July 27, 2006 - Issue: Vol. 152, No. 101 — Daily Edition109th Congress (2005 - 2006) - 2nd Session
STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS; Congressional Record Vol. 152, No. 101
(Senate - July 27, 2006)
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[Pages S8378-S8382] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS By Mrs. BOXER (for herself and Mrs. Feinstein): S. 3746. A bill to authorize the Secretry of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to make grants to facilitate the establishment of the National Ag Science Center in Stanislaus County, California; to the committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I rise today with my colleague Senator Feinstein to introduce a bill authorizing the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior to make grants to facilitate the establishment of the National Ag Science Center in Stanislaus County, California. This bill will create a facility that will help teach visitors from all across the country about the significance of agriculture in our Nation's culture and economy, the importance of science in agriculture, and California's role as the Nation's preeminent agricultural State. This bill will designate $10 million in total grant funding to help fund construction costs of the center, with the [[Page S8379]] federal share limited to 33 percent of the total cost. I am happy to report that the center is making great progress on raising private donations to complete its share of the construction funding. The center will help promote California's place as the Nation's most diverse and productive agricultural State. With the farmers, growers, and ranchers of our State producing over 350 different crops and commodities, and nearly 80,000 active farming operations, agriculture is one of California's most important industries. From our vineyards and wineries, to the almond, stone fruit, strawberry, cotton, and rice farms, to the citrus groves of central and southern California, to the dairy and cattle ranches across the State, farming and agriculture are ubiquitous in California and impact all of our communities in an important way. The farms, large and small, produce half of America's produce and are exported all across the globe, providing billions of dollars to our economy and balance of trade. The center's mission will place an emphasis on agricultural science education, with interactive, high-technology exhibits designed to foster an understanding of the importance of agriculture, and how science plays an essential role in the farm-to-food process. There will also be a strong focus on highlighting the important relationship between agriculture, conservation, and the environment. I would also like to thank Representatives Cardoza, Matsui and Radanovich for introducing a companion bill in the House of Representatives. ______ By Mr. ROCKEFELLER (for himself, Mr. Kerry, Mr. Kennedy, and Mr. Sarbanes): S. 3747. A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to provide access to Medicare benefits for individuals ages 55 to 65, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a refundable and advanceable credit against income tax for payment of such premiums, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Finance. Mr. ROCKEFELLER. Mr. President, in 2004, 45.8 million Americans were without health insurance. That is 15.7 percent of our population, an increase of over 800,000 people in just one year. Yet this number doesn't even reflect the true extent of the problem, as at least another 16 million adults and children are underinsured. This means that even though they have insurance, they are not able to access quality health care when they need it because of high deductibles, soaring co-payments, and unreasonable health benefit restrictions. As I have said many times before, it is unacceptable that a world superpower such as ours has so many people that are uninsured. Lacking or having inadequate health insurance has been shown over and over to be associated with poorer health and quality of life. The uninsured are over 40 percent more likely to be diagnosed with late stage breast and prostate cancers and more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with late stage melanoma. They are hospitalized more often for avoidable conditions such as pneumonia and uncontrolled diabetes. The Institute of Medicine estimates that 18,000 people die every year because they lack health coverage. Thousands more suffer unnecessary pain and disability because they can't get the health care they need when they need it. We cannot allow so many of our fellow citizens to just fall through the cracks of a deficient health care system. We can and must do better. I have introduced several bills to this Congress to provide greater access to health insurance coverage in this country. These bills include the MediKids Health Insurance Act to improve coverage for kids, the TAA Health Coverage Improvement Act to offer insurance options to trade displaced workers, and the Small Employers Health Benefits Plan Act to offer more affordable health care to small business owners and their employees. Today, I join Senators Kerry, Kennedy, and Sarbanes in introducing yet another key piece of legislation to reduce the number of uninsured Americans--the Medicare Early Access Act of 2006. The Medicare Early Access Act of 2006, which has also been introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Pete Stark, provides a new coverage option for our Nation's near elderly. This legislation would allow people aged 55 through 64, who are not otherwise eligible for coverage under a group health plan or Federal health insurance program, to buy into Medicare. It also provides a 75 percent tax credit for Medicare early access premiums to make coverage more affordable for the broadest range of near elderly individuals. Insurance coverage for the near-elderly, the 29 million people between the ages of 55 and 64, is particularly critical. The near elderly are the fastest growing group of uninsured Americans--almost one in seven are uninsured. And, we know the risk of serious illness for adults increases with age, requiring more frequent contact with the health care system and the related financial obligations. Over 50 percent of near-elderly Americans have at least one serious health problem, including diabetes, cancer, chronic lung disease, heart problems, or stroke. Without adequate access to health care, these individuals typically delay care until more serious complications develop that could require high-cost hospital care or even lead to premature death. With job layoffs, early retirement, and the dwindling number of employers offering health insurance, the near-elderly now face greater hurdles to maintaining adequate health care coverage. In March of this year, a major American automotive company offered 113,000 of its employees up to $140,000 to leave the company with no claims to future benefits. It is predicted that more large employers will follow suit in the near future, while other companies continue to seek bankruptcy court approval to set aside long-standing benefit programs. The greatest impact of these types of buyouts and benefit restrictions will be on the near-elderly age group, who do not yet have the safety net of Medicare. Some of my colleagues might argue that Medicare buy-in legislation is unnecessary because the near elderly can get coverage in the individual market. I would say to my colleagues that the near elderly have an extremely difficult time buying insurance in the individual market. Because this group tends to have pre-existing chronic illnesses, private insurers often deny them coverage or offer them coverage at unaffordable rates. So the individual market actually fails to be an option for most near elderly individuals and they bear the risk of forgoing coverage altogether. Lack of insurance and gaps in coverage affect us all, not just the uninsured person in need of care. When an uninsured person goes to a hospital, clinic, or emergency room and cannot pay for the cost of his or her care, the unpaid balances are passed on to those who have insurance or other means to pay. Insurance rates go up as do our taxes to support public programs. Whether through higher insurance premiums or taxes supporting our public insurance programs, we all pay, one way or another, for not doing more to address the problem of the uninsured. Failure to achieve a solution now to this burgeoning problem will surely cost us more if we wait, both in human life and in dollars. The Medicare Early Access Act of 2006 may not be the total solution to solving America's crisis of the uninsured, but it is an earnest attempt to address the problem of the health care access for one of the most vulnerable segments of our population-the near elderly. These individuals often have the greatest need and the least choice when it comes to affordable health insurance coverage. By offering the near- elderly access to comprehensive health benefits through Medicare, we can hopefully reduce the long-term costs to our health care system. I urge my colleagues to join us in taking this important step toward making health insurance and personal dignity a reality for all Americans. ______ By Mr. OBAMA (for himself and Mr. Durbin): S. 3757. A bill to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 950 Missouri Avenue in East St. Louis, Illinois, as the ``Katherine Dunham Post Office Building''; to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. [[Page S8380]] Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, today, I am introducing legislation, along with Senator Durbin, to honor the lifetime achievements and legacy of one of Illinois' most treasured figures, Katherine Dunham, who passed away on May 21, 2006. Our bill would name the post office on Missouri Avenue in East St. Louis, the ``Katherine Dunham Post Office Building.'' Katherine Dunham was born in Glen Ellyn, IL, on June 22, 1909, to Albert Millard Dunham and Fanny June Taylor. Her father was a descendant of slaves from Madagascar and West Africa, and her mother was French Canadian. Her diverse background would foreshadow her lifelong commitment to exploring and teaching the history of culture around the world. Katherine Dunham's trailblazing life began at an early age when she entered the University of Chicago as one of the first African Americans to attend the school. She eventually earned bachelor, master's and doctoral degrees in anthropology, and participated in the Rosenwald Fellowship. Under this program she completed work on Caribbean and Brazilian dance anthropology, the first time significant work was done in the field. In 1931, Dunham opened her first dance school, which would become one of the most successful dance programs in American and European theater, and eventually led to her lead role in musicals, operas, and cabarets throughout the world. Dunham first appeared in London in June 1948 with her company in ``Caribbean Rhapsody'' as part of the first tour to bring black dance as an art form, and American modern dance to the European public. After her return to the U.S., Dunham continued to dance, choreograph and direct on Broadway with her production, ``Katharine Dunham and Her Company and Bamboche.'' When ``Aida'' premiered in 1963, Dunham became the first African American to choreograph for the Metropolitan Opera, further establishing her stature in the dance community. Beginning in 1940, Dunham also appeared in several films, including, ``Carnival of Rhythm'', ``Cabin in the Sky'', ``Star Spangled Rhythm'', ``Stormy Weather'', and ``Casbah''. Dunham also produced the choreography for ``Pardon My Sarong''. What's more, Katherine Dunham's legacy doesn't stop on the dance stage. She used her notoriety to focus the public's attention to social injustices around the world. At the age of 82, Ms. Dunham undertook a 47-day hunger strike in 1993, which helped shift public awareness to the international relationship between America and Haiti, ultimately assisting in the return of Haiti's first democratically elected President. In 1967, Dunham moved to East St. Louis, where she helped open a performing arts training center and established a dance anthropology program at the innercity branch of southern Illinois University that was eventually named the Katherine Dunham Centers for the Arts and Humanities. Katherine Dunham was a woman far ahead of her time and her contributions earned her the recognition and admiration of her peers. Among her many honors are the Presidential Medal of Arts, Kennedy Center Honors, French Legion of Honor, Southern Cross of Brazil, Grand Cross of Haiti, NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award, Lincoln Academy Laureate, and the Urban League's Lifetime Achievement Award. Dunham was one of 75 women whose lives were celebrated in the book, ``I Have A Dream''. At one of the major highlights of her career, Dunham received the Albert Schweitzer Music Award ``for a life's work dedicated to music and devoted to humanity,'' in front of a packed house at New York's Carnegie Hall. I ask my colleagues to join me in celebrating the life and legacy of Katherine Dunham and her efforts to bring the cultures of the world to the community of East St. Louis, by naming the post office on Missouri Avenue in East St. Louis, the ``Katherine Dunham Post Office Building.'' Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, post offices are often designated in honor of individuals who have made valuable contributions to their Nation. Today, I am pleased to honor Ms. Katherine Dunham, the world-renowned dancer, choreographer, teacher, and social activist, by cosponsoring legislation that designates the U.S. Post Office at 950 Missouri Avenue in East St. Louis, IL, as the ``Katherine Dunham Post Office Building.'' Born in Chicago and raised in Joliet, IL, Ms. Dunham began dancing while in high school. She became one of the first African Americans to attend the University of Chicago and later earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in anthropology. In 1938, Dunham was hired as dance director for Chicago's Federal Theatre Project, where her fiery style would mark her work for several decades. In the spring of 1938, Ms. Dunham formed her own company, the Dunham Dance Company, and began to explore the connection of Caribbean dance to its African roots. In 1940, the company traveled to New York and performed a program titled ``Tropics and Le Jazz Hot.'' New York Times critic John Martin said: ``Her performance may very well become a historic occasion.'' Dunham's company undertook a national tour and performed on Broadway and in Hollywood. In 1945, Dunham opened the Katherine Dunham School of Arts and Research in New York. That same year, the company toured Europe with a program called ``Caribbean Rhapsody,'' which was already a success in the United States. It was the first time Europe had seen Black dance as an art form and also the first time that special elements of American modern dance appeared outside America. In 1963, Dunham secured her place in artistic history by becoming the first black choreographer at the Metropolitan Opera, where she helped stage the new production of ``Aida.'' Dunham shut down her dance company in 1965 to become adviser to the cultural ministry of Senegal. She attended the first World Festival of Negro Arts in Senegal as an official representative from the United States. In 1967, Dunham opened the Performing Arts Training Center, an African-American cultural center for local youngsters, in East St. Louis, IL. She later expanded the program to include senior citizens. Except for a brief appearance in 1965, Dunham did not perform regularly after 1962 as she focused on her choreography. One of her major works was choreographing and directing Scott Joplin's opera ``Treemonisha'' in 1972. In February 1992, at the age of 82, Dunham again became the subject of international attention when she began a 47-day fast at her East St. Louis home. Because of her age, her involvement with Haiti, and the respect accorded her as an activist and artist, Dunham became the center of a movement that coalesced to protest the United States' deportations of Haitian boat-refugees fleeing to the United States after the military overthrow of Haiti's democratically-elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. She agreed to end her fast only after Aristide visited her and personally requested her to stop. Ms. Dunham is the recipient of many coveted awards, including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Dance Pioneer Award, the National Medal of Arts, Kennedy Center Honors, the French Legion of Honor, the Southern Cross of Brazil, the Grand Cross of Haiti, the NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award, the Lincoln Academy Laureate, the Urban League's Lifetime Achievement Award, and numerous honorary degrees. She was also one of 75 women whose lives were celebrated in the book, ``I Have a Dream''. I ask my colleagues to join me in honoring Ms. Dunham's humanitarian, artistic, and intellectual contributions to the world of dance. She revolutionized American dance and used her fame to bring public attention to social injustices at home and abroad. It is appropriate to express our appreciation to Katherine Dunham for her service to the East St. Louis community and to the world by naming an East St. Louis post office in her honor. ______ By Mr. REED (for himself, Mr. Rockfeller, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Bingaman, and Mr. Kerry). S. 3758. A bill to establish certain requirements relating to the continuation of the Survey of Income and Program Participation; to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Mr. REED. Mr. President. I am joined by Mr. Rockefeller, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Bingaman, and Mr. Kerry in introducing important legislation regarding [[Page S8381]] the Survey of Income and Program Participation, SIPP. This legislation is also being introduced in the other body by Mrs. Maloney. The SIPP is the only large-scale longitudinal survey that provides data for evaluating the effectiveness of programs like Social Security, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, food stamps, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, TANF. There is no other survey that provides the richness and detail of the data that the SIPP collects. The survey provides essential information on the extent to which programs meet families' basic needs and promote upward mobility. Unfortunately, the President, in his fiscal year 2007 budget, proposed the elimination of the SIPP, followed by a redesign that would not be ready until 2009 at the earliest. In the meantime, there would be an irretrievable loss of data. By eliminating the SIPP, we not only abandon significant research investments by government and private researchers but we would also lose the ability to examine family outcomes over time. Without access to the SIPP's consistent time-series data, we will have to wait years, if not decades, to understand the implications of current policy decisions. Researchers and policymakers would no longer have an accurate dynamic picture of living standards in America. It is important that we create a process to ensure that we do not lose valuable resources for assessing program effectiveness and economic well-being. As such, our legislation would create a SIPP Commission whose members would be required to review any proposals to change or eliminate the SIPP. This would allow for necessary input from users of the SIPP. The bill would also prevent the administration from unilaterally discontinuing or changing the survey. Mr. President, this survey helps Congress to make good policy choices and to be good stewards of American tax dollars. Proposals to cut or eliminate this survey need to be taken seriously and considered carefully. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of this bill be printed in the Record. There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. RESTRICTIONS. The Secretary of Commerce may not-- (1) discontinue the Survey of Income and Program Participation, (2) make any change in the design or content of such Survey, or (3) allow any of the foregoing, unless the discontinuation or change involved has first been approved in accordance with section 2. SEC. 2. PROPOSED ACTIONS. (a) In General.--Whenever in the judgment of the Secretary of Commerce it becomes necessary to discontinue the Survey of Income and Program Participation or to make any change in the design or content of the Survey of Income and Program Participation, he shall prepare a written proposal under this subsection. Such proposal-- (1) shall include-- (A) a description of the specific actions proposed to be taken; (B) the date or schedule for their proposed implementation; and (C) the reasons or justification for each proposed action; and (2) shall be submitted by the Secretary of Commerce to the SIPP Commission (established by section 3) in such time, form, and manner as the Commission may require. (b) Consideration and Decision.--The SIPP Commission shall promptly consider any proposal received under subsection (a) and, after appropriate deliberation, shall transmit its decision to approve or disapprove such proposal to the Secretary of Commerce in timely fashion. Any such decision shall be in writing and shall include a statement of reasons and justification. SEC. 3. ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMISSION. (a) In General.--There is established a commission to be known as the ``Commission on the Survey of Income and Program Participation'' (in this Act referred to as the ``SIPP Commission'' or the ``Commission''). (b) Composition.--The Commission shall be composed of-- (1) the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, who shall serve ex officio; (2) 1 member from the Department of Agriculture, who shall be appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture; (3) 1 member from the Department of Labor, who shall be appointed by the Secretary of Labor; (4) 1 member from the Department of Energy, who shall be appointed by the Secretary of Energy; (5) 1 member from the Department of Health and Human Services, who shall be appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services; (6) 1 member from the Social Security Administration, who shall be appointed by the Commissioner of Social Security; (7) 1 member from the Bureau of the Census, who shall be appointed by the Secretary of Commerce in consultation with the Director of the Census; and (8) 2 members from the National Academy of Sciences, who shall be appointed by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget from among individuals recommended by the Council of the National Academy of Sciences. All appointments to the Commission shall be made from among social scientists and statisticians who have experience analyzing longitudinal household data on economic well-being and participation in government programs. (c) Terms of Appointees.-- (1) In general.--Except as provided in paragraph (2), each member who is appointed to the Commission shall be appointed for a term of 2 years. (2) Vacancies.-- (A) In general.--Any member appointed to fill a vacancy occurring before the expiration of the term for which the member's predecessor was appointed shall be appointed only for the remainder of that term. (B) Service after term ends.--A member may serve after the expiration of that member's term until a successor has taken office. (C) Manner of appointment.--A vacancy among any of the appointed members shall be filled in the manner in which the original appointment was made. (d) Chairman.--The Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall serve as Chairman of the Commission. (e) Functions.-- (1) In general.--It shall be the function of the Commission to consider and act on any proposal relating to the Survey of Income and Program Participation (described in section 2(a)) in accordance with section 2(b). (2) Nondelegable functions.--The functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under this Act shall be nondelegable. (f) Procedures.--The Commission shall meet at the call of the Chairman of the Commission. A majority of the members of the Commission who are eligible to vote shall constitute a quorum. All members except those under paragraphs (1) and (8), respectively, of subsection (b) shall be eligible to vote. (g) Compensation.--Members of the Commission shall serve as such without pay, but shall be allowed travel expenses, including a per diem allowance in lieu of subsistence, in the same manner as persons serving intermittently in Government service are allowed travel expenses under section 5703 of title 5, United States Code. SEC. 4. EFFECTIVE DATE. This Act shall take effect as of the date of the enactment of this Act or September 30, 2006, whichever is earlier. ______ By Mr. BURNS: S. 3759. A bill to name the Armed Forces Readiness Center in Great Falls, Montana, in honor of Captain William Wylie Galt, a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor; to the Committee on Armed Services. Mr. BURNS. Mr. President, I rise today to pay tribute to the Galt family from my home State of Montana. The Galt family first came to Montana in 1910 settling in Judith Basin County. They have been leaders in their communities ever since. One member of the Galt family paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country at the young age of 24. U.S. Army CPT William Wylie Galt was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his brave actions in 1944. The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force that can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the armed services of the United States. Captain Galt's citation reads: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. Capt. Galt, Battalion S3, at a particularly critical period following 2 unsuccessful attacks by his battalion, of his own volition went forward and ascertained just how critical the situation was. He volunteered, at the risk of his life, personally to lead the battalion against the objective. When the lone remaining tank destroyer refused to go forward, Capt. Galt jumped on the tank destroyer and ordered it to precede the attack. As the tank destroyer moved forward, followed by a company of riflemen, Capt. Galt manned the .30-caliber machinegun in the turret of the tank destroyer, located and directed fire on an enemy 77mm. anti- tank gun, and destroyed it. Nearing the enemy positions, Capt. Galt stood fully exposed in the turret, ceaselessly firing his machinegun and tossing hand grenades into the enemy zigzag series of trenches despite the hail of sniper and machinegun bullets ricocheting off the tank destroyer. As the tank destroyer moved, Capt. Galt so maneuvered it that 40 of the enemy were [[Page S8382]] trapped in one trench. When they refused to surrender, Capt. Galt pressed the trigger of the machinegun and dispatched every one of them. A few minutes later an 88mm shell struck the tank destroyer and Capt. Galt fell mortally wounded across his machinegun. He had personally killed 40 Germans and wounded many more. Capt. Galt pitted his judgment and superb courage against overwhelming odds, exemplifying the highest measure of devotion to his country and the finest traditions of the U.S. Army. In 2005, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, BRAC, decided to permanently close Galt Hall U.S. Army Reserve Center on Gore Hill in Great Falls, MT, and relocate units to a new Armed Forces Readiness Center near Malmstrom Air Force Base across town. The U.S. Army Reserve Center on Gore Hill was dedicated to Captain Galt in 1958. I believe it is a fitting tribute to name the U.S. Armed Forces Readiness Center in Great Falls, MT, ``The Captain William Wylie Galt Great Falls Armed Forces Readiness Center'' to carry on the history of this brave Montanan. Captain Galt may be gone, but with the naming of the Armed Forces Readiness Center in Great Falls after him, the memory of this true hero will live on and remind us that freedom is never free. ____________________