Amendment Text: S.Amdt.1754 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)

Shown Here:
Amendment as Proposed (07/24/2013)

This Amendment appears on page S5861 in the following article from the Congressional Record.

[Pages S5856-S5863]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                        APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2014

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
resume consideration of S. 1243, which the clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (S. 1243) making appropriations for the Departments 
     of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and 
     related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 
     2014, and for other purposes.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, for the information of all Senators, we 
are now back on the transportation and housing appropriations bill. My 
colleague and I, Senator Collins from Maine, will be here all day 
working our way through any amendments that our Members have to offer. 
We encourage Members to come to the floor and let us know what those 
are so we can get this done in a timely fashion.

[[Page S5857]]

  Madam President, I believe, under the previous order, Senator Portman 
is here to offer his amendment, and I yield to him at this time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Ohio.

                    Amendment No. 1749, as Modified

  Mr. PORTMAN. Madam President, I call up amendment No. 1749 and send a 
modification of my amendment to the desk and ask for its immediate 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the amendment.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Ohio, [Mr. Portman] for himself, Mr. 
     Brown, and Mr. McConnell, proposes an amendment numbered 
     1749, as modified.

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

(Purpose: To prioritize certain projects under the bridges in critical 
                           corridors program)

       On page 26, line 12, after ``benefits'' insert ``, and 
     projects shall be carried out on bridges that the Federal 
     Highway Administration has classified as structurally 
     deficient or functionally obsolete''.

  Mr. PORTMAN. Madam President, thank you for allowing me to offer this 
amendment today, and I thank my colleagues from Maine and Washington 
State for agreeing to work with us on this important amendment. I also 
thank them for the way they are conducting this appropriations bill by 
allowing amendments to come forward and having debate.
  This amendment is one that I think will be relatively 
noncontroversial. This is an amendment to the underlying Transportation 
and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. It simply says 
that our nation's bridges that need repairs the most ought to be 
  There are bridges that are classified by the Federal Highway 
Administration as ``functionally obsolete'' or ``structurally 
deficient,'' and we want to be sure they receive priority consideration 
under the section of the bill that provides for Bridges in Critical 
Corridors. This is a fund that is established under the appropriations 
bill. In this way, we are helping to ensure that fund in question 
actually accomplishes its objective.
  We all know the Federal Government's highway trust fund dollars are 
stretched very thin and, frankly, there are not enough dollars that are 
making their way to the core infrastructure needs we have in this 
country. In fact, in 2008, the fund got in trouble, and since that time 
it has been bailed out four times from the Treasury's general fund, and 
a fifth bailout is now scheduled for fiscal year 2014. Clearly, the 
funds are very limited, and we have to be very careful and resourceful 
in how we spend those funds.
  This appropriations bill does include, as I said earlier, a separate 
funding mechanism--$500 million--for Bridges in Critical Corridors 
across the country. I know there are some in this Chamber who wonder 
whether that is necessary in the legislation, and I understand their 
argument. But if we are going to include this special fund, let's be 
sure the money is used in the most efficient way possible, and that is 
what this amendment is all about. Let's be sure we target the limited 
resources we have in a way that addresses our Nation's bridges that are 
outdated and often at risk.
  This amendment narrows the number of bridges that receive priority 
consideration by 75 percent, and does so by focusing these resources on 
functionally obsolete and structurally deficient bridges throughout the 
country that need the funding. These are the bridges with problems that 
if left unaddressed could be in tomorrow's headlines.
  We do not have to just deal with hypotheticals, it is happening. We 
have all seen recent accounts of this functionally obsolete Skagit 
River Bridge on Interstate 5 in Washington State that collapsed in May. 
I know Senator Murray was very involved in responding to this. It was 
struck by a truck that exceeded the bridge's height limit. The good 
news is there were no direct fatalities, unbelievably--at least in this 
instance there were not. The bad news is there are a lot of bridges 
that are functionally obsolete or structurally deficient around the 
country. There are thousands of them, and we need to be sure that, 
again, they are prioritized in this legislation.
  One of those bridges happens to be the Brent Spence Bridge in my 
hometown of Cincinnati, OH. The bridge is located at the critical 
intersection of I-75 and I-71--an important artery--and it is a bridge 
between southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky.
  This Brent Spence Bridge was built nearly 50 years ago, and it was 
designed to carry 80,000 vehicles every day. As of this year, it is 
carrying more than double that number every day. It is expected to 
exceed 200,000 vehicles per day by 2025.
  To facilitate the increased traffic and congestion on the bridge, the 
engineers actually removed the bridge's emergency shoulders, so there 
are no emergency shoulders on the bridge anymore. They also had to 
narrow the lanes to 11 feet rather than the 12 feet recommended by the 
Federal Highway Administration. So this makes it hazardous for drivers. 
It also has not alleviated the congestion much because it continues to 
result in an average of 3.6 million hours of delay for passenger 
vehicles every year.
  So Brent Spence is one example of an endangered bridge this amendment 
could help. We need to ensure that bridges such as Brent Spence receive 
the priority access to the funds in the Bridges in the Critical 
Corridors section of this legislation.
  So for this reason, I would urge my colleagues to support this 
commonsense amendment.
  Again, I want to thank Senator Collins and Senator Murray for 
allowing this amendment to be part of the process.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, I support this amendment. What it does 
is it clarifies that when the Department of Transportation awards 
funding under Bridges in Critical Corridors, priority should be given 
to structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges.
  The Federal Highway Administration uses those terms to talk about the 
status of the bridges across the country. So when a bridge is 
``structurally deficient,'' its condition has deteriorated over time. 
And when a bridge is ``functionally obsolete,'' its design does not 
meet today's standards. Both situations, obviously, can be a serious 
  In the underlying bill itself, I took the initiative to include an 
additional $500 million for these bridge investments so that we can 
address these serious concerns across our country and make sure our 
transportation network is safe and reliable.
  So I support this amendment. I urge our colleagues to vote for it.
  I would ask the Senator from Ohio if he wants a voice vote and would 
allow us to move forward on it now or if he requires a rollcall vote.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Ohio.
  Mr. PORTMAN. Madam President, I would defer to the chairwoman. I 
would like a voice vote, if that is what the chairwoman would prefer. 
But it might be a good amendment to have a recorded vote on.
  What is the chairwoman's preference?
  Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, it is completely up to the Senator from 
Ohio. As I said, if the Senator offers us a voice vote right now, I can 
guarantee its adoption quickly. How long does the Senator want to wait 
to vote?
  Mr. PORTMAN. Madam President, I think I will take the Senator up on 
her offer.
  Mrs. MURRAY. A wise choice and a good example for those Senators who 
follow the Senator in offering an amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maine.
  Ms. COLLINS. Madam President, I just want to commend the Senator for 
his amendment. The fact is that 25 percent of our Nation's bridges are 
either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, as described by 
the Senator from Ohio.
  In my home State of Maine, nearly a third of our 2,408 bridges are 
deficient. Senator Portman's amendment targets these funds to ensure 
that they are awarded to structurally deficient or functionally 
obsolete projects in an effort to respond to our Nation's crumbling 
  Like Senator Murray, I support this amendment, and I too am prepared 
to accept it on a voice vote.

[[Page S5858]]

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, the question is on agreeing 
to the amendment offered by the Senator from Ohio.
  The amendment (No. 1749), as modified, was agreed to.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, I move to reconsider the vote.
  Ms. COLLINS. I move to lay that motion on the table.
  The motion to lay on the table was agreed to.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, I thank the Senator from Ohio for 
bringing his amendment before us and setting a good example for all 
Members, as we now move forward, to bring their amendments to the 
floor. We will work our way through them. We hope everybody can contact 
myself and Senator Collins as quickly as possible so we can get these 
amendments up.

                           Amendment No. 1760

  With that, Madam President, I call up Senator Cardin's amendment No. 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Washington [Mrs. Murray], for Mr. Cardin, 
     proposes an amendment numbered 1760.

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

   (Purpose: To require the Secretary of Transportation to submit to 
 Congress a report relating to the condition of lane miles and highway 
                              bridge deck)

       On page 38, between lines 17 and 18, insert the following:
       Sec. 127.  The Secretary shall submit to Congress a report 
     describing the percentages of lane miles and highway bridge 
     deck in each State that are in good condition, fair 
     condition, and poor condition, and the percentage of Federal 
     amounts each State expends on the repair and maintenance of 
     highway infrastructure and on new capacity construction.

  Mrs. MURRAY. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Madam President, as the chair of the full Committee on 
Appropriations, I rise today to comment on this bill, but also to thank 
and acknowledge the really important role that Senators Murray and 
Collins have played. Really, it has been the way the Senate should 
operate. They have held extensive hearings in the subcommittee on 
America's needs in transportation--an ever-piling up backlog that we 
need to address.
  It would accomplish several good, agreed-upon public policy goals. 
No. 1, safety. Because when we are talking about roads, bridges, and 
the other infrastructure areas in this bill, safety is our No. 1 
  No. 2, when you are building or repairing a bridge in Maryland, 
Maine, Washington State, or North Dakota, those people are working in 
the United States of America, and, hopefully, the supply chain 
involved--whether it is asphalt to steel--is made in the good old USA. 
So what we would do is improve the safety rates and lower the 
unemployment rate and at the end of the day have something to show for 
  So many of the American people are frustrated with us when it comes 
to spending because they think if they give us $1, we will spend $2 and 
not have spit to show for it. But yet in this bill, at this time, we 
have a legislative framework, and a restrained fiscal framework, to be 
able to move on important transportation infrastructure needs and on 
  The appropriate role for the Federal Government to be involved in is 
housing: those things that are involved in, No. 1, promoting economic 
development in blighted areas, regardless of whether you are in an 
urban State or a rural State. The needs of North Dakota are different 
than the needs of Maryland. Even in my very dear State of Maryland, we 
have different needs in different parts of the State. The robust 
Baltimore corridor, which is more urban, requires one framework for the 
community development block grant money.
  If you go to Garrett County, in the western part of my State, that 
was hit by a blizzard during Hurricane Sandy or you go down to the 
Eastern Shore, Somerset County, that was hit by a hurricane, literally 
flooding to dangerous proportions--those two counties have as high a 
poverty rate as Baltimore City.
  So when we talk about the great things in this bill, what I like 
about it is it is local--it is money that will come for local needs. 
The needs of Garrett County and Somerset County are different than the 
needs of Baltimore City. But what we do know is that we need jobs and 
we need to be able to address the needs of the people who want to be 
middle class and are looking for an opportunity to get there and also 
for the compelling needs particularly of the elderly and disabled.
  Again, we in the Senate know because we are urban and rural and 
suburban. You meet different needs according to the locale. In 
Baltimore City, it is a high concentration of elderly in certain areas. 
We can meet those needs through a combined effort of housing, Meals On 
Wheels, helping people be able to receive coordinated services to keep 
them independent and healthy. When you get to the rural parts, that is 
even harder.
  So what I like about this bill is it is, first of all, focused on 
rebuilding America. I so salute our troops. We have been in a 10-year 
war. The consequences of that war will be felt by the men and women who 
served and the taxpayers who have to pay it for many years to come.
  But as we look at this, what they fought for is for America. Now we 
have to think about rebuilding America. I am glad we gave it a try in 
Iraq. OK. We gave it a try in Afghanistan. But come home, America. As 
the troops come home, and hopefully the money comes back home, we begin 
to show results there. If we rebuild our infrastructure, focus on 
compelling human needs, I think we will not only serve the Nation well 
but people will begin to have trust in us that through smart 
approaches, restrained spending, we can get there.
  I am proud of what this bill does in Maryland. It does create jobs. 
It helps with infrastructure. This bill is absolutely crucial to 
Maryland. First, the THUD bill provides $40 billion for highways and 
nearly $9 billion for mass transit. We need that. This means Maryland 
will receive in fiscal year 2014 $700 million.
  We are not waiting only for the Federal Government. The Maryland 
General Assembly recently increased the gas tax--very controversial--
because of our compelling needs. Governor O'Malley and our general 
assembly wanted to rise to the occasion, but they want us to rise to 
the occasion as well.
  As we look at some of these projects, they affect not only the State 
of Maryland but they affect the region and the Nation. The Presiding 
Officer was not here when we had a horrific accident in 2009 on the 
Metro. The Metro suffered a terrible crash: brakes failed, safety 
systems failed, a lot failed--nine people lost their lives.
  We said we were going to create a safety culture and turn to our 
National Transportation Safety Board to be able to do it. I made two 
promises to families: that I would do everything I could to see what 
were appropriate Federal safety standards and to put money in the 
Federal checkbook to improve that safety. I demanded reforms at Metro 
management to a culture of safety.
  So where are we now? Guess what. We have put money in the Federal 
checkbook, $150 million to continue to buy the important crash-
resistant cars that will be able to help them. The money will be used 
for signal improvement, rail car maintenance to make sure we are 
improving this.
  Safety is the No. 1 obsession with me. In addition to working on 
Metro, I know this bill deals with FAA's contract tower program, a 
subject of much debate during last year's continuing funding 
resolution. I remember real debate with Senator Moran on how we could 
keep those airports open.
  They are the first to be hit by the sequester. I have five of them. 
They are in communities called Easton--by the way, Secretary Rumsfeld 
is down there. Cheney would come by as well--the Frederick Municipal 
Airport that the President uses periodically for

[[Page S5859]]

coming to Camp David, Hagerstown, Martin, Salisbury, and Ocean City.
  Those towers are important for two reasons: national security and 
economic security. So we are looking at how we can make sure we keep 
these towers open so airplanes can come and land safely and take off 
safely and aid the commerce to our communities.
  You have heard me also speak about housing and community development. 
When I got started in Congress, we had something called revenue sharing 
that was started by President Nixon so the local communities would get 
formula-based funding to help them rebuild their communities or 
strengthen them in the area of economic development.
  That changed. That ended. That ended during the Gingrich era. But we 
came up with community development block grant money. Again, that money 
comes locally to meet local needs. The criteria are: eliminate blight, 
improve employment opportunities, and be able to create a sustainable 
infrastructure that will not need government subsidies so the community 
can be able to sustain itself and build on that to create jobs.
  We are very impressed with this. Again, this legislation meets needs 
for seniors and housing. I could go on about it. But this bill is a 
very important accomplishment for the State of Maryland. When I talk 
about safety, I note the Portman amendment. I note Senator Cardin has 
an amendment on a report on the highway deck.
  I wish to say something else. We had some tough things happen in my 
State over the last couple of days on the Bay Bridge. Many of the 
people in this Senate travel the Bay Bridge, some to go to their State. 
We are a next-door neighbor with our pals from Delaware, Senators 
Carper and Coons, who represent the Delmarva Peninsula, a wonderful 
place. We hope the Presiding Officer comes over sometime and actually 
sees real water, oceans and rivers and crabs and so on, the Senator 
from North Dakota.
  But this bridge, we now have two of them because of the volume, and 
then, second, the way people travel on it, the velocity has increased. 
Last Friday, we had a terrible situation where a truck tailgated a 
passenger vehicle and pushed it off the bridge--off the bridge. The car 
fell 40 feet.
  Thank God the passenger survived, a young lady who--the impact was so 
hard, the windshield broke, so she was able to get out. She is a 
fitness instructor. So she had the robust and physical vigor to be able 
to swim to safety. We thank God for her survival. But we are now scared 
on the Bay Bridge.
  Yesterday, we had another head-on collision on the bridge. The AAA, 
the American Automobile Association, has called upon the National 
Transportation Safety Board to review the conditions on our bridge. Are 
the barriers high enough? Should we be using two-way traffic now to 
alleviate the traffic jams because transportation is changing? In other 
words, these are very important questions related to safety.
  Do we need another bridge? An analysis needs to happen. If we build 
another bridge, should it be there or further south? Controversy. But 
again we need analysis.
  I cite that example because as I review the facts of this case and 
consult with the State, I too am considering joining with the American 
Automobile Association to ask for the NTSB to review the accidents on 
the bridge and give us recommendations in terms of what we need so it 
does not happen again.
  You cannot fall 40 feet. It could have been someone elderly. There 
could have been babies in that car. It does not matter. You cannot fall 
40 feet off the bridge being rear-ended by a trick and think it is OK. 
You cannot have a head-on collision and think it is OK. I do not think 
it is OK what is happening on the Bay Bridge.
  I now want to work with my Governor and consider what are the best 
steps forward. But as of today, I am very strongly recommending a 
review by the National Transportation Safety Board to look at it. It is 
not only what is happening in Maryland. It is what is happening all 
over America.
  I see on the floor the Senator from Oklahoma. I am going to yield the 
floor so others can speak. But before I do, I wish to compliment 
Senators Murray and Collins and the way they have been moving this 
bill. I think it is important.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  Mr. COBURN. I wanted to speak for a moment about----
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Wait a moment, I suggested the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. COBURN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded just to talk about the THUD bill.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard. The clerk will continue 
the call of the roll.
  The legislative clerk continued the call of the roll.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum 
call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Madam President, my colleague from Oklahoma was waiting 
to offer amendments, but filling in for Senator Murray, I was trying to 
get a sense what that meant. The reason I wanted the quorum to go on 
was so I could have a chance to talk to the Senator from Oklahoma. 
Wherever he is, I want him to know that if he thinks I was trying to 
stifle him or not allow him to have his rights on the Senate floor, I 
apologize. What I was trying to do was create an orderly process so we 
could keep this excellent momentum going. I invite Senator Coburn to 
please return to the floor. If in any way he felt I was being negative 
toward him, I do not mean that. In fact, what I meant was let's get it 
clear so he could go forward.
  The Senator from Oklahoma and I have an excellent relationship. We 
have agreed on many things, and we have duked it out on others. We did 
promise an open amendment process, and we intend to keep it.
  Again, I apologize. I invite him to come back to the floor. Let's 
have a discussion and let's keep it going.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum 
call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Madam President, I wish to add some further comments on 
the bill while we are waiting for Senators to return to the floor to 
offer amendments. I note the gentlelady from Maine is returning.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. BALDWIN. I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum 
call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. BALDWIN. I ask unanimous consent to speak as in morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                             Student Loans

  Ms. BALDWIN. Making college affordable is one of the most important 
steps we can take toward completing our economic recovery and ensuring 
a path to the middle class for all Americans. As a Nation, we are still 
working to recover from the largest economic downturn since the Great 
Depression. Access to student loans at affordable interest rates 
represents an incredibly important piece of this vital recovery.
  I often use a quote of President Obama that he included in his State 
of the Union Address a couple of years ago. It says to win the future, 
we must outeducate, outinnovate, and outbuild the rest of the world. I 
believe we do this best by supporting our students and investing in 
their future.
  Unfortunately, the Student Loan Certainty Act on the floor today is a 
step in the wrong direction. A college education should be a path to 
prosperity, a path to the middle class, not a path to indebtedness.
  As many of my colleagues have described, the bill before us today 
offers students and families lower student loan interest rates in the 
near term, but we can fully expect higher student loan interest rates 
in the years to come.

[[Page S5860]]

  For families with multiple children who are college bound, their 
children's education becomes more expensive in each ensuing year. This 
means that under this plan, a current freshman in college may get a 
decent student loan interest rate for a few years, but a current 
freshman in high school will end up with rates much higher than the cap 
contained in current U.S. law.
  Not only does this legislation raise long-term interest rate loans 
for students, it fails to close tax loopholes. It does not ask the 
wealthy to pay their fair share, and it burdens students who can least 
afford it with deficit reduction.
  The bill before us lacks a true vision for outeducating the rest of 
the world. It doesn't ask our country to invest in the future, nor does 
it offer a comprehensive solution to college affordability. Rather, it 
offers a poor permanent fix and slaps students and their families with 
the bill.
  I remind my colleagues that there were multiple alternative solutions 
proposed before Congress slumped over the July 1 deadline that doubled 
the interest rates on student loans. I supported two measures offered 
by my colleague from Rhode Island, Senator Reed, that would have paid 
for lower interest rates for students by closing tax loopholes for the 
very wealthy in our country. The Senate twice voted on Senator Reed's 
proposals and they received a majority vote each time.
  We are also making a good-faith effort to address the shortcomings of 
the bill before us to work toward a deal that would be a true win for 
students and their families. The Reed-Warren amendment, which I proudly 
cosponsor, would impose a lower cap to protect student borrowers. Why 
on Earth would we wish to expose our students to higher rates?
  Senator Sanders' amendment would sunset the current deal in 2 years 
and allow for a return to regular order so Congress can rightly deal 
with interest rates and a host of other issues that affect college 
costs. These amendments are sound improvements to the underlying bill 
that would allow us to invest in students and families, rather than 
obfuscate the student loan and debt problem. I am disappointed that we 
have reached the point where debates about the future of college 
affordability are less about the lives of students and their families 
and more about protecting loopholes for corporations and the wealthy.
  It wasn't always this way. In 1944, starting with the compact to 
returning soldiers from World War II made through the GI bill, our 
Nation made a commitment to future progress by investing in education. 
Between 1944 and 1951, 8 million veterans received education benefits, 
including many former distinguished Members of this body.
  In 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, signed the 
National Defense Education Act, providing loans for college students 
and funds to encourage young people to enter teaching careers, the 
precursor to our current program for student loans.
  President Lyndon Johnson built upon this legacy. A cornerstone of the 
Great Society was a path to the middle class through a college 
education. The Higher Education Act of 1965 gave us the Federal student 
loan program, known today as the Stafford Loan Program, and the 
Educational Opportunity Grant Program, known today as the Pell Grant 
Program. This generation of American lawmakers lived in trying times--
winning a war, fulfilling the dream of the civil rights movement--yet 
they still had the foresight to make the hard choices, the choices 
necessary to invest in the future--our future.

  Legislation I supported as a Member of the House of Representatives 
built on this investment and lowered the subsidized Stafford loan rate 
to 3.4 percent, which was the rate at which students borrowed until 
July 1. We recognized that investing in students is important, and 
lowering rates is a part of that investment.
  The fact that State investment in higher education has declined 
significantly over the past decades has exacerbated the problem. 
Particularly as States struggle to balance their budgets in these tough 
economic times, their investments in students have decreased, meaning 
higher tuition, fewer grants, and fewer scholarships.
  I hear regularly from Wisconsin students that the cost of higher 
education in my State puts college out of reach for some. Thirty years 
ago undergraduate tuition at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was 
about $1,000. Today it is well over $8,000. And it is not just my home 
State of Wisconsin. Across the country tuition at public 4-year 
colleges has tripled. This means more students are borrowing through 
Federal student loan programs to cover the higher cost of higher 
education. For students at the University of Wisconsin System, unmet 
needs after grants and scholarships is over $9,000--nearly doubling in 
the last decade. Yet the Federal Government limits on subsidized loans 
have remained relatively stagnant over the past 30 years. In many cases 
the limits on what a student can borrow through the Stafford Loan 
Program means their loans will not even cover the cost of their 
  This is what it all comes down to--a series of choices. Are we going 
to sacrifice the progress of our next generation because we are 
unwilling to do the hard work and make those tough choices now? Are we 
going to gradually chip away at the ladders of opportunity put in place 
by the generations before to lift Americans into the middle class and 
out of poverty; do we ask the wealthy to pay a little bit more; do we 
ask corporations to pay their fair share. Or do we say to students: You 
are on your own; sink or swim.
  I say to students across Wisconsin and this great country: We should 
all be in this together. We must continue this compact from one 
generation to the next. The veteran who was educated on the GI bill 
wants to see his neighbor's children able to afford college. The 
teacher who earned her education through the Pell Grant Program wants 
the same opportunity for her students. The mother who attended college 
through the Stafford Loan Program does not want to see her savings for 
retirement depleted or her children sapped with debt.
  I reject sacrificing the progress of the next generation because we 
are unwilling to do the hard work and make the hard choices now. I 
reject shortchanging the next generation of young Americans by making 
college more expensive and then using the profits from their high 
interest rates to pay down the deficit, particularly when we ask the 
wealthiest to contribute nothing.
  If we are to win the future, we must make the hard important choices 
now. For this reason and for the hard-working people of Wisconsin, I 
oppose this bill, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.
  I yield the floor.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Well said.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maine.
  Ms. COLLINS. Madam President, we have had a good discussion about how 
to proceed with this bill. The chairman of the full committee has been 
extremely constructive in exercising her leadership. She very much 
wants a new approach, and I commend her for bringing bills individually 
to the Senate floor.
  What we are going to propose--and through the Chair I would like to 
engage in a colloquy with the chairman of the full committee--is that, 
as usual, we would go back and forth, one side then the other, in 
considering amendments but that we would allow Senator Coburn to file a 
series of amendments at this point. They are already filed, but he will 
call them up and make them pending, with the understanding that we 
would set aside individual amendments so we could keep going back and 
forth and so that other colleagues on the Republican side who have 
amendments would not be shut out but, rather, would be accommodated as 
  Is that the understanding of the chairman of the Appropriations 
  Ms. MIKULSKI. I thank the Senator, and I wish to respond to the 
ranking member of THUD to say this: No. 1, yes, that is our 
understanding. As we move ahead on this bill, remember that this is the 
first appropriations bill on the floor in 2 years and the first time 
THUD has been on the floor in 4 years. The Senator from Maine and 
Senator Murray are to be commended. The old-school way--old school, 
with respect--was an open amendment process with alternating amendments 
back and forth. Old school was never to bring up 12 or 15 amendments at 
one time; it was usually 1 amendment.

[[Page S5861]]

  So the understanding is that it is to go back and consider one 
amendment at a time, alternating sides, with the understanding that the 
Senator from Oklahoma wishes to speak on a variety of amendments and 
offer them.
  Again, I think we have cleared the air, and I am so happy about that. 
So I do concur with the Senator from Maine.
  We also understand, in addition to his amendments, alternating among 
the ranking member, the chair, and the chairman of the subcommittee, 
there might also be other intervening amendments; is that correct?
  Ms. COLLINS. I would say through the Presiding Officer that is my 
understanding as well. And I think this was a very good example of 
everyone operating in good faith.
  I, for one, am prepared for the Senator from Oklahoma to proceed, but 
I would note that the Cardin amendment is the pending amendment.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. COBURN. Madam President, first of all, I thank the chairman of 
the full committee and the chairman and the ranking member of the 
subcommittee. I first want to give them some praise. Although I don't 
agree with the total numbers in this bill, I do recognize the 
significant changes they have made to the bill with ideas we had 2 
years ago, and I am very appreciative of the fact that the slumlord 
problem is being taken care of, the count on vehicles for the Federal 
Government is being taken care of, and the conferences are being taken 
care of. Almost all of my concerns have been addressed very faithfully 
in looking at those issues we raised and actually including them in the 
underlying language, and I am very appreciative of that.
  In terms of getting amendments up, my desire is just to get them up 
and pending and to be flexible with the chairman and the ranking member 
on which ones they will accept, which ones they do not want to take a 
vote on, and then talk about that and not to ramrod the process. It is 
only a matter of efficiency for me. If their pleasure is for me to do 
one or two or three and then come back later and do it again, as long 
as we have an open amendment process, I don't have any problem with it.
  I do think we have some ideas to improve this bill, and I think the 
amendments ought to be considered. So I thank them for their 
consideration and allowing me to make some amendments pending, and I 
will talk with both the chairman and the ranking member about when and 
what we will do with the disposition of those amendments.

                           Amendment No. 1750

  Madam President, I call up amendment No. 1750, and I ask unanimous 
consent that the pending amendment be set aside for the purposes of 
calling up this amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will report the amendment.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Oklahoma [Mr. Coburn] proposes an 
     amendment numbered 1750.

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

 (Purpose: To prohibit funds from being directed to federal employees 
                   with unpaid Federal tax liability)

       On page 185, lines 9 and 10, strike ``or provide a loan or 
     loan guarantee to, any corporation'' and insert ``provide a 
     loan or loan guarantee to, provide an annual salary to, or 
     provide any other federal funding to, any Federal employee, 
     any individual, or any corporation''.

                           Amendment No. 1751

  Mr. COBURN. I ask unanimous consent that the pending amendment be set 
aside and that I be allowed to bring up amendment No. 1751.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will report the amendment.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Oklahoma [Mr. Coburn] proposes an 
     amendment numbered 1751.

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

 (Purpose: To prohibit Federal funding of union activities by Federal 

       At the appropriate place, insert the following:

     SEC. ___.

       None of the funds made available under this Act may be used 
     to pay an employee (as that term is defined in section 7103 
     of title 5, United States Code) for any period of official 
     time (as that term is used in section 7131 of title 5, United 
     States Code).

                           Amendment No. 1754

  Mr. COBURN. I ask unanimous consent that the pending amendment be set 
aside and that we bring up amendment No. 1754.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will report the amendment.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Oklahoma [Mr. Coburn] proposes an 
     amendment numbered 1754.

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

    (Purpose: To prohibit Federal funds from being used to meet the 
            matching requirements of other Federal Programs)

       On page 104, line 12, strike ``Provided further'' and all 
     that follows through ``use of any such funds'' on line 18, 
     and insert ``Provided further, That for all match 
     requirements applicable to funds made available under this 
     heading for this fiscal year and prior years, a grantee may 
     not use as a source of match funds other funds administered 
     by the Secretary and other Federal agencies''.

  Mr. COBURN. Madam President, I would like to spend a moment talking 
about amendment No. 1750.
  This bill has a prohibition in it that I think is long overdue and 
very good. What it does is it prohibits the transfer of funds for 
Federal assistance in the bill to corporations with delinquent taxes. I 
believe that is a great step in the right direction.
  Companies that are contracting with, doing business with the Federal 
Government have an obligation to pay their taxes, but I also believe 
our Federal employees ought to be paying their taxes as well. We have 
$5 billion due to the Federal Treasury from Federal employees where the 
cases have been adjudicated. They are not under question any longer. 
There is no question about whether the money is owed. They have run 
through all their appeals. All this amendment would do is to strike the 
same balance for both independent contractors, which is not a part of 
the Senate bill as presently on floor, and individual Federal employees 
who have a tax obligation.
  When the average Federal compensation fully absorbed is calculated, 
it is in excess of $134,000 a year. That includes all the benefits and 
everything else. That is twice the per capita median family income in 
America. So the fact that we have this large of an outstanding amount--
it is about $1 billion--with current active Federal employees, I 
believe there ought to be some consequence for Federal employees who 
have a tax obligation but aren't paying it and whom we continue to keep 
in our employ and continue to pay them with no payment back to the 
Federal Treasury.
  In one division of the Federal Government--the Internal Revenue 
Service--if, in fact, an individual is found in a situation such as 
this, they lose their job. It is grounds for termination. So this is a 
simple improvement that would say what is good for American taxpayers 
is also good for Federal employees and what is good for businesses that 
do business with the Federal Government is good for Federal employees. 
And what is good for the businesses ought to also be good for 
independent contractors who owe the Federal Government money.
  So I would be happy to have any modifications the committee might 
recommend to this as well, but in terms of fairness and running a $17 
trillion debt and running $600 billion in deficits, we ought to be 
aggressive about collecting the taxes owed to us that there aren't any 
questions about. The principle the committee used in terms of 
businesses that deal with the Federal Government ought to be applied to 
individual contractors and individuals as well.

[[Page S5862]]

  With that, I thank the chairman and the ranking member of the 
subcommittee, as well as the chairman, for the opportunity to offer 
this amendment and will await their disposition and their plan.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware.
  Mr. COONS. Madam President, President Barack Obama today is in the 
Midwest talking to folks about how important it is that Congress return 
its focus to our Nation's economic recovery. I couldn't agree more. 
Flustered by filibusters and paralyzed by politics, Washington has 
gotten off track, and it is time that changes.
  The Senate this week has an opportunity to pass an appropriations 
bill. I am grateful for the leadership of Senator Murray of Washington 
and ranking member Senator Collins of Maine in bringing this 
appropriations bill to the floor. I am still fairly new here, 
relatively speaking, but I am told it wasn't an unusual or shocking 
occurrence back in the day for the two parties to come together to 
negotiate and pass a bipartisan spending bill.
  The bill in front of us would fund the Departments of Transportation 
and Housing and Urban Development. While I think to most people these 
agencies aren't especially related to their daily lives, both are 
actually fundamentally about investing in our Nation and its critical 
infrastructure--the roads we drive on, the homes we live in, the trains 
and planes we ride on, the ports our goods are shipped through. This 
bill is about infrastructure. We know that when we invest in America's 
infrastructure, we are actually investing in America's communities and 
in America's future.
  This bill is about building the infrastructure for the long-term 
strength and stability of our communities and our country, and it is 
about putting Americans back to work. This bill will put Americans back 
to work on a wide range of major transportation projects in communities 
across our country. The programs in this bill have meant an enormous 
amount to my home State of Delaware, as I know they have to the 
Presiding Officer's. They can continue to have an important, positive 
impact on communities across our country, but only if we can come 
together to fund them.
  The so-called TIGER grants program helps States and local governments 
pay for new highways and bridges, public transit projects, railways and 
port infrastructure. It is a competitive, highly sought-after program. 
For the current fiscal year, the Department of Transportation received 
nearly 600 applications from across all 50 States, the District of 
Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and American Samoa--$9 billion in requests 
for just $470 million in available funds. That competition helped focus 
these resources where they were best leveraged and where they would 
have the best impact. In my view, our communities need these funds, and 
they need this bill to make possible this program.
  TIGER grants in Delaware made possible the building of the Newark 
Regional Transportation Center, which will support 350 high-skilled, 
high-wage construction jobs a year while it is being built. This new 
center will give folks in New Castle County new options for public 
transportation, cutting down on the number of cars on I-95 and our 
local roads, and strengthening the community.
  TIGER grants are a core part of our Nation's infrastructure strategy, 
and they will be at risk if we don't move this bill forward.
  The new Bridges in the Critical Corridors Program is another 
significant part of our infrastructure strategy, and I commend Senator 
Murray for her efforts to ensure that our Nation's bridges are safe. At 
home in Delaware, one out of five bridges is deemed structurally 
deficient or functionally obsolete. Let me repeat that. One out of five 
bridges in my little home State of Delaware is structurally deficient 
or functionally obsolete. They may have major defects and need major 
repairs or may have been built so long ago that they are not up to 
current code. Either way, I think we would agree that this Nation, our 
constituents, our communities need our bridges to work, and work 
  We also need and rely on our highways. The Federal-Aid Highway 
Program uses the highway trust fund to help States and local 
governments to help plan, build, and repair our Nation's needed 
roadways. It is a true Federal-State-local partnership and has helped 
ensure consistent quality and safety standards on highways across our 
country for nearly a century.
  I shouldn't have to explain to this body why having functional roads 
is important to businesses, to families, or even to the public's 
safety, but I will say this: There are more vehicles on the roads year 
over year than ever before. Part of our responsibility is to make sure 
those roads work--and work safely. Another part is to offer our 
citizens other options to reduce the traffic burden on those roads.
  This bill also contains two new programs to do just that, that I 
think are worth highlighting. The New Starts Transit Program supports 
projects to provide new or expanded public transportation services. The 
passenger rail grants, of particular interest to me, are focused more 
narrowly on intercity passenger rail services designed to reduce 
traffic congestion.
  How are we going to move this country forward if we can't move around 
within this country? As a Congress, we have to do more to strengthen 
our Nation's infrastructure, and that is a big part of what this bill 
  I recently joined the Appropriations Committee after the passing of a 
great senior Senator--Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey--who was 
for many years a great and tireless champion of Amtrak. He fought 
harder than anybody to build Amtrak into what it is today because he 
saw that with our population steadily growing we needed to be prepared 
to provide reliable, safe, affordable transportation, in particular 
here in the eastern region.
  At his funeral, Vice President Biden said that, ``If it wasn't for 
Frank, Amtrak wouldn't be what it is today.'' He is right. And, of 
course, our Vice President famously rode Amtrak down to Washington 
every morning and home to Delaware every night that he served as a 
Senator, as I do now. I took the 6:25 down, and I hope, God willing, to 
be on the 7:00 home. We will see.
  Amtrak, in this region in particular, isn't a luxury, it is a 
fundamental and critical part of the economy, not just in my home State 
of Delaware and at least a dozen States on the Atlantic seaboard but 
across the country for communities that rely on passenger rail to 
connect with the Nation's major economic centers.
  Senator Lautenberg once said,

       If we shut down the Northeast Corridor rail service, you'd 
     have to build seven new lanes on Interstate 95 just to carry 
     all the travelers that use these trains every day.

  In the last fiscal year, Amtrak achieved a new milestone of 31.2 
million riders. In fact, they had record ridership 9 out of the last 10 
years, and Amtrak continues to make steady progress in reliability, 
capacity, and on-time performance. How could we possibly afford to 
replace this vital service with, as Senator Lautenberg suggested, seven 
new lanes of interstate running up the entire length of the east coast?
  Now is not the time, in my view, given all these standards of 
progress that they have met, to gut Amtrak, as our counterparts in the 
House seem determined to do. Now is the time to help Amtrak build on 
its steady gains and progress and continue to grow. Amtrak is a vital 
part of dozens, even hundreds, of communities across this country. So 
in my view, to invest in Amtrak is to invest in those communities and 
their future.

  The other major portion of this bill that we consider today is 
housing, the transportation and housing appropriations bill. As our 
economy continues to recover, people in communities all across our 
country are looking to us to help them grow. Housing infrastructure is 
just as important a part of the foundation of our country and our 
communities as is transportation. In low-income neighborhoods, 
restoring community infrastructure is the foundation for future 
economic growth. That is why this bill's strong investment in the 
Community Development Block Grant Program, one of HUD's longest running 
and in many ways most successful programs, is so critical.
  As the Presiding Officer knows, I served as a county executive before 
joining the Senate. In that role, our

[[Page S5863]]

local government made efficient, focused, targeted use of CDB grants to 
provide for housing assistance for low-income seniors, for the 
disabled, for communities across our country in New Castle County, DE.
  CDB grants are high-yield investments that work all over this 
country, that are controlled in many ways at the local level, and that 
enable communities to rehabilitate buildings, streets, and sewer 
systems that literally lay the groundwork for new business growth and 
vibrant revitalized communities. As the hardest hit Americans work 
tirelessly to get back to work and back on their feet, housing 
programs, also included in this vital bill, ensure they can keep a roof 
over their heads or that they have the possibility of safe, clean, 
sanitary, affordable housing in their future.
  In Delaware, nearly 4,000 people were homeless in our small State at 
least once last year, and more than 200 of them were veterans. All over 
this country, I know many of our colleagues are concerned about the 
number of our veterans who fought for us overseas and now face and 
endure homelessness here at home. For those who felt the despair and 
loss and loneliness of homelessness, those who lived with this fear 
that they will one day experience it as well, the housing programs 
funded in this bill are a lifeline. I want to particularly thank 
Senator Murray for her leadership on ensuring that we end the scourge 
of veteran homelessness in our country.
  Homeless assistance grants, another key provision in this bill, help 
Delaware organizations, and organizations all over this country, to 
offer permanent and transitional housing to once-homeless persons, 
while providing services including job training, health care, mental 
health counseling, substance abuse treatment, and childcare.
  And last, the HOME Investment Partnerships Program helps to expand 
the supply and affordability of housing to low-income families and 
individuals, many of whom are elderly or disabled. In my home State of 
Delaware, a recent grant from the Project Rental Assistance 
Demonstration Program will create and sustain 170 units of affordable 
housing over 5 years for persons with disabilities.
  For millions of Americans and for thousands of Delaware families, the 
key to a better home lies in good counseling, in home ownership, and in 
these sorts of investments in a stable, affordable housing market.
  Elisa, one of my constituents from Middletown, did not believe she 
would ever be able to purchase a home for herself and two children, but 
a federally funded class called Preparing for Home Ownership helped her 
navigate the housing market and find a home that she could afford. She 
is now spending less on her three-bedroom home than she had on her two-
bedroom rental, and her children have a backyard of their own for the 
first time.
  If we want families to succeed, if we want children to focus in 
school, if we want to create communities with safety and stability, 
moving toward sustainable home ownership is a vital investment by this 
country in creating and sustaining quality communities.
  Dedicated organizations, such as NCALL and Interfaith Community 
Housing of Delaware, have leveraged Federal funding such as this to 
help with mortgages, loan modifications, and private capital to help 
put more than 1,000 families each year in Delaware into better housing. 
Their services include workshops, foreclosure prevention services, and 
  Another constituent who contacted me, Eva from Rehoboth, was in 
danger of losing her home when she met with a foreclosure prevention 
counselor to discuss her personal situation. A counselor helped her to 
develop a plan to stabilize her finances and to modify her mortgage 
into a more affordable interest rate. Because of a counseling program 
funded by this bill, Eva avoided foreclosure and was able to save her 
  The National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program, administered 
through NeighborWorks, has helped hundreds of households in Delaware to 
avoid the pain, loss, and dislocation of foreclosure. Last year, 
counselors from NCALL, First State, and YWCA conducted more than 5,000 
home ownership counseling and education activities, including one-on-
one counseling appointments, workshops, and homebuyer fairs. Funding 
from this program will allow them to reach even more Delawareans in 
need in the year ahead.
  We may have made some progress as a Chamber last week in getting 
through the executive branch nominations that had been the subject of a 
number of filibusters and quite a bit of contention, and I was pleased 
that this bill earned six Republican votes in the Appropriations 
Committee when taken up and considered. Surely it can earn enough votes 
in this full Senate to move forward to debate, to consideration, and, I 
hope, to final passage. It is the challenge of this Chamber to listen 
to each other, to work together, and to provide the vital investments 
in infrastructure and in housing that ensure a steady recovery and a 
brighter future.
  Senator Lautenberg once said that his career in business taught him 
that if you want to be successful tomorrow, you have to lay the 
foundation today. That is exactly what this bill does. That is what we 
are voting on--the foundation of tomorrow's success for America's 
families and communities.
  I earnestly hope we will come together to pass this bill, to create 
jobs, and to invest in our country's future.
  Madam President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.