and the 
owners. Let's win one for the kids across America. I hope the Major 
League Baseball players will show the leadership, which I know they can 
show, and eliminate smokeless tobacco from the game of baseball and 
really give our kids across America--the greatest baseball fans in the 
world--the help they need to avoid this deadly habit.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland.

                           Amendment No. 740

  Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I rise to oppose a pending amendment, 
the amendment offered by the Senator from Arizona, Mr. McCain, and that 
is amendment No. 740.
  This amendment would eliminate any funding under the Economic 
Development Administration for trade adjustment assistance. Trade 
adjustment assistance, under the Economic Development Administration, 
is $15.8 million. This amendment would stop EDA from implementing the 
TAA for something called the firms program, which was just reauthorized 
last week by the Senate.
  The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms Program is the only program 
specifically designed to help small manufacturers hurt by import 
competition. Let me emphasize. It is the little guys. It is the machine 
tool shop. It is the small to medium-sized business that we go 
``hoorah, hoorah'' for in the Senate all of the time. But when it comes 
to helping them when they have been hurt by trade imports or their 
intellectual property has been stolen, we are not going to give them 
  I oppose this amendment.
  The Economic Development Administration is in the Commerce-Justice-
Science Subcommittee. It was reauthorized by the Senate. Under the bill 
that was passed, it would have provided technical assistance and 
matching Federal funds to help develop and implement a plan to help 
them get back on

[[Page S6644]]

their feet. It is a competitive grant program, and the largest grant is 
  The trade adjustment assistance for something called the firms 
program was created back in 1974, under Gerald Ford, to help small 
businesses and small manufacturers adjust to increased imports and 
increased international competition. The 2011 trade adjustment 
assistance bill passed last week authorized this program at $16 million 
and said the EDA should manage it. The CJS follows the authorizing 
direction, as we should.
  The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms Program, for small 
businesses, helps them adjust, retool, and stay competitive in an 
increasingly global economy. In 2010, this program enabled 330 firms to 
devise strategies to help get back on track. What did it help them do? 
It helped them identify new markets, improve efficiencies in their 
operation, and also helped them identify additional financing. Ninety-
eight percent of the companies that participated are still in business 
after 5 years. Without the TAA for Firms Program, many of these 
companies would be out of business.
  Since 2006, it is estimated that over 50,000 manufacturing jobs were 
saved because of this. Manufacturing is the backbone of America. One of 
the reasons we are in the economic turmoil we are in now is that we 
have lost so much manufacturing. We give all kinds of tax breaks to 
send jobs overseas. We also do bailouts to help the really big boys, 
such as the automobile industry. And we had to help them. I understand 
that. But these small to medium-sized businesses, some of which I have 
visited in my own State, need this kind of help when they are whacked 
by often subsidized imports. Many Maryland companies know how to 
compete with other companies, but they often feel they are competing 
with other countries. They know what to do, and we need to be able to 
help them do it. Trade adjustment assistance is important. If we don't 
invest in helping our manufacturers stay in the global game, we are 
going to lose out. So we would hope that we would defeat the McCain 
  During the Senate consideration of the trade adjustment bill, our 
colleague, the other Senator from Arizona, offered an amendment to 
strike the program then. It failed 43 to 54. I hope this amendment 
fails again. Let's use some of the Federal help to help those who are 
creating jobs. If we really want to talk about creating jobs and 
creating jobs in manufacturing, let's leave this program--modest, 
small. For $15 million, we could really help small businesses and 
medium-sized businesses learn how to get back on their feet after they 
have been whacked often by unfair and anticompetitive trade practices.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona.

                           Amendment No. 739

  Mr. McCAIN. If it is agreeable to the managers, I will discuss two of 
my amendments--one, the amendment to prohibit the use of transportation 
enhancement grants to fund certain projects, and the other, No. 740, to 
eliminate funding for trade adjustment assistance for firms.
  Is that agreeable?
  I thank the Senator from Maryland.
  First, I would like to talk about the amendment that would remedy the 
misplaced priorities of Congress by focusing valuable transportation 
dollars on improving our Nation's crumbling infrastructure.
  Under current law, 10 percent of funding provided from the Surface 
Transportation Program must be used for transportation enhancement 
activities. Let me make it clear. When you pay your tax on a gallon of 
gasoline and send it to Washington, 10 percent--10 cents out of every 
one of those dollars--has to be used for transportation enhancement 
activities. If the State's priority is to rebuild a bridge, 10 percent 
of it has to go to transportation enhancement, but if the State's 
priority is to build a new freeway, then too bad--10 cents out of every 
dollar still must be spent on ``transportation enhancement 
activities,'' such as transportation museums like the Corvette Museum 
in Kentucky, the White Squirrel Sanctuary in Tennessee, landscaping 
along Las Vegas highways, walkways, and bike paths, and other 
activities. Many of these programs may be valuable, and they could be 
valuable, but rather than a mandated 10 percent be used for those 
purposes, shouldn't the States and the local authorities be the ones to 
make those decisions if they think the money could be better spent on 
other priorities rather than we here in Congress mandating that 10 
percent should be used for transportation enhancement activities?

  Everybody knows and the President has spoken eloquently about our 
Nation's highways, roads, and bridges that are crumbling and in need of 
repair. So it doesn't make sense to mandate any Federal dollars to 
something other than those, especially since the priorities of the 
State and local governments may be very different.
  The amendment would prohibit funding in the bill for 7 of the 12 
transportation enhancement activities. Specifically, funding would be 
prohibited for scenic or historic highway programs, including tourist 
and welcome centers, landscaping and scenic beautification, historic 
preservation, rehabilitation, and operation of historic transportation 
building structures or facilities, control and removal of outdoor 
advertising, archeological planning and research, and establishment of 
transportation museums. I will be the first to say some of those are 
good programs. Some of those may be necessary. But none of them need to 
be mandated.
  This amendment does not prohibit funding for pedestrian and bicycle 
facilities, pedestrian and bicycle safety and education activities, 
conversion of abandoned railway corridors to trails, environmental 
mitigation of highway runoff pollution, reducing vehicle-caused 
wildlife mortality, maintaining habitat connectivity, and acquisition 
of scenic easements and scenic or historic sites. Frankly, I would like 
to see it all eliminated, but I can understand an argument for the five 
that are not included in this amendment.
  We are talking about real money. According to the Department of 
Transportation, almost $1 billion was slated for transportation 
enhancement funds in 2011. Since 1992, more than $12 billion has gone 
to these programs. My colleagues can argue that these are important. I 
argue that it makes more sense to stop forcing States to spend this 
money on flowers and museums and allow them to spend it on 146,633 
deficient bridges in this country. My home State of Arizona alone has 
903 deficient bridges. If the State of Arizona should want that money 
spent to repair bridges, it seems to me they should be allowed their 
priorities rather than 10 percent of it being mandated for any purpose, 
much less those seven that are outlined in the amendment.
  We know what the debt is--$14.8 trillion. We have to spend our money 
in a fiscally responsible manner and not on special interest projects. 
For example, the State of Tennessee has more than 3,800 deficient 
bridges. Because of this Federal mandate, however, States are forced to 
spend valuable and limited transportation dollars on transportation 
enhancement projects such as the White Squirrel Sanctuary in Kenton, 
TN. Kenton, the home of the white squirrel, has spent $269,404 on the 
sanctuary. The funding for the White Squirrel Sanctuary was used for 
construction of walking trails, including brick crosswalks, a foot 
bridge, and trailhead parking within Kenton to provide for the safe 
observation of white squirrels.
  The Lincoln Highway, a 200-mile roadside museum in Pennsylvania, 
received $300,000 in enhancement funding to commemorate the historical 
roadway with several items along the 200-mile route. These funds were 
used for items such as signs, ``colorful vintage gas pumps painted by 
local artists,'' and this refurbished coffee pot pictured on this 
poster board. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania ranks first out of all States for 
deficient bridges. Yet it seems to be more important to furbish large 
roadside coffee pots.
  Instead of spending money on fixing California's 7,091 deficient 
bridges, federally mandated tax dollars were spent on antique bike 
collections, a dragon gateway, and a sculpture for a parking lot in 
Laguna Beach. Specifically, the University of California received 
$440,000 to purchase and display 60 antique bikes for its bicycle 
museum collection. Los Angeles spent $250,000 to aid in the 
construction of the Twin Dragons Gateway entrance to the Chinatown 

[[Page S6645]]

  The National Corvette Museum in Kentucky received $198,000 to build a 
national Corvette museum simulator theater, while over 1,300 bridges in 
Kentucky are deficient and 3,000 are functionally obsolete, meaning 
they do not meet current design standards.
  I must say, in the interest of full disclosure, I have a special 
feeling for the Corvette. My first means of transportation on 
graduation from the Naval Academy was a modest model of the Corvette, 
and I almost wanted to take this out. But since a national Corvette 
museum simulator theater has very little to do with transportation 
enhancement, I felt compelled to add this.
  Nevada spent millions of Federal transportation dollars to make 
Vegas's highways beautiful. In 2008, Nevada received $2.6 billion in 
transportation grants. Instead of spending money on road upgrades or 
repairing 804 deficient bridges, the money was used for landscaping 
projects, for instance $498,750 went for ``decorative rocks, native 
plants, some pavement graphics, a few walls and some great big granite 
boulders'' to beautify an interchange to Las Vegas's 215 Beltway.
  I think it is a very beautiful boulder.
  Nevada also spent $319,000 on more landscaping projects that included 
more rocks and more plants on a highway beautification project only a 
few miles down the road.
  Let me say again, I think highway beautification projects are very 
important. When local and State officials wanted to have that kind of 
beautification along many of the freeways in my State, we planted 
cactus and bougainvillea and others. I think that is wonderful. But the 
fact is, when we have bridges that are actually dangerous for our 
constituents to use, then obviously we have to make some 
prioritization. As I mentioned, local officials who discussed the 
projects were quoted as saying--I am talking about the Nevada graphics 
and big, giant boulders and rocks--``We applied for the Federal 
enhancement dollars and those can only be used for landscaping and 
pedestrian-type improvements.'' In other words, local officials in 
Nevada said they had no choice as to what to spend the money on.
  In addition, the N-DOT Nevada transportation deputy director for 
southern Nevada was quoted as saying: ``It's really getting out of hand 
to where these pots of money have those constraints associated with 
them and you can't spend money where you want to.''
  Florida spent $3.4 million of stimulus transportation enhancement 
funding for a wildlife ecopassage. The wildlife crosswalk will be used 
by turtles and other animals that live in Lake Jackson, FL. The turtle 
tunnel will consist of a series of fences that will direct all the 
animal traffic to a 13-foot tunnel that will go under the road. Even 
though Florida has received millions in stimulus funds for the tunnel, 
the permanent ecopassage is only in the design stage and is not fully 
funded. It needs $6 million more, and it is unclear how long it will 
take to get the project built. Meanwhile, Florida has over 1,800 
bridges in need of repair or improvements.
  Other examples of wasteful and unnecessary mandated transportation 
enhancement projects include: $400,000 for a Pennsylvania trolley 
museum; $23 million for a Tennessee bicentennial history memorial; 
$234,000 for an Art Walk in Vermont; $160,000 for a Roman bathhouse 
renovation in West Virginia; $500,000 for the renovation of the Toledo 
Harbor Lighthouse in Ohio; $150,000 for a salamander crossing in 
Vermont; $1 million for the North Carolina Transportation Museum; 
$78,000 for a railroad caboose relocation and renovation; $210,790 for 
the Merchant and Drovers Tavern Museum in New Jersey; $40,000 spent on 
a new town sign in Iowa; $216,000 for fencing around oil wells in 
Oklahoma; $500,000 for a Santa Ana train station mural; $120,000 to 
restore Crandall Farm in Rhode Island; $44,500 on welcome signs in 
South Carolina; $150,000 to print and produce brochures on landscaping 
and replace a brochure display case in Kansas; $3 million on 
landscaping and a pedestrian walkway at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
  So here we are with $1 billion spent just last year, more than $12 
billion gone since 1992, and the numbers go up. I hope my colleagues 
will vote to find it necessary that these kinds of funding would be 
prohibited for the programs such as I have outlined.
  I have to be honest with my colleagues. If I had my way, about 80 
cents out of every $1 in gas taxes would stay in my home State of 
Arizona and in every State of America where it is collected and then we 
would let the Governors and city councils and mayors and county 
authorities make the decisions as to what that money should be spent 
  I remind my colleagues that we enacted the gas tax during the 
Eisenhower administration in order to build a national highway system. 
Long ago, the National Highway System was completed. Yet the money 
still goes from our citizens directly to the Federal Government, when 
it should be going to the States to make the decisions which they can 
make best. I doubt if many State authorities would have made the 
decisions such as I have just described there. I also believe a lot of 
the authorities and officials in various States would agree with the 
deputy director of the Nevada Department of Transportation, director 
for southern Nevada, who was quoted as saying:

       It is really getting out of hand to where these pots of 
     money have these constraints associated with them and you 
     can't spend money where you want to.

  I hope my colleagues will vote in favor of that amendment.

                           Amendment No. 740

  Madam President, according to a previous agreement, I will discuss 
amendment No. 740, which is to eliminate funding for trade adjustment 
assistance for firms--I emphasize for firms. Again, in the interests of 
full disclosure, I believe trade adjustment assistance is a compromise 
that was made back under President Clinton's administration, when 
certain free-trade agreements, specifically as I recall NAFTA, was 
agreed to. The Trade Adjustment Assistance Program was set up for 
individuals who would be adversely affected as a result of the 
enactment of free-trade agreements.
  We would not have enacted the free-trade agreements if we did not 
believe that the overwhelming effect of free-trade agreements would be 
beneficial to business in the United States and would result in hiring 
and jobs and a better economy. But I also understand there may be 
individuals in specific cases where these free-trade agreements hurt 
the businesses in certain places in the country.
  I must say I opposed the increase in the trade adjustment assistance 
which was part of the deal made in order to ensure passage of the three 
free-trade agreements that were just concluded in this body a short 
time ago--the free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and 
Panama. But I do believe there are some aspects of this program we 
should examine more carefully.
  The TAA for Firms Program provides matching grants of up to $75,000 
to firms that have been impacted by trade so the firms can hire private 
sector consultants to help them become competitive. The program is 
administered through a network of regional nonprofit trade adjustment 
assistance centers that are chosen noncompetitively. It is my 
experience that wherever the Federal Government abandons competition, 
the American taxpayer usually loses. These TAACs have been known to 
charge exorbitant overhead rates of 60 percent of grant funding, and 
the Government Accountability Office has questioned the program's 
effectiveness and administrative costs. According to the President, 
this President, this administration sent over a termination list with 
its fiscal year 2012 budget. According to the President's own proposal 
in his own fiscal year 2012 budget: ``The Administration proposes to 
eliminate the Economic Development Administration Trade Adjustment 
Assistance for Firms program.''

  That is not the proposal of the Senator from Arizona, although it is 
in this amendment. It is the proposal of the President of the United 
States. I think it would be hard for my colleagues on the other side of 
the aisle to argue he is insensitive to the plight of firms and 
individuals and companies that are affected by free-trade agreements.
  According to the President's termination list, a message he sent over 
to Congress, the justification goes on to say: ``The Administration 
believes that

[[Page S6646]]

it would be more effective to concentrate EDA's resources on public 
investments in infrastructure and institutions that promote innovation 
and entrepreneurship.''
  The inclusion of this program in the President's termination list is 
strong evidence we should no longer be funding the program. It also 
begs the question: Why are we choosing to spend almost $16 million on a 
program we don't need and has consistently had its effectiveness 
questioned? This is money we don't have and don't need to spend.
  As I said before, I have always been skeptical of trade adjustment 
assistance and similar programs such as this one for firms. I believe 
these programs are potential vehicles for government waste, where 
market interference unfairly puts the government in the position of 
choosing winners and losers. I believe the evidence stating that trade 
adjustment assistance and similar programs achieve their goals is 
suspect as well.
  That fight is over, at least for the time being. But I might add 
there are still many questions about the TAA Program. We need to 
analyze whether the TAA Program is doing what it was intended to do. 
The following are some of the questions and concerns we should 
  Does the TAA Program provide overly generous benefits to a narrow 
population? According to analysis from the Heritage Foundation, based 
on statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the third quarter 
of fiscal year 2009, only 1 percent of mass layoffs were a result of 
import competition of overseas relocation.
  Another question: Is there evidence that trade adjustment assistance 
benefits and training helped increase participants earnings? An 
analysis by Professor Kara M. Reynolds of American University found 
``little evidence that it (TAA) helps displaced workers find new, well-
paying employment opportunities.'' In fact, TAA participants 
experienced a wage loss of 10 percent.
  The same study found that in 2007 the Federal Government appropriated 
$855.1 million to TAA programs. Of this amount, funding for training 
programs accounted for only 25 percent.
  In 2007, the Office of Management and Budget rated the TAA Program as 
``ineffective.'' The OMB found that the TAA Program fails to use tax 
dollars effectively because, among other reasons, the program has 
failed to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of achieving its 
goals. The American people are hurting. Unemployment remains at 
unacceptable levels and is estimated to continue to grow. We need to 
cut unnecessary spending, such as this program, at a time when our 
national debt has reached this unsustainable level. The American people 
face painful choices about how to cut our Federal budget.

  I wish to conclude again by saying I don't believe the trade 
adjustment is a viable program. I also understand what was decided by 
both sides of the House, with the support of some of my Republican 
colleagues, that trade adjustment was the price for passage of the 
three trade agreements that have been signed by the President of the 
United States. I think, in this case on this particular program, where 
the President of the United States has asked for its termination 
because of its ineffectiveness and its--and I believe it would be more 
effective to concentrate these resources on public investment in 
infrastructure and institutions that promote innovation and 
entrepreneurship--I hope we would abide by the recommendation of the 
President of the United States with whom, as my colleagues know, I am 
not always in total agreement.
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. CASEY. I wished to respond to my colleague from Arizona on a 
couple points. I rise in opposition to his amendment. I think there is 
a lot we agree on, based on the remarks he gave about making sure the 
program works and is efficient and delivers results for taxpayers. I 
don't agree with eliminating the program in this case.
  I appreciate the words he said about trade adjustment assistance and 
his recognition that workers are going through a tough time right now. 
This amendment is a disagreement about what we do about firms. In this 
case, it is pretty simple. We have trade adjustment assistance that 
helps individual workers, and I think there is a lot of agreement on 
that. This particular program is about individual companies. Basically, 
what we are talking about is 265 firms in the country. The average 
quantum of assistance is a little more than $62,000 per firm. Part of 
that is as simple as having an expert come into a company--because of 
foreign competition and I would say unfair foreign competition--and 
helping them with their process, being able to produce a product in a 
more efficient way, changing an assembly line or giving advice in a way 
that a company is not able to figure out on its own. It provides that 
technical assistance.
  The other part about this is, it is an effort to make sure these 
firms can better compete in a very tough environment, frankly, that has 
often been undermined by trade agreements. That is my perspective. I 
know some don't share that.
  The other number I would point to, in terms of the effectiveness of 
the program, is that 90 percent of the companies that received this 
trade adjustment assistance help for their technical assistance or 
otherwise are in business more than 5 years later. So I would debate 
the question about the effectiveness. It is the same spirit or the same 
belief that underlies trade adjustment itself. When a worker is thrown 
out of a job because of unfair foreign competition or the ravages of a 
tough economy, we say to that worker we are going to retrain them to 
get them back into the workforce and that is the purpose of the worker 
part of this.
  The same is true of a company. Sometimes a company gets its legs 
knocked out from under it in a bad economy, and we say we will have a 
program to allow an expert to come in and help them get through this 
period. It is not unlimited. There is a limited amount of money 
available nationally for those 265 firms. I think there is a lot of 
agreement about a basic disagreement about the need for a particular 
Trade Adjustment Assistance Program for the companies.
  I would respectfully rise in opposition to the amendment of my friend 
from Arizona.
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Arizona.
  Mr. McCAIN. I thank the Senator from Pennsylvania, and I will be very 
  The President of the United States weighed in heavily in favor of 
renewal and even expansion of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program. 
This amendment only applies to portions of the Trade Adjustment 
Assistance Program that the President and the administration 
specifically pointed out as being ineffective and sent over as a 
program for which they recommended termination. I hope my colleagues 
are not confused that this is an attack on an amendment which would 
destroy TAA. It would not. It only focuses very narrowly on the trade 
portion of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program that the President 
and the administration pointed to as being ineffective and a program 
they requested be terminated. Frankly, I don't think it would have a 
dramatic effect on the entire Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, I am 
sorry to say.
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Alaska.

                               Alaska Day

  Mr. BEGICH. I first wish to say I know my colleague from Alaska was 
on the floor talking. Today is Alaska Day. It was a great day for our 
country when the final transfer from Russia to the United States 
resulted in the great State of Alaska, which has incredible resources 
from which this country has benefited. I want to wish all the people 
back home a great Alaska Day.

                           Amendment No. 739

  I came down to the floor because I know my friend from Arizona, 
Senator McCain, has offered an amendment on elimination of 
transportation enhancements. Let me speak about two parts.
  One, as a former mayor who dealt with this issue over and over but 
also as someone whose family has been in the business industry and 
understands the power of a great community and what it can do for the 
long-term economic health of the community when the infrastructure is 
designed and built right and also someone who was in the real estate 

[[Page S6647]]

  First, as a former mayor, we debated these issues a great deal on 
transportation enhancements. I know there will be issues at times, and 
it doesn't matter if it is this program or the Defense Department or 
Interior Department, I can name any department over the years that has 
had issues that have come up that have not had the most appropriate 
expenditure of the dollar. When we look at transportation enhancements, 
they are an incredible asset. I will tell you, from the aspect of 
Alaska and having served as the mayor of Anchorage for 5\1/2\ years, we 
built more roads than the last three mayors combined. In 5 years, we 
built a ton of roads to enhance our communities. But the roads of the 
1950s and 1960s are no longer the viable roads of the future.

  In the old days, they built them, paved them, maybe put a curb on, 
maybe a sidewalk, and that would be considered the road, the 
transportation network. Things have changed quite a bit. The roads we 
built in Anchorage not only had the curb, the sidewalk, the 
transportation enhancements, the landscaping that goes along with it--
because when we put all of that into play, the net result is we get a 
better transportation network. One can utilize it, as we have done with 
a couple roads in our neighborhoods, to slow down traffic so they will 
not be a danger to the children within the zone. In the case of some, 
where we built pedestrian multi-use trails--which I can point to 
several within our own area when I was mayor in Anchorage--where these 
trails became huge enhancements for the neighborhood but also to our 
  When the visitors came and spent money on our economy, maybe they 
went to a place to visit or they went out fishing, but maybe they came 
back and went out after dinner to take a walk. These trails that were 
well designed and landscaped properly would be another experience they 
would see and feel and take back to their home and hometown.
  This amendment Senator McCain has brought forward is opposed by not 
only the U.S. Conference of Mayors but the National Tour Association, 
the U.S. Travel Association, the Southeastern Tourism Society, and many 
others are growing on the list because they see not only the value for 
improving the road infrastructure, but they see the value of attracting 
quality of life that makes the property values better around these 
enhancements, the tourism that comes along with it, and the value of 
economic development. I think there is just a lack of understanding by 
some Members because they like to pick one or two--and I would agree we 
have to constantly review these programs to make sure they are used for 
the right purposes. In this case, I will tell you--and I can show you 
project after project in Alaska where we saw a great value. It could be 
the Water Street improvements in Ketchikan, which during my time in the 
Senate in the last 2\1/2\ years, I have seen that development change 
the Front Street of their community; the Kenai River Trail 
improvements--which many people know the great Kenai River has 
incredible fishing for salmon--to ensure that the trails are safe.
  Why do we want the trails improved? If people are crawling over the 
banks, they deteriorate the banks, they create erosion and they destroy 
the habitat and destroy the great Salmon Creek. In Anchorage, where we 
improved Ship Creek with the same kinds of enhancements, why did we do 
that? Again, to make it safer for the pedestrians who viewed it and 
also to ensure that the $600 million fishery that was and is in 
Anchorage would thrive because we are not damaging the habitat.
  I can go on and on about project after project, where we saw great 
improvement of the road projects. I know some will believe the road 
projects are asphalt and maybe a little drain and that is it. I can 
tell you, from putting my hat on from the real estate industry--I spent 
many years in the real estate industry--what people looked for is the 
quality of the environment around them. If you were on a strip-paved 
road or barely a paved road with a little drain or curb, it had a 
certain value. If you were on a road that had a nice pedestrian 
pathway, nice curb and gutter and landscaping, I guarantee you those 
property values were stronger and better. The local community benefited 
from that because it now had stronger property taxes because of the 
higher property value. The homeowner benefited because they had an 
investment that would maintain its value because of the quality of the 
infrastructure. The roads, water, sewer system, in this case, the 
enhancements were of high quality.
  Those who brush it off as wasteful expenditures, I can show you again 
project after project where we took substandard roads, enhanced them 
with transportation enhancement resources, dollars, and the net result 
was we had economic development occur around it. We had quality of life 
improve. We had better values in our properties that are owned by the 
private sector, whether it be commercial or residential.
  Again, I would strongly recommend to my friend from Arizona that I 
know it is easy--because the staff who run around here always want to 
give the worst-case scenario of everything. We can always do that. That 
is easy to do. We can always find one project somewhere about 
something. But that is not what this is about. It is about the 90-plus 
percent or the 98-percent of projects that are incredible enhancements 
to the community. As a mayor and someone who was in the real estate 
industry, I have seen the value of these.
  As I mentioned also, the organizations that don't support these, the 
tourism industry folks I mentioned who don't support these because they 
understand that when one is traveling to a community, it is not just 
about the one item. They go in there--and let's use Alaska as an 
example--for king salmon fishing or maybe in the wintertime skiing, 
whatever it might be, there are these other pieces people experience.
  In Alaska, we have some great trail systems that people rave about 
and they talk about. Whenever I go around the country and I run into 
someone who visited Alaska, they will tell me the name of the community 
they were visiting or talk about this trail or that trail. Ship Creek 
Trail is a beautiful trail that at lunchtime tons of people utilize. It 
is a huge benefit for producing the quality of life for downtown.
  I would encourage--and I recognize there are things I agree with, 
with Senator McCain, multiple things that I worked on with the Defense 
authorization, but this one I beg to differ on his rationale of getting 
rid of this resource. It is important for local communities. I wish to 
emphasize, the best part of this is these are not congressional 
earmarks. It is money set aside that the local communities, through 
their metropolitan planning efforts or in the State, through their 
efforts, decide on how to spend this money. It is the best way to allow 
local communities less Federal control to do the right thing based on 
some framework and guidelines here.
  If we want less Federal Government, this is one of those programs 
that allows flexibility on the local end to do the right thing and do 
what they think will enhance our road improvements and communities, be 
it small neighborhoods or major highways.
  As I have always done, I invite Senator McCain to Alaska. I will take 
him on the bypass where we can drive, see some incredible beluga 
whales, go down to Girdwood and see an incredible rain forest at the 
same time. I will take him to four or five of these projects. He will 
want to pull over and take photos. Those will be federally funded 
projects that made it possible for him to do that.

  Why is that important? Because if you drive the new Seward Highway 
from Anchorage to Girdwood, it is not the safest highway. These 
pullouts, these waysides, these enhancements have made it a safer 
place. You can pull over and see Dall sheep walking on the side of the 
mountains right there. Instead of stopping on the road and pulling off 
on the side there a little bit, you actually pull off into a wayside. 
It is safer, better for tourism. It does the right thing, ensuring that 
the project is a better project.
  Again, I would challenge my friend from Arizona that I will gladly 
take him on many of these projects and show him the value of what we 
have done with them, the economic opportunity that goes along with 
them, the jobs that are created with them, the long-term benefit to the 
values of the properties that is associated with these

[[Page S6648]]

improvements that are in the private sector.
  Madam President, I thank you for allowing me a few minutes. I again 
wish my friends and all my constituents back home a great Alaska Day. 
But I also wanted to talk about an important amendment that I think 
would be the wrong direction if we vote for it.
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Wisconsin.
  Mr. KOHL. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that at 4:35 p.m., 
the Senate proceed to votes in relation to the following amendments: 
Cornyn No. 775, as modified with the changes that are at the desk; and 
McCain No. 740; that the time until 4:35 p.m. be equally divided 
between the two leaders or their designees; that no amendments or 
points of order be in order prior to the votes other than budget points 
of order; and that there be 2 minutes equally divided between the two 
votes; further, after the votes in relation to those amendments, the 
following Senators be recognized to offer the amendments listed: Vitter 
No. 769, Collins No. 804, Sanders No. 816, and Landrieu No. 781.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The amendment (No. 775), as modified, is as follows:

       After section 217 of title II of division B, insert the 
       Sec. 218.  No funds made available under this Act shall be 
     used to allow the knowing transfer of firearms to agents of 
     drug cartels where law enforcement personnel of the United 
     States do not continuously monitor or control such firearms 
     at all times.

  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, it is not a good idea to legislate law 
enforcement tactics on an appropriations bill. To the extent the 
amendment by the Senator from Texas that has been modified with the 
help of the subcommittee chair restates Department of Justice policy, 
it is unneeded. To the extent it seeks to create a well-intentioned 
implementation of that policy, it does so in a way that may adversely 
affect FBI operations and other law enforcement efforts, including 
joint task forces among Federal, State, and local law enforcement, 
without really adding to what the Attorney General has already said and 
done to ensure that certain tactics from Operation Fast and Furious not 
be used again.
  The Department of Justice's Inspector General's Office has not yet 
completed its independent investigation of Operation Fast and Furious, 
which was a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives 
operation in Phoenix that apparently followed on the practices used in 
Tucson during the Bush administration in Operation Wide Receiver. I 
expect to examine the inspector general's report through briefings, and 
possibly a hearing, when that investigation is concluded. It is 
important to remember that there are ongoing and highly sensitive 
criminal investigations involved here, and I do not think anyone wants 
to unduly hamper the efforts of law enforcement agents to stem the 
fight against violent drug cartels in Mexico.
  I appreciate that the Senator from Texas, like all of us, is deeply 
concerned. When he wrote to me asking for a hearing about the southern 
border, I asked Senator Durbin, who then chaired the Crime 
Subcommittee, to work with him and accommodate his request. I certainly 
hope that congressional attention did not add to the pressure felt by 
law enforcement officers and agents to utilize aggressive and risky 
methods with inadequate resources.
  Of course, we all mourn the loss of all of the agents who have died 
in the line of duty, including members of our Customs and Border Patrol 
and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. I have spoken previously about 
the loss of Jaime Zapata. This year we also mourn Hector Clark and 
Eduardo Rojas. Last year we lost five Department of Homeland Security, 
DHS, agents: Vincent Gallagher, John Zykas, Mark Van Doren, Floyd 
Collins, and, of course, Brian Terry. The year before that we lost 
another four agents: Nathaniel Afolayan, Cruz McGuire, Robert Rosas, 
Jr., and Trena McLaughlin.
  Senator Cornyn has offered an amendment he describes as prohibiting 
funding for intentional ``gun walking'' programs. The Department of 
Justice already has a longstanding policy against the knowing transfer 
of firearms to criminals without proper monitoring or controls. I 
appreciate that the Senator from Texas, like all of us, is deeply 
concerned about law enforcement operations that could allow firearms to 
fall into the hands of violent criminals in Mexico.
  I was concerned that the original text of his amendment would 
actually make it more difficult to investigate and prosecute gun 
traffickers. I am glad to see that Senator Cornyn has worked with 
Senator Mikulski to address some of my operational concerns with his 
amendment concerns that were also voiced by the Department of Justice. 
I am not sure that in the short time available to us that we have been 
able to rectify all of the unintended, collateral consequences this 
language might occasion, however. For example, I know the FBI has 
voiced serious operational concerns about the impact this amendment 
could have on their system of background checks through the National 
Instant Criminal Background Check System, NICS. I hope Senator Cornyn 
and others will continue to work with the Department of Justice, the 
FBI, and other law enforcement agencies to ensure that whatever final 
language may be included in law does not unduly hamper the ability of 
law enforcement, including efforts against violent drug cartels in 
  The Attorney General recently reiterated that longstanding Department 
of Justice policy already prohibits the transfer of firearms to known 
criminals without the proper monitoring or controls by law enforcement. 
Indeed, when Attorney General Holder testified about Operation Fast and 
Furious before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Commerce, 
Justice, and Science in March, he stated that he had made it clear to 
the Department of Justice, including the U.S. Attorney's Offices and 
ATF agents nationwide, that ``letting guns walk is not something that 
is acceptable.'' I also understand that earlier this year, this policy 
was expressly reiterated to prosecutors and agents in the field through 
guidance issued by the Deputy Attorney General. Accordingly, this 
amendment attempts to legislate a policy that is already in effect.
  I am also concerned that Senator Cornyn has offered this amendment 
without the benefit of all of the facts. As I have noted, there is an 
independent investigation by the Department of Justice inspector 
general that is ongoing. Moreover, there is an ongoing criminal 
investigation and prosecution related to the tragic murder of Agent 
Brian Terry. I am sure Senator Cornyn would agree that we should all 
ensure that the FBI and the prosecutors assigned to the case can 
continue that criminal investigation without any interference or 
impediment. Contrary to Senator Cornyn's statement, there has been no 
conclusive evidence indicating that either of these guns connected to 
Operation Fast and Furious were ``used'' to murder Agent Terry.
  Although the revised text of Senator Cornyn's amendment has addressed 
some of my operational concerns, I remain concerned with language that 
purports to require U.S. law enforcement personnel to continuously 
monitor and control any firearms that may be transferred during an 
operation. I cannot believe that is what is really intended. Many law 
enforcement operations are joint operations through joint task forces 
with State and local law enforcement. I do not believe the Senator from 
Texas means to construct a rigid protocol of tactics for such 
operations. Given the potential for operational problems that might 
arise from a overly literal application of the language, I am left to 
wonder whether this language is intended to apply to joint operations 
at all, since it would not make sense on the ground.
  Again, I appreciate the intent of Senator Cornyn's amendment, and as 
I have demonstrated, I share his concern with the violence, drugs, and 
illegal gun trafficking along our borders. The strategy and tactics 
being used to fight these problems need to be both smart and effective. 
At the same time, I am confident the Senator from Texas would agree 
with me that we must also continue to support and honor the efforts of 
the thousands of Federal, State, and local law enforcement officers who 
are working tirelessly to keep our border safe.

[[Page S6649]]

  Mr. KOHL. Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum and ask 
unanimous consent that the time in the quorum call be divided equally 
between both sides.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant editor of the Daily Digest proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. KOHL. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 
  The Senator from Wisconsin.
  Mr. KOHL. Madam President, I ask for the yeas and nays on the Cornyn 
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The question is on agreeing to amendment No. 775, as modified.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk called the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from North Dakota (Mr. 
Conrad) is necessarily absent.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Are there any other Senators in the 
Chamber desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 99, nays 0, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 167 Leg.]


     Brown (MA)
     Brown (OH)
     Johnson (SD)
     Johnson (WI)
     Nelson (NE)
     Nelson (FL)
     Udall (CO)
     Udall (NM)

                             NOT VOTING--1

  The amendment (No. 775), as modified, was agreed to.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The majority leader is recognized.
  Mr. REID. Madam President, we have been making progress on this bill. 
We are going to have one more vote now. We have already set up a vote 
in the morning. We have an agreement to do so. There will be a little 
debate prior to that vote.
  We hope to be able to work our way through some other amendments. If 
people have amendments they want to offer, they should do it, because 
time is wasting. We need to move through this appropriations bill and 
finish it this week.

                           Amendment No. 740

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. There will now be 2 minutes of 
debate on the McCain amendment.
  The Senator from Arizona.
  Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, as usual, I am offering an amendment 
that is in compliance with the request of the President of the United 
States. The administration proposes to eliminate the Economic 
Development Administration Trade Adjustment Assistance Programs for 
firms, the TAAF Program. That is the President's message on 
termination. I remind my colleagues that this provides matching grants 
so that firms can hire private sector consultants. On behalf of the 
President and my colleagues, I ask for an ``aye'' vote.
  The Senator from Texas wishes to speak. Where is she? She deserted 
me. On Senator Hutchison's behalf, she supports the amendment.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Maryland.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Madam President, I oppose the McCain amendment and 
OMB's recommendation. Trade adjustment assistance is an effective and 
modest program, and it is only $15.8 million. The average grant is 
$75,000. From 2006 to 2010, it has helped over 830 firms and created 
about 50,000 jobs.
  I urge defeat of the McCain amendment.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there further debate?
  If not, the question is on agreeing to the amendment.
  Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there a sufficient second?
  There is a sufficient second.
  The yeas and nays having been ordered.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from North Dakota (Mr. 
Conrad) is necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Casey). Are there any other Senators in 
the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 44, nays 55, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 168 Leg.]


     Johnson (WI)


     Brown (MA)
     Brown (OH)
     Johnson (SD)
     Nelson (NE)
     Nelson (FL)
     Udall (CO)
     Udall (NM)

                             NOT VOTING--1

  The amendment (No. 740) was rejected.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wisconsin.
  Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the four 
amendments listed in the previous order and the following amendments 
from Senator Coburn, No. 791 and No. 792, be the only amendments in 
order to be offered this evening.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from Maine.

                 Amendment No. 804 to Amendment No. 738

  Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to set aside the 
pending amendment, and I call up my amendment, No. 804.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Maine [Ms. Collins], for herself, Mr. 
     Udall of Colorado, Mr. Crapo, Mr. Risch, Ms. Snowe, Ms. 
     Ayotte, Mr. Johanns, Mr. Nelson of Nebraska, Mr. Hoeven, Ms. 
     Murkowski, Mr. Johnson of Wisconsin, and Mr. Kohl, proposes 
     an amendment numbered 804 to amendment No. 738.

  Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that further 
reading of the amendment be dispensed with.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The amendment is as follows:

 (Purpose: To prohibit the use of funds to implement a rule that sets 
maximum limits on the serving of vegetables in school meal programs or 
  is inconsistent with the recommendations of the most recent Dietary 
                Guidelines for Americans for vegetables)

       At the end of title VII of division A, add the following:
       Sec. _.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used to implement an interim final or final rule that--
       (1) sets any maximum limits on the serving of vegetables in 
     school meal programs established under the Richard B. Russell 
     National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq.) and by 
     section 4 of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 
     1773); or
       (2) is inconsistent with the recommendations of the most 
     recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans for vegetables.

[[Page S6650]]

  Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I understand this amendment has been 
cleared on both sides, and I ask for its adoption.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there further debate on the amendment?
  If not, the question is on agreeing to the amendment.
  The amendment (No. 804) was agreed to.
  Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I move to reconsider the vote and to lay 
that motion on the table.
  The motion to lay on the table was agreed to.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maine.
  Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
following Senators be added as cosponsors of this version of the 
amendment: Senators Udall, Crapo, Risch, Snowe, Ayotte, Johanns, Nelson 
of Nebraska, Hoeven, Murkowski, and Johnson of Wisconsin.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is it Senator Udall of Colorado?
  Ms. COLLINS. Thank you, it is Senator Udall of Colorado.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I thank again the managers of the bill 
and the two Senators from Idaho for their help in this matter.
  I also ask unanimous consent that the Senator from Wisconsin, Senator 
Kohl, be added as a very prominent cosponsor of this amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, my thanks to the managers of the bill.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.

                 Amendment No. 816 to Amendment No. 738

  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to set aside the 
pending amendment and call up my amendment No. 816.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. The clerk 
will report.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Vermont [Mr. Sanders] proposes an 
     amendment numbered 816 to amendment No. 738.

  Mr. SANDERS. I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the 
amendment be dispensed with.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The amendment is as follows:

      (Purpose: To provide amounts to support innovative, utility-
     administered energy efficiency programs for small businesses)

       On page 87, line 21, insert ``, of which $1,000,000 shall 
     be for economic adjustment assistance grants under section 
     209 of the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 
     (42 U.S.C. 3149) to support innovative, utility-administered 
     energy efficiency programs for small businesses'' before the 
     period at the end.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Louisiana.

                 Amendment No. 781 to Amendment No. 738

  Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, pursuant to the previous order, I now 
ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendments so that I may 
call up amendment No. 781.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will report.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Louisiana [Ms. Landrieu] proposes an 
     amendment numbered 781 to amendment No. 738.

  Ms. LANDRIEU. I ask unanimous consent to dispense with the reading.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

  (Purpose: To prohibit the approval of certain farmer program loans)

       On page 83, between lines 20 and 21, insert the following:
       Sec. 7__.  Section 363 of the Consolidated Farm and Rural 
     Development Act (7 U.S.C. 2006e) is amended in the first 
     sentence by striking ``any loan'' and inserting ``any farmer 
     program loan.''

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Louisiana.

                 Amendment No. 769 to Amendment No. 738

  Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, pursuant to the unanimous consent 
agreement, I call up Vitter amendment No. 769.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Louisiana [Mr. Vitter] proposes an 
     amendment numbered 769 to amendment No. 738.

  Mr. VITTER. I ask unanimous consent to waive the reading of the 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The amendment is as follows:

(Purpose: To prohibit the Food and Drug Administration from preventing 
an individual not in the business of importing a prescription drug from 
        importing an FDA-approved prescription drug from Canada)

         On page 83, between lines 20 and 21, insert the 
         Sec. _.  None of the funds made available in this Act for 
     the Food and Drug Administration shall be used to prevent an 
     individual not in the business of importing a prescription 
     drug (within the meaning of section 801(g) of the Federal 
     Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 381(g))) from 
     importing a prescription drug from Canada that complies with 
     the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

  Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, let me briefly explain what this amendment 
is about, and I will be very brief. It will allow for personal use drug 
reimportation from Canada only. In doing so, this amendment is nearly 
identical to an amendment I proposed previously on the Senate floor 
last Congress which passed in a very strong bipartisan vote.
  Americans spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on 
prescription drugs. Prescription drug prices are skyrocketing, and they 
continue to skyrocket, and that causes real hurt and angst among many 
American families, particularly American seniors. They shouldn't have 
to choose between lifesaving medicine and other basic needs of life, 
such as food and electricity, and yet often the reality is that they do 
have to make that choice.
  My amendment would help ease a little bit of this pain by giving 
Americans more options. But in doing so, it is very narrow, it is very 
cautious, it is very specific. It applies to only individual 
consumers--not wholesalers--bringing in for their personal use FDA-
approved prescription drugs, and only from one country; namely, Canada.
  As I said, in doing so the language is nearly identical to the Vitter 
amendment to the DHS appropriations bill that passed the Senate last 
Congress with a strong bipartisan majority, 55 to 36, with 9 members 
not voting.
  This would provide real relief to millions of Americans, including 
seniors. It would allow reimportation from Canada--a very safe source 
country--including through mail order and over the Internet. The 
language, again, was restricted to personal use reimportation. 
Wholesalers cannot participate. It only applies to a consumer who gets 
a valid prescription from a doctor. So this amendment would 
specifically prohibit funding to the FDA to the extent that they would 
crack down and prohibit and police against this narrow activity.
  Back home and in Washington, Members of Congress on both sides of the 
aisle often talk about doing something about skyrocketing prescription 
drug costs. This is a very specific, narrowly tailored, cautious but 
effective means where we can do something, where we can have an impact, 
where we can help tens of millions of Americans, including many 
vulnerable seniors.
  I hope Democrats and Republicans will come together again, as we did 
last Congress, and give a strong, healthy bipartisan majority to this 
idea. It is the right thing to do. It would help Americans, it would 
help seniors, and it is a very careful, cautious approach: personal use 
only, not wholesalers, Canada only.
  Again, I urge that we adopt this amendment.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Louisiana.

                           Amendment No. 781

  Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, I know there may be other Senators who 
want to call up their amendments. I only want to speak for 2 minutes on 
the amendment I just proposed and explain to the Senate why this 
amendment is necessary. And I look forward to working with the 
chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee, Senator Stabenow from 
Michigan, and others, to work through the details.
  It seems as though there is an inconsistency in the law between the 
404 process that the Corps of Engineers uses when anyone, public or 
private, wants to build anything in a wetlands. Of course, you have got 
to get a permit. We are getting used to that. It is not an easy 
process, but it works, for the most part. You have got to mitigate; in 
other words, there is a no-net-loss rule, and we are all supporting 
that. However, there is a discrepancy

[[Page S6651]]

in the Farm and Rural Development Act that actually prohibits some very 
worthy nonprofit entities that are building community projects--this is 
not for profit--to even apply for a permit, even if they could 
mitigate, and that is what my amendment seeks to correct.
  The chairperson on the Agriculture Committee and others who have 
jurisdiction have committed to work with me to tailor this amendment so 
that it provides the help some of these loans need through the Rural 
Development Agency, but it doesn't open a whole new area of policy. I 
thank the Chair.
  That is basically a very short but concise and complete description 
of what I am trying to do. It is about as simple as that. I look 
forward to when the Senator from Wisconsin allows us to get in line for 
a vote on this committee. I thank Senator Kohl for allowing us to offer 
this amendment at this time.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.

                 Amendment No. 791 to Amendment No. 738

  Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the pending 
amendment be set aside and amendment No. 791 be called up.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will report.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Oklahoma [Mr. Coburn] proposes an 
     amendment numbered 791 to amendment No. 738.

  Mr. COBURN. I ask unanimous consent that the amendment be considered 
as read.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The amendment is as follows:

 (Purpose: To prohibit the use of funds to provide direct payments to 
  persons or legal entities with an average adjusted gross income in 
                         excess of $1,000,000)

         At the appropriate place, insert the following:
         Sec. __. None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used by the Secretary of Agriculture to provide direct 
     payments under section 1103 or 1303 of the Food, 
     Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (7 U.S.C. 8713, 8753) to 
     any person or legal entity that has an average adjusted gross 
     income (as defined in section 1001D of the Food Security Act 
     of 1985 (7 U.S.C. 1308-3a)) in excess of $1,000,000.

  Mr. COBURN. This is a straightforward amendment. We have had a lot of 
talk about millionaires in the country, but what most people don't 
realize is that there are a lot of farmers in this country whose 
adjusted gross income is well in excess of $1 million whom we are 
making direct payments to.
  What I would put forward is if you are making over $1 million, I 
don't think you need a lot of help from the Federal Government to be 
profitable. So what this amendment will do is it will put a limit of $1 
million or greater from receiving direct payments from the Department 
of Agriculture. You could say somebody making $980,000, but we have 
chosen this. Right now it is supposedly $2.5 million adjusted gross 
  What we have done is, of all the people who make more than $2.5 
million, 75 percent of their income outside of the farming income comes 
from some other areas. In other words, this is not their main business. 
Their main business isn't farming. So if they make $2.5 million 
farming, and they make 75 percent more than that in other areas, again, 
I would say we should have trouble justifying to the American people 
that we are sending their tax dollars--actually, borrowed money that is 
going to be charged to their kids and grandkids--to those individuals.
  Of the 1.8 million people who received farm payments from 2003 to 
2006, 2,702 of them exceeded the income limits that were established at 
that time, greater than $2.5 million. GAO reported that the USDA does 
not have management controls in place to verify that payments are not 
made to individuals who exceed the program's income eligibility limit. 
So we have a limit of $2.5 million, but they are not enforcing it. They 
don't know whether they are enforcing it.
  What this amendment will do is, first, we are going to cut it back to 
$1 million and say put it in action so you know who you are paying and 
how much they are making. GAO found that participants in the program in 
2006 were three times as likely to have an adjusted gross income in 
excess of $500,000 as individuals who did not participate at all in the 
direct payment program. In other words, 21 of every 1,000 farm program 
participants reported in excess adjusted gross income of $500,000 or 
more, compared with 7 of every 1,000 tax filers in the general public. 
Instead of taking more of what wealthy individuals have earned, 
Congress would be wise to first end unsolicited subsidies in the farm 
program to those individuals.
  Studies show that direct payments went to wealthy individuals who 
live in urban areas but own or have partial interest in their farms. In 
other words, they are absentee landlords who live in U.S. cities with 
populations 100,000 or more, but they were paid $394 million in farm 
payments in terms of the direct payment in 2010 alone. So that is $\1/
2\ billion.
  The top 10 percent of direct payments in 2010 received 59 percent of 
the money under the program. In other words, the top 10 percent got 59 
percent of the direct payment money. These 88,000 people got an average 
of $30,000. But if you look at those with adjusted gross income, they 
got far in excess of that. Some examples include 23 Members of Congress 
in the 112th Congress; 109 individuals living inside Washington, DC; 
203 individuals in Miami; 179 individuals inside the city limits of San 
Francisco received over $1 million in payments; 290 New York City 
residents received $800,000 on average in payments.
  President Obama's fiscal 2012 budget proposes to reduce the per-
person cap on direct payments to wealthy farmers by 25 percent or more 
and reduce the adjusted gross income eligibility limit by $250,000 over 
3 years. Well, what this amendment does is in the spirit of what the 
administration wants to do, but it goes further. It says if you are 
making over $1 million in adjusted gross income, you should not be 
eligible for direct payments through the farm program. It is 
straightforward. It is a way for us to change what we are doing. It is 
a way for us to save a significant amount of money, almost $\1/2\ 
  I dare say that if you poll the average American and you said we are 
paying out hundreds of millions of dollars every year to people making 
more than $1 million who are farming, they would say, We don't agree 
with that. That can't be the original intent of that program.
  That program is designed to help those people who are truly 
undercapitalized, who truly are having a difficult time even when we 
have great markets. And I am not opposed to the payment program. But 
the fact is, to have a significant percentage of that go to individuals 
who are making far in excess--33 times what the average individual in 
this country makes--I think is something we ought to end, and we ought 
to end right now.

                 Amendment No. 792 to Amendment No. 738

  Mr. President, I ask that the pending amendment be set aside and 
amendment No. 792 be called up.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will report.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Oklahoma [Mr. Coburn] proposes an 
     amendment numbered 792 to amendment No. 738.

  Mr. COBURN. I ask unanimous consent that the amendment be considered 
as if read.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The amendment is as follows:

(Purpose: To end payments to landlords who are endangering the lives of 
                      children and needy families)

       At the appropriate place, insert the following:
       Sec. __.  The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development 
     may not make a payment to any person or entity with respect 
     to a property assisted or insured under a program of the 
     Department of Housing and Urban Development that--
        (a) on the date of enactment of this Act, is designated as 
     ``troubled'' on the Online Property Integrated Information 
     System for ``life threatening deficiencies'' or ``poor'' 
     physical condition; and
       (b) has been designated as ``troubled'' on the Online 
     Property Integrated Information System at least once during 
     the 5-year period ending on the date of enactment of this 

  Mr. COBURN. This is another fairly straightforward amendment. We have 
significant housing for people who have

[[Page S6652]]

a need in our country. But inside that program, in HUD, there are 
payments being made for housing complexes with life-threatening 
conditions or in absolute poor physical condition. Yet people are 
trapped there. We keep sending the money. The money doesn't go to 
improve the housing; it goes into the pockets of those who own the 
housing through this subsidized housing.
  Thousands of needy families have turned to the government for stable 
housing. They have been placed in properties with health and safety 
deficiencies, including some that are life-threatening. There are 3,847 
properties with life-threatening deficiencies as determined by HUD--
life-threatening--that are currently or previously designated as 
``troubled'' by HUD during the past 5 years. Of those, 2,297 are in 
poor physical condition and were designated as ``troubled'' by HUD. 
Some of these are for the same properties that appear year after year 
on HUD's registration list of troubled properties. These numbers will 
not reflect all the deficient housing provided by HUD and other Federal 
departments and agencies. This is just a taste of a portion of what is 
out there.
  What this amendment would do is cut off aid to the greedy slumlords, 
while protecting needy families by prohibiting HUD from making any 
payment to any person or entity with respect to a property assisted or 
insured by HUD, currently designated as ``troubled'' on the Online 
Property Integrated Information Suite for ``life-threatening 
deficiencies'' or ``poor'' physical condition and that has been on the 
Online Property Integrated Information Suite's troubled property list 
at least one time during the past 5 years.
  What we are saying is, if someone has been taking advantage of this 
program as the owner of the property and not making it a safe property, 
not making it inhabitable, yet people have no choice but to live there, 
what we are saying is HUD should not be giving them any money. HUD 
should not be giving them any money.
  Over the past several years, there have been far too many examples of 
slumlords receiving hundreds of millions of Federal tax dollars. In 
many cases, those without stable housing sought help but were put at 
health and safety risk by those entrusted to care for them with 
taxpayer funds. A recent ABC News ``Nightline'' reported that the 
Federal Government's low-income housing programs are plagued by theft, 
mismanagement, and corruption at local levels, including millions spent 
on housing for sex offenders and dead people, and all too often fail 
the 3 million families who rely on them for a clean, safe place to 
  Specifically, the report found the Philadelphia Housing Authority 
spent housing funds on lavish gifts for its executives, $500,000 to 
settle sexual harassment claims, $17,000 of housing funds to throw an 
extravagant party for the executives. The same month at a belly-dancer 
party, a 12-year-old girl living in Federally subsidized housing 
suffered a near-fatal asthma attack that left her unable to speak or 
walk, secondary to dangerous mold in that apartment complex because it 
was not taken care of with the dollars that were paid by American 
taxpayers to help those who are dependent on us.
  The New York Daily News recently found some of the city's landlords 
received $81 million in Federal housing funds, even though their 
buildings were riddled with housing code violations. The report stated 
millions of dollars have been doled out to buildings where tenants have 
repeatedly complained about rats, roaches, nonworking elevators, lack 
of heat and flaky lead paint. The Federal Government provided $350 
million to more than 60 housing authorities that have been repeatedly 
faulted by auditors for mishandling government aid. In Indiana, 
investigators found the poor forced to live in substandard housing that 
local authorities knew was unsafe, yet did not fix. In Indianapolis 
alone, more than $5.2 million a year has been spent on housing 
residents in unsafe conditions, according to the Fort Wayne Journal 
  About $2.2 million of the Federal funds intended to support low-
income housing on the Navajo Nation Indian lands in New Mexico was 
spent on gaming, furs, jewelry, racehorse training, according to the 
Las Vegas Sun. There is no oversight at HUD to make sure the landlords 
will meet the eligibility requirements for receiving these funds. What 
we are actually doing is we are saying, if they do not meet the 
criteria, they should not get the money. That is hardly a novel idea. 
Yet we continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars supposedly to 
help those who are neediest among us. Yet it does not help them at all 
because the money is misdirected and not reinvested in the housing.
  HUD continues to subsidize repeat offenders with a history of placing 
families in unsafe living conditions. There were 6,100 properties 
designated as ``troubled'' during the past 5 years. Some of these 
properties appear year after year on the same list. There is no change. 
They are still getting the money. These include properties in my own 
State of Oklahoma. Needy families should not be put in dangerous 
conditions as a result of neglect by the slumlords but, more 
importantly, as a result of neglect in our oversight of HUD.
  What we would propose to do is to ensure the Federal housing benefits 
for the needy, rather than the greedy, and to prevent slumlords from 
abusing taxpayers and the disadvantaged and the aged. This amendment 
would bar HUD from paying landlords whose properties are in poor 
physical condition or have life-threatening deficiencies, according to 
their own analysis.
  In other words, they already know it, but they are still paying it. 
What this amendment would say is: They are on the list; they do not 
qualify. It will send a great signal. Not only will we not pay as much 
money to properties and put people in better properties, but we will 
change the expectation of the people who are making all the money off 
the HUD moneys for the properties. We will make a big difference.
  There may not be many who actually lose the money, but there will be 
many people who are depending on it, living in far better conditions, 
far safer conditions, if we pass this amendment.
  I wish to take just a moment, if my colleague does not mind, to talk 
about where we are. I have a total of 12 amendments. I was allowed to 
bring up two. I understand they do not want to get in a hurry, but the 
fact is, these are all good-government amendments, every amendment I 
brought up. They may not pass, but that is our fault. But the fact is, 
we should not be limiting amendments. Let's get them out there. Let's 
do them. There are money savings, there are quality savings, there are 
ways to make the agencies work better, and we should not be afraid of 
  We stand right now as a nation in the worst shape we have ever been. 
The risks to our country are great. We need to quit thinking about 
partisanship. We need to quit thinking about advantage in the political 
arena and start doing what is necessary to fix our country. We passed a 
budget bill that allowed a debt increase that the average American does 
not realize actually did not save any money. Over the next 10 years, we 
are actually going to spend $800-some-odd billion more than what we 
spent last year on discretionary programs. It is time we start being 
honest with the American public. These 12 amendments are simple and 
straightforward. One of them copies the amendment of Senator Mikulski 
for CJS, that ties down and makes more responsible the agencies on 
their conference spending.
  Conference spending is out of control. The Department of Agriculture 
is absolutely out of control on the money it spends. So we ought to be 
about moving things through that make a real difference so we can start 
rebuilding the confidence. Fifteen percent of the people have 
confidence in us, and I understand why. It is because we spend most of 
our time around here in quorum calls. I was prepared tonight to put up 
all these amendments, see which ones could be taken, not necessarily 
have a vote on every one, but we are not going to allow that to happen. 
We are not going to allow that to happen not for any good reason; we 
are not going to allow it to happen for political reasons, and that is 
killing our country. Whether Republicans do it or Democrats, none of it 
is any good. The country is on to us.

  Eighty-five percent think we are doing a lousy job. I wonder why it 
is that low. I cannot find anybody in the State of Oklahoma who thinks 
we are

[[Page S6653]]

doing a good job. I can't find anybody around the country who thinks we 
are doing a good job. But I say to my colleagues, let's start moving 
stuff through that actually changes things, that is actually going to 
make a difference. One does not have to agree. Vote it down. None of 
these are trick amendments. None of these are meant to be political 
amendments. They are just straightforward, good-government amendments 
we ought to consider. If one disagrees, disagree. Fine. But let's not 
not vote on them and let's not quit making attempts to try to fix what 
is wrong in our government.
  HUD's oversight of housing is a disaster. When we have this many 
properties year after year on this list, why would we not want to fix 
that? It is not that we don't want to fix it. It is we do not want to 
give somebody an opportunity to put out the real reason our country is 
in trouble. The real reason is us. We have not done our jobs. We have 
not done the oversight. We have not cleaned up things. We can have 
great arguments and great discussions and great debates but to not have 
the debate at all means we deserve every bit of that 85-percent lack of 
confidence in what we are doing.
  Tomorrow, I hope I will be able to offer the rest of these 
amendments. I will work. I have talked with almost every one of the 
managers on the amendments. None of them are controversial. Some they 
may disagree with and want votes on, others can be accepted. But to not 
move forward and then say it is taking too long to get the bill, when 
we are here ready to work, is not an excuse the American people are 
going to buy anymore.
  Ms. SNOWE. Mr. President, I am pleased to support the permanent 
change to interstate weight limits for Maine and Vermont, an issue I 
have worked on for more than 10 years. I could not be more pleased with 
the inclusion of this commonsense legislation that puts large trucks 
back where they belong--on the highway.
  Regrettably, the current treatment of truck weights on interstate 
highways is a glaring example of a provision of law that creates both 
safety hazards on secondary roads and tangible barriers to job growth 
at a time when the Nation's unemployment rate remains above 9 percent 
and Maine's mill towns are struggling to thrive, and I hope this bill 
is a step towards a solution to this glaring disparity. The Senate's 
consideration of this remedy is long overdue. The patchwork exemption 
policy that currently exists has penalized Maine and created a serious 
inequity that has burdened our commerce with needlessly onerous and 
costly regulation.
  The language included in this appropriations bill mirrors legislation 
that Senator Collins and I have introduced together since 2001. Indeed, 
this simple change has taken more than a decade to implement. It is my 
hope that this Congress, and this bill will finally resolve a 
longstanding inequity that has granted other States the same privilege 
that Maine requests--the ability to shift truck traffic to conflict-
free highways where commercial traffic can efficiently travel without 
increasing the danger to pedestrians and drivers at crosswalks and 
  Maine Department of Transportation engineers have certified on a 
number of occasions that Maine's interstate bridges are safe to carry 
100,000-pound, six-axle trucks. The bridges along the interstate are in 
good condition, and the impact of fatigue caused by these trucks is 
likely near zero. The State estimates that a permanent change to weight 
limits would reduce pavement costs by more than $1 million per year. It 
would also reduce bridge rehabilitation costs by more than $300,000 per 
  In addition, the pilot program implemented in 2009 demonstrated 
significant safety improvements when these large trucks returned to the 
highway. There were 14 fewer crashes--a 10 percent improvement--
involving six-axle vehicles, even with increased traffic volume on 
Maine's interstate system. In fact, there were no fatal crashes on the 
interstate during the pilot program, and five fewer injuries on 
secondary roads.
  Maine's Department of Transportation collects fatal accident data 
regarding large trucks, and more than 96 percent are on secondary 
roads, not the interstate, including the portion of I-95 that has a 
permanent exemption. Crash rates for Maine trucks on secondary roads 
are 7 to 10 times higher than on interstate highways.
  Trucks belong on the highway, but interstate weight limits are 
inconsistent across State lines, and shippers are forced to use 
secondary roads to move goods through States still restricted by weight 
limits established in the 1950s. For example, in the 122 miles between 
Hampden and Houlton, ME, a common route for shippers, these legal 
100,000-pound trucks are forced to pass by 9 schools, 270 
intersections, and more than 3,000 driveways.
  Maine's highways are particularly suited for six-axle truck traffic, 
as most of the interstate system was designed to carry freight--
including munitions and heavy equipment--to and from the former Loring 
Air Force Base. Time and time again, the Maine Department of 
Transportation has stated that it endorses an increased weight limit, 
and Maine's roads can safely manage heavier trucks with six axles. If a 
State's chief highway engineer can certify the safety of a route, and 
the condition of a road, a State should have the flexibility to change 
its weight limit on interstate highways.
  The significance of this permanent change cannot be overstated. 
Maine's secondary roads will be significantly safer when trucks are 
returned to the highway with stop lights and pedestrian interactions. I 
thank my colleagues for their continued support of this measure.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wisconsin.