STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS
(Senate - June 27, 2007)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Pages S8613-S8621]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




          STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS

       By Mr. ROBERTS (for himself, Mr. Kennedy, Ms. Collins, and Mr. 
        Lieberman):
  S. 1702. A bill to promote employment of individuals with severe 
disabilities through Federal Government contracting and procurement 
processes, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Homeland 
Security and Governmental Affairs.
  Mr. ROBERTS. Mr. President, today I rise for the purpose of 
introducing important legislation for the moral and fiscal posture of 
our great Nation: the Employer Work Incentive Act for Individuals with 
Severe Disabilities of 2007.
  While there are obvious differences of opinion on the state of the 
U.S. economy, the U.S. workforce is experiencing relatively low 
unemployment rates. The average hourly wage and payroll employment 
levels are at an all-time high. As our economy has experienced a slow 
and steady rise, there is one sector of the population who has been 
left behind.
  The unemployment rate for the severely disabled is higher than it has 
ever been. Despite previous efforts to increase employment 
opportunities for this population, the rate of unemployment has risen 
to 70 percent, that means increasing the amount of citizens relying on 
Social Security disability insurance.
  In 1982, the amount of payments distributed through Social Security 
disability insurance was $15.8 billion. In 2004, that number climbed to 
$80.6 billion. According to a forecast by the Social Security trustees, 
the old age and survivors insurance trust fund will last until 2044, 
while the disability trust fund will be exhausted in 2029.
  The Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted in 1990 as a means of 
leveling the playing field for citizens with disabilities. And while it 
has provided necessary reforms in employment practices, this 
legislation has had little to no effect on the rate of unemployment 
experienced by individuals with severe disabilities.
  Even government-run programs such as the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act or 
Randolph Shepard Act, have done little to improve this high 
unemployment rate. As our brave men and women serving in uniform in 
Iraq and Afghanistan return, this problem will be compounded. Many of 
our troops have been disabled in the cause of protecting this country, 
and it is incumbent upon us to ensure that there are opportunities for 
them in the workforce so that they can regain a semblance of their 
lives back.
  It is time for a change in the way we think about employing 
individuals with severe disabilities. The goal should be to create job 
opportunities for the severely disabled in the national workforce, not 
just in government operated programs.
  The Employer Work Incentive Act for Individuals with Severe 
Disabilities, a bipartisan bill authored by Senator Kennedy and myself, 
creates these opportunities while reducing dependence on Social 
Security disability insurance. This legislation gives government 
contract procurement advantages to those companies who employ 
significant percentages of individuals with disabilities in their 
workforce.
  Our goal is to employ at least 1 percent of individuals with severe 
disabilities, or 94,000 people. In doing this, we have the opportunity 
to save approximately $45 billion in Social Security disability 
insurance over the next 10 years.
  I know firsthand how important individuals with severe disabilities 
are to our workforce. In my home State of Kansas, persons like my good 
friend, Pat Terick, play an important role in local business. His 
agency, the Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation of Kansas, has long 
advocated the importance of creating job opportunities for the severely 
disabled. This advocacy group, located in Wichita, is dedicated to 
showing companies the advantages of hiring individuals with 
disabilities. Our bill will be a powerful incentive for businesses to 
enhance their workforce.
  I would like to thank Senator Kennedy for his leadership in helping 
to craft this bipartisan legislation. Special thanks to my longtime 
friend and to a great Kansan and American, Senator Bob Dole, cochair of 
the One Percent Coalition. With Bob's remarkable devotion to disability 
advocacy, it comes as no surprise that he is leading the effort to 
increase job opportunities for those individuals with severe 
disabilities.
  It is time for a change in the way we think about employing 
individuals with severe disabilities. We must create job opportunities 
for the severely disabled in the national workforce, not just in 
government-operated programs. With the support of my colleagues, this 
legislation will do just that.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, today we take one more giant step to open 
the workplace doors wider for people with disabilities. The joining of 
businesses, consumers, and the Congress is powerful--and we will pass 
this bill. I thank Senator Roberts for his vision and leadership on 
this legislation.
  In the winter of 1999, President Clinton signed the last bill of the 
millennium into law at the FDR Memorial--it was the ``Ticket to Work'' 
Act.
  Hundreds of disabled people managed through the snow to get to the 
memorial that day, in hopes of finally being of part of our Nation's 
great economy.
  That law has made a big difference in giving disabled workers access 
to health care by allowing them to work and buy Medicaid--but securing 
actual employment has been a much harder challenge.
  Many of the nation's ``return to work'' programs are outdated and do 
not engage employers to hire disabled workers to the fullest extent 
possible.
  This legislation will expand opportunities for disabled workers and 
reward employers who are willing to do the right thing: by paying 
disabled workers a decent salary; by providing and contributing to the 
cost of their health care insurance; and by placing workers in an 
environment where they can work alongside their non-disabled friends 
and neighbors.
  ADA has led to enormous societal change. It has fundamentally altered 
how our society views disability, and that change will be its most 
lasting and significant contribution.
  But the ADA was also intended to address the very real barriers to 
people with disabilities looking for a job, a house, an education, and 
even a bus ride--and we still have a lot of work to do to meet that 
promise.
  This legislation is one positive step forward as we continue to fight 
for more opportunities for disabled people to go to work and contribute 
to their communities.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. BIDEN (for himself, Mr. Specter, Mr. Alexander, Mr. 
        Carper, Mr. Cardin, Mr. Cochran, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Kerry, Mr. 
        Levin, and Mr. Obama):
  S. 1709. A bill to amend the National Underground Railroad Network to 
Freedom Act of 1998 to provide additional staff and oversight of funds 
to carry out the Act, and for other purposes; to the Committee on 
Energy and Natural Resources.
  Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce, with my good 
friend and colleague from Pennsylvania, Senator Specter, the 
Underground Railroad Network Reauthorization Act of 2007. The original 
act, signed into law in 1998, has increased public awareness of the 
Underground Railroad, a cornerstone in African-American heritage and 
history, with sites and programs in 28 States and the

[[Page S8614]]

District of Columbia. This is the only national program dedicated to 
the preservation, interpretation and dissemination of underground 
railroad history. I am pleased that we are joined in this effort by 
Senators Alexander, Carper, Cardin, Cochran, Kennedy, Kerry, Levin and 
Obama.
  Throughout this Nation there are sites in the underground railroad 
network that, while still standing, have suffered structural damage. 
There are also many sites that no longer house a physical structure, 
but still are important to recognize. A good example is the Thomas 
Garrett House, located in Wilmington in my home State of Delaware. The 
Garrett House was the last station on the Underground Railroad before 
the slaves reached freedom in Pennsylvania. It has been estimated that 
Garrett, a well known Quaker, helped more than 2,000 runaway slaves 
escape from the Southern States. The legislation being introduced today 
will not only help pay to repair damaged structures, but also to 
educate the general public about those sites that are no longer in 
existence, like the Thomas Garrett House.
  The underground railroad network is a special part of American 
history that we cannot afford to let slip away. This legislation will 
preserve these invaluable memorials and educational resources by 
raising the authorization level from $500,000 to $2.5 million. We must 
move now to ensure that the brave acts of these individuals are 
preserved for future generations to observe and honor.
  A companion bill has already been introduced in the House by 
Representatives, H.R. 1239, by Representative Alcee L. Hastings and my 
friend and colleague from Delaware, Representative Mike Castle. I hope 
both Chambers move quickly to preserve this precious history.
  It is my honor to ask my colleagues here in the Senate to join me 
today in supporting this bill so that this part of our Nation's past 
will not be forgotten.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. BIDEN:
  S. 1711. A bill to target cocaine kingpins and address sentencing 
disparity between crack and powder cocaine; to the Committee on the 
Judiciary.
  Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, 20 years ago, I helped write the law that 
established the current Federal cocaine sentencing scheme. Under this 
law, it takes 100 times more powder cocaine than crack cocaine to 
trigger the 5- and 10-year mandatory minimum sentences. And mere 
possession of five grams of crack, the weight of about two sugar cubes, 
gets you the same 5-year mandatory minimum penalty as trafficking 500 
grams of the powder form of cocaine, which is equivalent to about a 1 
pound bag of sugar.
  The facts that informed our decision at the time have proved to be 
wrong, making the underlying cocaine sentencing structure we created 
unfounded and unfair. It is time to change the law to reflect this new 
understanding. That is why, today, I am introducing the Drug Sentencing 
Reform & Cocaine Kingpin Trafficking Act of 2007, which eliminates this 
unjustified disparity in Federal cocaine sentencing policy.
  Back in 1986, when we wrote the law that established the current 
sentencing structure, crack was hitting our streets and communities 
like a storm. I remember one headline that I think summed it up. It 
read ``New York City Being Swamped by `Crack'; Authorities Say They Are 
Almost Powerless to Halt Cocaine.'' That summer was called ``the summer 
of crack,'' and we were inundated with horror stories about how this 
new form of smokeable cocaine was ravaging communities. We were told 
that crack was instantly addictive, prompting the expression, ``Once on 
crack, you never go back.'' We heard that it caused users to go on 
violent rampages, was more harmful to babies than powder cocaine when 
used by mothers during pregnancy, and would lead to the disintegration 
of inner-city communities.
  And in Congress, there was a feeling of desperation that summer, a 
sense that we had to give law enforcement the power they needed to save 
neighborhoods being ravaged by this drug.
  More than a dozen bills were introduced to increase the penalties for 
this form of cocaine, but because we knew so little about it, the 
proposals were all over the map. They ranged from the Reagan 
administration's proposal of a 20-to-1 sentencing disparity between 
crack and powder cocaine to a 1000-to-1 disparity proposed by Senator 
Lawton Chiles. I joined Senators Byrd and Dole in leading the effort to 
enact the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, which established the current 
100-to-1 disparity.
  Our intentions were good, but as further scientific and sociological 
study has shown, we got it wrong.
  We now know that these initial assumptions about crack and powder 
cocaine, which are just two forms of the same drug, simply were not 
true. Scientific evidence shows that crack does not have unique, 
inherent properties that make it instantly addictive. According to the 
Journal of the American Medical Association, ``cocaine in any form 
produces the same physiological and subjective effects.'' We also have 
learned that the dire predictions about a generation of ``crack 
babies'' whose mothers used crack during pregnancy have not proven 
true. The negative effects of prenatal exposure to crack cocaine and 
powder cocaine are identical. Furthermore, data that the U.S. 
Sentencing Commission has collected show that crack users rarely commit 
acts of violence. Almost all crack-related violence is associated with 
trafficking, not with someone on a so-called crack-induced rampage.
  Looking back over more than 20 years, it is also clear that the harsh 
crack penalties have had a disproportionate impact on the African 
American community. Eighty-two percent of those convicted of crack 
offenses at the Federal level are African American, fueling the notion 
that the Federal cocaine sentencing scheme is unfair.
  There is widespread recognition that the current cocaine sentencing 
scheme is out of date and out of touch with reality. There are others 
here in the Senate, on both sides of the aisle, who feel the current 
cocaine sentencing policy is unfounded. Like me, Senators Sessions and 
Hatch have introduced legislation to reduce the disparity and I want to 
congratulate them for their hard work and dedication to this issue.
  As a matter of fact, when President Bush was asked about the longer 
sentences for crack cocaine, he said that the disparity, and I am 
quoting the President here, ``ought to be addressed by making sure the 
powder cocaine and crack cocaine penalties are the same. I don't 
believe we ought to be discriminatory.''
  A slew of commentators, Federal judges, Federal prosecutors, doctors, 
academics, social scientists, civil rights leaders, clergy, and others 
have spoken out about the unwarranted disparity between crack and 
powder cocaine sentences.
  And just last month, the U.S. Sentencing Commission, a bipartisan 
panel comprised in large part of Federal judges who preside over 
cocaine cases, issued a report stating that the current Federal cocaine 
sentencing scheme ``continues to come under almost universal criticism 
from representatives of the Judiciary, criminal justice practitioners, 
academics, and community interest groups.''
  This is not the first time the Sentencing Commission has urged 
reform. In 1995, the Commission recommended eliminating the crack/
powder sentencing disparity. Congress rejected this proposal. As 
scientific understanding of cocaine evolved, the Commisson urged 
Congress three more times to address this problem. Yet Congress did not 
act. We are long overdue in heeding the call for reform.
  The Sentencing Cmission has provided us with a roadmap. In its most 
recent report, the Commission ``unanimously and strongly urge[d]'' 
Congress to: 1. Act swiftly to increase the threshold quantities of 
crack necessary to trigger the 5- and 10-year mandatory minimum 
sentences, so that Federal resources are focused on major drug 
traffickers as intended in the original 1986 legislation; and 2. repeal 
the mandatory minimum penalty sentence for simple possession of crack, 
the only controlled substance for which there is a mandatory minimum 
for a first time offense of simple possession. The Sentencing 
Commission also unanimously rejected any effort to increase the 
penalties for powder since there is no evidence to justify any such 
upward adjustment.
  My bill implements all of these recommendations.

[[Page S8615]]

  Specifically, my bill will eliminate the current 100-to-1 disparity 
by increasing the 5-year mandatory minimum threshold quantity for crack 
cocaine to 500 grams, from 5 grams, and the 10-year threshold quantity 
to 5,000 grams, from 50 grams, while maintaining the current statutory 
mandatory minimum threshold quantities for powder cocaine. It will also 
eliminate the current 5-year mandatory minimum penalty for simple 
possession of crack cocaine, the only mandatory minimum sentence for 
simple possession of a drug by a first time offender.
  It also increases penalties for major drug traffickers and provides 
additional resources for the Federal agencies that investigate and 
prosecute drug offenses. Furthermore, because I have always believed 
that the best approach to fighting crime is a holistic one that 
incorporates enforcement, prevention, and treatment, my bill authorizes 
funds for prison- and jail-based drug treatment programs.
  My bill both remedies the historic injustice in the current cocaine 
sentencing laws and focuses Federal resources on, and increases 
penalties for, the big fish, the major drug traffickers and kingpins 
who drive the drug trade. Unlike Federal powder cocaine offenders, over 
half of Federal crack offenders are low-level street dealers who could 
and should be prosecuted at the State level. States are better equipped 
to handle these small-time dealers and users, and under my bill, these 
offenders would still be punished, without expending precious Federal 
resources.
  Drug use is a serious problem, and I have long supported strong 
antidrug legislation. But in addition to being tough, our drug laws 
should be rational and fair. My bill achieves the right balance. We 
have talked about the need to address this cocaine sentencing disparity 
for long enough. It is time to act. I hope that my colleagues will join 
with me to support this legislation.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mrs. CLINTON:
  S. 1712. A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to improve 
newborn screening activities, and for other purposes; to the Committee 
on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
  Mrs. CLINTON. Mr. President, today I am pleased to introduce the 
Screening for Health of Infants and Newborns Act, also known as the 
SHINE Act. This legislation is critical for the health of newborns and 
children because we know that public education and early detection are 
two of the greatest weapons we have in the battle against early 
childhood disorders.
  Each year in our Nation, at least 4 million newborns are screened for 
severe disorders, with 5,000 newborns diagnosed as a result. Although 
these numbers may seem small, these disorders are often life 
threatening and can cause serious mental and physical disabilities if 
left untreated. Early detection by newborn screening can lessen these 
illnesses, or completely prevent progression of many of these disorders 
if medical intervention can be started early enough.
  I am proud to say that New York has been a leader in newborn 
screening since 1960 when Dr. Robert Guthrie developed the first 
newborn screening test. Since then, more than 10 million babies have 
been tested. In 2004, New York expanded their newborn screening program 
from 11 conditions to encompass 44 conditions. These improvements were 
the result of a concerted effort by State officials and parent advocacy 
groups like the Save Babies through Screening Foundation and Hunter's 
Hope Foundation. They share a common goal, that every child born with a 
treatable disease should receive early diagnosis and lifesaving 
treatment so that they can grow up as healthy as possible. Today, we 
want to ensure that the great strides made by New York can be a model 
for all States and that New York can continue to make advancements that 
will benefit the children of New York and around the Nation.
  Newborn screening experts suggest States should test for minimum of 
29 treatable core conditions. However, as of today, some States only 
screen for seven conditions. Every child should have access to tests 
that may prevent them from a life threatening disease. This bill 
establishes grant programs so that States can increase their capacity 
to screen for all the core conditions. Grant funds are also available 
for States like New York to expand newborn screening panels above and 
beyond the core conditions by developing additional newborn screening 
tests.
  We should expect equity within newborn screening so that it does not 
matter where your baby is born. This legislation will establish 
recommended guidelines for States for newborn screening tests, 
reporting, and data standards. By tracking the prevalence of diseases 
identified by newborn screening within States, we will be able to meet 
these goals and improve the long-term health of our children.
  I hear from many parents how frightening it is to have a sick child 
and to not have a diagnosis. Many parents spend years trying to find 
out what is wrong with their child and feel helpless. This legislation 
will insure that current information on newborn screening is available 
and accessible to health providers and parents. The SHINE Act will 
provide interactive formats through the Maternal Child Health Bureau of 
the Health Services and Resources Administration so that parents and 
providers can ask questions and receive answers about newborn screening 
test, diagnosis, follow-up and treatment.
  Early treatment can prevent negative and irreversible health outcomes 
for affected newborns. We should be doing all we can to give every 
child born in our country the opportunity for a happy and healthy life.
  I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record letters of 
support.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record as follows:

                                                Hunter's Hope,

                                  Orchard Park, NY, June 25, 2007.
     Hon. Hillary Clinton,
     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senator Clinton: on behalf of the Hunter's Hope 
     Foundation, I respectively submit this letter as our full and 
     complete support for the bill titled ``Screening for the 
     Health of Infants and Newborns (SHINE Act)''.
       The Hunter's Hope Foundation was established in 1997 by Pro 
     Football Hall of Fame member and former Buffalo Bills 
     Quarterback, Jim Kelly, and his wife, Jill, after their 
     infant son, Hunter, was diagnosed with Krabbe (Crab a) 
     Leukodystrophy, an inherited, fatal, nervous system disease.
       The Foundation's mission is to: increase public awareness 
     of Krabbe disease and other leukodystrophies, support those 
     afflicted and their families, identify new treatments, and 
     ultimately find a cure.
       Since 1997, Cord Blood Transplant (CBT) has become a viable 
     treatment for Krabbe disease as well as a few other 
     leukodystrophies. But, CBT is only effective if the child is 
     treated before the disease inflicts irreversible damage to 
     the brain and nervous system. There are many other treatable 
     diseases that if not treated early will cause irreversible 
     damage. And, the number of such diseases continues to 
     increase with advancements in science and technology. We must 
     establish an infrastructure in our country that not only 
     addresses the immediate need, but also creates a system for 
     expansion. The SHINE Act will accomplish this.
       Hunter passed away August 5, 2005. Like thousands of other 
     children, if he had been screened at birth, he may be living 
     a healthy life today. Please help these children and their 
     families and pass this bill. We implore you to expedite the 
     passing and implementing of this bill. With each day that 
     passes, children are suffering and dying needlessly.
       Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
           Sincerely,
                                                  Jacque Waggoner,
     Board of Directors, Chair.
                                  ____

                                    Save Babies Through Screening,


                                             Foundation, Inc.,

                                     Scarsdale, NY, June 25, 2007.
     Hon. Hillary Clinton,
      U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senator Clinton: I am writing on behalf of the Save 
     Babies Through Screening Foundation to show our support for 
     the Screening for Health of Infants and NEwborns (SHINE Act). 
     As you know, our organization's mission is to improve the 
     lives of babies by working to prevent disabilities and early 
     death resulting from disorders detectable through newborn 
     screening. Our organization was founded in 1998 and is the 
     only organization solely dedicated to raising awareness in 
     regard to newborn screening.
       We believe that this bill will greatly enhance the 
     expansion of newborn screening throughout the United States 
     and will save the lives of thousands of babies--our tiniest 
     citizens. Additionally, this will spare Parents the agonizing 
     pain of watching their children suffer as I can attest to 
     firsthand. With the great expansion of newborn screening, 
     children will be able to live healthy and productive lives.

[[Page S8616]]

       We thank you for your vision and hard work. Nobody should 
     suffer the loss or impairment of a child when there are tests 
     and treatment available and this bill will put an end to 
     future suffering. Please feel free to contact me if we can be 
     of any assistance.
           Regards,
                                                  Jill Levy-Fisch,
     President.
                                  ____



                                     FOD Family Support Group,

                                        Okemos, MI, June 26, 2007.
       To Whom It May Concern: As Founder and Director of an 
     international Family Support Group for rare metabolic 
     disorders called Fatty Oxidation Disorders (many of which can 
     be screened for at birth, as well as many other metabolic 
     disorders), I strongly endorse the Screening for Health of 
     Infants and Newborns Act (SHINE Act of 2007) that Senator 
     Clinton originally introduced on February 15, 2007. It would 
     greatly enhance the lives of many families in our country.
       My family, and many others in our Group, has experienced 
     the tragedy of not having the awareness/education of, 
     screening for, and short- and long-term followup treatment 
     for an FOD. Our daughter, Kristen, died suddenly at the age 
     of 21 months. Fortunately, by the time our 2nd child was 
     born, we had become aware of these rare disorders and had 
     Kevin tested at birth--he is now a healthy, active, and soon-
     to-be college graduate. If it wasn't for the newborn 
     screening and follow-up treatment for MCAD, Kevin would have 
     died when he had his 1st illness at 6 months of age.
       I wholeheartedly endorse all parts of the bill that will 
     help educate and create awareness of these many disorders 
     (and more in the future) for families and professionals 
     across our country. Many aspects of the bill mirror our 
     Group's foundation and mission--to create awareness about 
     FODs, to educate the public, to network and support FOD 
     families and professionals around the world, to provide 
     ongoing education and information about metabolic disorders, 
     to inform families and the public of new developments in 
     screening, diagnosis, research and treatment (I also endorse 
     assisting in covering formulas, drugs, supplements etc), and 
     to advocate expanded universal and comprehensive newborn 
     screening and long-term follow-up treatment for FODs and 
     other related metabolic disorders.
       Please pass this bill for the benefit of many infants and 
     families!
           Take Care,
                                                    Deb Lee Gould,
     Director.
                                  ____

                                                    June 25, 2007.
     Hon. Hillary Rodham Clinton,
     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senator Clinton: We are pleased to write this letter 
     of support for the Screening for Health of Infants and 
     Newborns Act of 2007. We commend you for your leadership in 
     calling for a uniform and comprehensive national approach to 
     screening newborns for the full panel of core conditions 
     recommended by the American College of Medical Genetics and 
     endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. If diagnosed 
     early, these disorders, including metabolic and hearing 
     deficiency, can be managed or treated to prevent severe 
     consequences.
       As a hospital which provides a wide array of services to 
     children with special health care needs, we know how 
     important early detection and treatment of conditions can be. 
     We were particularly pleased to see the provisions of this 
     legislation which provide for a Central Clearinghouse of 
     current educational and family support information, critical 
     to assuring a national standard of care.
       According to the latest March of Dimes Newborn Screening 
     Report Card, nearly two-thirds of all babies born in the 
     United States this year will be screened for more than 20 
     life-threatening disorders. However, disparities in state 
     newborn screening programs mean some babies will die or 
     develop brain damage or other severe complications from these 
     disorders because they are not identified in time for 
     effective treatment.
       At present, the United States lacks consistent national 
     guidelines for newborn screening, and each state decides how 
     many and which screening tests are required for every baby. 
     As a result, only 9 percent of all babies are screened for 
     all of the 29 recommended conditions. Clearly it is a wise 
     investment to take full advantage of the information 
     available to detect treatable conditions in children.
       We commend you for your leadership on this most important 
     issue and look forward to working with you and your 
     colleagues to secure passage of this legislation.
           Sincerely,
     Larry Levine,
       President.
     Judith Wiener Goodhue,
       Vice Chair, Board of Trustees, Chair, Government Relations 
     Committee.
                                  ____



                                               March of Dimes,

                                    Washington, DC, March 5, 2007.
     Hon. Hillary Clinton,
     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senator Clinton: On behalf of more than 3 million 
     volunteers and 1400 staff members of the March of Dimes, I am 
     writing to thank you for introducing the ``Screening for 
     Health of Infants and Newborns Act'' or the ``SHINE Act.'' We 
     understand the purpose of this legislation would be to 
     authorize grant programs to support state efforts to expand 
     the number of conditions for which newborns are screened and 
     to improve dissemination of educational resources to 
     healthcare professionals and the public.
       As you may know, the March of Dimes president served on the 
     steering committee that developed the American College of 
     Medical Genetics recommendation that every baby born in the 
     United States be screened for a `core' set of twenty-nine 
     treatable disorders, including certain metabolic conditions 
     and hearing deficiency. The March of Dimes has endorsed this 
     recommendation because early detection and treatment of these 
     disorders can avert lifelong disabilities (including mental 
     retardation), other serious illnesses and even death. Parents 
     are often unaware that the number and quality of newborn 
     screening varies from state to state and while newborns are 
     regularly screened and treated for debilitating conditions in 
     some states, in others, screening may not be required and 
     conditions may go undiagnosed and untreated.
       Federal guidance and incentives for states to improve their 
     newborn screening programs are sorely needed and the ``SHINE 
     Act'' will go a long way to enhancing the capacity of states 
     to expand their programs and to provide much needed 
     educational materials to families via the internet.
       We at the March of Dimes are sincerely grateful for your 
     leadership on this issue and we look forward to working with 
     you and others Members of Congress to expand federal support 
     for newborn screening.
           Sincerely,

                                              Marina L. Weiss,

                            Senior Vice President, Public Policy &
     Government Affairs.
                                  ____

                                               American College of


                                             Medical Genetics,

                                      Bethesda, MD, June 27, 2007.
     Re Screening for Health of Infants and Newborns (SHINE) Act.

     Hon. Hillary Rodham Clinton,
     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senator Clinton: I am writing in reference to the 
     SHINE Act, a bill that your office will introduce into the 
     Senate imminently to ensure the health and quality of life of 
     all newborns in the United States by providing resources to 
     further improve the capacity and quality of newborn screening 
     programs. The American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG), 
     which represents approximately 1400 medical geneticists who 
     comprise the workforce that cares for these patients and 
     their families, as well as houses the National Coordinating 
     Center for the Regional Genetic and Newborn Screening 
     Services Collaboratives, appreciates that you have 
     acknowledged our ongoing roles in the development of newborn 
     screening programs in the United States. ACMG is fully 
     supportive of the bill and recognizes the importance of each 
     of the areas it addresses. Newborn screening programs have 
     always represented a unique partnership between public health 
     and private healthcare and as such, they require a high 
     degree of coordination, collaboration and communication, as 
     recognized by this bill. Likewise, surveillance and data 
     collection are pivotal to harnessing new developments in the 
     areas of diagnostics and therapeutics.
       We are pleased that you have recognized this important 
     public health program and have sought positive activities to 
     improve it. If there is anything we can do to further the 
     goals of this legislation, please feel free to contact us.
           Sincerely,
     Michael S. Watson,
        Executive Director.
     Judith L. Benkendorf,
       Project Manager.
                                 ______
                                 
      Mr. KERRY (for himself and Ms. Snowe):
  S. 1714. A bill to establish a multiagency nationwide campaign to 
educate small business concerns about health insurance options 
available to children; to the Committee on Small Business and 
Entrepreneurship.
  Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, in the coming weeks, the Finance Committee 
will meet to consider legislation to reauthorize the vitally important 
State Children's Health Insurance Program, S-CHIP. The legislation that 
comes through committee will represent this Congress's first 
opportunity to make a loud and clear statement regarding the importance 
of children's health as a national priority.
  As a member of the Finance Committee, I am focused on one goal: to 
insure each and everyone of the 11 million kids under the age of 21 who 
are uninsured today, while making sure that no other kids slip through 
the cracks. The first bill I introduced in this Congress, S. 95, the 
Kids Come First Act, would accomplish just that.
  Because the Bush administration and previous Republican Congresses 
have played fast and loose with our Nation's finances, today we face an 
enormous budget deficit. The unfortunate reality is that we may not be 
able to accomplish all of the goals set forth in Kids

[[Page S8617]]

Come First. But the Democratic Congress is committed to doing 
everything in our power to expand health coverage to children this 
year.
  Much of our efforts will be focused on S-CHIP reauthorization. But 
there are additional steps we can take to begin to address this 
problem. The Small Business Children's Health Education Act, which I am 
introducing today with Senator Snowe, represents one of those steps.
  In February of 2007, the Urban Institute reported that among those 
eligible for the State Children's Health Insurance Program, children 
whose families are self-employed or who work for small business 
concerns are far less likely to be enrolled. Specifically, one out of 
every four eligible children with parents who work for a small business 
or who are self-employed are not enrolled. This statistic compares with 
just 1 out of every 10 eligible children whose parents work for a large 
firm.
  We need to do a better job of informing and educating America's small 
business owners and employees of the options that may be available for 
covering uninsured children. To that effect, the Small Business 
Children's Health Education Act creates an intergovernmental task 
force, consisting of the Administrator of the Small Business 
Administration, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the 
Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Treasury, to conduct a campaign 
to enroll kids of small business employees who are eligible for S-CHIP 
and Medicaid but are not currently enrolled. To educate America's small 
businesses on the availability of S-CHIP and Medicaid, the task force 
is authorized to make use of the Small Business Administration's 
business partners, including the Service Corps of Retired Executives, 
the Small Business Development Centers, Certified Development 
Companies, and Women's Business Centers, and is authorized to enter 
into memoranda of understanding with chambers of commerce across the 
country.
  Additionally, the Small Business Administration is directed to post 
S-CHIP and Medicaid eligibility criteria and enrollment information on 
its website, and to report back to the Senate and House Committees on 
Small Business regarding the status and successes of the task force's 
efforts to enroll eligible kids.
  If you believe that we should be doing everything in our power to get 
every kid in this country insured, then this proposal is a no-brainer. 
It is estimated that 6 million of the 9 million uninsured children 
living in the United States are currently eligible for S-CHIP and 
Medicaid. These are kids who already meet the criteria for coverage, we 
just need to get the word to their parents and to their parents' 
employers that they are eligible. Ultimately, this is about priorities. 
I believe that the richest country on earth should not rest until all 
of our children are as safe and as healthy as they can possibly be. I 
thank Senator Snowe for our longstanding partnership on issues critical 
to America's small business owners, and for her work on this 
legislation. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.
  I ask unanimous consent that the text of the 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:

                                S. 1714

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

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Small Business Children's 
     Health Education Act of 2007''.

     SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

       Congress finds that--
       (1) nearly 2,000,000 of the 9,000,000 uninsured children in 
     the United States are currently eligible for the State 
     Children's Health Insurance Program based on their family 
     income, but are not enrolled;
       (2) nearly 4,000,000 uninsured children appear to be 
     eligible for Medicaid, but remain uninsured;
       (3) the State Children's Health Insurance Program appears 
     to reach only 69 percent of its target population;
       (4) according to a study conducted by the Urban Institute 
     in February, 2007, among those eligible for the State 
     Children's Health Insurance Program, children whose families 
     are self-employed or who work for small business concerns are 
     far less likely to be enrolled in that program, specifically 
     that 1 out of every 4 eligible children with parents who work 
     for a small business concern or are self employed are not 
     enrolled, compared with 1 out of 10 eligible children whose 
     parents work for a large firm who are not enrolled; and
       (5) the Federal Government can improve the lives of 
     uninsured families eligible for the State Children's Health 
     Insurance Program through increasing awareness of the 
     availability, eligibility, and enrollment process for the 
     State Children's Health Insurance Program (and other private 
     options for health insurance) among owners of small business 
     concerns.

     SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

       In this Act--
       (1) the terms ``Administration'' and ``Administrator'' 
     means the Small Business Administration and the Administrator 
     thereof, respectively;
       (2) the term ``certified development company'' means a 
     development company participating in the program under title 
     V of the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 (15 U.S.C. 695 
     et seq.);
       (3) the term ``Medicaid program'' means the program 
     established under title XIX of the Social Security Act (42 
     U.S.C. 1396 et seq.);
       (4) the term ``Service Corps of Retired Executives'' means 
     the Service Corps of Retired Executives authorized by section 
     8(b)(1) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 637(b)(1));
       (5) the term ``small business concern'' has the meaning 
     given that term in section 3 of the Small Business Act (15 
     U.S.C. 632);
       (6) the term ``small business development center'' means a 
     small business development center described in section 21 of 
     the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 648);
       (7) the term ``State'' has the meaning given that term for 
     purposes of title XXI of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 
     1397aa et seq.);
       (8) the term ``State Children's Health Insurance Program'' 
     means the State Children's Health Insurance Program 
     established under title XXI of the Social Security Act (42 
     U.S.C. 1397aa et seq.);
       (9) the term ``task force'' means the task force 
     established under section 4(a); and
       (10) the term ``women's business center'' means a women's 
     business center described in section 29 of the Small Business 
     Act (15 U.S.C. 656).

     SEC. 4. ESTABLISHMENT OF TASK FORCE.

       (a) Establishment.--There is established a task force to 
     conduct a nationwide campaign of education and outreach for 
     small business concerns regarding the availability of 
     coverage for children through private insurance options, the 
     Medicaid program, and the State Children's Health Insurance 
     Program.
       (b) Membership.--The task force shall consist of the 
     Administrator, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, 
     the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of the Treasury.
       (c) Responsibilities.--The campaign conducted under this 
     section shall include--
       (1) efforts to educate the owners of small business 
     concerns about the value of health coverage for children;
       (2) information regarding options available to the owners 
     and employees of small business concerns to make insurance 
     more affordable, including Federal and State tax deductions 
     and credits for health care-related expenses and health 
     insurance expenses and Federal tax exclusion for health 
     insurance options available under employer-sponsored 
     cafeteria plans under section 125 of the Internal Revenue 
     Code of 1986;
       (3) efforts to educate the owners of small business 
     concerns about assistance available through public programs; 
     and
       (4) efforts to educate the owners and employees of small 
     business concerns regarding the availability of the hotline 
     operated as part of the Insure Kids Now program of the 
     Department of Health and Human Services.
       (d) Implementation.--In carrying out this section, the task 
     force may--
       (1) use any business partner of the Administration, 
     including--
       (A) a small business development center;
       (B) a certified development company;
       (C) a women's business center; and
       (D) the Service Corps of Retired Executives;
       (2) enter into--
       (A) a memorandum of understanding with a chamber of 
     commerce; and
       (B) a partnership with any appropriate small business 
     concern or health advocacy group; and
       (3) designate outreach programs at regional offices of the 
     Department of Health and Human Services to work with district 
     offices of the Administration.
       (e) Website.--The Administrator shall ensure that links to 
     information on the eligibility and enrollment requirements 
     for the Medicaid program and State Children's Health 
     Insurance Program of each State are prominently displayed on 
     the website of the Administration.
       (f) Report.--
       (1) In general.--Not later than 2 years after the date of 
     enactment of this Act, and every 2 years thereafter, the 
     Administrator shall submit to the Committee on Small Business 
     and Entrepreneurship of the Senate and the Committee on Small 
     Business of the House of Representatives a report on the 
     status of the nationwide campaign conducted under subsection 
     (a).
       (2) Contents.--Each report submitted under paragraph (1) 
     shall include a status update on all efforts made to educate 
     owners and employees of small business concerns on options 
     for providing health insurance for children through public 
     and private alternatives.

[[Page S8618]]

                                 ______
                                 
      By Ms. SNOWE (for herself, Mr. Kerry, Mr. Smith, Mr. Biden, Ms. 
        Collins, and Mr. Reed):
  S. 1715. A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to 
eliminate discriminatory copayment rates for outpatient psychiatric 
services under the Medicare program; to the Committee on Finance.
  Ms. SNOWE. Mr. President, I rise to introduce the Medicare Mental 
Health Copayment Equity Act of 2007. I am pleased to be joined again 
this year by my colleague from Massachusetts, Senator Kerry. Since the 
107th Congress, Senator Kerry has worked tirelessly with me to address 
the problem of mental health care parity. Today, we unite yet again to 
achieve equality between mental and physical health services under 
Medicare.
  Mental illness ranks as the second leading reason that Americans lose 
healthy years of life to premature death or disability. The occurrence 
of mental illness among older adults is widespread, with nearly one in 
five Americans aged 55 and older experiencing specific disorders that 
are not a part of normal aging. In fact, older Americans have the 
highest rate of suicide in the country, and their risk increases with 
age, and is further exacerbated by impediments to treatment.
  It is critical to note that while Medicare is often viewed as health 
insurance for people over age 65, it also provides care for those with 
severe disabilities. In fact, mental disorders are the single most 
frequent cause of disability, affecting more than one out of four 
Medicare beneficiaries. So the problem of access to mental health 
treatment is a pressing one for Medicare.
  The good news is that, today, there are increasingly effective 
treatments for mental illness. The majority of people with mental 
disorders who receive proper treatment can lead productive lives.
  Yet Medicare pays far less for critical mental health services needed 
by these beneficiaries than it does for medical treatment for physical 
disabilities. Medicare beneficiaries typically pay 20 percent of the 
cost of covered outpatient services, including doctor's visits, and 
Medicare pays the remaining 80 percent. However, this does not apply to 
outpatient mental health services; here Medicare law imposes a special 
limitation, which requires patients to pay a much higher copayment of 
50 percent.
  Let me give an example of the current disparity in copayments. If a 
Medicare patient sees a doctor in an office for treatment of cancer, 
heart disease, or the flu, the patient must pay 20 percent of the fee 
for the visit. Yet if a Medicare patient sees a psychiatrist, 
psychologist, social worker, or other professional in an office for 
treatment of depression, schizophrenia, or any other type of mental 
illness, the patient must pay 50 percent of the fee. That impedes 
critically-needed treatment, creating disability and resulting in lives 
needlessly lost.
  Our bill will eliminate the barrier to access which the present 
discriminatory copayment imposes, by phasing out the disparate payment 
policy over a 6-year period. This will lower the copayment rate for 
mental health services from the current 50 percent to the standard 20 
percent. This means that, in 2013, patients seeking outpatient 
treatment for mental illness will pay the same 20 percent copayment 
that is required of Medicare patients today who receive outpatient 
treatment for other illnesses. Our bill creates ``copayment equity'' 
for Medicare mental health services. It is time to end the distinction 
between physical and mental disorders under Medicare.
  I urge my colleagues to join with Senator Kerry and myself in 
supporting the Medicare Mental Health Copayment Equity Act of 2007 for 
equal treatment of mental health services under Medicare.
  Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I am pleased to join my colleague Senator 
Snowe in once again introducing the Medicare Mental Health Copayment 
Equity Act of 2007. This legislation will establish mental health care 
parity in the Medicare Program.
  Medicare currently requires patients to pay a 20 percent copayment 
for all Part B services except mental health care services, for which 
patients are assessed a 50 percent copayment. Thus, under the current 
system, if a Medicare patient sees an endocrinologist for diabetes 
treatment, an oncologist for cancer treatment, a cardiologist for heart 
disease treatment or an internist for treatment of the flu, the 
copayment is 20 percent of the cost of the visit. If, however, a 
Medicare patient visits a psychiatrist for treatment of mental illness, 
the copayment is 50 percent of the cost of the visit. This disparity in 
outpatient copayment represents blatant discrimination against Medicare 
beneficiaries with mental illness.
  The prevalence of mental illness in older adults is considerable. 
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, 20 percent of older adults in 
the community and 40 percent of older adults in primary care settings 
experience symptoms of depression, while as many as one out of every 
two residents in nursing homes are at risk of depression. The elderly 
have the highest rate of suicide in the U.S., and there is a clear 
correlation between major depression and suicide: 60 to 75 percent of 
suicides among patients 75 and older have diagnosable depression. In 
addition to our seniors, hundreds of thousands of nonelderly disabled 
Medicare beneficiaries become Medicare-eligible by virtue of severe and 
persistent mental disorders. To subject the mentally disabled to 
discriminatory costs in coverage for the very conditions for which they 
became Medicare eligible is illogical and unfair.
  There is ample evidence that mental illness can be treated. 
Unfortunately, among the general population, those in need for 
treatment often do not seek it because they are ashamed of their 
condition. Among our Medicare population, the mentally ill face a 
double burden: not only must they overcome the stigma about their 
illness, but once they seek treatment they must pay one-half of the 
cost of care out of their own pocket. The Medicare Mental Health 
Copayment Equity Act will provide for the reduction of the coinsurance 
rate for outpatient mental health services over a 6-year period. By 
applying the same 20 percent copayment rate to mental health services 
to which all other outpatient services are subjected, the Medicare 
Mental Health Copayment Equity Act will bring parity to the Medicare 
Program and improve access to care for our senior and disabled 
beneficiaries who are living with mental illness.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. THUNE:
  S. 1716. A bill to amend the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, 
Katrina Recovery and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007, to 
strike a requirement relating to forage producers; to the Committee on 
Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce a bill that seeks 
to fix a potentially devastating mistake in the U.S. Troop Readiness, 
Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability 
Appropriations Act of 2007, Public Law No. 110-28.
  In May 2007, Congress passed H.R. 2206, which included much-needed 
disaster assistance for our Nation's farmers and ranchers. After much 
delay, it is critical that those producers impacted by natural 
disasters receive the assistance they need and deserve.
  Over the past few years, drought conditions and other natural 
disasters have financially strained tens of thousands of agriculture 
producers across the country. Congress has responded to the needs of 
America's producers by enacting emergency disaster assistance for our 
farm and ranch families.
  However, it has been brought to my attention that many livestock 
producers will likely be ineligible for assistance due to an unintended 
technicality. Congress clearly intended disaster assistance to be 
available to those producers most impacted by years of devastating 
weather conditions. This assistance includes livestock producer 
eligibility for Livestock Indemnity Payments and Livestock Compensation 
Program without participation in the Non-Insured Crop Disaster 
Assistance program, NAP, or Federal crop insurance pilot program as a 
prerequisite.
  However, it is my understanding that the Department of Agriculture 
will interpret section 9012 of Public Law 110-28 as Congress intending 
that all livestock producers must have NAP or pilot crop insurance 
coverage in order to be eligible for disaster payments. If disaster 
benefits are limited to only

[[Page S8619]]

those livestock producers with NAP or crop insurance coverage, the vast 
majority of livestock producers in drought-stricken regions will be 
ineligible for disaster assistance.
  Only a small percentage of producers participated in the NAP program, 
which only paid $1 to $2 per acre. As a result, few grazing producers 
bought policies. It is not good policy to exclude producers from 
disaster assistance who chose not to participate in what many consider 
an ineffective program.
  My legislation would strike section 9012 of Public Law 110-28, and 
ensure that those producers in need of assistance receive assistance in 
a timely manner.
  It is my belief that both the Senate and the House of Representatives 
should pass my bill to ensure that livestock producers are able to 
qualify for the disaster assistance that President Bush signed into law 
earlier this year.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. DURBIN (for himself, Mr. Lugar, Mr. Obama, Mr. Brown, Mr. 
        Cardin, Mr. Levin, and Ms. Stabenow):
  S. 1717. A bill to reqire the Secretary of Agriculture, acting 
through the Deputy Chief of State and Private Forestry organization, to 
provide loans to eligible units of local government to finance 
purchases of authorized equipment to monitor, remove, dispose of, and 
replace infested trees that are located on land under the jurisdiction 
of the eligible units of local government and within the borders of 
quarantine areas infested by the emerald ash borer, and for other 
purposes; to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce the bipartisan 
Emerald Ash Borer Municipality Assistance Act of 2007, a bill designed 
to help local units of government manage the costs of combating this 
pernicious invasive pest species.
  Although some of my colleagues in the Senate may not have heard of 
the Emerald Ash Borer, it is a destructive pest that poses a 
significant threat to our forests and urban and residential landscapes.
  Some of my colleagues are all too familiar with the destructive power 
of EAB because of the speed with which it can move from State to State 
and the extensive damage it can cause to a State's ash tree population. 
Before this species was discovered in Illinois, I had been following 
its deadly march across the Midwest and had discussed the dangers of 
EAB with my colleagues from Michigan and Indiana.
  The emerald-green beetle was most likely brought to North America in 
solid wood packing material from Asia about 10 years ago. Our new flat 
world means that in addition to improved global communications and more 
foreign trade and foreign travel, we are also witnessing the 
international movement of bugs like this beetle.
  The beetle was first discovered in Michigan in 2002. Since then, the 
beetle has killed 20 million of the State's more than 700 million ash 
trees. Since then, the beetle has been found in Indiana, Ohio, and 
Maryland. The tiny beetle kills with astonishing speed. During the 
mating season, the ash borer lays its larva under the bark of the ash 
trees. When they hatch, hundreds of these beetles feed on the inner 
bark of the ash tree, disrupting the tree's ability to transport water 
and nutrients through the tree.
  Within 2 to 3 years of introduction, the beetles will destroy a host 
ash tree and spread. Each beetle has a half mile flying range, widening 
the beetle's infestation every year in expanding concentric circles. 
The beetle is also spread artificially and often unknowingly by campers 
and others who transport ash firewood and thus introduce the beetle to 
new environments.
  Managing this deadly beetle is a significant challenge. At an average 
cost of $500 per tree removal and a couple of hundred dollars to 
replant a tree to maintain forest and urban canopies, this bug presents 
a serious economic impact on our communities. Additional costs are 
incurred for equipment, marshalling yards, and survey activities.
  While the Federal Government administers a national EAB program 
through USDA-APHIS, many of the costs of managing EAB are borne by 
municipalities and homeowners. For example, the city of Woodridge, IL, 
a town of 30,000, is home to 8,000 public trees, 25 percent of which 
are ash. If the Emerald Ash Borer were to infest the public-owned ash 
trees of Woodridge, the cost of removing and replanting Woodridge's 
trees would be about $1.8 million.
  One of the missing pieces in the Federal Emerald Ash Borer, EAB, 
Program is a mechanism to help municipalities defray the costs of 
performing EAB prevention duties normally performed by the Federal 
Government. These costs include managing the EAB population by 
surveying trees, removing infested trees, and replacing removed trees. 
The expenses associated with these activities include purchasing bucket 
trucks, tub grinders, and replacement trees and renting or leasing 
space for marshalling yards.
  The legislation would create a low-interest revolving loan fund for 
communities for the purchase of capital equipment and replacement trees 
within quarantine areas. Communities would have a 20-year window to 
repay the loan. In addition, the bill would allow states to contract 
with local units of government to perform EAB duties.
  Ash trees are among the most commonly found trees in our forests and 
urban canopies. Wisconsin is home to more than 700 million of them. 
They make up 20 percent of the tree population of beautiful Madison, 
WI. The beetle threatens billions of ash trees in North America. Losing 
our ash trees would incur costs that are difficult to measure. 
Homeowners deeply love their trees and value the shade and aesthetic 
beauty they add. Ash trees are a part of our wildlife habitat and 
diverse environment.
  In my State of Illinois, the beetle has been found in multiple 
locations, in several parts of both Kane County and Cook County. 
Experts say that unchecked, this beetle could threaten ash trees 
nationwide on a scale equal to the Dutch Elm Disease, which destroyed 
more than half of the elm trees in the northern United States.
  It is a problem of significant magnitude and I hope my colleagues 
will join me in this effort to control and eradicate the Emerald Ash 
Borer.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the 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:

                                S. 1717

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

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Emerald Ash Borer 
     Municipality Assistance Act of 2007''.

     SEC. 2. EMERALD ASH BORER REVOLVING LOAN FUND.

       (a) Definitions.--In this section:
       (1) Authorized equipment.--
       (A) In general.--The term ``authorized equipment'' means 
     any equipment necessary for the management of forest land.
       (B) Inclusions.--The term ``authorized 
     equipment''includes--
       (i) cherry pickers;
       (ii) equipment necessary for--

       (I) the construction of staging and marshalling areas;
       (II) the planting of trees; and
       (III) the surveying of forest land;

       (iii) vehicles capable of transporting harvested trees;
       (iv) wood chippers; and
       (v) any other appropriate equipment, as determined by the 
     Secretary.
       (2) Fund.--The term ``Fund'' means the Emerald Ash Borer 
     Revolving Loan Fund established by subsection (b).
       (3) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary 
     of Agriculture, acting through the Deputy Chief of the State 
     and Private Forestry organization.
       (b) Establishment of Fund.--There is established in the 
     Treasury of the United States a revolving fund, to be known 
     as the ``Emerald Ash Borer Revolving Loan Fund'', consisting 
     of such amounts as are appropriated to the Fund under 
     subsection (f).
       (c) Expenditures From Fund.--
       (1) In general.--Subject to paragraph (2), on request by 
     the Secretary, the Secretary of the Treasury shall transfer 
     from the Fund to the Secretary such amounts as the Secretary 
     determines are necessary to provide loans under subsection 
     (e).
       (2) Administrative expenses.--An amount not exceeding 10 
     percent of the amounts in the Fund shall be available for 
     each fiscal year to pay the administrative expenses necessary 
     to carry out this section.
       (d) Transfers of Amounts.--
       (1) In general.--The amounts required to be transferred to 
     the Fund under this section shall be transferred at least 
     monthly from the general fund of the Treasury to the Fund on 
     the basis of estimates made by the Secretary of the Treasury.

[[Page S8620]]

       (2) Adjustments.--Proper adjustment shall be made in 
     amounts subsequently transferred to the extent prior 
     estimates were in excess of or less than the amounts required 
     to be transferred.
       (e) Uses of Fund.--
       (1) Loans.--
       (A) In general.--The Secretary shall use amounts in the 
     Fund to provide loans to eligible units of local government 
     to finance purchases of authorized equipment to monitor, 
     remove, dispose of, and replace infested trees that are 
     located--
       (i) on land under the jurisdiction of the eligible units of 
     local government; and
       (ii) within the borders of quarantine areas infested by the 
     emerald ash borer.
       (B) Maximum amount.--The maximum amount of a loan that may 
     be provided by the Secretary to an eligible unit of local 
     government under this subsection shall be the lesser of--
       (i) the amount that the eligible unit of local government 
     has appropriated to finance purchases of authorized equipment 
     to monitor, remove, dispose of, and replace infested trees 
     that are located--

       (I) on land under the jurisdiction of the eligible unit of 
     local government; and
       (II) within the borders of a quarantine area infested by 
     the emerald ash borer; or

       (ii) $5,000,000.
       (C) Interest rate.--The interest rate on any loan made by 
     the Secretary under this paragraph shall be a rate equal to 2 
     percent.
       (D) Report.--Not later than 180 days after the date on 
     which an eligible unit of local government receives a loan 
     provided by the Secretary under subparagraph (A), the 
     eligible unit of local government shall submit to the 
     Secretary a report that describes each purchase made by the 
     eligible unit of local government using assistance provided 
     through the loan.
       (2) Loan repayment schedule.--
       (A) In general.--To be eligible to receive a loan from the 
     Secretary under paragraph (1), in accordance with each 
     requirement described in subparagraph (B), an eligible unit 
     of local government shall enter into an agreement with the 
     Secretary to establish a loan repayment schedule relating to 
     the repayment of the loan.
       (B) Requirements relating to loan repayment schedule.--A 
     loan repayment schedule established under subparagraph (A) 
     shall require the eligible unit of local government--
       (i) to repay to the Secretary of the Treasury, not later 
     than 1 year after the date on which the eligible unit of 
     local government receives a loan under paragraph (1), and 
     semiannually thereafter, an amount equal to the quotient 
     obtained by dividing--

       (I) the principal amount of the loan (including interest); 
     by
       (II) the total quantity of payments that the eligible unit 
     of local government is required to make during the repayment 
     period of the loan; and

       (ii) not later than 20 years after the date on which the 
     eligible unit of local government receives a loan under 
     paragraph (1), to complete repayment to the Secretary of the 
     Treasury of the loan made under this section (including 
     interest).
       (f) Authorization of Appropriations.--There are authorized 
     to be appropriated to the Fund such sums as are necessary to 
     carry out this section.

     SEC. 3. COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS RELATING TO EMERALD ASH BORER 
                   PREVENTION ACTIVITIES.

       Any cooperative agreement entered into after the date of 
     enactment of this Act between the Secretary of Agriculture 
     and a State relating to the prevention of emerald ash borer 
     infestation shall allow the State to provide any cost-sharing 
     assistance or financing mechanism provided to the State under 
     the cooperative agreement to a unit of local government of 
     the State that--
       (1) is engaged in any activity relating to the prevention 
     of emerald ash borer infestation; and
       (2) is capable of documenting each emerald ash borer 
     infestation prevention activity generally carried out by--
       (A) the Department of Agriculture; or
       (B) the State department of agriculture that has 
     jurisdiction over the unit of local government.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. SPECTER (for himself and Mr. Casey):
  S. 1722. A bill to amend the Agricultural Adjustment Act to require 
the Secretary of Agriculture to determine the price of all milk used 
for manufactured purposes, which shall be classified as Class II milk, 
by using the national average cost of production, and for other 
purposes; to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.
  Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, agriculture is Pennsylvania's No. 1 
industry. According to 2004 U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA, 
statistics, the market value of all agriculture production in PA was 
approximately $7,026,739,000. Further, dairy is the number one sector 
of our agriculture industry. In 2005, Pennsylvania dairy farmers 
produced 10.5 billion pounds of milk from 558,000 cows on approximately 
9,000 dairy farms. In 2004, milk production in PA contributed about 
$1,770,912,000 to the economy.
  I have consistently fought for Pennsylvania's dairy producers since 
taking office in 1981. Last year, I fought to ensure the viability of 
the dairy industry by ensuring that the Senate Budget Committee opposed 
the administration's fiscal year 2007 proposals that would have been 
detrimental to our Nation's dairy farmers. I, along with 16 other 
Senators, wrote a letter on March 8, 2006, to the Senate Budget 
Committee urging rejection of the proposed budget cuts and tax 
increases on America's dairy farmers that included: 1. reducing the 
value of the price support program; 2. cutting Milk Income Loss 
Contract, MILC, payments by 5 percent; and 3. taxing every dairy farmer 
in America 3 cents per hundredweight, cwt., on all production. We were 
successful in this fight to protect Pennsylvania's, and the Nation's, 
dairy producers.
  Also, I, along with five other Senators, requested that the 
Government Accountability Office, GAO, review the Chicago Mercantile 
Exchange, CME, cash cheese market because the price of cheese is 
strongly correlated to the price of milk. The GAO is expected to have a 
final report in the near future. This report will help us set 
legislative priorities by giving us a better understanding of the CME 
cheese market and its relation to the price of milk.
  Even though milk production in Pennsylvania had a market value of 
$1,770,912,000 in 2004, dairy farmers across PA and the Nation 
experienced decreased prices of milk from November of 2005 until early 
this year. Our dairy producers should not be receiving decreased milk 
prices, especially with the increased costs of production, such as 
fuel, feed, and fertilizer.
  These unpredictable fluctuations in the price of milk paid to our 
dairy farmers place an undue financial burden on our producers, which 
in turn negatively impact our rural communities. As a result, I worked 
hard with Senators Santorum, Chambliss, Kohl, and Leahy to extend the 
Milk Income Loss Contract, MILC, program until September of 2007. The 
MILC program was created as part of the 2002 farm bill to provide 
supplemental payments to dairy farmers when the market price falls 
below a statutory trigger. This program has provided timely and crucial 
payments to producers, particularly when prices were low in 2002, 2003, 
and 2006. Although milk prices are expected to be above the statutory 
trigger price of $16.94 through 2007, we need to ensure a more stable 
milk pricing system.
  The 2007 farm bill creates an opportunity to address the current 
volatile milk pricing system. While many legislative measures have been 
proposed, it is essential that any program address costs of production, 
ensure market and price transparency, and provide a safety-net for our 
producers. Additionally, we need to provide dairy producers with tools 
to help them should milk prices fall below sustainable levels, such as 
a voluntary revenue insurance program.
  I, along with Senator Bob Casey, have worked with our constituents to 
propose two dairy legislative proposals to ensure that we continue to 
discuss America's milk pricing system and the need for change in the 
2007 farm bill. I have met with dairy producers from across the 
Commonwealth and there is a broad consensus that the unpredictable milk 
pricing system needs to be addressed. The hard part is coming to a 
consensus on how to reform the system. Although these two legislative 
proposals may not be perfect, they provide ideas on assuring an 
equitable milk price for our dairy producers.
  The first bill that we are introducing is the Federal Milk Marketing 
Improvement Act of 2007. This legislation would reduce the number of 
classes of milk from four to two with the intent of simplifying the 
pricing of milk. The bill would require the Secretary of Agriculture to 
determine the price of all milk used for manufacturing purposes, which 
will be classified as Class II milk, by using the national average cost 
of production. This price would then be the basis formula for 
calculating the price of Class I milk, which is fluid milk. Although 
costs of production can vary drastically farm by farm, this legislation 
would ensure that dairy farmers receive a fair price for their milk 
based on a national average cost of production figure.

  Costs of production for dairy farmers all across America have 
increased, not

[[Page S8621]]

just in one region. Fuel, feed, and fertilizer costs have more than 
doubled. Only recently has the price of milk paid to farmers reached 
higher than the MILC program trigger price of $16.94 per cwt. With the 
price of milk above this target price, no payments to farmers will be 
made, even though input costs have more than doubled. Addressing costs 
of production is necessary to ensure that our family dairy farmers 
survive.
  The second bill that we have introduced aims to promote growth and 
opportunity for the dairy industry. This bill would change the current 
MILC program to a Milk Target Price Program and would link payments to 
dairy farmers on Class III milk. The program would pay farmers when the 
price of Class III falls below $12.00 per hundredweight. This trigger 
price would be adjusted by a feed adjustment factor to reflect the feed 
cost of producing 100 pounds of milk. The USDA would determine this 
factor based on a feed price index using a baseline period of calendar 
years 2001 through 2005.
  Further, the second bill would require the mandatory reporting of 
dairy commodities by requiring that dairy prices be reported on a daily 
and weekly basis. The current system is not mandatory and it is 
estimated that dairy farmers lost $6.4 million due to a Federal 
reporting error by the USDA over the past nine months. Along with 10 
other Senators, I sent a letter to USDA Secretary Mike Johanns on May 
9, 2007, requesting an explanation on how this misreporting occurred. 
This bill aims to close any loops in current law and assure proper 
auditing, data verification, and enforcement of reporting in order to 
ensure a transparent dairy market.
  Finally, the second bill would provide authorization for a Federal 
dairy education loan forgiveness program. This would allow students at 
higher education institutions across America who focus on agriculture 
for a 2- or 4-year degree and become a full-time owner of a farm to 
become eligible to have their Federal student loans forgiven. This is 
aimed to ensure that there is a younger generation of farmers to work 
the lands across the fields in America.
  Both of these bills aim to help our family dairy farms who deserve a 
fair price for their milk. I am committed to Pennsylvania's dairy 
farmers and will continue to work with my Pennsylvania colleague, 
Senator Casey, and all my colleagues in the U.S. Senate to ensure our 
dairy farmers are not left behind. As more ideas and solutions are 
proposed, I will consider each and every one. Debate is important to 
finding a solution to any problem.
  Farmers and rural America are the backbone of our great country. 
Every day, they work the fields, milk the cows, herd the cattle, and 
pick the produce. I myself grew up in rural Kansas and at the age of 
14, I worked for Clyde Mills, father of my close friend and high school 
classmate Steve, driving a tractor in the wheat fields, providing 
lessons on the difficulties of working on a farm.
  Agriculture is crucial to Pennsylvania and to the entire nation. We 
need to ensure that the next farm bill provides all our fanners with 
the assistance they need to overcome hardships, as well as providing 
our rural communities the financial and technical assistance they need 
to assure a vibrant and stable rural economy. Even though I voted 
against final passage of the 2002 farm bill because it 
disproportionately provided more Federal funds to other states and 
regions in the U.S., I look forward to working with the Senate 
Committee on Agriculture and my colleagues in the full Senate to ensure 
farmers across America are equitably treated when it comes to Federal 
agricultural programs and assistance.

                          ____________________