(Senate - February 09, 2006)

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[Pages S979-S982]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


      By Mr. ALLEN:
  S. 2262. A bill to provide that pay may not be disbursed to Members 
of Congress after October 1 of any fiscal year in which all 
appropriations acts are not passed by Congress, and for other purposes; 
to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
  Mr. ALLEN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of 
the bill be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the bill was ordered to be printed in the 
Record, as follows:

                                S. 2262

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       (a) Restriction on Disbursement of Pay.--
       (1) In general.--If, as of the first day of any fiscal 
     year, Congress has not passed all final appropriations acts 
     necessary to provide appropriations for the entirety of that 
     fiscal year, the Secretary of the Senate and the Chief 
     Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives may 
     not disburse net pay to any Member of Congress for any pay 
     period beginning in that fiscal year before the date on which 
     notice is provided under subsection (b)(2) that all such 
     final appropriation acts have been passed.
       (2) Disbursement after passage.--The Secretary of the 
     Senate and the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of 
     Representatives shall disburse all amounts of net pay to 
     Members of Congress not disbursed under paragraph (1) at the 
     same time pay is disbursed for the first pay period beginning 
     after the period to which paragraph (1) applies.
       (b) Notice.--The President pro tempore of the Senate shall 
     provide notice to the Secretary of the Senate, and the 
     Speaker of the House of Representatives shall provide notice 
     to the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of 

[[Page S980]]

       (1) of any restriction on disbursement of pay under 
     subsection (a)(1), on the first day of the fiscal year to 
     which the restriction applies; and
       (2) of the passage by Congress of all final appropriations 
     acts described in subsection (a)(1) with respect to that 
     fiscal year, on the date that passage occurs.
       (c) Rule of Construction.--Nothing in this section shall be 
     construed to affect the authority of the Secretary of the 
     Senate or the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of 
     Representatives relating to withholdings, deductions, or any 
     other administrative function relating to pay as otherwise 
     authorized by law.
       (d) Effective Date.--This Act shall take effect on January 
     3, 2007.
      By Mr. McCAIN (for himself, Mr. Feingold, Mr. Kyl, Mr. Bayh, Mr. 
        Ensign, Mr. Graham, Mr. Sununu, Mr. Coburn, Mr. DeMint, and Mr. 
  S. 2265. A bill to provide greater accountability of taxpayers' 
dollars by curtailing congressional earmarking, and for other purposes; 
to the Committee on Rules and Administration.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, last Congress I introduced a rules change 
proposal to allow points of order to be raised against unauthorized 
appropriations and policy riders in appropriations bills and conference 
reports in an effort to reign in wasteful pork barrel spending. Today I 
am introducing a modified version of that proposal. I am pleased to be 
joined in this bipartisan effort today by Senators Feingold, Coburn, 
Bayh, Sununu, Graham, Ensign, DeMint, and Kyl.
  According to data compiled by the Congressional Research Service, in 
1994, there were 4,126 Congressional earmarks added to the annual 
appropriations bills. In 2005, there were 15,877 earmarks, the largest 
number yet, that's an increase of nearly 300 percent! The level of 
funding associated with those earmarks has more than doubled from $23.2 
billion in fiscal year 1994 to $47.4 billion in fiscal year 2005.
  Our bill, entitled the Pork-Barrel Reduction Act, would establish a 
new procedure under Rule XVI, modeled in part after the Byrd Rule, 
which would allow a 60-vote point of order to be raised against 
specific provisions that contain unauthorized appropriations, including 
earmarks, as well as unauthorized policy changes in appropriations 
bills and conference reports. Of importance is that successful points 
of order would not kill a conference report, but the targeted 
provisions would be deemed removed from the conference report, and the 
measure would be sent back for concurrence by the House.
  To ensure that Members are given enough time to review appropriations 
bills, our proposal would also require that conference reports be 
available at least 48 hours prior to floor consideration. It also 
prohibits the consideration of a conference report if it includes 
matter outside the scope of conference.
  Additionally, our bill includes the provisions of S. 1495, the 
Obligation of Funds Transparency Act, which Senator Corburn and I 
introduced last July, to prohibit Federal agencies from obligating 
funds for appropriations earmarks included only in congressional 
reports, which are unamendable.
  To promote transparency, our bill requires that any earmarks included 
in a bill be disclosed fully in the bill's accompanying report, along 
with the name of the Member who requested the earmark and its essential 
governmental purpose. Additionally, our bill would require recipients 
of Federal dollars to disclose any amounts that the recipient expends 
on registered lobbyists.
  In summary, this proposed rules change, if adopted, would allow any 
member to raise a point of order in an effort to extract objectionable 
unauthorized provisions from the appropriations process. Our goal is to 
reform the current system by empowering all members with a tool to rid 
appropriations bills of unauthorized funds, pork barrel projects, and 
legislative policy riders and to provide greater public disclosure of 
the legislative process.
  I would like to highlight just a few examples of recent earmarks, 
many of which clearly do not belong in the measures that they were 
  From the Defense Conference Report for FY 2006: $500,000 to teach 
science to grade-school students in Pennsylvania. $900,000 for 
``Memorial Day'' out of the Army Operations and Maintenance account. 
$4.4 million for a Technology Center in Missouri. $1 million to a Civil 
War Center in Richmond, Virginia. $850,000 for an education center and 
public park in Des Moines, Iowa. $2 million for a public park in San 
Francisco. $500,000 for the Arctic Winter Games, an international 
athletic competition held this year in Alaska. $1.5 million for an 
aviation museum in Seattle, $1.35 million for an aviation museum in 
Hawaii, $1 million for a museum in Pennsylvania, and $3 million for the 
museum at Fort Belvoir. There's also $1.5 million for restoring the 
Battleship Texas. Funding for farm conservation. A provision protecting 
jobs in Hawaii and Alaska. A provision transferring as a direct lump 
sum payment to the University of Alaska the unobligated and unexpended 
balances appropriated to the United States-Canada Railroad Commission. 
And, of course, the ANWR provisions.
  From the FY06 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill Conference Report 
Statement of Managers: $500,000 for the Burpee Museum of Natural 
History in Illinois. $500,000 for Chesapeake Bay submerged aquatic 
vegetation research. $600,000 to study fish passage in Mud Mountain, 
Washington. $3 million to study the beneficial uses of dredged material 
for Morehead City, North Carolina. $1.25 million for the Sacred Falls 
demonstration project in Hawaii. $2 million for the Desert Research 
Institute, Nevada. $3.5 million for the Iroquois Bio-Energy Consortium 
Ethanol Project, Indiana. $500,000 for the Washington State Ferries 
Biodiesel Demonstration Project, WA. $1 million for the Canola-based 
Automotive Oil R&D, PA. $1 million for the Mt. Wachusett Community 
College Wind Project, MA. $7 million for the Arctic Energy Office, 
  These Energy and Water projects that I just mentioned are just a few 
examples of report language earmarks, none of which are subject to an 
amendment to strike.
  From the FY 2002 and 2003 Defense Appropriations Conference Reports: 
During conference negotiations on the Department of Defense 
Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2002, unprecedented language was 
inserted into the final bill to allow the U.S. Air Force to lease 100 
Boeing 767 commercial aircraft and convert them to tankers. The total 
cost to taxpayers, about $30 billion.
  However, Congress did not authorize these provisions in the Act, or 
in any other bill for that matter. In fact, the Senate Armed Services 
Committee was not even advised of this effort by the Air Force 
Secretary during consideration of the authorization measure. Moreover, 
these aircraft were not in the President's budget, the joint chiefs' 
unfunded priority list, or the pentagon's long range defense budget. 
Additionally, the purportedly compelling need for these aircraft (which 
the air force repeatedly cited for having taxpayers pay $6 billion more 
for leasing these tankers than they would if the air force simply 
bought them outright) was, and continues to be, wholly unsupported by 
any serious study or analysis of alternatives.
  Nonetheless, legislative language was again included in the 
Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2003 to modify 
the previous year's bill language on the Boeing 767 tankers. And, once 
again, the sweeping changes in procurement policy was made by the 
Appropriators without the input of the authorizing committee.
  Ultimately, it was discovered that the Air Force broke a number of 
Federal budgetary and leasing rules; that the lease terms were fiscally 
irresponsible; that this deal would have set a horrible precedent for 
the procurement of major defense systems; and that folks at the Air 
Force conspired with Boeing to break the law to make this deal happen 
in the first instance. Mr. President, with some people, as a result, 
not only losing their jobs, but also serving time in jail, I think all 
of my colleagues know what an egregious mistake this turned out to be.
  From Supplemental for War on Terror Conference Report (April 2005): A 
provision directing the Secretary of the Interior to analyze the 
viability of a sanctuary for the Rio Grande Silvery Minnow in Rio 
Grande Valley, TX.
  A provision stating that the $40 million set forth in the 
Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004 for construction of a Port of 
Philadelphia marine cargo terminal ``be used solely for the 
construction by and for a Philadelphia-based company.''

[[Page S981]]

  From the FY 2003 Omnibus Appropriations Conference Report: The 
conference report contained provisions which allow a subsidiary of the 
Malaysian-owned ``Norwegian Cruise Lines'' the exclusive right to 
operate several large foreign-built cruise vessels in the domestic 
cruise trade. This provides an unfair competitive advantage to a 
foreign company at the expense of all other cruise ship operators, and 
creates a de facto monopoly for Norwegian Cruise Lines in the Hawaii 
cruise trade. Interestingly, this provision stems from another earmark 
in 1998 that went awry.
  The fiscal year 1998 Department of Defense Appropriation Bill granted 
a legal monopoly for American Classic Voyages to operate as the only 
U.S. flagged operator among the Hawaiian islands. After receiving the 
monopoly, American Classic Voyages secured a $1.1 billion loan 
guarantee from the U.S. Maritime Administration's, MARAD, Title XI loan 
guarantee program for the construction of two passenger vessels known 
as Project America. Project America's subsequent failure 4 years later 
resulted in the U.S. Maritime Administration paying out over $187.3 
million of the American taxpayers' money to cover the project's loan 
default, and recovering only $2 million from the sale of some of the 
construction materials and parts. It is one hull and miscellaneous 
parts from these never-completed ships which cost the taxpayers nearly 
$200 million which are now going to be used in a foreign shipyard for 
building the Norwegian Cruise ships that will operate in Hawaii under 
this latest special interest provision.
  The conference report included an agriculture policy change to make 
catfish producers eligible for payments under the livestock 
compensation program, even though hog, poultry, and horse producers are 
not eligible.
  Despite the fact that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had 
implemented new organic food standards after lengthy negotiations, 
language was added to the conference report to permit livestock 
producers to certify and label meat products as ``organic'' even if the 
animals had not been fed organic grain. Without any consideration or 
debate, this last-minute rider was added to override these standards. 
Interestingly, a few months later, the Congress approved legislation as 
part of the War supplemental to repeal this provision and restore the 
prior organic food labeling standards.
  Obviously, I could go on and on and on citing examples of 
unauthorized earmarks and policy riders in appropriations bills. But I 
think you've got the picture. And I hope that we have finally reached 
the point that we are going to do something to reform this very broken 
system of legislating.
  Our current economic situation and our vital national security 
concerns require that now, more than ever, we prioritize our Federal 
spending. But our appropriations bills do not always put our national 
priorities first. The process is broken and it needs to be fixed.
  In his farewell address, President Dwight D. Eisenhower reflected on 
the spending he believed to be excessive. His words then are all the 
more powerful in today's out of control environment: ``As we peer into 
society's future,'' he said, ``we--you and I, and our government--must 
avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease 
and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage 
the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also 
of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive 
for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of 
  And yet, if we cannot change, if we will not change, we risk 
precisely that--becoming the insolvent phantom of tomorrow. I wonder 
what President Eisenhower would think of this mess. But, then, perhaps 
others have contemplated the same question. After all, the Defense 
Appropriations bill we passed in December included a $1.7 million 
earmark for a memorial on the National Mall that would honor none other 
than * * * Dwight D. Eisenhower.
  I urge my colleagues to support this bill.
      By Mr. KERRY (for himself and Mr. Salazar):
  S. 2268. A bill to amend title 5, United States Code, to deny Federal 
retirement benefits to individuals convicted of certain offenses, and 
for other purposes; to the Committee on Homeland Security and 
Governmental Affairs.
  Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, along with Senator Salazar, I am 
introducing the Congressional Pension Accountability Act, to deny 
Federal pensions to members of Congress who are convicted of white 
collar crimes such as bribery.
  I strongly believe that Members of Congress must be held to the 
highest ethical standards. This year, the Senate is expected to 
consider legislation to reform our ethics laws. This is in response to 
a series of scandals that have exposed Washington lobbyists and 
unfortunately even a Member of Congress who used undue and improper 
influence to represent special interests in their dealings with the 
Federal Government.
  Last year, the now infamous Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded 
guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud and tax evasion charges in a plea 
agreement. The Justice Department is currently investigating his 
attempts to influence Federal Government policy in both Congress and 
the Executive Branch.
  In the largest bribery case in the Congress since the 1980s, 
Representative Randy ``Duke'' Cunningham recently resigned from the 
House of Representatives after pleading guilty in Federal court to 
receiving $2.4 million in bribes from military contractors and evading 
more than $1 million in taxes. In a plea agreement, former 
Representative Cunningham admitted to a pattern of bribery lasting 
close to five years, with Federal contractors giving him Persian rugs, 
a Rolls-Royce, antique furniture, paying travel and hotel expenses, use 
of a yacht and a lavish graduation party for his daughter.
  As elected representatives, we must hold ourselves and all those who 
represent the Federal Government to the highest ethical standards. The 
principle is a simple one: public servants who abuse the public trust 
and are convicted of ethics crimes should not collect taxpayer financed 
  Under current law, former Representative Cunningham and others 
convicted of serious ethics abuses will receive a Congressional pension 
of approximately $40,000 per year--paid for by American taxpayers. Only 
a conviction for a crime against the United States, such as treason or 
espionage, will cost a Member of Congress their pension. This law must 
be changed to ensure that Congress does not reward unethical behavior.
  The Congressional Pension Accountability Act will bar Members of 
Congress from receiving taxpayer-funded retirement benefits after they 
have been convicted of bribery or other serious ethics offenses.
  Together we can significantly improve our government by changing the 
way business is done in Washington. I believe this legislation will 
help ensure that our government once again responds to the needs of our 
people, not special interests.
      By Mr. DeWINE (for himself, Mr. Voinovich, and Mr. Nelson of 
  S. 2269. A bill to designate the Federal building and United States 
courthouse located at 200 West 2nd Street in Dayton, Ohio, as the 
``Tony Hall Federal Building and United States Courthouse''; to the 
Committee on Environment and Public Works.
  Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of 
this bill which designates the Federal building and United States 
courthouse located at 200 West 2nd Street in Dayton, Ohio, as the 
``Tony Hall Federal Building and United States Courthouse,'' be printed 
in the Record.
  There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be 
printed in the Record, as follows:

                                S. 2269

         Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives 
     of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

                   UNITED STATES COURTHOUSE.

       The Federal building and United States courthouse located 
     at 200 West 2nd Street in Dayton, Ohio, shall be known and 
     designated as the ``Tony Hall Federal Building and United 
     States Courthouse''.


       Any reference in a law, map, regulation, document, paper, 
     or other record of the

[[Page S982]]

     United States to the Federal building and United States 
     courthouse referred to in section 1 shall be deemed to be a 
     reference to the Tony Hall Federal Building and United States 
      By Mr. MENENDEZ:
  S. 2270. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a 
refundable credit against income tax to subsidize the cost of COBRA 
continuation coverage for certain individuals; to the Committee on 
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, today I am pleased to introduce the 
Health Care COBRA OffSet Tax Savings (COSTS) Act of 2006. This 
important legislation is a step forward in helping working families 
afford quality health care in this country.
  Rewarding work is one of the most fundamental core values of our 
Nation. Our founding fathers built a society on the notion that if you 
work hard, you will have an opportunity to provide a better future for 
your children and thus build a stronger, more competitive nation. And, 
as we've seen throughout our Nation's history, America's workers have 
not disappointed.
  Unfortunately, too many Americans are working hard every day, but are 
still unable to make ends meet and provide even the most basic needs 
for their family, such as food, shelter, or health care. The 
legislation I'm introducing will help address one of these important 
challenges: affordable, quality health care for working families.
  The statistics are undeniable--almost 46 million Americans have no 
health insurance and more than 1 million of the uninsured are in my 
home state of New Jersey. But that's just the beginning of the problem. 
Even families who are fortunate enough to have health insurance, are 
struggling to pay the premiums, which in New Jersey, have increased at 
four times the rate of earnings. Since 2000, the employee share of 
health care premiums in New Jersey increased almost 43 percent or 
almost $400 a year. When family earnings increase by only 10 percent 
over the same period, it becomes clear just how challenging it is for 
our hard working families to get by.
  The Health Care COSTS Act does not address the entire problem, but it 
will help some workers afford to keep their health insurance when 
they're between jobs. Currently, many workers who receive health 
coverage through their employer are entitled to keep that coverage for 
up to 18 months after they leave their jobs. This coverage is known as 
COBRA coverage. However, many don't take advantage of COBRA coverage 
because it's simply too expensive. The employee, who has just lost 
their job, has to pay the full cost of the coverage, making it 
prohibitively expensive for most families.
  The Health Care COSTS Act helps moderate-income families with the 
cost of COBRA by providing an ``advanceable'' tax credit for half the 
cost of these health care premiums. The tax credit would go directly to 
the health plan administrator, thus reducing the workers' monthly 
premiums by half. This is not a handout, but a helping hand for workers 
who have contributed to the economic well-being of their community and 
have earned the opportunity to care for their family while they get 
back on their feet and find another job.
  Clearly, there is much more to do in addressing the health care 
crisis in this country, but this is an important first step in helping 
working families afford health care coverage during one of the most 
difficult and vulnerable times a family might face. I hope this 
legislation will be a starting point for discussion of the significant 
challenges families face in affording quality health care in this