STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS
(Senate - October 25, 2007)

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[Pages S13439-S13459]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




          STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS

      By Mr. BARRASSO (for himself and Mr. Enzi):
  S. 2229. A bill to withdraw certain Federal land in the Wyoming Range 
from leasing and provide an opportunity to retire certain leases in the 
Wyoming Range; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, I rise because today is Wyoming's day, 
literally. It is a long awaited day, a day that is special, a day that 
is as special as the mountain range that this day centers on, and as 
special as the State for which this mountain range is named.
  This is a day of which I am proud to be a part, joining with the 
strong majority of Wyoming people who want the legislation I am 
introducing. It is the Wyoming Range Legacy Act of 2007.
  Energy development is a proud part of Wyoming, and it is an important 
part of our Nation. But equal to that energy heritage is tourism and 
recreation--also a proud part of Wyoming and an important part of this 
Nation.
  Wyoming is special. Reflecting both aspects of our economy, our 
people want a special balance between two of our top industries: energy 
and tourism and recreation.
  Some of Wyoming's significant and important energy contributions to 
this great Nation encompass thousands of acres for our natural gas and 
energy fields. Meanwhile, independent and strong stands an isolated 
mountain range 100 miles long and 12,000 feet high. This range is named 
for our great State. It is that independent and wild mountain range--
the Wyoming Range--that I want to focus on today, and well into the 
future, for the best future for Wyoming and for our people.
  As leaders, there are things we do, defining actions, actions that go 
well beyond everyday issues. They surmount the daily noise and the 
disagreements, and they rise to the level of something else: It is to 
doing the right thing.
  Today goes beyond the average day for Wyoming. As I said, today is 
Wyoming's day. It is a great day because it is today that a bill is 
introduced that will keep this special place on the map for tourism, 
for recreation, and for sportsmen forever.
  We, as a State--the Governor and I--come together, cooperatively, to 
join in the memory of our dear friend Craig Thomas to finish his work, 
to keep and enhance the tourism, recreation, hunting, and sportsmen 
economy of the Wyoming Range, to preserve a key part of Wyoming's 
heritage.
  This legislation, this initiative Craig Thomas was ready to introduce 
the week he passed goes to the very heart and soul of the great State 
of Wyoming. Indeed, this is a place where the heart and the soul of 
Wyoming run free and run wild.
  This is 1.2 million acres for Wyoming tourism, sportsmen, and 
recreationists. This will mean that new, future leasing for oil and gas 
will be welcomed elsewhere in the State, and the Wyoming Range will 
remain in the recreational-based economy that now exists.
  For those leases that have already been issued, this legislation 
provides a process for groups or individuals who are focused on 
conservation to buy back the value of those leases under voluntary 
purchase, and then retire them forever.
  We all must recognize that the issued leases do have a value because 
they are

[[Page S13440]]

now legal property. At the same time, we can encourage all at the 
table--leaders, conservationists, and the private sector--to work 
toward doing the right thing. That process is now appropriately outside 
of the legislation and is ongoing.
  For the recently issued leases that amount to some 44,000 acres, I 
have great confidence we will be able to work out creative solutions 
with respect on all sides.
  But let us look at the bigger picture in this bill, with emphasis on 
an important, central point: What was the last bold move for Wyoming 
tourism? I proudly say, 1.2 million acres for Wyoming tourism, for 
Wyoming sportsmen, and for Wyoming outfitters and guides--all of whom 
contribute millions to our economy.
  This is not a bill that ``locks up'' land. To the contrary, it is a 
bill for economic prosperity, for recreation, and for tourism. What we 
do in this important piece of legislation is to recognize an economic 
base and then enhance it. Let me repeat--because this is a very 
important point--we are taking the existing economic base and enhancing 
it in the Wyoming Range.
  The Wyoming Range is a recreational-based economic zone. Yes, there 
are symbolic reasons for this initiative. It is the Wyoming Range, 
after all. But there is hard math at the core of this legislation. 
Tourism and recreation in our Wyoming economy matters. And doing the 
right thing matters. It matters for future generations of Wyoming 
people who will someday hunt and fish and hike in these mountains. It 
is also a place where Wyoming's agricultural industry has thrived for 
years. With this legislation, grazing and Wyoming's cowboy heritage 
will continue to thrive.
  I want to read you something from 1961 that still applies very much 
today. It goes to the heart of maintaining proper balance and multiple 
use of our land:

       Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element 
     of time. As we peer into society's future, 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 asking 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 tomorrow.

  Those words were spoken by President Dwight Eisenhower in his final 
address as he left the Presidency. The children who were listening to 
his words back then are now grown and have grandchildren of their own.
  The Wyoming Range--the range named for our beloved State--has 
symbolic meaning, inherent values. It is the heart and the soul of a 
great State, a spiritual heritage, now a physical reality.
  Mr. President, today is Wyoming's day, for the Wyoming range, and for 
the people who love it.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. BIDEN:
  S. 2230. A bill to amend title VIII of the Public Health Service Act 
to expand the nurse student loan program, to establish grant programs 
to address the nursing shortage, to amend title VII of the Higher 
Education Act of 1965 to provide for a nurse faculty pilot project, and 
for other purposes; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and 
Pensions.
  Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, today I am honored to introduce the Nursing 
Education Opportunities Act. This bill seeks to help alleviate both the 
nursing shortage faced in hospitals and clinics throughout the country, 
as well as the faculty shortage in nursing schools that constrains the 
number of new nurses who can be trained to fill the vacancies in our 
health facilities.
  As most people who have heard me talk about health care know, nurses 
have a soft spot in my heart. In 1987, I was stricken with a brain 
aneurysm and spent months recovering at Walter Reed Hospital. The 
surgeons who operated on me were spectacular and I can never thank them 
enough. But the nurses who took care of me during my stay at Walter 
Reed were the embodiment of absolute comfort and unquestioning 
kindness. Along with the top notch medical care they provided me, the 
nurses at Walter Reed literally breathed life back into my lungs, 
washed me, brushed my teeth and went on search missions for the most 
comfortable pillows available. As I often say, if there are any angels 
in heaven, they must be nurses.
  Unfortunately, right now our country is facing a nursing shortage. 
The American Hospital Association reported in July 2007 that United 
States hospitals had an estimated 116,000 registered nurse vacancies as 
of December 2006. Despite the nurse shortage and efforts to increase 
the pool of qualified nurses, schools of nursing struggle to increase 
student capacity. According to the American Association of Colleges of 
Nursing, AACN, the U.S. nursing schools turned away nearly 43,000 
qualified applicants in 2006 primarily due to an insufficient number of 
faculty.
  AACN reported in July 2006, a total of 637 faculty vacancies at 329 
nursing schools with baccalaureate or graduate programs, or both, 
across the Nation. Besides the vacancies, schools cited the need to 
create an additional 55 faculty positions to accommodate student 
demand. Most of the vacancies, approximately 53.7 percent, were faculty 
positions requiring a doctoral degree.
  The average ages of doctorally prepared nurse faculty holding the 
ranks of professor, associate professor and assistant professor are 
58.6, 55.8, and 51.6 years, respectively. Considering the average age 
of nurse faculty at retirement is 62.5 years, a wave of nurse faculty 
retirements is expected in the next decade. In fact, in 2007 the 
Association of Academic Health Centers surveyed chief executive 
officers from academic health centers regarding faculty shortages 
across various health professions. The CEOs rated the nursing faculty 
shortage as the most severe of all health professions with 81 percent 
noting the nursing faculty shortage as a problem.
  To address this nurse faculty shortage and to get more nurses 
trained, this bill provides three mechanisms to increase the number of 
and access to nurse faculty.
  First, the bill establishes a grant program to help schools establish 
doctoral nursing programs. Right now, there are 8 States, including my 
home State of Delaware, which do not have a doctoral nursing program in 
their State. This bill allows eligible schools to receive a grant up to 
$2,000,000 to be used to establish a doctoral degree program. The funds 
can be used to hire administrators, faculty and staff; retain current 
faculty; develop doctoral curriculum; repair and expand 
infrastructures; purchase additional equipment; develop and enhance 
clinical laboratories; recruit students; establish technology 
infrastructures; and other investments deemed necessary.
  Second, this bill establishes a doctoral nursing consortia pilot 
project to provide grants to partnerships of schools to allow them to 
share doctoral faculty and programmatic resources. This would allow 
schools with a shortage of faculty at the doctoral level to partner 
with other schools to provide proper education for their students. 
These grants can be awarded up to $500,000 and can be used to establish 
technology infrastructures; develop shared doctoral curriculum; hire 
faculty and staff; retain current faculty; provide travel stipends for 
nursing faculty who agree to teach nursing courses at consortium 
schools; provide scholarships for post-doctoral fellows who agree to 
teach a nursing course within the nursing doctoral curriculum; provide 
collaborative networks for nursing research; and other investments 
determined necessary.
  Third, I am pleased to include a nurse faculty pilot project that was 
part of the Nurse Faculty Higher Education Act introduced in the House 
of Representatives by Representative Carolyn McCarthy. This pilot 
project would provide grants to partnerships between accredited schools 
of nursing and hospitals or health facilities to fund release time for 
qualified nurse employees so they can earn a salary while obtaining an 
advanced degree in nursing with the goal of becoming nurse faculty. In 
short, this will make it easier for nurses to pursue an advanced degree 
by allowing them to work part time and retain some of their salary. 
Many nurses currently cannot afford to leave their jobs to go back to 
school because they would lose their salaries.
  In addition to these three provisions, the bill also amends the 
Public Health Service Act to provide that, in the case of a nurse 
faculty shortage, the Secretary of Health and Human Services

[[Page S13441]]

may obligate more than 10 percent of traineeships through the Advanced 
Education Nursing Grants for individuals in doctoral degree nursing 
programs. This is important to help advance nursing education and allow 
greater funding opportunities for doctoral students.
  But while this bill focuses heavily on increasing the number of nurse 
faculty to allow nursing schools to train more nurses, it also seeks to 
help nursing students as well.
  First, the bill explicitly includes accelerated degree nursing 
students as eligible for financial assistance through nursing programs 
in the Public Health Service Act, including the Nursing Student Loan 
Program. To address the shortage of qualified nurses, schools of 
nursing have developed accelerated, second-baccalaureate degree 
programs in nursing. Students in accelerated degree programs are those 
with a baccalaureate degree in another field who have decided to return 
to school to get a degree in nursing. The students in these programs 
have difficulty securing federal funding as this program category is 
not easily defined. Accelerated nursing degree programs are not typical 
4-year baccalaureate degree programs, as they take between 1 and 2 
years to complete. However, they are becoming increasingly popular. In 
2005, these programs graduated 3,769 students. In 2006 they graduated 
5,236--an additional 1,467 nursing graduates in a single year. 
Hospitals and other health facilities like hiring graduates from 
accelerated nursing degree programs because they often have 
demonstrated a record of success and work-ethic that facilitates a more 
rapid and smooth transition in to the highly complex health care 
environment. Accelerated nursing degree students are a critical element 
to meeting this country's nursing needs.
  Additionally, it is time to raise the yearly loan amounts available 
to all nursing students through the Nursing Student Loan Program. This 
important program, which provides long-term, low interest-rate loans to 
full-time and half-time financially needy students pursuing a course of 
study leading to a diploma, associate, baccalaureate or graduate degree 
in nursing, has not adjusted the maximum yearly loan amounts available 
for over a decade. Currently, a student can receive a maximum yearly 
loan of $2,500 for their first 2 years in a nursing school and $4,000 
per year during their second 2 years. This bill would adjust these 
totals to $4,400 in the first 2 years and $7,000 in the second 2 years, 
respectively. It is time to raise the yearly loan amounts, as the cost 
of tuition at nursing schools has increased substantially over the past 
decade.
  It is imperative that we in Congress act to help alleviate the 
nursing shortage and the nurse faculty shortage in this country. Nurses 
comprise the largest segment of health care providers in this country 
and they are crucial in ensuring the quality of care that Americans 
receive. I believe the initiatives contained in the Nursing Education 
Opportunities Act can help reduce these shortages. The American Academy 
of Nursing, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, American 
Nephrology Nurses' Association, American Nurses Association, American 
Organization of Nurse Executives, Association of Women's Health, 
Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses and the National League for Nursing all 
support this legislation.
  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. 2230

       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 ``Nursing Education 
     Opportunities Act''.

     SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

       Congress finds the following:
       (1) The American Hospital Association reported in July 2007 
     that United States hospitals need approximately 116,000 
     registered nurses to fill vacant positions nationwide.
       (2) To address the shortage of qualified nurses, schools of 
     nursing have developed accelerated, second-baccalaureate 
     degree programs in nursing. In 2005, these programs graduated 
     3,769 students. The number of accelerated degree graduates in 
     2006 was 5,236. This is an additional 1,467 nursing graduates 
     in 1 year.
       (3) Despite the nurse shortage and efforts to increase the 
     pool of qualified nurses, schools of nursing struggle to 
     increase student capacity. According to the American 
     Association of Colleges of Nursing (referred to in this Act 
     as the ``AACN''), United States nursing schools turned away 
     nearly 43,000 qualified applicants in 2006 primarily due to 
     an insufficient number of faculty.
       (4) The AACN reported in July 2006, a total of 637 faculty 
     vacancies at 329 nursing schools with baccalaureate or 
     graduate programs, or both, across the Nation. Besides the 
     vacancies, schools cited the need to create an additional 55 
     faculty positions to accommodate student demand. Most of the 
     vacancies (53.7 percent) were faculty positions requiring a 
     doctoral degree.
       (5) In 2007, the Association of Academic Health Centers 
     surveyed chief executive officers (CEOs) from academic health 
     centers regarding faculty shortages across various health 
     professions. The CEOs rated the nursing faculty shortage as 
     the most severe of all health professions with 81 percent 
     noting the nursing faculty shortage as a problem.
       (6) The average ages of doctorally-prepared nurse faculty 
     holding the ranks of professor, associate professor, and 
     assistant professor are 58.6, 55.8, and 51.6 years, 
     respectively. Considering the average age of nurse faculty at 
     retirement is 62.5 years, a wave of nurse faculty retirements 
     is expected in the next decade.
       (7) Master's and doctoral programs in nursing are not 
     producing a large enough pool of potential nurse educators to 
     meet the demand. In 2006, the AACN found that graduations 
     from doctoral nursing programs were up by only 1.4 percent 
     from the previous academic year.
       (8) Nurses are vital to the Nation's health care delivery 
     system. Due to the nurse shortage, patient safety and quality 
     of care are at risk. Given the findings described in 
     paragraphs (1) through (7), measures must be taken to address 
     the nurse shortage and nursing faculty shortage.

     SEC. 3. NURSING STUDENT LOAN PROGRAM.

       Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 296 
     et seq.) is amended--
       (1) in section 835(b)(4), by inserting ``(including a 
     student in an accelerated nursing degree program who is 
     pursuing a second baccalaureate degree or a master's degree 
     as an entry level nursing degree)'' after ``graduate degree 
     in nursing''; and
       (2) in section 836--
       (A) in subsection (a)--
       (i) by striking ``$2,500'' and inserting ``$4,400'';
       (ii) by striking ``$4,000'' and inserting ``$7,000''; and
       (iii) by striking ``$13,000'' and inserting ``$22,900''; 
     and
       (B) in subsection (b)--
       (i) in paragraph (1), by inserting ``(including a student 
     in an accelerated nursing degree program who is pursuing a 
     second baccalaureate degree or a master's degree as an entry 
     level nursing degree)'' after ``graduate degree in nursing''; 
     and
       (ii) in paragraph (2), by inserting ``(including a student 
     in an accelerated nursing degree program who is pursuing a 
     second baccalaureate degree)'' after ``equivalent degree''.

     SEC. 4. ACCELERATED NURSING DEGREE PROGRAMS.

       Section 801(3) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 
     296(3)) is amended by inserting ``(including an accelerated 
     nursing degree program)'' before ``and including''.

     SEC. 5. ADVANCED EDUCATION NURSING GRANTS.

       Section 811(f)(2) of the Public Health Service Act (42 
     U.S.C. 296j(f)(2)) is amended by striking the period at the 
     end and inserting ``, except in the case of a nurse faculty 
     shortage, the Secretary may, in the Secretary's discretion, 
     obligate more than 10 percent of such traineeships for 
     individuals in doctoral degree programs.''.

     SEC. 6. GRANT PROGRAM FOR DOCTORAL NURSING PROGRAMS.

       Part D of title VIII of the Public Health Service Act (42 
     U.S.C. 296p et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the 
     following:

     ``SEC. 832. GRANT PROGRAM FOR DOCTORAL NURSING PROGRAMS.

       ``(a) In General.--The Secretary shall award grants to 
     eligible entities to enable the eligible entities to 
     establish doctoral nursing degree programs.
       ``(b) Eligible Entity.--In this section, the term `eligible 
     entity' means an entity that is 1 of the `eligible entities' 
     as such term is defined in section 801.
       ``(c) Application.--An eligible entity that desires a grant 
     under this section shall submit an application to the 
     Secretary at such time, in such manner, and accompanied by 
     such information as the Secretary may require.
       ``(d) Selection of Grant Recipients.--Not later than 6 
     months after the date of enactment of the Nursing Education 
     Opportunities Act, the Secretary shall establish requirements 
     and procedures for the administration of grants under this 
     section and procedures for selecting grant recipients. In 
     awarding grants under this section, the Secretary shall 
     consider the following:
       ``(1) Doctoral nursing program distribution.--Providing 
     priority to eligible entities located in States in which 
     there are no doctoral nursing degree programs.
       ``(2) Geographic distribution.--Providing an equitable 
     geographic distribution of such grants.

[[Page S13442]]

       ``(3) Rural and urban areas.--Distributing such grants to 
     rural and urban areas.
       ``(4) Prior experience or exceptional programs.--Whether 
     the eligible entity has demonstrated--
       ``(A) prior experience in, or exceptional programs for, the 
     preparation of baccalaureate prepared nurses or master's 
     prepared nurses; and
       ``(B) an interest in establishing a doctoral nursing degree 
     program.
       ``(e) Grant Amount.--Each grant awarded under this section 
     shall be equal to not more than $2,000,000.
       ``(f) Grant Duration.--A grant awarded under this section 
     shall be for a period of not more than 5 years.
       ``(g) Use of Funds.--An eligible entity that receives a 
     grant under this section shall use the grant funds to 
     establish a doctoral nursing degree program, including--
       ``(1) hiring administrators, faculty, and staff;
       ``(2) retaining current faculty;
       ``(3) developing doctoral curriculum;
       ``(4) repairing and expanding infrastructures;
       ``(5) purchasing educational equipment;
       ``(6) developing and enhancing clinical laboratories;
       ``(7) recruiting students;
       ``(8) establishing technology infrastructures; and
       ``(9) other investments determined necessary by the 
     eligible entity for the development of a doctoral nursing 
     degree program.
       ``(h) Authorization of Appropriations.--There are 
     authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section not 
     more than $40,000,000 for fiscal year 2008 and such sums as 
     may be necessary for each of the 4 succeeding fiscal 
     years.''.

     SEC. 7. DOCTORAL NURSING CONSORTIA PILOT PROJECT.

       Part D of title VIII of the Public Health Service Act (42 
     U.S.C. 296p et seq.), as amended by section 6, is further 
     amended by adding at the end the following:

     ``SEC. 833. DOCTORAL NURSING CONSORTIA PILOT PROJECT.

       ``(a) Purpose.--The purpose of the pilot project under this 
     section is to provide grants to partnerships of eligible 
     entities to establish consortia to enhance and expand the 
     availability of doctoral nurse faculty and education by 
     enabling the partners involved to share doctoral faculty and 
     programmatic resources so that the nursing faculty shortage 
     does not further inhibit the preparation of future nurses or 
     nurse faculty.
       ``(b) In General.--The Secretary shall award grants to 
     partnerships of eligible entities to enable the partnerships 
     to establish doctoral nursing consortia.
       ``(c) Definitions.--In this section:
       ``(1) Doctoral nursing consortium.--The term `doctoral 
     nursing consortium' means a partnership that includes 2 or 
     more of--
       ``(A) eligible entities within the same State;
       ``(B) eligible entities within different States; or
       ``(C) eligible entities establishing a doctoral nursing 
     program.
       ``(2) Eligible entity.--The term `eligible entity' has the 
     meaning given the term in section 832(b).
       ``(d) Application.--A partnership of eligible entities that 
     desires a grant under this section shall submit an 
     application to the Secretary at such time, in such manner, 
     and accompanied by such information as the Secretary may 
     require. Such partnership may apply for a grant under this 
     section each year of the pilot project.
       ``(e) Selection.--Not later than 6 months after the date of 
     enactment of the Nursing Education Opportunities Act, the 
     Secretary shall establish requirements and procedures for the 
     administration of grants under this section and procedures 
     for selecting grant recipients.
       ``(f) Consideration in Making Awards.--In awarding grants 
     under this section, the Secretary shall consider the 
     following:
       ``(1) Prior experience or exceptional programs.--Eligible 
     entities that have demonstrated prior experience in, or 
     exceptional programs for, the preparation of--
       ``(A) doctorally prepared nursing faculty and nursing 
     researchers; and
       ``(B) baccalaureate prepared nurses or master's prepared 
     nurses.
       ``(2) Geographic distribution.--Providing an equitable 
     geographic distribution of such grants.
       ``(3) Rural and urban areas.--Distributing such grants to 
     rural and urban areas.
       ``(4) New grantees.--Awarding grants to eligible entities 
     that have not previously received a grant under this section.
       ``(g) Grant Amount.--The Secretary shall determine the 
     amount of each grant awarded under this section based on the 
     purpose of this section, which amount shall not be more than 
     $500,000.
       ``(h) Use of Funds.--A partnership of eligible entities 
     that receives a grant under this section shall use the grant 
     funds to establish a doctoral nursing consortium that shall 
     share doctoral faculty and programmatic resources, such as--
       ``(1) establishing technology infrastructures;
       ``(2) developing shared doctoral curriculum;
       ``(3) hiring faculty and staff;
       ``(4) retaining current faculty;
       ``(5) providing travel stipends for nursing faculty who 
     agree to teach nursing courses at another eligible entity 
     within the doctoral nursing consortium;
       ``(6) providing scholarships for post-doctoral fellows who 
     agree to teach a nursing course within the nursing doctoral 
     consortium;
       ``(7) providing collaborative networks for nursing 
     research; and
       ``(8) other investments determined necessary by the 
     eligible entities for use within the doctoral nursing 
     consortium.
       ``(i) Grant Duration.--The pilot project under this section 
     shall be for a period of not more than 5 years.
       ``(j) Authorization of Appropriations.--There are 
     authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section not 
     more than $10,000,000 for fiscal year 2008 and such sums as 
     may be necessary for each of the 4 succeeding fiscal 
     years.''.

     SEC. 8. NURSE FACULTY PILOT PROJECT.

       Title VII of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 
     1133 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:

                 ``PART F--NURSE FACULTY PILOT PROJECT

     ``SEC. 781. PURPOSES.

       ``The purposes of this part are to create a pilot program--
       ``(1) to provide scholarships to qualified nurses in 
     pursuit of an advanced degree with the goal of becoming 
     faculty members in an accredited nursing program; and
       ``(2) to provide grants to partnerships between accredited 
     schools of nursing and hospitals or health facilities to fund 
     release time for qualified nurse employees, so that those 
     employees can earn a salary while obtaining an advanced 
     degree in nursing with the goal of becoming nurse faculty.

     ``SEC. 782. ASSISTANCE AUTHORIZED.

       ``(a) Competitive Grants Authorized.--The Secretary may, on 
     a competitive basis, award grants to, and enter into 
     contracts and cooperative agreements with, partnerships 
     composed of an accredited school of nursing at an institution 
     of higher education and a hospital or health facility to 
     establish not more than 5 pilot projects to enable such 
     hospital or health facility to retain its staff of 
     experienced nurses while providing a mechanism to have these 
     individuals become, through an accelerated nursing education 
     program, faculty members of an accredited school of nursing.
       ``(b) Duration; Evaluation and Dissemination.--
       ``(1) Duration.--Grants under this part shall be awarded 
     for a period of 3 to 5 years.
       ``(2) Mandatory evaluation and dissemination.--Grants under 
     this part shall be primarily used for evaluation, and 
     dissemination to other institutions of higher education, of 
     the information obtained through the activities described in 
     section 781(2).
       ``(c) Considerations in Making Awards.--In awarding grants 
     and entering into contracts and cooperative agreements under 
     this section, the Secretary shall consider the following:
       ``(1) Geographic distribution.--Providing an equitable 
     geographic distribution of such grants.
       ``(2) Rural and urban areas.--Distributing such grants to 
     urban and rural areas.
       ``(3) Range and type of institution.--Ensuring that the 
     activities to be assisted are developed for a range of types 
     and sizes of institutions of higher education.
       ``(4) Prior experience or exceptional programs.--
     Institutions of higher education with demonstrated prior 
     experience in providing advanced nursing education programs 
     to prepare nurses interested in pursuing a faculty role.
       ``(d) Uses of Funds.--Funds made available by grant, 
     contract, or cooperative agreement under this part may be 
     used--
       ``(1) to develop a new national demonstration initiative to 
     align nursing education with the emerging challenges of 
     healthcare delivery; and
       ``(2) for any 1 or more of the following innovations in 
     educational programs:
       ``(A) To develop a clinical simulation laboratory in a 
     hospital, health facility, or accredited school of nursing.
       ``(B) To purchase distance learning technologies.
       ``(C) To fund release time for qualified nurses enrolled in 
     the graduate nursing program.
       ``(D) To provide for faculty salaries.
       ``(E) To collect and analyze data on educational outcomes.

     ``SEC. 783. APPLICATIONS.

       ``Each partnership desiring to receive a grant, contract, 
     or cooperative agreement under this part shall submit an 
     application to the Secretary at such time, in such manner, 
     and accompanied by such information as the Secretary may 
     require. Each application shall include assurances that--
       ``(1) the individuals enrolled in the program will be 
     qualified nurses in pursuit of a master's or doctoral degree 
     in nursing and have a contractual obligation with the 
     hospital or health facility that is in partnership with the 
     institution of higher education;
       ``(2) the hospital or health facility of employment would 
     be the clinical site for the accredited school of nursing 
     program;
       ``(3) individuals will also maintain their employment on a 
     part time basis to the hospital or health facility that 
     allowed them to participate in the program, and will receive 
     an income from the hospital or health facility, as a part 
     time employee, and release times or flexible schedules to 
     accommodate the individuals' class schedules; and
       ``(4) upon completion of the program, an individual agrees 
     to teach for 2 years in an

[[Page S13443]]

     accredited school of nursing for each year of support the 
     individual received under this program.

     ``SEC. 784. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

       ``There are authorized to be appropriated for this part not 
     more than $10,000,000 for fiscal year 2008 and such sums as 
     may be necessary for each of the 4 succeeding fiscal years.

     ``SEC. 785. DEFINITION.

       ``For purposes of this part, the term `health facility' 
     means an Indian Health Service health service center, a 
     Native Hawaiian health center, a hospital, a Federally 
     qualified health center, a rural health clinic, a nursing 
     home, a home health agency, a hospice program, a public 
     health clinic, a State or local department of public health, 
     a skilled nursing facility, or ambulatory surgical center.''.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. BINGAMAN (by request):
  S. 2231. A bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to 
strengthen cooperative conservation efforts and to reduce barriers to 
the use of partnerships to enable Federal natural resource managers to 
meet their obligations, and for other purposes; to the Committee on 
Energy and Natural Resources.
  Mr. BINGAMAN. Mr. President, on June 19, 2007, the administration 
transmitted draft legislation entitled the Cooperative Conservation 
Enhancement Act, which was referred to the Committee on Energy and 
Natural Resources.
  I am pleased today to introduce the Cooperative Conservation 
Enhancement Act, by request, as a courtesy to the administration. This 
bill would clarify the responsibilities and authorities of the 
Secretary of the Interior to enter into cooperative conservation 
partnerships.
  I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill, a letter of 
support, and a section-by-section analysis be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                S. 2231

       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 ``Cooperative Conservation 
     Enhancement Act''.

     SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSES.

       (a) Findings.--Congress finds that--
       (1) fostering innovation, emphasizing partnerships, 
     creating incentives for stewardship, drawing on information 
     from local citizens, and providing integrated decision-making 
     frameworks that involve States and localities in Federal 
     decision-making are successful cooperative conservation 
     strategies that help conserve our Nation's natural resources 
     and protect our environment;
       (2) Americans favor environmental protection and natural 
     resource management achieved through cooperation over 
     conflict, which is the goal of cooperative conservation;
       (3) successful conservation policies reside in the efforts 
     of citizens to maintain healthy land and waters and the 
     wildlife that depend on them, in particular, in the actions 
     of citizens in their own backyards, at their places of 
     recreation and work, on farms and ranches, and in communities 
     across the Nation;
       (4) to ensure long-term benefits and to meet program goals, 
     it is important for Federal, State, and local officials to 
     tap the ingenuity, imagination, and innovative spirit of 
     citizens at the local level, which is where the resolution to 
     many conservation challenges lies;
       (5) cooperative conservation represents a proven and 
     necessary approach to achieving conservation goals, and 
     includes the people who engage in activities on public and 
     private land and established measures by which to judge 
     whether actions have truly improved the environment, enhanced 
     natural resources, maintained healthy local communities, and 
     fostered dynamic economies;
       (6) through cooperative conservation, benefits to the 
     environment and natural resources are measured by results on 
     the ground, in the water, and in the air;
       (7) cooperative conservation emphasizes cooperative problem 
     solving, incentives, and cooperation over prescriptive rules;
       (8) cooperative conservation respects property rights, 
     contracts, and compacts;
       (9) actions taken by the Executive Branch to further 
     cooperative conservation have begun to show tangible results 
     in addressing the challenges that citizens and Federal land 
     managers are facing as they work to improve land, waters, and 
     wildlife habitat through partnered problem solving;
       (10) it is the intent of Congress to recognize the 
     importance of enhancing means available to landowners, 
     States, Indian tribes, and Federal land managers to achieve 
     improvements to the environment and natural resources through 
     cooperative conservation; and
       (11) the Secretary of the Interior is generally authorized 
     to undertake many activities with partners to conserve 
     natural resources and protect the environment, but that 
     specific authorization to accomplish these goals through 
     cooperative conservation would reinforce the importance of 
     these goals.
       (b) Purposes.--The purposes of this Act are--
       (1) to strengthen and advance the Department of the 
     Interior's commitment to the improvement of the environment 
     and enhancement of natural resources through cooperative 
     conservation efforts;
       (2) to advance successful models of cooperative 
     conservation by ensuring clear, but flexible, authority for 
     programs currently carried out by the Department through its 
     bureaus under many disparate authorities;
       (3) to expand the use of cooperative conservation by 
     providing the Secretary of the Interior with new authorities 
     to better promote conservation partnerships with private 
     individuals, organizations, and government entities;
       (4) to further the use of partnerships to help the 
     Department's land and natural resource managers better meet 
     their obligations;
       (5) to promote conservation partnership capacity building; 
     and
       (6) to authorize the use of collaborative problem solving 
     and alternative dispute resolution in the Department's 
     bureaus and offices.

     SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

       In this Act:
       (1) Cooperative conservation.--The term ``cooperative 
     conservation'' means actions that relate to the use, 
     enhancement, and enjoyment of natural resources, protection 
     of the environment, or both, and that involve collaborative 
     activity among Federal, State, local, and tribal governments, 
     private for-profit and nonprofit institutions, other 
     nongovernmental entities, or individuals.
       (2) Department.--The term ``Department'' means the 
     Department of the Interior.
       (3) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary 
     of the Interior.

                  TITLE I--WORKING LANDSCAPE PROJECTS

     SEC. 101. SHORT TITLE.

       This title may be cited as the ``Working Landscape Projects 
     Act of 2007.''

     SEC. 102. DEFINITIONS.

       In this title:
       (1) Administrative services.--The term ``administrative 
     services'' includes services and costs associated with the 
     operations of activities authorized under this title. These 
     services and costs shall include meeting announcements, 
     copying, and personnel and reasonable rental costs for 
     facilities necessary for implementing this title. Such 
     services and costs shall be consistent with applicable 
     federal rules, regulations, and guidance.
       (2) Governance activities.--The term ``governance 
     activities'' means those activities required to ensure the 
     operation and implementation of projects described under this 
     title, including hiring personnel to coordinate project 
     implementation, providing oversight and monitoring of 
     projects and project goals, performing adaptive management 
     techniques on projects, coordinating activities with various 
     partners, performing scientific oversight of projects, 
     including commissioning scientific studies, and requesting 
     data from Federal, State, and local government officials, 
     nonprofit organizations, and private individuals.
       (3) Information dissemination activities.--The term 
     ``information dissemination activities'' includes 
     broadcasting the announcement of meetings and the 
     distribution of reports, memos, and other relevant 
     information necessary for carrying out the authorities under 
     this title.
       (4) Landscape project partner.--The term ``landscape 
     project partner'' means a representative of Federal, State, 
     or tribal governments, private landowners or corporations, or 
     nonprofit organizations.

     SEC. 103. AUTHORIZATION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, GOVERNANCE, AND 
                   INFORMATION DISSEMINATION PURPOSES.

       (a) In General.--(1) The Secretary is authorized, through a 
     competitive process, to directly fund or reimburse landscape 
     project partners for the development or maintenance of 
     necessary administrative services, governance activities, and 
     information dissemination activities necessary for the 
     implementation of a landscape project.
       (2) The funding under paragraph (1) shall not exceed 3 
     years for a particular project.
       (3) In order to qualify for administrative funding, a 
     project shall--
       (A) include participation by representatives from a 
     diversity of individuals and organizations, including 
     government;
       (B) affect several jurisdictions or land ownerships; and
       (C) have the potential for advancing cooperative 
     conservation across a geographical area.
       (b) Eligible Projects.--Such projects may include--
       (1) established cooperative projects that have a documented 
     record of success and demonstrated leadership and 
     organizational capacity;
       (2) existing conservation projects that are at the stage of 
     forming partnerships and require sustained capacity building; 
     or
       (3) new or proposed projects that have a plan for 
     establishing partnerships and developing landscape-based 
     projects.
       (c) Criteria.--Eligible applications shall--
       (1) exhibit a clear purpose;

[[Page S13444]]

       (2) demonstrate, or have a plan for establishing, 
     partnerships which include representation of key interests 
     through multiple partners;
       (3) use, or plan to use in the future, coordinated 
     management with Federal and other partners;
       (4) have developed performance goals and objectives 
     consistent, where appropriate, with departmental goals;
       (5) have developed a plan for implementing, monitoring, and 
     evaluating achievement of project performance goals and 
     objectives;
       (6) include non-Federal partners who commit resources to 
     the project such as technical resources or other funds, in-
     kind services, contributions of individuals' time, or meeting 
     support;
       (7) demonstrate processes, practices, and outcomes that can 
     have general application by Federal agencies and other non-
     Federal entities;
       (8) receive Federal funding through a competitive process 
     established by the Secretary; and
       (9) have or expect to develop a plan for phasing to an 
     alternative non-Federal source of funds to sustain the 
     partnership at the conclusion of the Federal partnership 
     period.
       (d) Conservation Project Coordinator.--(1) Within 3 months 
     after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary may 
     designate a Department employee as a Conservation Project 
     Coordinator (referred to in this subsection as the 
     ``Coordinator''), who shall--
       (A) serve as the primary Federal coordinator of the 
     projects that receive funding under this section; and
       (B) oversee and encourage the expedited review and 
     execution of any and all Federal decisions associated with 
     such projects, including the issuance of necessary guidance, 
     decision memoranda, regulations, and other activities, as 
     necessary.
       (2) The Coordinator may also carry out such other related 
     cooperative conservation related activities and projects as 
     the Secretary deems appropriate.
       (3) All actions carried out by the Coordinator shall be 
     related to the authorized programs and activities of the 
     Department.

     SEC. 104. FUNDING.

       For the purpose of implementing section 103 and from 
     amounts available for programs identified in the President's 
     annual budget submission as Cooperative Conservation 
     Programs, the Secretary is authorized to use--
       (1) up to 5 percent of the funds made available for fiscal 
     year 2008;
       (2) up to 6 percent of the funds made available for fiscal 
     year 2009; and
       (3) up to 7 percent of the funds made available for fiscal 
     year 2010.

          TITLE II--LANDOWNER CONSERVATION ASSISTANCE MEASURES

     SEC. 201. SHORT TITLE.

       This title may be cited as the ``Conservation Bank Program 
     Act''.

     SEC. 202. DEFINITIONS.

       In this title:
       (1) Bank operator.--The term ``bank operator'' means any 
     public or private entity responsible for operating or 
     managing a conservation bank under an agreement with a bank 
     sponsor.
       (2) Bank sponsor.--The term ``bank sponsor'' means any 
     public or private entity responsible for establishing and, in 
     most circumstances, operating or managing a conservation bank 
     and for ensuring that the conservation bank complies with all 
     applicable laws.
       (3) Conservation bank.--The term ``conservation bank'' 
     means a parcel of land that--
       (A) contains natural resource values that are ecologically 
     suitable with regard to topographic features, habitat 
     quality, compatibility of existing and future land use 
     activities surrounding the bank, species use of the area, or 
     any other factors determined to be relevant by the Secretary 
     for achieving mitigation of specified species listed pursuant 
     to the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
     seq.) or candidates for listing under that Act;
       (B) is conserved and operated or managed in perpetuity 
     through a conservation easement held by a bank sponsor which 
     is responsible for enforcing the terms of the easement for 
     specified species listed pursuant to the Endangered Species 
     Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) or which are candidates 
     for listing under that Act; and
       (C) is used to offset impacts occurring elsewhere to the 
     same resource values on nonconservation bank land.
       (4) Conservation bank agreement.--The term ``conservation 
     bank agreement'' means a legally enforceable written 
     agreement between the conservation bank sponsor and, if 
     applicable, operator, and the Secretary that identifies the 
     conditions and criteria under which the conservation bank 
     will be established and operated or managed.
       (5) Conservation bank review team.--The term ``Conservation 
     Bank Review Team'' means the interagency group that can 
     include Federal, State, tribal, and local regulatory and 
     resource agency representatives that are signatories to a 
     conservation bank agreement and which oversee the 
     establishment, use, and operation of a conservation bank.
       (6) Credit.--The term ``credit'' means a unit of measure 
     representing the quantification of species or habitat 
     conservation values within a conservation bank.

     SEC. 203. ESTABLISHMENT, USE, AND OPERATION OF CONSERVATION 
                   BANKS.

       (a) Conservation Banking.--(1) The Secretary, acting 
     through the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, shall 
     select the members of and convene a Conservation Bank Review 
     Team to evaluate for acceptance proposals received from bank 
     sponsors to establish conservation banks according to 
     criteria that the Secretary shall establish in accordance 
     with subsection (b).
       (2) If the Conservation Bank Review Team recommends a 
     proposal, it shall present the proposal to the Secretary, who 
     may modify or accept the proposal.
       (3) If the Secretary accepts the proposal, the Secretary 
     may enter into a conservation bank agreement and is 
     responsible for establishing the terms under which the 
     conservation bank will operate.
       (4) Representatives on the Conservation Bank Review Team 
     must unanimously agree in order for an acceptance to be 
     transmitted to the Secretary.
       (b) Criteria for Conservation Banks.--In determining 
     whether to approve a conservation bank proposal, a 
     Conservation Bank Review Team shall consider such factors as 
     the Secretary determines are appropriate, including whether 
     the conservation bank would--
       (1) provide an economically effective process that provides 
     options to landowners to offset the adverse effects of 
     proposed projects to species covered by the conservation 
     bank;
       (2) provide adequate mitigation for the species through 
     such strategies as preservation, management, restoration of 
     degraded habitat, connecting of separated habitats, buffering 
     of already protected areas, creation of habitat, and other 
     appropriate actions;
       (3) be of sufficient size to ensure the maintenance of 
     ecological integrity in perpetuity; and
       (4) provide funding assurances to provide for the 
     conservation bank's perpetual operation, management, 
     monitoring, and documentation costs.
       (c) Conservation Bank Agreement Requirements.--The bank 
     agreement shall--
       (1) include a requirement for adequate funding, as 
     determined by the Secretary, to provide for the conservation 
     bank's perpetual operation, management, monitoring, and 
     documentation costs;
       (2) specify the exact legal location of the conservation 
     bank and its service area;
       (3) specify how credits will be established and managed;
       (4) include a requirement that the bank sponsor submit, at 
     the Secretary's request, periodic statements detailing the 
     finances of the conservation bank; and
       (5) require submission to the Secretary of periodic 
     monitoring reports on implementation of the conservation bank 
     agreement and such other matters as the Secretary may 
     prescribe.
       (d) Judicial Review.--Any party to an agreement entered 
     into under this section may bring an action for violation of 
     that agreement in the United States District Court for the 
     District of Columbia.
       (e) Effect on Existing Conservation Banks.--Conservation 
     banks established before the date of enactment of this Act 
     are not required to comply with the criteria in this Act, 
     except where such conservation banks create new conservation 
     banks that are separate from the existing bank.

                   TITLE III--PROMOTING PARTNERSHIPS

     SEC. 301. COOPERATION WITH OUTSIDE ENTITIES.

       Except as otherwise provided, in carrying out existing 
     programs within the sums appropriated for such purposes, the 
     Secretary or a designee is authorized to--
       (1) provide assistance to, and cooperate with, Federal, 
     State, local, public or private agencies, organizations, or 
     individuals or Indian tribes for purposes of carrying out any 
     measures that clearly and directly contribute to achieving 
     conservation or natural resource management-related mission 
     and performance goals of the Department or its bureaus; and
       (2) accept donations of land and or interests in land in 
     furtherance of the purposes of this section.

     SEC. 302. ABILITY TO EXPEND FUNDS TO BENEFIT DEPARTMENT LAND.

       (a) Authorization of Activities.--In carrying out existing 
     programs within the sums appropriated for such purposes, the 
     Secretary or a designee is authorized to carry out activities 
     on nonfederally owned land provided those activities directly 
     benefit the resource values and management of Federal land, 
     including--
       (1) the preservation, conservation, and restoration of 
     coastal and riparian systems, watersheds, and wetlands;
       (2) the prevention, control, or eradication of invasive 
     exotic species that occupy adjacent non-Federal land; or
       (3) the restoration of natural resources, including native 
     wildlife habitat.
       (b) Limitations.--Such activities may only be conducted 
     with the written permission of the landowner, and must 
     clearly and directly benefit the specific Department land 
     management unit by directly contributing to the programmatic 
     and performance goals of that unit.
       (c) Ineligible Activities.--Eligible activities shall not 
     include the construction of permanent capital improvements or 
     acquisition of land.
       (d) Relationship to Existing Programs.--Nothing in this 
     section supersedes or otherwise affects or alters the 
     authority provided in title V.

[[Page S13445]]

     SEC. 303. PUBLICIZING AND PROVIDING NON-FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE 
                   TO PARTNERSHIPS.

       (a) In General.--In carrying out existing programs within 
     the sums appropriated for such purposes, the Secretary or a 
     designee is authorized to--
       (1) publicize partnership programs and opportunities 
     through publication of announcements in newspapers of general 
     circulation, in the Federal Register, or such other methods 
     as the Secretary determines are appropriate; and
       (2) provide nonfinancial assistance to private individuals 
     who are establishing nonprofit groups that are intended to 
     support the mission of a bureau or of a particular management 
     unit of a bureau, such as a park or refuge.
       (b) Clarifications.--(1) Nothing in this section shall 
     authorize a Department employee to establish a nonprofit 
     entity or other corporate entity to support the Department's 
     mission, including by acting as an incorporator, founding 
     board member, or by assuming any management or fiduciary 
     responsibilities with respect to any such nonprofit or 
     corporate entity.
       (2) Nothing in this section shall waive the application of 
     the provisions of section 1913 of title 18, United States 
     Code.

     SEC. 304. CENTERS OF EXCELLENCE FOR PARTNERSHIP LEARNING.

       (a) Definition of Center of Excellence for Partnership 
     Learning.--In this section, the term ``Center of Excellence 
     for Partnership Learning'' or ``Center'' means a Federal 
     facility that is identified by the appropriate Secretary as 
     meeting criteria established under this section and which 
     provides Federal employees and their partners the opportunity 
     to learn cooperative conservation-related best practices.
       (b) In General.--(1) In carrying out existing programs 
     within the sums appropriated for such purposes, the Secretary 
     and the Secretary of Agriculture may identify as Centers of 
     Excellence for Partnership Learning sites under their 
     jurisdiction that meet the criteria in subsection (c) with 
     the purpose of providing Federal employees and partners, 
     including State and local government employees, nonprofit 
     employees, private sector employees, and employees of Indian 
     tribes, the opportunity to learn the best practices involved 
     in creating successful partnerships and a culture of 
     collaboration.
       (2) Each Center identified under this section may develop 
     and host a schedule of activities including--
       (A) visits;
       (B) seminars and other educational courses; and
       (C) opportunities for details or job swaps.
       (3) To the maximum extent practicable, each Center shall 
     develop and accept applications for participation in Center 
     activities from employees of the Department or the Department 
     of Agriculture or of their partnering entities on a first-
     come, first-served basis.
       (c) Criteria for Identifying Centers of Excellence for 
     Partnership Learning.--Each Center shall be identified based 
     on the following criteria:
       (1) Partnership culture has been successfully integrated 
     into the organization, and is not dependent on any particular 
     individual.
       (2) The organization has demonstrated partnership success 
     stories that relate to identified partnership competencies.
       (3) The organization has the capacity to host and teach 
     others from the participating agencies.
       (4) The organization agrees to a schedule of hosting 
     activities.
       (5) The organization is willing to host follow-up 
     activities with participating individuals.
       (d) Incentives for Participation.--(1) The respective 
     Secretary for each Center identified in this section is 
     authorized to accept and use reimbursement from the 
     participating agencies and partnering entities for the cost 
     of operating the program.
       (2) The respective Secretary for each Center is authorized 
     to provide reimbursement of travel and per diem expenses to 
     federal employees who participate in Center activities.

     SEC. 305. PARTNERSHIP ROSTER.

       (a) In General.--The Secretary and the Secretary of 
     Agriculture may establish and make available to the public a 
     multiagency roster with the goal of enhancing capacity for 
     partnerships and collaborative actions.
       (b) Authorized Activities.--The partnership roster 
     authorized under this section shall provide nonfinancial 
     assistance and information to government agencies, private 
     sector organizations, and the public in a variety of areas, 
     including--
       (1) identification and understanding of statutory and 
     regulatory authorities;
       (2) development and implementation of agreements and 
     contracts used in Department and Department of Agriculture 
     programs;
       (3) creation and management of nonprofit support groups;
       (4) diversification and strengthening of agency funding 
     through the use of partnerships, matching funds, and other 
     devices;
       (5) allowable avenues for and uses of private philanthropy;
       (6) development of a partnership-focused workplace;
       (7) building of community connections and fostering of 
     citizen engagement through the use of partnerships;
       (8) allowable avenues for donor recognition;
       (9) development of communication skills; and
       (10) conflict management and collaborative management.

              TITLE IV--COOPERATION AMONG FEDERAL AGENCIES

     SEC. 401. SERVICE FIRST AUTHORITY.

       (a) In General.--The Secretary, through the Directors of 
     the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
     Service, and the National Park Service, and the Secretary of 
     Agriculture, through the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, 
     may--
       (1) conduct projects, planning, permitting, leasing, 
     including leasing of real property and office space, 
     contracting and other activities, either jointly or on behalf 
     of one another;
       (2) co-locate in Federal offices and facilities leased or 
     owned by an agency of either Department;
       (3) promulgate special rules for issuance of unified 
     permits, applications, and leases; and
       (4) share or transfer equipment, vehicles, or other 
     personal property.
       (b) Delegation of Authority.--Consistent with section 403, 
     the Secretary and the Secretary of Agriculture may make 
     reciprocal delegations of their respective authorities, 
     duties, and responsibilities in support of the activities 
     authorized in this title to promote customer service and 
     efficiency.

     SEC. 402. USE OF FUNDS.

       (a) In General.--In carrying out the provisions of this 
     title, the Secretary and the Secretary of Agriculture may 
     make transfers of funds available and reimbursement of funds 
     on an annual basis among the Bureau of Land Management, the 
     U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, 
     and the U.S. Forest Service, including transfers and 
     reimbursements for multiyear projects that involve 1 or more 
     of those agencies.
       (b) Limitation.--The authority provided in this title may 
     not be used to circumvent requirements and limitations 
     imposed on the use of funds.

     SEC. 403. CONSTRUCTION.

       Nothing in this title shall alter, expand, or limit the 
     applicability of any public law or regulation to land 
     administered by the participating agencies of either 
     Department.

                    TITLE V--COOPERATIVE ASSISTANCE

     SEC. 501. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE COASTAL PROGRAM.

       (a) Definitions.--In this section--
       (1) Coastal program partners.--The term ``coastal program 
     partners'' means individuals, groups, or agencies, such as 
     land conservancies, community organizations, businesses, 
     conservation organizations, private landowners, State or 
     local governments, and Federal agencies, including any 
     partnerships or consortia of these individuals, groups, or 
     agencies, who agree to work on habitat restoration or 
     protection strategies under this program.
       (2) Habitat restoration.--The term ``habitat restoration'' 
     means the manipulation of the physical, chemical, or 
     biological characteristics of a site with the goal of 
     returning natural functions to the lost or degraded native 
     habitat.
       (3) Important coastal habitat.--
       (A) In general.--The term ``Important Coastal Habitat'' 
     means habitat in coastal ecosystems that supports or will 
     support after protection or restoration threatened and 
     endangered species, fishery resources under the Department's 
     jurisdiction, and migratory birds.
       (B) Inclusions.--The term ``Important Coastal Habitat'' 
     includes the Great Lakes, Pacific Islands, and the Caribbean, 
     and bays, estuaries, coastal streams, and wetlands, shore, 
     and terrestrial habitats within coastal areas.
       (4) Priority species.--The term ``priority species'' means 
     threatened and endangered species, fishery resources under 
     the Department's jurisdiction, and migratory birds.
       (5) Project.--The term ``project'' means a project carried 
     out under the authority of this section in cooperation with 
     coastal program partners and which has the primary purpose of 
     conserving important coastal habitat, and which may include 
     habitat restoration and other technical assistance.
       (6) Technical assistance.--The term ``technical 
     assistance'' means biological and habitat assessments, 
     inventories, project coordination, monitoring, mapping, grant 
     writing, and habitat restoration expertise.
       (b) Coastal Program.--The Secretary is authorized to carry 
     out the Coastal Program within the United States Fish and 
     Wildlife Service to assess, conserve, and restore important 
     coastal habitats for the benefit of priority species. 
     Projects carried out under this authority may include 
     activities to identify, evaluate, and map important coastal 
     habitat, to assist community efforts by providing assessment 
     and planning tools to identify important coastal habitats 
     that are a priority for protection and restoration, and to 
     provide both technical assistance and financial assistance, 
     primarily through cooperative agreements, to coastal program 
     partners to plan and implement projects that benefit coastal 
     wetland, estuaries, upland, and stream habitats important to 
     priority species.
       (c) Coordination.--The Secretary shall, where appropriate, 
     coordinate with interested Federal agencies on the program 
     authorized under this section.

     SEC. 502. COOPERATIVE CONSERVATION CHALLENGE COST-SHARE.

       (a) Definitions.--In this section:
       (1) Habitat enhancement.--
       (A) In general.--The term ``habitat enhancement'' means the 
     manipulation of the

[[Page S13446]]

     physical, chemical, or biological characteristics of a native 
     habitat to change, so as to heighten, intensify, or improve, 
     a specific function or seral stage of the native habitat.
       (B) Exclusions.--The term ``habitat enhancement'' does not 
     include regularly scheduled and routine maintenance and 
     management activities.
       (2) Habitat establishment.--The term ``habitat 
     establishment'' means the manipulation of physical, chemical, 
     or biological characteristics of a project site to create and 
     maintain habitat that did not previously exist on the project 
     site.
       (3) Habitat improvement.--The term ``habitat improvement'' 
     includes restoring or artificially providing physiographic, 
     hydrological, or disturbance conditions necessary to 
     establish or maintain native plant and animal communities, 
     including periodic manipulations to maintain intended habitat 
     conditions on completed project sites.
       (4) Habitat restoration.--The term ``habitat restoration'' 
     means the manipulation of the physical, chemical, or 
     biological characteristics of a site with the goal of 
     returning natural functions to the lost or degraded native 
     habitat.
       (b) Challenge Cost Share Agreement Authority.--
       (1) In general.--The Secretary, acting through the United 
     States Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, 
     or the Bureau of Land Management, is authorized to negotiate 
     and enter into cooperative arrangements with any State or 
     local government, Indian tribe, public or private agency, 
     organization, institution, corporation, individual, or other 
     entity to carry out on a public-private cost sharing basis 
     on-the-ground conservation activities, including functions 
     and responsibilities relating to habitat improvement, habitat 
     restoration, habitat enhancement, and habitat establishment 
     on public or private land.
       (2) Private land.--Projects carried out on private land 
     require--
       (A) express permission from landowners;
       (B) a clear and direct benefit to the specific Departmental 
     land management unit entering into the arrangement through 
     the direct contribution to the programmatic and performance 
     goals of that unit; and
       (C) that the project be adjacent to, or in close proximity 
     to, land administered by the Department.
       (3) Effect on existing laws.--Nothing in this section shall 
     be construed to supersede, modify, or repeal existing laws 
     providing additional cost-share authorities.
       (4) Cost-sharing.--(A) The Federal share for a project 
     authorized under this section may not exceed 50 percent and 
     shall be provided on a matching basis.
       (B) The non-Federal share for a project authorized under 
     this section may be satisfied by the provision of cash, 
     services, or in-kind contributions.

     SEC. 503. WATER MANAGEMENT IMPROVEMENT ACT.

       (a) Short Title.--This section may be cited as the ``Bureau 
     of Reclamation Water Management Improvement Act''.
       (b) Authorization of Grants and Cooperative Agreements.--
       (1) In general.--The Secretary is authorized to enter into 
     grants and cooperative agreements with States, Indian tribes, 
     irrigation districts, water districts, or other organizations 
     with water delivery authority to fund up to 50 percent of the 
     cost of planning, designing, or constructing improvements 
     that will conserve water, increase water use efficiency, 
     facilitate water markets, enhance water management, or 
     implement other actions to prevent water-related crises or 
     conflicts in watersheds that have a nexus to Federal water 
     projects within the States identified in section 1 of the 
     Reclamation Act of 1902 (Act of June 17, 1902, 32 Stat. 388, 
     chapter 1093) as amended and supplemented (43 U.S.C. 371 et 
     seq.).
       (2) Criteria.--Grants and cooperative agreements entered 
     into pursuant to this authority shall meet the following 
     criteria:
       (A) When such improvements are to federally-owned 
     facilities, funds provided under any such grant or 
     cooperative agreement may be provided on a nonreimbursable 
     basis to an entity operating affected transferred works or 
     may be deemed nonreimbursable for nontransferred works.
       (B) Title to improvements made to federally-owned 
     facilities shall be held by the United States.
       (C) The calculation of the non-Federal contribution shall 
     provide for consideration of the value of any in-kind 
     contributions which the Secretary determines materially 
     contribute to the completion of the proposed action, but 
     shall not include funds received from other Federal agencies.
       (D) The cost of operating and maintaining improvements for 
     which funding is provided shall be the responsibility of the 
     non-Federal entity.
       (E) The United States shall not be held liable by any court 
     for monetary damages of any kind arising out of any act, 
     omission, or occurrence relating to non-federally owned 
     facilities created or improved under this section, except for 
     damages caused by acts of negligence committed by the United 
     States or by its employees or agents. Nothing in this section 
     increases the liability of the United States beyond that 
     provided in chapter 171 of title 28, United States Code 
     (popularly known as the ``Federal Tort Claims Act'').
       (c) Relationship to Project Specific Authority.--This 
     section shall not supersede any existing project-specific 
     funding authority.
       (d) Research Agreements.--The Secretary is also authorized 
     to enter into cooperative agreements with universities, 
     nonprofit research institutions, or organizations with water 
     or power delivery authority to fund research to conserve 
     water, increase water use efficiency, or enhance water 
     management under such terms and conditions as the Secretary 
     deems appropriate.
       (e) Mutual Benefit.--Grants or cooperative agreements made 
     pursuant to this section may be for the mutual benefit of the 
     United States and the other party.
       (f) Authorization of Appropriations.--There is authorized 
     to be appropriated $100,000,000 to carry out the purposes of 
     this section, to remain available until expended.
       (g) Reclamation Law.--This section shall amend and 
     supplement the Act of June 17, 1902 (32 Stat. 388, chapter 
     1093) and Acts supplementary thereto and amendatory thereof 
     (43 U.S.C. 371 et seq.).

     SEC. 504. CONSULTATION WITH STATE PLANS.

       In evaluating proposals for wildlife conservation grants 
     under programs administered by the Department, including 
     grants and financial assistance authorized under this title, 
     the Secretary shall, where appropriate, consult the State 
     Comprehensive Conservation Plans required under the State and 
     Tribal Wildlife Grant Program and coordinate with State fish 
     and wildlife agencies in the planning and implementation of 
     the actions identified in those Plans.

                     TITLE VI--CONFLICT RESOLUTION

     SEC. 601. ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION OFFICE.

       (a) In General.--(1) The Secretary shall establish within 
     the Department an Office of Collaborative Action and Dispute 
     Resolution to promote and advance the appropriate use of 
     collaborative problem solving and alternative dispute 
     resolution processes in all bureaus and offices.
       (2) The Office established under paragraph (1) shall 
     coordinate efforts of the Department to increase the use of 
     early consensus-building, alternative dispute resolution 
     processes, and negotiated rulemaking consistent with existing 
     laws, regulations, and policies.
       (b) Authorization of Appropriations.--There are authorized 
     to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out 
     the program described in this section.

                  TITLE VII--MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

     SEC. 701. SAVINGS PROVISION.

       Nothing contained in this Act shall be construed or applied 
     to supersede any other provision of Federal or State law.

     SEC. 702. SEVERABILITY PROVISION.

       If any provision of this Act, or the application of any 
     provision of this Act to any person or circumstance, is held 
     invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, the application 
     of such provision to other persons or circumstances, and the 
     remainder of this Act shall not be affected thereby.

     SEC. 703. REGULATIONS.

       The Secretary is authorized to prescribe such regulations 
     as are necessary to carry out this Act.
                                  ____

                                              The Deputy Secretary


                                              of the Interior,

                                    Washington, DC, June 19, 2007.
     Hon. Richard Cheney,
     President of the Senate, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
       Dear Mr. President: The Administration is pleased to 
     forward the enclosed draft legislation, titled the 
     ``Cooperative Conservation Enhancement Act,'' for your 
     consideration. The draft legislation is intended to advance 
     the Department of the Interior's successful model of 
     cooperative conservation in several ways. First, it will 
     ensure clear, but flexible statutory authority for programs 
     that are currently carried out by the Department but are 
     generally authorized under many disparate authorities. 
     Second, the bill seeks to expand the use of cooperative 
     conservation by providing the Secretary of the Interior with 
     new authorities that will assist the Department in promoting 
     conservation partnerships with private individuals, 
     companies, and organizations and government entities; promote 
     conservation partnership capacity building; and authorize the 
     use of collaborative problem solving and alternative dispute 
     resolution in the Department's bureaus and offices.
       This draft legislation represents a major step forward for 
     the Department's cooperative conservation efforts. If 
     enacted, this new authority will reduce barriers to the use 
     of partnerships in meeting our resource management 
     obligations, and will enhance our collaborative efforts to 
     conserve and protect natural resources and the environment 
     for which the Department is responsible.
       To assist you in your review of the draft legislation, we 
     have enclosed a section-by-section analysis for the proposed 
     bill. The Administration recommends that the draft bill be 
     sent to the appropriate committee for consideration and that 
     it be enacted.
       The Office of Management and Budget has advised that there 
     is no objection to the submission of this proposal from the 
     standpoint of the Administration's program.
           Sincerely,
     P. Lynn Scarlett.
                                  ____


                           Sectional Analysis

       The purposes of this bill are to authorize programs and 
     activities that will strengthen and advance the Department of 
     the Interior's cooperative conservation efforts and reduce

[[Page S13447]]

     barriers to the use of partnerships in meeting resource 
     management obligations.
       Generally, the proposal seeks to strengthen and advance the 
     Department's successful model of cooperative conservation by 
     ensuring clear, but flexible statutory authority for programs 
     that are currently carried out by the Department but 
     generally authorized under many disparate authorities. The 
     bill also seeks to expand the use of cooperative conservation 
     by providing the Secretary of the Interior with new 
     authorities that will assist the Department in promoting 
     conservation partnerships with private individuals, 
     government entities, and organizations; promote conservation 
     partnership capacity building; and authorize the use of 
     collaborative problem solving and alternative dispute 
     resolution in the Department's bureaus and offices.


                         SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE

       This section states that the short title for the bill is 
     the ``Cooperative Conservation Enhancement Act.''


                    SECTION 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSES

       This section sets forth congressional findings and 
     purposes.


                         SECTION 3. DEFINITIONS

       Section 3 sets out several definitions for terms that are 
     used throughout the bill. The term ``cooperative 
     conservation'' is defined as actions that relate to the use, 
     enhancement, and enjoyment of natural resources, protection 
     of the environment, or both, and that involve collaborative 
     activity among federal, state, local, and tribal governments, 
     private for-profit and non-profit institutions, other non-
     governmental entities, or individuals. The term 
     ``Department'' is used throughout the bill to reference the 
     Department of the Interior. Finally, the term ``Secretary'' 
     means the Secretary of the Interior.

                  Title I--Working Landscape Projects

       According to the Department's partners, one of the 
     difficult hurdles for cooperative conservation projects that 
     involve multiple partners or which require coordination 
     across jurisdictions is securing funding for administrative-
     type costs. These costs might include costs associated with 
     governance, such as the hiring of an executive director, or 
     costs of support services or dissemination of information.
       Title I of the bill would provide the Secretary with 
     authority, for a three-year period, to establish a consistent 
     stream of such funding, to be awarded competitively and for a 
     period of up to three years for any given project, for 
     projects authorized under existing authorities that support 
     innovative approaches to cooperative conservation.


                        SECTION 101. SHORT TITLE

       The short title of this provision is the ``Working 
     Landscape Projects Act of 2007.''


                        SECTION 102. DEFINITIONS

       Section 102 provides definitions for certain terms used 
     throughout this title. The term `administrative services' is 
     defined to include services and costs associated with the 
     operations of activities authorized under this title. It is 
     intended that such services and costs include, but not be 
     limited to, things like meeting announcements, copying, 
     personnel costs and reasonable rental costs for facilities 
     necessary for implementing this title. It is also intended 
     that services and costs under this title shall be consistent 
     with any applicable federal rules, regulations, and guidance. 
     The term `information dissemination activities' is defined to 
     include broadcasting the announcement of meetings and the 
     distribution of reports, memos, and other relevant 
     information necessary for carrying out the authorities under 
     this title.
       `Governance activities' are defined as those activities 
     required to ensure the operation and implementation of 
     projects including, but not limited to, hiring personnel to 
     coordinate project implementation; providing oversight and 
     monitoring of projects and project goals; performing adaptive 
     management techniques on projects; coordinating activities 
     with various partners; performing scientific oversight of 
     projects, including commissioning scientific studies; and 
     requesting data from federal, state, and local government 
     officials, non-profit organizations, and private individuals. 
     Finally, the term `landscape project partner' is a 
     representative of federal, state, or tribal governments, 
     private landowners or corporations, or those of non-profit 
     organizations.


SEC. 103. AUTHORIZATION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, GOVERNANCE, AND INFORMATION 
                         DISSEMINATION PURPOSES

       Section 103 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior 
     to provide funds through a competitive process for the 
     development or maintenance of necessary administrative 
     requirements, including, but not limited to, costs associated 
     with governance, support services, and dissemination of 
     information associated with projects that feature innovative 
     approaches to cooperative conservation.
       Funding for any particular project would be limited to 
     three years, and to qualify for such administrative funding, 
     a project must include participation by a diverse group of 
     partners, including government entities, must affect several 
     jurisdictions or land ownerships, and must have the potential 
     to advance cooperative conservation across a geographical 
     area.
       Projects that receive funding under this provision may 
     include established projects with a record of success; 
     existing projects that are in their early stages and require 
     sustained capacity building; or new or proposed projects that 
     have developed a plan for establishing partnerships and 
     developing landscape-based projects. Section 103 also 
     enumerates certain listed criteria that the projects must 
     meet, and would establish the position of Conservation 
     Project Coordinator, who would serve as the primary federal 
     coordinator of projects that receive funding under this 
     section and whose responsibility it would be to oversee and 
     encourage such projects such that they are reviewed and 
     executed expeditiously. The Coordinator would also be 
     authorized to carry out such other cooperative conservation 
     related activities and projects as the Secretary deems 
     appropriate. All actions undertaken by the Coordinator must 
     be related to the authorized programs and activities of the 
     Department of the Interior.


                          SECTION 104. FUNDING

       Section 104 sets out the mechanism by which the 
     administrative costs awarded under this title would be 
     funded. The Secretary would be authorized to use funds 
     identified in the President's annual budget submission as 
     Cooperative Conservation Programs. Examples of such programs 
     that have been so identified in past budgets include the 
     Department's Challenge Cost Share Program, authorized by 
     section 502 of this legislation, or the U.S. Fish and 
     Wildlife Service's Coastal Program, authorized by section 501 
     of this legislation. These funds would, in turn, be made 
     available to the Secretary in amounts of up to 5 percent of 
     those total funds for FY 2008; up to 6 percent in FY 2009; 
     and up to 7 percent in FY 2010, and will be used, for 
     example, for the costs associated with governance, such as 
     the hiring of an executive director, or costs of support 
     services or dissemination of information.

          Title II--Landowner Conservation Assistance Matters

       In order to encourage landowners to participate as citizen 
     stewards in protecting endangered and threatened species, 
     species proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act 
     of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), and candidate species, this 
     proposal would authorize a conservation banking program 
     within the Department of the Interior.


  SECTION 201. ESTABLISHMENT, USE, AND OPERATION OF CONSERVATION BANKS

       In May 2003, the FWS administratively issued its ``Guidance 
     on the Establishment, Use, and Operation of Conservation 
     Banks.'' That document recognized that conservation banks can 
     benefit the Service--by reducing a piecemeal approach to 
     conservation by promoting the establishment of larger 
     reserves and habitat connectivity--as well as landowners--who 
     benefit from its relative ease of use, flexibility, and 
     opportunity to generate income from what may previously have 
     been considered a liability. Banking also allows a public/
     private collaboration to maintain lands as open space, 
     providing for the conservation of listed and candidate 
     species.
       Section 201 would establish within the FWS a conservation 
     banking program. It defines certain important terms, 
     including ``bank operator,'' ``bank sponsor,'' ``conservation 
     bank,'' ``conservation bank agreement,'' ``conservation bank 
     review team,'' and ``credit.'' The proposal would authorize 
     the Secretary to select and convene a ``Conservation Bank 
     Review Team,'' an interagency group that may include federal, 
     state, tribal and local regulatory and resource agency 
     representatives, to evaluate for acceptance proposals 
     received from bank sponsors. Section 201 provides that if the 
     Conservation Bank Review Team recommends a proposal, it shall 
     present the proposal to the Secretary, who may modify or 
     accept the proposal. Once it has been accepted, the Secretary 
     may enter into a conservation bank agreement and is 
     responsible for establishing the terms under which the 
     conservation bank will operate.
       This section also contains criteria to be used in 
     determining whether to approve a conservation bank proposal, 
     including whether the bank would provide an economically 
     effective process providing options to landowners to offset 
     the adverse effects of projects to species covered by the 
     bank; whether it would provide adequate mitigation for 
     species through appropriate actions; and whether it would be 
     of sufficient size to ensure the maintenance of ecological 
     integrity in perpetuity. The proposal includes requirements 
     that must be contained in bank proposals that have been 
     accepted.
       Finally, in order to ensure the enforceability of 
     agreements entered into under this section, the proposal 
     contains a provision authorizing any party to an agreement to 
     bring an action for violation of an agreement in the U.S. 
     District Court for the District of Columbia.

                   Title III--Promoting Partnerships

       Title III of the proposal would provide mechanisms for 
     increasing the use of cooperative conservation by providing 
     the Secretary of the Interior with new authorities that will 
     assist the Department in promoting conservation partnerships 
     with private individuals, government entities, and 
     organizations, and provide the Department increased 
     flexibility in working with partners and the ability to 
     publicize partnership programs using appropriated funds.
       In some cases, the provisions in Title III are intended to 
     clarify areas of law where general authority is believed to 
     exist within a particular bureau, but which would benefit

[[Page S13448]]

     from clarification. In other cases, the provisions of this 
     title are intended to provide application of a particular 
     provision uniformly across the Department's land managing 
     bureaus.


             SECTION 301. COOPERATION WITH OUTSIDE ENTITIES

       Section 301 would authorize the Secretary or designated 
     bureau official to provide assistance to and cooperate with 
     any agency, organization, or private individual in order to 
     carry out measures that clearly and directly contribute to 
     achieving conservation or natural resource management-related 
     mission and performance goals of the Department and its 
     bureaus. The section would also authorize Departmental 
     bureaus to accept donations of land and interests in land 
     that further the purposes of this section. This language 
     is intended to provide to bureaus across the Department 
     authority similar to that provided to the Secretary in the 
     Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act.


   SECTION 302. ABILITY TO EXPEND FUNDS TO BENEFIT DEPARTMENT LANDS.

       Because it is not clear that all of the Department's 
     bureaus enjoy this authority, section 302 would authorize the 
     Secretary or his designee to carry out activities on non-
     federal lands that directly benefit the resource values and 
     management of federal lands, such as the preservation, 
     conservation, and restoration of coastal and riparian 
     systems, watersheds, and wetlands; the prevention, control, 
     or eradication of invasive species that occupy adjacent non-
     federal lands; or the restoration of natural resources, 
     including native wildlife habitat.
       Activities authorized by this section could only be 
     conducted with the written consent of the landowner, and must 
     clearly and directly benefit the specific Departmental land 
     management unit by directly contributing to the programmatic 
     and performance goals of that unit. Eligible activities would 
     not include the construction of permanent capital 
     improvements or the acquisition of land.
       Finally, in order to ensure that the specific language of 
     section 302 does not limit the application of the 
     Department's other grant-making and other landowner 
     assistance provisions authorized in title V of this Act, the 
     language of section 302 makes clear that nothing in this 
     section supersedes or otherwise affects or alters the 
     authority provided in that title.


  SECTION 303. PUBLICIZING AND PROVIDING NON-FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO 
                             PARTNERSHIPS.

       In order to assist our partners and to provide clarity to 
     an issue that has caused confusion within the Department's 
     bureaus, section 303 would authorize the Secretary or his 
     designee to use appropriated funds to publicize partnership 
     programs and opportunities through publication of 
     announcements in newspapers of general circulation, in the 
     Federal Register, or such other appropriate methods. It would 
     also allow the Department to provide non-financial assistance 
     to private individuals who are establishing nonprofit groups 
     that are intended to support the mission of a Departmental 
     bureau or management unit of a bureau, such as a particular 
     park or refuge. For example, this provision would make it 
     clear that the National Park Service may provide meeting 
     space to individuals interested in establishing a ``friends 
     of the park'' group for a particular park unit.
       The provision specifically would not allow a Department 
     employee to establish a not-for-profit or other entity to 
     support the Department's mission, and nothing in this section 
     would waive the application of the provision of the Anti-
     Lobbying Act (18 U.S.C. 1913).


      SECTION 304. CENTERS OF EXCELLENCE FOR PARTNERSHIP LEARNING.

       Cooperative Conservation is critical to the Department's 
     ability to achieve its conservation goals on a landscape 
     scale and resolve environmental and natural resources 
     disputes. Consistent with President Bush's 2004 Executive 
     Order titled ``Facilitation of Cooperative Conservation,'' 
     which directs federal agencies to implement laws relating to 
     the environment and natural resources in a manner that 
     promotes cooperative conservation, section 304 authorizes a 
     number of sites where federal employees and their partners, 
     including state and local government employees, non-profit 
     employees, private sector employees, and employees of Indian 
     tribes, could experience and learn from resident experts the 
     best practices involved in creating successful partnerships 
     and fostering collaboration.
       For clarity, section 304 contains a definition of ``Center 
     of Excellence for Partnership Learning'' or ``Center,'' which 
     means a federal facility that is identified by the 
     appropriate Secretary as meeting criteria established under 
     this section and which provides federal employees and their 
     partners the opportunity to learn cooperative conservation-
     related best practices.
       Each site is authorized to develop a schedule of hosting 
     activities, which could include some combination of visits, 
     formal courses, detail opportunities, or job swaps at various 
     times throughout the year. To the maximum extent practicable, 
     spaces in the program would be filled on a first-come, first-
     served basis. Section 304 includes criteria for identifying 
     sites that would serve as Centers of Excellence for 
     Partnership Learning, and allows each Center to receive 
     funding reimbursement for the cost of running the program. 
     Each Center would be authorized to cover travel and other 
     incidental expenses of federal employee participants.


                    SECTION 305. PARTNERSHIP ROSTER.

       Section 305 authorizes the Secretaries of the Interior and 
     Agriculture to establish a multi-agency roster to enhance 
     capacity for partnership and collaborative action. The goal 
     of the Roster is to provide non-financial assistance and 
     information to government agencies, private sector 
     organizations, and the public on a variety of issues, 
     including authorities, agreements and contracts, creating and 
     managing non-profit support groups, diversifying and 
     strengthening agency funding, developing a partnership 
     workplace, building community connections, citizen 
     engagement, allowable avenues for donor recognition, 
     communications, conflict management, and collaborative 
     management.

              Title IV--Cooperation Among Federal Agencies


                 SECTION 401. SERVICE FIRST AUTHORITY.

       Section 401 provides permanent authorization for the 
     Service First Initiative, a multi-agency program jointly 
     implemented by the Departments of the Interior and the 
     Department of Agriculture's Forest Service. That program was 
     last authorized in the Department's FY 2006 Appropriations 
     legislation. Under this provision, the Secretary of the 
     Interior, acting through the Bureau of Land Management, 
     the National Park Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
     Service, and the Secretary of Agriculture, acting through 
     the U.S. Forest Service, are authorized to conduct 
     projects, planning, permitting, leasing, contracting and 
     other activities, either jointly or on behalf of one 
     another; co-locate in federal offices and facilities owned 
     or leased by an agency of either Department; promulgate 
     special rules for issuance of unified permits, 
     applications, and leases; and share or transfer equipment, 
     vehicles, or other personal property.
       The Secretaries may also make reciprocal delegations of 
     their respective authorities, duties and responsibilities in 
     support of the activities authorized in this section in order 
     to promote customer service and efficiency.


                        SEC. 402. USE OF FUNDS.

       Section 402 provides a mechanism by which the Secretaries 
     may, in carrying out the provisions of this title, make 
     transfers of funds available and reimbursement of funds on an 
     annual basis among the Bureau of Land Management, the 
     National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
     and the U.S. Forest Service, including transfers and 
     reimbursements for multi-year projects that involve one or 
     more of those agencies. In so doing, however, the Secretaries 
     may not circumvent other requirements and limitations imposed 
     on the use of funds.


                        SEC. 403. CONSTRUCTION.

       Section 403 clarifies that nothing in title IV is intended 
     to alter, expand or limit the applicability of any public law 
     or regulation to lands administered by the participating 
     agencies of either Department.

                    Title V--Cooperative Assistance


        SECTION 501. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE COASTAL PROGRAM.

       The FWS's Coastal Program was created by administrative 
     action, rather than by statute, relying on a number of 
     authorities, including the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act 
     (16 U.S.C. 661-667e), the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 
     U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 
     U.S.C. 703 et seq.), and the Coastal Barriers Resources Act 
     (16 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).
       Section 501 would provide specific statutory authorization 
     for the Secretary of the Interior to carry out the Fish and 
     Wildlife Service Coastal Program within the FWS. Assistance 
     would be used by coastal program partners for, among other 
     things, conservation and restoration of important coastal 
     habitat that supports ``priority'' species, including 
     threatened and endangered species, fishery resources under 
     the Department's jurisdiction, and migratory birds.
       To ensure that the programs carried out under this 
     authority are coordinated with other programs within the 
     Administration that benefit coastal areas, the section 
     contains a provision requiring that the Secretary, where 
     appropriate, coordinate with other interested federal 
     agencies on the program authorized under this section.


      SECTION 502. COOPERATIVE CONSERVATION CHALLENGE COST-SHARE.

       Section 502 authorizes the Secretary, through the U.S. Fish 
     and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, or the 
     National Park Service, to negotiate and enter into 
     cooperative arrangements--partnerships--with state or local 
     governments, Indian tribes, public or private agencies, 
     organizations, institutions, corporations, individuals, or 
     other entities to carry out on a public-private cost sharing 
     basis on-the-ground conservation activities on public or 
     private lands. The language contains certain requirements for 
     projects carried out on private lands, and specifies that the 
     federal share for a project may not exceed 50 percent and 
     shall be provided on a matching basis. The non-federal share 
     for a project may be in the form of cash, services, or in-
     kind contributions.
       Finally, the language makes clear that nothing in this 
     section is intended to supersede, modify, or repeal existing 
     laws providing additional cost-share authorities to 
     Department bureaus.

[[Page S13449]]

             SECTION 503. WATER MANAGEMENT IMPROVEMENT ACT.

       Section 503 authorizes the Secretary to enter into grants 
     and cooperative agreements with states, tribes, irrigation 
     districts, water districts, or other organizations with water 
     delivery authority to fund up to 50 percent of the cost of 
     planning, designing, constructing, or otherwise implementing 
     improvements that will conserve water, increase water use 
     efficiency, facilitate water markets, enhance water 
     management, or implement other actions to prevent water-
     related crises or conflicts in watersheds that have a nexus 
     to federal water projects within the states identified in the 
     Reclamation Act of 1902.
       The purpose of this section is to give Reclamation 
     permanent authority for the competitive grants program that 
     is a central element of Reclamation's ``Water 2025'' program. 
     The program is intended to apply to watersheds containing or 
     receiving water from, or hydrologically impacted by, not only 
     Bureau of Reclamation projects, but other federal projects as 
     well, including but not limited to those of the U.S. Army 
     Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, and 
     the Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources 
     Conservation Service.
       The authority may be used to promote partnership on any 
     action that would achieve the Water 2025 program goal of 
     preventing water-related crisis and conflict. Illustrative 
     examples include actions to enhance water management, such as 
     canal lining and piping, installation of measuring devices to 
     control water or water management technology such as 
     automation, or actions that improve riparian habitat. The 
     program aims to promote cooperation between the different 
     interests within a watershed. Recipients of Water 2025 
     awards are encouraged to enter into partnerships with 
     other entities, including governmental entities or 
     community organizations without water delivery authority, 
     so long as the recipient of the grant or cooperative 
     agreement is a state, tribe, irrigation district, water 
     district, or other organization with water delivery 
     authority. In instances where grant partners are states, 
     funds will be disbursed in conformance with the Cash 
     Management Improvement Act (P.L. 101-453 as amended by 
     P.L. 102-589).
       Agreements entered into pursuant to this authority must 
     comply with the following criteria:
       (1) Funding for improvements to federally-owned facilities 
     may be provided on a non-reimbursable basis to an entity 
     operating affected transferred works or may be deemed non-
     reimbursable for non-transferred works. Language regarding 
     reimbursability is necessary to distinguish this authority 
     from some other Bureau of Reclamation authorities, which 
     often require that project beneficiaries reimburse the 
     federal government for its investment.
       (2) Title to improvements made to federally-owned 
     facilities shall be held by the United States. This does not 
     preclude title to an entire project being transferred to non-
     federal entities at a later date.
       (3) Non-federal cost-share contributions can include the 
     value of any in-kind contributions, but may not include funds 
     from other federal agencies. In-kind contributions should 
     materially contribute to the completion of the proposed 
     action, and should be in compliance with Reclamation 
     standards regarding allowable contributions.
       (4) The cost of operating and maintaining such improvements 
     shall be the responsibility of the non-federal entity. This 
     is consistent with existing practice for most Reclamation 
     facilities, where local project partners are responsible for 
     either reimbursing Reclamation for operating and maintaining 
     the facilities, or directly financing those activities 
     themselves.
       (5) The United States shall not be held liable for monetary 
     damages arising out of any occurrence relating to non-
     federally owned facilities created or improved under this 
     section, except for damages caused by acts of negligence.
       It is intended that these provisions shall not supersede 
     any existing project-specific funding authority.
       The Secretary is also authorized to enter into cooperative 
     agreements with universities, non-profit research 
     institutions, or organizations with water or power delivery 
     authority to fund research on ways to conserve water, 
     increase water use efficiency, or enhance water management 
     under such terms and conditions as the Secretary deems 
     appropriate. This provision is intended to provide 
     Reclamation broader authority to enter into cooperative 
     agreements on research that advances achievement of 
     Reclamation's core mission areas, and which is consistent 
     with the Administration's Research and Development criteria. 
     It is not intended to apply only to Reclamation's Water 2025 
     program, but to apply to all of Reclamation's research and 
     development efforts.
       Grants or cooperative agreements made pursuant to this 
     section may be for the mutual benefit of the United States 
     and the other party, in contrast to agreements entered into 
     under provisions of the Federal Grant and Cooperative 
     Agreement Act of 1977, 31 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 6304-6305, which 
     restrict the use of grant or cooperative agreements to 
     relationships in which the principal purpose is to benefit 
     the non-federal party.
       The legislation provides for a $100 million authorization 
     of appropriations to carry out the section, to remain 
     available until expended.
       Finally, the language makes clear that this section would 
     amend and supplement the Act of June 17, 1902, as amended and 
     supplemented.


              SECTION 504. CONSULTATION WITH STATE PLANS.

       Section 504 would require the Secretary, where appropriate, 
     to consult the State Comprehensive Conservation Plans 
     required under the State and Tribal Wildlife Grant Program 
     and coordinate with state fish and wildlife agencies in the 
     planning and implementation of the actions identified in 
     those plans in evaluating proposals for wildlife conservation 
     grants under programs administered by the Department.

                     Title VI--Conflict Resolution


          SECTION 601. ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION OFFICE.

       Section 601 would establish in the Department the Office of 
     Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution, which would be 
     responsible for promoting and advancing the use of 
     collaborative problem-solving and alternative dispute 
     resolution activities in all Departmental bureaus and 
     offices. The Office would be tasked with increasing the use 
     of early consensus building, alternative dispute resolution, 
     and negotiated rulemakings. The section authorizes such sums 
     as are necessary to carry out the program.

                  Title VII--Miscellaneous Provisions

       In order to ensure clarity and flexibility in implementing 
     this Act, the bill contains a savings provision, which makes 
     clear that the provisions contained in this bill are not 
     intended to supersede any provision of state or federal law; 
     a severability provision, which will ensure the operation of 
     the Act if a particular provision is successfully challenged; 
     and a general authorization to promulgate any regulations 
     necessary to carry out the terms of the Act.
                                              The Deputy Secretary


                                              of the Interior,

                                    Washington, DC, June 19, 2007.
     Hon. Richard Cheney,
     President of the Senate,
     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Mr. President: The Administration is pleased to 
     forward the enclosed draft legislation, title the 
     ``Cooperative Conservation Enhancement Act,'' for your 
     consideration. The draft legislation is intended to advance 
     the Department of the Interior's successful model of 
     cooperative conservation in several ways. First, it will 
     ensure clear, but flexible statutory authority for programs 
     that are currently carried out by the Department but are 
     generally authorized under many disparate authorities. 
     Second, the bill seeks to expand the use of cooperative 
     conservation by providing the Secretary of the Interior with 
     new authorities that will assist the Department in promoting 
     conservation partnerships with private individuals, 
     companies, and organizations and government entities; promote 
     conservation partnership capacity building; and authorize the 
     use of collaborative problem solving and alternative dispute 
     resolution in the Department's bureaus and offices.
       This draft legislation represents a major step forward for 
     the Department's cooperative conservation efforts. If 
     enacted, this new authority will reduce barriers to the use 
     of partnerships in meeting our resource management 
     obligations, and will enhance our collaborative efforts to 
     conserve and protect natural resources and the environment 
     for which the Department is responsible.
       To assist you in your review of the draft legislation, we 
     have enclosed a section-by-section analysis for the proposed 
     bill. The Administration recommends that the draft bill be 
     sent to the appropriate committee for consideration and that 
     it be enacted.
       The Office of Management and Budget has advised that there 
     is no objection to the submission of this proposal from the 
     standpoint of the Administration's program.
           Sincerely,
                                                 P. Lynn Scarlett.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. STEVENS (for himself, Mr. Inouye, Ms. Murkowski, and Mr. 
        Akaka):
  S. 2232. A bill to direct the Secretary of Commerce to establish a 
demonstration program to adapt the lessons of providing foreign aid to 
underdeveloped economies to the provision of Federal economic 
development assistance to certain similarly situated individuals, and 
for other purposes; to the Committee on Indian Affairs.
  Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, I am pleased to introduce the Foreign Aid 
Lessons for Domestic Economic Assistance Act of 2007 to bring a fresh 
approach to the vexing problem of stimulating Alaska Native, Native 
Hawaiian and Lower-48 Indian Tribe economies to bring jobs, hope and 
investment to these impoverished peoples.
  Despite modest improvements in the economic and social well-being of 
Alaska's native people, they continue to have extremely high rates of 
unemployment and poverty, poor health, substandard housing, and the 
related ills of alcohol and drug abuse.
  Only 11 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives hold a 
bachelor's degree compared to 24 percent of the total population. The 
poverty rate in

[[Page S13450]]

1999 was 25.7 percent for the American Indian and Alaska Native 
population, compared to 12.4 percent of the total population.
  Weak economies also contribute to poor health in native communities: 
American Indian and Alaska Natives suffer from significantly higher 
mortality rates compared to the general population. The death rate for 
American Indians and Alaska Natives for tuberculosis is 600 percent 
higher, 510 percent higher for alcoholism, 229 percent higher for motor 
vehicle crashes, 189 percent higher for diabetes, 61 percent higher for 
homicide and 62 percent higher for suicide. American Indian and Alaska 
Native infants die at a rate of 8.5 per every 1,000 live births, 
compared to 6.8 per 1,000 for all U.S. races.
  Housing statistics are no better--12 percent of American Indian and 
Alaska Native homes lack safe and adequate water supply and waste 
disposal facilities compared to one percent of the U.S. general 
population.
  This is the profile of native communities in Alaska, and in the 
lower-48 states as well, despite a vibrant cultural legacy and abundant 
natural resources on and under their lands and in their waters. Many 
native communities have marketable timber, huge reserves of coal, 
natural gas, oil, fish and shellfish and other natural amenities.
  At the same time, native economies are hobbled by geographic 
remoteness, distance from markets and population centers, poor physical 
infrastructure, and a lack of governmental transparency, contributing 
to stagnating Native American economies.
  Because native economies are often plagued by the same challenges as 
the economies of the developing world, native economies are likely to 
benefit from the application of proven models employed in international 
development efforts, most notably the Millenium Challenge Act of 2003. 
This initiative aims to foster those policies that are known to be 
effective and in the process, reduce poverty and promote sustainable 
economic growth in the host country. Typically, the activities that are 
assisted are related to agriculture, irrigation, and related land 
practices; physical infrastructure development to facilitate marketing 
of goods and services; and a variety of health care programs.
  Similarly, the objectives of the legislation I am introducing today 
are just as straightforward: enhancing the long-term job creation and 
revenue generation potential of Native economies by creating 
investment-favorable climates and increasing Native productivity.
  The Foreign Aid Lessons for Domestic Economic Assistance Act would 
also authorize administering federal economic development assistance in 
a novel manner to promote economic growth, eliminate poverty, and 
strengthen good governance, entrepreneurship, and investment in native 
communities.
  A corollary, but equally important, objective is to improve the 
effectiveness of existing Federal economic development assistance by 
encouraging the integration and coordination of such assistance to 
benefit Native economies. Accordingly, this legislation requires that 
any assistance provided must be coordinated with other Federal economic 
development assistance programs for Native Americans.
  A critical component of the Foreign Aid Lessons for Domestic Economic 
Assistance Demonstration is in its demand for accountability in the 
performance of the Compact terms and use of financial resources. This 
legislation requires that eligible entities submit to the Secretary of 
Commerce written reports on an annual basis detailing activities 
undertaken and progress made through assistance from this program.
  Mr. President, I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this 
legislation.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. ROCKEFELLER:
  S. 2236. A bill to title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security 
Act of 1974, title XXVII of the Public Health Service Act, and the 
Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide additional limitations on 
preexisting condition exclusions in group health plans and health 
insurance coverage in the group and individual markets; to the 
Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
  Mr. ROCKEFELLER. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce the Pre-
existing Condition Exclusion Patient Protection Act of 2007. This is a 
critical bill for the tens of millions of individuals who suffer from 
chronic, disabling, and life-threatening conditions, as it will ensure 
that they have access to affordable, comprehensive, and meaningful 
health insurance coverage despite ``pre-existing conditions.''
  The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention estimates that fully 
one-third of all Americans will have a chronic, disabling, and life-
threatening condition at some time during their lifetimes. In West 
Virginia, that translates to approximately 600,000 of our neighbors who 
will face these serious health problems. Far too often these are the 
very people who find their health insurance coverage interrupted, 
cancelled, or denied because of pre-existing condition limitations in 
their health insurance policies.
  That is why, over 10 years ago, Congress passed the Health Insurance 
Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, HIPAA, P.L. 104-191, with 
the objective of protecting Americans from interruptions in health 
insurance coverage resulting from job changes or other life 
transitions. HIPAA provides this protection by restricting when private 
insurers can use pre-existing conditions to limit health care coverage. 
HIPAA has been successful, and many individuals have come to rely on 
its protections. However, after more than a decade, certain gaps in 
HIPAA's protection have become apparent that hamper individuals' access 
to care for which they could be covered, but for their pre-existing 
conditions.
  First, individuals who have been without health insurance coverage 
for 63 days or more, risk becoming permanently uninsurable. This is 
particularly true of individuals with pre-existing conditions, because 
a 63-day gap in coverage eliminates any prior creditable coverage. If 
an employee cannot demonstrate that he or she had prior creditable and 
continuous coverage, an employer can exclude coverage for pre-existing 
conditions for up to 12 months.
  Second, employers can restrict coverage for pre-existing conditions 
to otherwise qualified employees based on a 6-month ``look-back'' 
period. This means that an employer may use medical recommendations, 
diagnoses, and treatments within the most recent 6 months to exclude 
coverage as a ``pre-existing condition.'' This ``look-back'' period is 
sufficiently long that it likely impacts all Americans with at least 
one chronic illness, a category that includes a staggering one out of 
every three Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
  Third, the protections offered to individuals moving into a group 
health plan, or moving into the individual insurance market from a 
group plan, are not available to individuals attempting to shop around 
for policies within the individual market. As a result, individuals who 
purchase policies in the non-group market and never have a gap in 
coverage still have no protection against the pre-existing condition 
exclusions that insurers may choose to impose.
  The Pre-existing Condition Exclusion Patient Protection Act of 2007 
takes significant steps to improve these weaknesses in the law, thereby 
protecting patients who are currently at risk of being denied health 
insurance coverage. To close the first gap in the law, the bill reduces 
the timeframe during which an employer can exclude coverage for pre-
existing conditions from 12 months to three months. This would ensure 
that more Americans have access to health insurance coverage; 
furthermore, it is consistent with the requirements for ``state-
qualified plans'' under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Reform Act of 
2002.
  To close the second HIPAA gap, this legislation shrinks the permitted 
``look-back'' period from 6 months to 30 days, which would result in a 
decrease in the number of Americans who are unfairly denied health 
coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Finally, the bill closes the 
third gap by applying the same pre-existing condition protections 
afforded to individuals in the group health insurance market under 
HIPAA to individuals moving to, and within, the individual health 
insurance market.
  Passing this legislation would increase access to private health 
insurance for the almost 94 million Americans who suffer from at least 
one chronic illness. It also would ensure

[[Page S13451]]

that the 158 million individuals who are insured through employer-based 
private plans and the more than 14 million individuals who are covered 
by non-group, private plans would have far better protection when 
changing jobs or their health care plans.
  I am confident that with these actions, we can achieve a significant 
improvement in the access of Americans to health insurance coverage. 
For this reason, I urge my colleagues to advance progress toward this 
important goal by supporting the Pre-existing Condition Exclusion 
Patient Protection Act of 2007.
  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. 2236

       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 ``Preexisting Condition 
     Exclusion Patient Protection Act of 2007''.

     SEC. 2. AMENDMENTS RELATING TO PREEXISTING CONDITION 
                   EXCLUSIONS UNDER GROUP HEALTH PLANS.

       (a) Amendments to the Employee Retirement Income Security 
     Act of 1974.--
       (1) Reduction in look-back period.--Section 701(a)(1) of 
     the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (29 
     U.S.C. 1181(a)(1)) is amended by striking ``6-month period'' 
     and inserting ``30-day period''.
       (2) Reduction in permitted preexisting condition limitation 
     period.--Section 701(a)(2) of such Act (29 U.S.C. 1181(a)(2)) 
     is amended by striking ``12 months'' and inserting ``3 
     months'', and by striking ``18 months'' and inserting ``9 
     months''.
       (b) Amendments to the Public Health Service Act.--
       (1) Reduction in look-back period.--Section 2701(a)(1) of 
     the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 300gg(a)(1)) is 
     amended by striking ``6-month period'' and inserting ``30-day 
     period''.
       (2) Reduction in permitted preexisting condition limitation 
     period.--Section 2701(a)(2) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 
     300gg(a)(2)) is amended by striking ``12 months'' and 
     inserting ``3 months'', and by striking ``18 months'' and 
     inserting ``9 months''.
       (c) Amendments to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.--
       (1) Reduction in look-back period.--Paragraph (1) of 
     section 9801(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 
     (relating to limitation on preexisting condition exclusion 
     period and crediting for periods of previous coverage) is 
     amended by striking ``6-month period'' and inserting ``30-day 
     period''.
       (2) Reduction in permitted preexisting condition limitation 
     period.--Paragraph (2) of section 9801(a) of such Code is 
     amended by striking ``12 months'' and inserting ``3 months'', 
     and by striking ``18 months'' and inserting ``9 months''.
       (d) Effective Date.--
       (1) In general.--Except as provided in paragraph (2), the 
     amendments made by this section shall apply with respect to 
     group health plans for plan years beginning after the end of 
     the 12th calendar month following the date of the enactment 
     of this Act.
       (2) Special rule for collective bargaining agreements.--In 
     the case of a group health plan maintained pursuant to one or 
     more collective bargaining agreements between employee 
     representatives and one or more employers ratified before the 
     date of the enactment of this Act, the amendments made by 
     this section shall not apply to plan years beginning before 
     the earlier of--
       (A) the date on which the last of the collective bargaining 
     agreements relating to the plan terminates (determined 
     without regard to any extension thereof agreed to after the 
     date of the enactment of this Act), or
       (B) 3 years after the date of the enactment of this Act.

     For purposes of subparagraph (A), any plan amendment made 
     pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement relating to the 
     plan which amends the plan solely to conform to any 
     requirement added by the amendments made by this section 
     shall not be treated as a termination of such collective 
     bargaining agreement.

     SEC. 3. AMENDMENTS RELATING TO PREEXISTING CONDITION 
                   EXCLUSIONS IN HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE IN THE 
                   INDIVIDUAL MARKET.

       (a) Applicability of Group Health Insurance Limitations on 
     Imposition of Preexisting Condition Exclusions.--
       (1) In general.--Section 2741 of the Public Health Service 
     Act (42 U.S.C. 300gg-41) is amended--
       (A) by redesignating the second subsection (e) (relating to 
     market requirements) and subsection (f) as subsections (f) 
     and (g), respectively; and
       (B) by adding at the end the following new subsection:
       ``(h) Application of Group Health Insurance Limitations on 
     Imposition of Preexisting Condition Exclusions.--
       ``(1) In general.--Subject to paragraph (2), a health 
     insurance issuer that provides individual health insurance 
     coverage may not impose a preexisting condition exclusion (as 
     defined in subsection (b)(1)(A) of section 2701) with respect 
     to such coverage except to the extent that such exclusion 
     could be imposed consistent with such section if such 
     coverage were group health insurance coverage.
       ``(2) Limitation.--In the case of an individual who--
       ``(A) is enrolled in individual health insurance coverage;
       ``(B) during the period of such enrollment has a condition 
     for which no medical advice, diagnosis, care, or treatment 
     had been recommended or received as of the enrollment date; 
     and
       ``(C) seeks to enroll under other individual health 
     insurance coverage which provides benefits different from 
     those provided under the coverage referred to in subparagraph 
     (A) with respect to such condition,

     the issuer of the individual health insurance coverage 
     described in subparagraph (C) may impose a preexisting 
     condition exclusion with respect to such condition and any 
     benefits in addition to those provided under the coverage 
     referred to in subparagraph (A), but such exclusion may not 
     extend for a period of more than 3 months.''.
       (2) Elimination of cobra requirement.--Subsection (b) of 
     such section is amended--
       (A) by adding ``and'' at the end of paragraph (2);
       (B) by striking the semicolon at the end of paragraph (3) 
     and inserting a period; and
       (C) by striking paragraphs (4) and (5).
       (3) Conforming amendment.--Section 2744(a)(1) of such Act 
     (42 U.S.C. 300gg-44(a)(1)) is amended by inserting ``(other 
     than subsection (h))'' after ``section 2741''.
       (b) Effective Date.--The amendments made by this section 
     shall apply with respect to health insurance coverage 
     offered, sold, issued, renewed, in effect, or operated in the 
     individual market after the end of the 12th calendar month 
     following the date of the enactment of this Act.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. BIDEN:
  S. 2237. A bill to fight crime; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
  Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President. I rise to mark the introduction of the 2007 
Biden Crime Bill because a perfect storm is gathering with respect to 
crime in America, and we need bold action to get us back on track.
  Before I discuss the specifics of my legislation, I want to talk to 
you about what is feeding this perfect storm. Since 2001, Federal 
funding for local law enforcement has been slashed by billions of 
dollars--from about $2,1 billion per year in the nineties to a proposed 
level of $32 million in 2007. The COPS hiring program has been 
eliminated completely.
  At the same time, President Bush has reassigned more than 1,000 FBI 
agents from fighting crime to combating terrorism. Certainly, this was 
necessary, but he has not replaced them. A bitter irony results--we 
have improved our ability to fight international terrorism, but left 
our communities here at home less safe from the threat of murderers, 
rapists, and drug kingpins.
  This is the perfect storm: asking local law enforcement to do much 
more for a growing population while giving them much less--less Federal 
funding and fewer Federal agents with whom to partner. As a result, 
local law enforcement has had to give up crime prevention practices, 
like community policing, in order to stay on top of rising demand. They 
are doing their level best, but they need more help.
  Early stages of the storm are upon us. The FBI's Uniform Crime 
Reports show a rise in violent crime and murder for the second straight 
year. This hasn't happened since 1994. Last year, crime rose at the 
highest rate it had in 15 years and this year we add another 1.9 
percent increase.
  The Police Executive Research Forum reports that the homicide rate 
rose more than 10 percent in metropolitan areas around the country, 
like Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Kansas City, 
and Philadphia. Don't believe the statistics? Just ask your local cops. 
They will tell you they are seeing more crimes with a higher level of 
violence.

  Back in the nineties we faced a similar crime crisis. In 1994, 
Congress passed the Crime Bill, and it transformed the Federal approach 
to fighting crime. It used a three-part system: invest in prevention 
programs, dedicate Federal support to community-oriented policing, and 
ensure that offenders serve tough-but-fair prison sentences. It worked. 
Crime dropped for eight consecutive years. Violent crime and murder 
rates dropped more than 30 percent
  The bill I introduced today is the most comprehensive crime bill in 
more than a decade and it builds on the successful approach of the 1994 
Crime Bill.

[[Page S13452]]

It invests more than $6 billion in tried and true prevention programs 
that recognize that the first step to fighting crime is protecting kids 
from neglect and abuse and providing them with a stable family, 
positive early education, and someplace safe and constructive to spend 
the critical after-school hours.
  My bill reauthorizes the COPS program and provides $1.15 billion per 
year to hire, equip, and train 50,000 new police officers, and hire 
additional local prosecutors. Study after study has demonstrated the 
effectiveness of the COPS program, and every major law enforcement 
agency in the country supports it. It is high time we started funding 
it again.
  In addition, the bill provides funds to hire an additional 1,000 FBI 
agents dedicated to fighting crime and an additional 500 DEA agents 
dedicated to dismantling drug trafficking organizations. The Federal 
Government cannot make the trade-off between fighting crime and 
terrorism--we owe it to our citizens to do both.
  The bill invests more than $1 billion in preventing recidivism by 
ensuring that when prisoners are released into society, they have the 
vocational training, the drug treatment, and the housing they need to 
reintegrate as law-abiding, productive members. Currently, over 650,000 
ex-offenders are released from Federal and State prisons each year. 
Within 3 years of release, two thirds will commit another crime. That 
is hundreds of thousands of crimes each year, and we need to bring that 
number down.

  Finally, the bill addresses developments in crime fighting and in 
criminal trade craft. Mr. President, 13 years ago, online sexual 
predators, Internet copyright infringement, and computer hacking were 
virtually unknown. Today they are common crimes with real victims. This 
bill ensures that law enforcement has the resources and legal tools it 
needs to prevent, investigate, and prosecute such crimes.
  The bottom line is that fighting crime is like cutting grass--you 
stop mowing the lawn and one day you'll look outside and see a real 
mess. We can't ignore crime and hope it goes away. We've made that 
mistake over the last 6 years, and our communities are paying the 
price.
  We have to get back to cutting the grass. This legislation takes a 
comprehensive approach once again to fighting crime. It renews our 
financial commitment to rebuilding law enforcement capabilities at the 
Federal, State, and local level. It is a significant step toward making 
good on one of Congress's most sacred duties to our citizens protecting 
them from crime and fostering safe communities. I urge my colleagues to 
support this bill.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. BINGAMAN (for himself and Mr. Hatch):
  S. 2239. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow 
self-employed individuals to deduct health insurance costs in computing 
self-employment taxes; to the Committee on Finance.
  Mr. BINGAMAN. Mr. President, today I, along with Senator Hatch, am 
re-introducing the Equity for Our Nation's Self-Employed Act of 2007. 
This important legislation corrects an inequity that currently exists 
in our tax code that forces the self-employed to pay payroll taxes on 
the funds used to pay for their health insurance while larger 
businesses do not. Because of this inequity, health insurance is more 
expensive for the self-employed. At a time when the number of people 
uninsured is growing at an alarming rate, we need to find ways to 
reduce the cost of health insurance. This legislation is a first 
logical step.
  Under current law, corporations and other business entities are able 
to deduct health insurance premiums as a business expense and to forego 
payroll taxes on these costs. However, sole-proprietors are not allowed 
this same deduction and thus, are required to pay self-employment tax, 
their payroll tax, on health insurance premiums. The self-employed are 
the only segment of the business population that are additionally taxed 
on health insurance. The legislation we are introducing today would 
stop this inequitable tax treatment and allow sole proprietors to 
deduct the amount they pay for health insurance from their calculation 
of payroll taxes, leveling the playing field for the over 20 million 
self-employed in our Nation.
  This problem affects all self-employed who provide health insurance 
to their families. According to the IRS, there are almost 130,000 sole-
proprietors in New Mexico. While we do not know how many of these 
people in New Mexico have health insurance, we do know that roughly 3.8 
million working families in the U.S. paid self-employment tax on their 
health insurance premiums. Estimates indicate that roughly 60 percent 
of our Nation's uninsured are either self-employed or work for a small 
business. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, self-employed 
workers spent upwards of $12,000 per year in 2006 to provide health 
insurance for their family. Because they cannot deduct this as an 
ordinary business expense, those that spend this amount will pay a 15.3 
percent payroll tax on their premiums, resulting in over $1,800 of 
taxes annually.
  This problem was identified by the National Taxpayer Advocate in 
several of her annual reports to Congress and our legislation to 
correct it is supported by over 40 national and State organizations 
including the National Association for the Self-Employed, the National 
Small Business Association, the National Federation of Independent 
Business, National Association of Realtors, the U.S. Chamber of 
Commerce, and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
  I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this important 
legislation passed.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. CARPER (for himself and Ms. Collins):
  S. 2240. A bill to prohibit termination of employment of volunteer 
firefighters and emergency medical personnel responding to emergencies, 
and for other purposes; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, 
and Pensions.
  Mr. CARPER. Mr. President, I rise today with my mend from Maine to 
introduce the Volunteer Firefighter and EMS Personnel Job Protection 
Act.
  Current law offers volunteer firefighters and emergency medical 
services personnel no protection against punishment by their employers 
should they miss work when called on to respond to a national 
emergency. This means that firefighters or EMS personnel volunteering 
their time, even during major disasters like 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, 
or even the current wildfires in California, can be disciplined or even 
fired for putting their lives at risk to save others.
  We put forward this legislation today out of concern that volunteers 
faced with the prospect of losing their jobs and not responding to a 
call will choose the latter. Its passage would protect volunteers from 
having to make that choice when the call is to a Presidentially-
declared disaster or emergency.
  In order to receive the protections offered under the bill, a first 
responder would need to provide reasonable notice to their employer 
before missing time and would need to provide regular updates during 
the course of their absence. The bill also allows volunteer 
firefighters or EMS personnel to take legal action against businesses 
that fire or discipline an individual who gives appropriate notice 
before missing work due to a legitimate emergency situation.
  In order to prevent abuse, the bill places a 14-day limit on the 
amount of time volunteer firefighters or EMS workers could take off 
from their jobs before being subject to disciplinary action. The bill 
also does not require employers to compensate volunteers for time away 
from work.
  Communities across the country depend on volunteer firefighters and 
EMS personnel to respond to major disasters. My State is among them. In 
fact, most communities in Delaware rely almost exclusively on the work 
and sacrifice of volunteers to protect their citizens from fires to 
major disasters. This bill seeks to ensure that Delawareans can 
continue to rely on them.
  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. 2240

       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 ``Volunteer Firefighter and 
     EMS Personnel Job Protection Act''.

[[Page S13453]]

     SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.

       In this Act:
       (1) Emergency.--The term ``emergency'' has the meaning 
     given such term in section 102 of the Robert T. Stafford 
     Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 
     5122).
       (2) Major disaster.--The term ``major disaster'' has the 
     meanings given such term in section 102 of the Robert T. 
     Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 
     U.S.C. 5122).
       (3) Qualified volunteer fire department.--The term 
     ``qualified volunteer fire department'' has the meaning given 
     such term in section 150(e) of the Internal Revenue Code of 
     1986.
       (4) Volunteer emergency medical services.--The term 
     ``volunteer emergency medical services'' means emergency 
     medical services performed on a voluntary basis for a fire 
     department or other emergency organization.
       (5) Volunteer firefighter.--The term ``volunteer 
     firefighter'' means an individual who is a member in good 
     standing of a qualified volunteer fire department.

     SEC. 3. TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT OF VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS 
                   AND EMERGENCY MEDICAL PERSONNEL PROHIBITED.

       (a) Termination Prohibited.--No employee may be terminated, 
     demoted, or in any other manner discriminated against in the 
     terms and conditions of employment because such employee is 
     absent from or late to the employee's employment for the 
     purpose of serving as a volunteer firefighter or providing 
     volunteer emergency medical services as part of a response to 
     an emergency or major disaster.
       (b) Deployment.--The prohibition in subsection (a) shall 
     apply to an employee serving as a volunteer firefighter or 
     providing volunteer emergency medical services if such 
     employee--
       (1) is specifically deployed to respond to the emergency or 
     major disaster in accordance with a coordinated national 
     deployment system such as the Emergency Management Assistance 
     Compact or a pre-existing mutual aid agreement; or
       (2) is a volunteer firefighter who--
       (A) is a member of a qualified volunteer fire department 
     that is located in the State in which the emergency or major 
     disaster occurred;
       (B) is not a member of a qualified fire department that has 
     a mutual aid agreement with a community affected by such 
     emergency or major disaster; and
       (C) has been deployed by the emergency management agency of 
     such State to respond to such emergency or major disaster.
       (c) Limitations.--The prohibition in subsection (a) shall 
     not apply to an employee who--
       (1) is absent from the employee's employment for the 
     purpose described in subsection (a) for more than 14 days per 
     calendar year;
       (2) responds on the emergency or major disaster without 
     being officially deployed as described in subsection (b); or
       (3) fails to provide the written verification described in 
     subsection (e) within a reasonable period of time.
       (d) Withholding of Pay.--An employer may reduce an 
     employee's regular pay for any time that the employee is 
     absent from the employee's employment for the purpose 
     described in subsection (a).
       (e) Verification.--An employer may require an employee to 
     provide a written verification from the official of the 
     Federal Emergency Management Agency supervising the Federal 
     response to the emergency or major disaster or a local or 
     State official managing the local or State response to the 
     emergency or major disaster that states--
       (1) the employee responded to the emergency or major 
     disaster in an official capacity; and
       (2) the schedule and dates of the employee's participation 
     in such response.
       (f) Reasonable Notice Required.--An employee who may be 
     absent from or late to the employee's employment for the 
     purpose described in subsection (a) shall--
       (1) make a reasonable effort to notify the employee's 
     employer of such absence; and
       (2) continue to provide reasonable notifications over the 
     course of such absence.

     SEC. 4. RIGHT OF ACTION.

       (a) Right of Action.--An individual who has been 
     terminated, demoted, or in any other manner discriminated 
     against in the terms and conditions of employment in 
     violation of the prohibition described in section 3 may 
     bring, in a district court of the United States of 
     appropriate jurisdiction, a civil action against individual's 
     employer seeking--
       (1) reinstatement of the individual's former employment;
       (2) payment of back wages;
       (3) reinstatement of fringe benefits; and
       (4) if the employment granted seniority rights, 
     reinstatement of seniority rights.
       (b) Limitation.--The individual shall commence a civil 
     action under this section not later than 1 year after the 
     date of the violation of the prohibition described in section 
     3.

     SEC. 5. STUDY AND REPORT.

       (a) Study.--The Secretary of Labor shall conduct a study on 
     the impact that this Act could have on the employers of 
     volunteer firefighters or individuals who provide volunteer 
     emergency medical services and who may be called on to 
     respond to an emergency or major disaster.
       (b) Report.--Not later than 12 months after the date of the 
     enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Labor shall submit to 
     the appropriate congressional committees a report on the 
     study conducted under subsection (a).
       (c) Appropriate Congressional Committees.--In this section, 
     the term ``appropriate congressional committees'' means the 
     Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and the 
     Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship of the 
     Senate and the Committee on Education and the Workforce and 
     the Committee on Small Business of the House of 
     Representatives.

  Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President. I rise to offer my wholehearted support 
for the bill offered by the distinguished Senator from Delaware to 
provide some reasonable measure of job protection for the volunteer 
firefighters and emergency medical personnel who save thousands of 
lives across this country every year.
  This bill is a matter of simple fairness. It recognizes that 
volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel not only serve 
their own towns and offer mutual assistance to other communities on a 
day-to-day basis, but also that they are a key component in state and 
federal plans for responding to catastrophic natural disasters and 
terrorist attacks.
  Across the Nation, our emergency planning relies on the ready 
availability of these brave first responders. Indeed, volunteers are 
absolutely critical to mounting a response to disasters, both large and 
small. My home state of Maine, for example, has slightly more than 
10,000 firefighters in 492 departments. Because Maine is a mostly rural 
State, fully 88 percent of those firefighters are volunteers.
  Yet, even if they are called up in a major disaster or a 
Presidentially declared emergency under the Stafford Act, these 
volunteers have no official protection for their jobs while they are 
answering the call to duty.
  We should protect volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel who put 
their lives on the line.
  The current lack of job protection is dangerous. If large numbers of 
volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel were terminated or demoted 
after being called away to a disaster or a series of disasters, 
recruitment and retention of volunteers could be devastated.
  The Volunteer Firefighter and EMS Personnel Job Protection Act would 
correct the injustice and mitigate the danger in a measured and 
responsible way. It would protect the volunteer first responders 
against termination or demotion by employers if they are called upon to 
respond to a Presidentially declared emergency or a major disaster for 
up to 14 workdays.
  The bill imposes no unreasonable burdens on employers. They are not 
obliged to pay the volunteers during their absence, and they are 
entitled to receive official documentation that an absent employee was 
in fact summoned to and served in a disaster response.
  Finally, I would note that the bill would facilitate the work of 
emergency managers. Having this job protection in force would allow 
them to make operational and contingency plans with greater confidence, 
knowing that volunteer responders would not be forced to withdraw in 
short order for fear of losing their jobs.
  The Volunteer Firefighter and EMS Personnel Job Protection Act is a 
straightforward matter of simple justice and sound policy. By extending 
some protection to these brave men and women, we can strengthen the 
protection and life-saving response that they provide to many millions 
of Americans. I believe this bill merits the support of every Senator, 
and I am proud to be an original co-sponsor.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. ALLARD (for himself and Mr. Salazar):
  S. 2241. A bill to provide consistent enforcement authority to the 
Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the United States 
Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Forest Service to respond to 
violations of regulations regarding the management, use, and protection 
of public land under the jurisdiction of those agencies, and for other 
purposes; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  Mr. ALLARD. Mr. President, I have just introduced a piece of 
legislation called the Public Land Fire Regulation Enforcement Act. I 
wish to spend a moment talking about that.
  Mother Nature possesses a beauty like no other; this beauty sometimes

[[Page S13454]]

allows us to forget the ferocious might that she can bring to bear. The 
tragic fires in California provide an all too real reminder of this.
  My thoughts and prayers are with folks in California, because it was 
not so long ago that Colorado fund itself in a similar situation. Each 
year people out West live with the constant and growing threat of 
wildfire. In 2002, nearly 400,000 acres burned. Then Governor Bill 
Owens said that ``all of Colorado is burning''.
  Unfortunately, some folks--through ignorance, carelessness, or 
malice--ignore Federal guidelines and start fires during high risk 
times. In order to deter this action and provide an added measure of 
security Senator Salazar and I are introducing the Public Land Fire 
Regulations Enforcement Act. This bill will strengthen current law by 
increasing the penalties for individuals who disregard public safety 
and start fires during restricted times. It increases possible fines 
and doubles the maximum time violators could spend in jail.
  I hope that the fires burning in California are contained soon and 
that the damage is minimized as much as possible. I also hope that the 
legislation I introduce today will help prevent future catastrophic 
fires from being started.
                                  ____

      By Mr. SPECTER (for himself and Mr. Wyden):
  S. 2243. A bill to strongly encourage the Government of Saudi Arabia 
to end its support for institutions that fund, train, incite, 
encourage, or in any other way aid and abet terrorism, to secure full 
Saudi cooperation in the investigation of terrorist incidents, to 
denounce Saudi sponsorship of extremist Wahhabi ideology, and for other 
purposes; to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
  Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President. I have sought recognition to offer 
legislation to encourage Saudi Arabia to halt its support for 
institutions that fund, train, incite, encourage, or in any other way 
aid and abet terrorism, and to secure full Saudi cooperation in the 
investigation of terrorist incidents.
  I offer this bill on behalf of myself and Senator Wyden. 
  Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, evidence has emerged 
indicating that support for al-Qaeda, Ramas, and other organizations 
has come from Saudi Arabia.
  Testimony presented to several Congressional committees, including 
the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, Judiciary Committee, and 
Intelligence committees in both houses, has indicated that Saudi Arabia 
is an epicenter for terrorist financing. These committees have also 
found the Saudi government's cooperation in investigations into the al-
Qaeda terrorist network has been lackluster.
  In the 108 Congress, as a member of the Governmental Affairs 
Committee and as a member of the Judiciary Committee, we worked to 
establish a basic point that anybody who knowingly contributes to a 
terrorist organization is an accessory before the fact to murder; so 
when people contribute to al-Qaeda or Hamas, knowing that both 
organizations employ suicide bombers, they are accessories to murder.
  United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373, adopted in 2001, 
mandates that all States ``refrain from providing any form of support, 
active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts,'' 
take ``the necessary steps to prevent the commission of terrorist 
acts,'' and ``deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, or 
commit terrorist acts.'' There is mounting evidence that Saudi Arabia 
has not been compliant with this resolution.
  The 9/11 Commission interviewed numerous military officers and 
government officials who repeatedly listed Saudi Arabia as a prime 
place for terrorists to set up bases and found that ``Saudi Arabia's 
society was a place where al-Qaeda raised money directly from 
individuals through charities.''
  The Council on Foreign Relations concluded in a 2002 report that 
``for years, individuals and charities based in Saudi Arabia have been 
the most important source of funds for al-Qaeda, and for years, Saudi 
officials have turned a blind eye.''
  There are indications that, since the May 12, 2003, suicide bombings 
in Riyadh, the Government of Saudi Arabia is making a more serious 
effort to combat terrorism. That said, I would like to draw attention 
to the following findings recanted by organizations which have studied 
the record of the Saudis. 
  In a June 2004 report entitled ``Update on the Global Campaign 
Against Terrorist Financing,'' the Council on Foreign Relations 
reported that ``we find it regrettable and unacceptable that since 
September 11, 2001, we know of not a single Saudi donor of funds to 
terrorist groups who have been publicly punished.''
  A joint committee of the Select Committee on Intelligence of the 
Senate and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House 
of Representatives issued a report on July 24, 2003, that quotes 
various U.S. Government personnel who complained that the Saudis 
refused to cooperate in the investigation of Osama bin Laden and his 
network both before and after the September 11, 2001, terrorist 
attacks.
  My frustration with the Saudi government's lack of cooperation in 
international counterterrorism efforts goes back more than a decade. 
After the Khobar Towers were bombed in 1996--an attack which cost 19 
American airmen their lives and injured 400 more--I traveled to 
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia to see the carnage firsthand. When I arrived, 
U.S. investigators were being denied the opportunity to interview the 
suspects apprehended by the Saudis. I personally met with Crown Prince 
Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to request that the FBI be granted access to 
the prisoners. Crown Prince Abdullah said that the U.S. should not 
meddle in Saudi internal affairs; the murder of 19 airmen and the 
wounding of 400 more hardly qualifies as a Saudi internal affair.
  The Saudi government continues to drag its feet when it comes to 
cooperation in combating terrorism. The Iraq Study Group stated that 
Saudi Arabia has been ``passive and disengaged'' with regard to the 
situation in Iraq. Passive and disengaged is unacceptable when Saudi 
institutions are funding, training, inciting, and encouraging many 
terrorist actions in Iraq.
  On October 23, 2007, Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz stated, ``The 
Kingdom is determined to continue its policy of fighting all forms of 
terrorism.''
  According to a July 27, 2007, New York Times article, ``Of an 
estimated 60 to 80 foreign fighters who enter Iraq each month, American 
military and intelligence officials say that nearly half are coming 
from Saudi Arabia and that the Saudis have not done enough to stem the 
flow.''
  On October 23, 2007, Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz stated, 
``Saudi Arabia's view is that dealing with the phenomenon of terrorism 
should not be confined to the mere security aspect of it but it should 
also be at the intellectual level.''
  The Center for Religious Freedom, formerly affiliated with Freedom 
House, in a 2006 report entitled ``Saudi Arabia's Curriculum of 
Intolerience,'' stated that despite 2005 statements by the Saudi 
Foreign Minister that their educational curricula have been reformed, 
this is ``simply not the case.'' On the contrary, religious textbooks 
continue to advocate the destruction of any non-Wahhabi Muslim. Saudi 
Arabia has established Wahhabism, an extreme form of Islam, as the 
official state doctrine, and about 5,000,000 children are instructed 
each year in Islamic studies using Saudi Ministry of Education 
textbooks.
  A fall 2007 report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious 
Freedom stated that, ``Due to insufficient information provided by the 
Saudi government, the Commission could not verify that a formal 
mechanism exists within the Saudi government to review thoroughly and 
revise educational texts and other materials sent outside of Saudi 
Arabia. It appears that the Saudi government has made little or no 
progress on efforts to halt the exportation of extremist ideology 
outside the Kingdom.'' It is important to note that fifteen of the 
nineteen 9/11 hijackers were Saudis.
  In my judgment, the U.S. has been lenient with the Saudis out of 
deference to Saudi oil. It is really an open scandal that we have not 
taken action to secure some independence from our reliance on Saudi 
oil. A September 2005 Government Accountability Office report stated 
that, ``Saudi Arabia's multibillion-dollar petroleum industry, although 
largely owned by the government, has fostered the creation of large

[[Page S13455]]

private fortunes, enabling many wealthy Saudis to sponsor charities and 
educational foundations whose operations extend to many countries. U.S. 
Government and other expert reports have linked some Saudi donations to 
the global propagation of religious intolerance, hatred of Western 
values, and support of terrorist activities.''
  The 9/11 Commission recommended that the problems in our bilateral 
relationship with Saudi Arabia must be confronted openly--this 
legislation takes a step in that direction.
  The legislation expresses the sense of Congress that the Government 
of Saudi Arabia must immediately and unconditionally: 1. permanently 
close all organizations in Saudi Arabia that fund, train, incite, 
encourage, or in any way aid and abet terrorism anywhere in the World; 
2. end all funding for offshore terrorist organizations; 3. block all 
funding from private Saudi citizens and entities to Saudi-based or 
offshore terror organizations, and 4. provide complete, unrestricted, 
and unobstructed cooperation to the U.S. in the investigation of terror 
groups and individuals.
  The President should certify to Congress when the Government of Saudi 
Arabia is fully cooperating with the U.S. in the actions listed above.
  Two major objectives in the Global War on Terrorism are to deny 
terrorists safe haven and to eradicate the sources of terrorist 
financing. We cannot be successful in this war by ignoring the problem 
Saudi Arabia presents to our security. The government of Saudi Arabia 
can no longer remain idle while its citizenry continues to provide the 
wherewithal for terrorist groups with global reach nor can it continue 
to directly facilitate and support institutions that incite violence.
  President Bush stated that the U.S. ``will challenge the enemies of 
reform, confront the allies of terror, and expect a higher standard 
from our friends.'' To be successful in the global war on terrorism we 
need the proactive and full cooperation of all nations--especially 
those who consider themselves allies of the U.S.
  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. 2243

       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 ``Saudi Arabia Accountability 
     Act of 2007''.

     SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

       Congress makes the following findings:
       (1) United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001) 
     mandates that all states ``refrain from providing any form of 
     support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved 
     in terrorist acts'', take ``the necessary steps to prevent 
     the commission of terrorist acts'', and ``deny safe haven to 
     those who finance, plan, support, or commit terrorist acts''.
       (2) In 2004, the Council on Foreign Relations reported that 
     it knew of ``not a single Saudi donor of funds to terrorist 
     groups who has been publicly punished''.
       (3) In his July 2005 testimony to the Committee on Banking, 
     Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate, Stewart Levey, the 
     Undersecretary for the Office of Terrorism and Financing 
     Intelligence of the Department of the Treasury, reported that 
     ``even today, we believe that Saudi donors may still be a 
     significant source of terrorist financing, including for the 
     insurgency in Iraq''. He added that Saudi financiers and 
     charities ``remain a key source for the promotion of 
     ideologies used by terrorists and violent extremists''.
       (4) According to a July 27, 2007 New York Times article, 
     ``Of an estimated 60 to 80 foreign fighters who enter Iraq 
     each month, American military and intelligence officials say 
     that nearly half are coming from Saudi Arabia and that the 
     Saudis have not done enough to stem the flow.''.
       (5) According to a July 15, 2007 Los Angeles Times article, 
     ``About 45% of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops 
     and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia 
     . . . according to official U.S. military figures made 
     available to The Times by the senior officer. Nearly half of 
     the 135 foreigners in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq are 
     Saudis, he said. Fighters from Saudi Arabia are thought to 
     have carried out more suicide bombings than those of any 
     other nationality, said the senior U.S. officer, who spoke on 
     condition of anonymity because of the subject's 
     sensitivity.''.
       (6) The Center for Religious Freedom, formerly affiliated 
     with Freedom House, in a 2006 report entitled ``Saudi 
     Arabia's Curriculum of Intolerance'', stated that despite 
     2005 statements by the Saudi Foreign Minister that their 
     educational curricula have been reformed, this is ``simply 
     not the case''. Contrarily, religious textbooks continue to 
     advocate the destruction of any non-Wahhabi Muslim. Saudi 
     Arabia has established Wahhabism, an extreme form of Islam, 
     as the official state doctrine, and about 5,000,000 children 
     are instructed each year in Islamic studies using Saudi 
     Ministry of Education textbooks.
       (7) A Fall 2007 United States Commission on International 
     Religious Freedom report stated ``Due to insufficient 
     information provided by the Saudi government, the Commission 
     could not verify that a formal mechanism exists within the 
     Saudi government to review thoroughly and revise educational 
     texts and other materials sent outside of Saudi Arabia. It 
     appears that the Saudi government has made little or no 
     progress on efforts to halt the exportation of extremist 
     ideology outside the Kingdom.''.
       (8) A September 2005 Government Accountability Office 
     report stated that ``Saudi Arabia's multibillion-dollar 
     petroleum industry, although largely owned by the government, 
     has fostered the creation of large private fortunes, enabling 
     many wealthy Saudis to sponsor charities and educational 
     foundations whose operations extend to many countries. United 
     States Government and other expert reports have linked some 
     Saudi donations to the global propagation of religious 
     intolerance, hatred of Western values, and support of 
     terrorist activities''.
       (9) A June 2004 press release on the website of the Saudi 
     embassy, www.saudiembassy.net, discussed the creation of the 
     Saudi National Commission for Relief and Charity Work Abroad, 
     a nongovernmental body designed to ``take over all aspects of 
     private overseas aid operations and assume responsibility for 
     the distribution of private charitable donations from Saudi 
     Arabia'' in order to ``guard against money laundering and the 
     financing of terrorism''. As of late 2007, this Commission 
     had not been created.
       (10) In a February 2006 open Senate Select Committee on 
     Intelligence hearing on the ``World Wide Threat'', former 
     Director of National Intelligence and current Deputy 
     Secretary of State John Negroponte, stated that ``there are 
     private Saudi citizens who still engage in these kinds of 
     donations [in which money is transferred back door to 
     terrorists]''.
       (11) A March 2005 report by the Congressional Research 
     Service stated that at least 5 persons listed as 
     beneficiaries of the Saudi Committee for the Support of the 
     Al Quds Intifada were suspected suicide bombers.
       (12) During November 8, 2005 testimony on Saudi Arabia 
     before the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology, and 
     Homeland Security of the Committee on the Judiciary of the 
     Senate, Steve Emerson, terrorism expert and Executive 
     Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, stated 
     that despite repeated declarations by Saudi officials that 
     there has been substantial reform in education, progress 
     against terrorism, and movement toward transparency, a review 
     of other Saudi announcements shows that they have either 
     specifically failed to follow through or cannot be proven to 
     have followed through on their pledges. He also noted that 
     the Saudi government established the Saudi Committee for the 
     Support of the Al Quds Intifada, which was proven to provide 
     aid to Palestinian terrorist groups. During an Israeli raid 
     on a Hamas institution, they discovered a spreadsheet from 
     the aforementioned committee giving a detailed account about 
     how they received $545,000 from the committee to allocate to 
     102 families of so-called martyrs. The spreadsheet included 
     the names of 8 suicide bombers.
       (13) A January 2007 Congressional Research Service Report 
     on Saudi Arabia's terrorist-financing activities indicated 
     that although the records portion of the Committee for the 
     Support of the Al Quds Intifada was deactivated in March 
     2005, of the 1,300 listed beneficiaries, over 60 matched or 
     closely resembled the names of known Palestinian militants 
     who carried out attacks against Israel between October 2000 
     and March 2002.
       (14) The final report of the Presidentially-appointed Iraq 
     Study Group stated that ``funding for the Sunni insurgency in 
     Iraq comes from private donors in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf 
     states''.
       (15) A January 2005 report by the Center for Religious 
     Freedom found that Saudi Arabia was creating and 
     distributing, through its embassy in Washington, D.C., 
     material promoting hatred, intolerance, and violence at 
     mosques and Islamic centers in the United States.
       (16) On December 14, 2005, R. James Woolsey, former 
     Director of Central Intelligence wrote, ``Over the long run, 
     this movement [Wahhabism] is in many ways the most dangerous 
     of the ideological enemies we face.'' Mr. Woolsey also 
     explained that ``al Qaeda and the Wahhabis share essentially 
     the same underlying totalitarian theocratic ideology. It is 
     this common Salafist ideology that the Wahhabis have been 
     spreading widely--financed by $3-4 billion/year from the 
     Saudi government and wealthy individuals in the Middle East 
     over the last quarter century--to the madrassas of Pakistan, 
     the textbooks of Turkish children in Germany, and the mosques 
     of Europe and the U.S.''.
       (17) According to a May 2006 report by the Center for 
     Religious Freedom, official Saudi religious textbooks 
     continue to teach hatred of those who do not follow Wahhabi 
     Muslim doctrine and encourage jihad against such

[[Page S13456]]

     ``infidels'' and ``the Saudi public school religious 
     curriculum continues to propagate an ideology of hate toward 
     the unbeliever . . . [A] text instructs students that it is a 
     religious obligation to do `battle' against infidels in order 
     to spread the faith''.
       (18) In May 2006, the Congressional Research Service 
     reported that ``Saudi Arabia has discussed increasing boycott 
     efforts against Israel, despite their WTO [World Trade 
     Organization] obligations''.

     SEC. 3. SENSE OF CONGRESS.

       It is the sense of Congress that--
       (1) it is imperative that the Government of Saudi Arabia 
     immediately and unconditionally--
       (A) permanently close all charities, schools, or other 
     organizations or institutions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 
     that fund, train, incite, encourage, or in any other way aid 
     and abet terrorism anywhere in the world (referred to in this 
     Act as ``Saudi-based terror organizations''), including by 
     means of providing support for the families of individuals 
     who have committed acts of terrorism;
       (B) end funding or other support by the Government of Saudi 
     Arabia for charities, schools, and any other organizations or 
     institutions outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that train, 
     incite, encourage, or in any other way aid and abet terrorism 
     anywhere in the world (referred to in this Act as ``offshore 
     terror organizations''), including by means of providing 
     support for the families of individuals who have committed 
     acts of terrorism;
       (C) block all funding from private Saudi citizens and 
     entities to any Saudi-based terror organization or offshore 
     terrorism organization; and
       (D) provide complete, unrestricted, and unobstructed 
     cooperation to the United States, including the unsolicited 
     sharing of relevant intelligence in a consistent and timely 
     fashion, in the investigation of groups and individuals that 
     are suspected of financing, supporting, plotting, or 
     committing an act of terror against United States citizens 
     anywhere in the world, including within the Kingdom of Saudi 
     Arabia; and
       (2) the President, in determining whether to make the 
     certification described in section 4, should judge whether 
     the Government of Saudi Arabia has continued and sufficiently 
     expanded its efforts to combat terrorism since the May 12, 
     2003 bombing in Riyadh.

     SEC. 4. PRESIDENTIAL CERTIFICATION.

       The President shall certify to the appropriate 
     congressional committees when the President determines that 
     the Government of Saudi Arabia--
       (1) is fully cooperating with the United States in 
     investigating and preventing terrorist attacks;
       (2) has permanently closed all Saudi-based Wahhabbist 
     organizations that fund Islamic extremism, internally and 
     abroad;
       (3) has exercised maximum efforts to block all funding from 
     private Saudi citizens, corporations, and entities, to 
     foreign Islamic extremist and terrorist movements; and
       (4) has stopped financing and disseminating materials, and 
     other forms of support, that encourage the spread of radical 
     Wahhabi ideology.

     SEC. 5. STATUS REPORT.

       (a) Requirement for Report.--Not later than 6 months after 
     the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 12 months 
     thereafter until the President makes the certification 
     described in section 4, the Secretary of State shall submit a 
     report to the appropriate congressional committees that 
     describes the progress made by the Government of Saudi Arabia 
     toward meeting the conditions described in paragraphs (1) 
     through (4) of section 4.
       (b) Form.--The report submitted under subsection (a) shall 
     be in unclassified form and may include a classified annex.

     SEC. 6. APPROPRIATE CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES DEFINED.

       In this Act, the term ``appropriate congressional 
     committees'' means the Committee on Foreign Relations of the 
     Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of 
     Representatives.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. REID (for Mrs. Clinton):
  S. 2244. A bill to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services 
to carry out demonstration projects and outreach programs for the 
identification and abatement of lead hazards, to establish the Joint 
Task Force on Lead-Based Hazards and the Task Force on Children's 
Environmental Health and Safety, to strengthen the authority of the 
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and for other purposes; to 
the Committee on Finance.
  Mrs. CLINTON. Mr. President, I rise to introduce the Lead 
Elimination, Abatement and Poisoning Prevention Act of 2007, 
legislation that would help us address the threat of lead poisoning 
among children.
  We have made enormous strides in reducing exposure to lead since its 
use was phased out in gasoline and residential paint more than twenty 
years ago. From 1976 to 1994, we reduced the number of children from 
age 1 to 5 with elevated blood lead levels from more than 75 percent of 
the population to slightly over 4 percent of the population, according 
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC. And many local 
governments have responded to existing lead hazards through intensive 
interventions.
  In my state, for example, Rochester is just one of the cities that 
have increased their efforts to address elevated blood lead levels 
among their residents. In 2002, Rochester estimated that nearly 25 
percent of its children had blood lead levels that exceeded the CDC's 
standard of 10 micrograms per deciliter. Rochester embarked on efforts 
to engage in residential lead remediation and abatement, particularly 
among the 80 percent of its housing stock identified as having lead-
based paint. By 2005, according to the Monroe County Department of 
Health, out of more than 13,000 children screened, the number with 
elevated blood lead levels had dropped to less than 5 percent--a marked 
reduction from only three years before. Yet these levels are still 
high, and Rochester continues to work to reduce that level even 
further, continuing efforts to identify and address the sources of lead 
poisoning with a coalition of stakeholders.
  These are the types of interventions we should be supporting, because 
there are still far too many children in Rochester and other places 
around our country who are at risk for lead poisoning. The CDC 
estimates that more than 300,000 children have elevated blood lead 
levels. Many of these children are at risk due to existing lead-based 
paint in their homes. To address this concern, I have introduced 
legislation--the Home-Based Lead Safety Tax Credit Act--which will help 
families and landlords remediate and abate lead-based hazards in 
residences.
  But as recent events have shown us, residential lead paint is not the 
only source of exposure to lead hazards. This past summer, families 
experienced wave after wave of recalls for products containing lead 
hazards--products that were all targeted for use by children, including 
toys, bibs, and notebooks. Hundreds of thousands of children have been 
needlessly exposed to lead-contaminated products, and I have written to 
both President Bush and the Acting Commissioner of the Consumer Product 
Safety Commission to urge them to undertake the reforms necessary to 
strengthen this agency.
  Our Government's Healthy People 2010 Objectives includes the goal of 
eliminating elevated blood lead levels in children. The Environmental 
Protection Agency's Strategic Plan for 2006-2011 also sets the goal of 
eliminating elevated blood lead levels in American children by 2010. 
But if we keep along our current path, we will not attain those goals. 
We must increase our commitment at our federal agencies to address this 
issue, provide our state and local governments with the tools to 
mobilize the multiple stakeholders involved in lead abatement and 
poisoning prevention, and increase our efforts to educate families 
about ways to protect their children from lead exposure.

  We need to take a comprehensive approach to lead poisoning 
prevention, which is why I am introducing the LEAPP Act today. This 
legislation will do the following:
  In far too many cases, a single dwelling accounts for multiple 
childhood lead poisonings. This bill would establish a pilot project to 
increase collaboration between state and local health departments, 
housing agencies, and environmental departments to identify these 
``repeat offender'' houses, take steps to remediate or remove the 
existing lead hazards and treat children who have been exposed. This 
program would be authorized at $5 million annually from fiscal years 
2008 to 2012.
  Currently, the federal government has multiple programs designed to 
addressing lead-based hazards and increase lead poisoning prevention. 
The LEAPP Act would consolidate these task forces to improve 
coordination among all agencies, as well as state, local and community 
stakeholders, and have them develop a strategic plan to maximize 
resources for Federal Government resources.
  The President's Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety 
Risks to Children was established in 1997 to help coordinate the 
overall environmental health work in the Executive Branch. The LEAPP 
Act would codify the Task Force to facilitate

[[Page S13457]]

high-level federal coordination for initiatives that improve children's 
environmental health, including lead poisoning prevention and 
abatement.
  While exposure to lead paint remains a primary hazard, other sources 
for lead poisoning are imported products with high levels of lead and 
traditional medications that contain lead. The LEAAP Act would 
authorize the Office of Minority Health and the Office of Refugee 
Resettlement to engage in community-based partnerships to increase 
culturally appropriate education and outreach campaigns to reduce lead 
hazard exposure.
  Since lead accumulates in bones, many pregnant women may unknowingly 
have elevated blood lead levels, which may be passed to their children 
or cause toxic effects on their own organs. Through identifying and 
screening women during pregnancy, we can work to improve the health of 
the mother, her child, and the overall family. The LEAPP Act would 
establish pilot projects to incorporate risk assessment, screening and 
treatment as part of prenatal care for Medicaid populations. This 
program would be authorized at $5 million annually for each of fiscal 
years 2008 through 2012.
  Current law does not require landlords and homeowners to conduct 
lead-based paint inspections before they can lease or sell their homes. 
This legislation not only requires landlords to conduct these 
inspections, but also produce documentation of these inspections and 
remediate any lead-based paint hazards found as a result of these 
inspections before leasing or selling homes.
  Far too many children are exposed to lead-based paint in their homes 
only to return to the same home after being diagnosed as having 
contracted lead poisoning. Under this bill, if the primary residence of 
a child who is less than 6 years of age is in a unit of public or 
private housing, and such child is diagnosed by a certified medical 
practitioner as having contracted lead poisoning, the public housing 
authority or landlord for such residence shall immediately temporarily 
relocate the affected family, conduct an inspection and risk assessment 
for lead, and completely abate the unit in which such child resided.
  Current law and regulation that aim to reduce lead-based poisoning in 
homes do not cover all housing units. If we are to reach our goal of 
eliminating lead poisoning by 2010, we must extend the reach of current 
law and regulations to cover all housing units. This bill will extend 
that coverage to zero bedroom housing, housing for the elderly and 
persons with disabilities. Doing so will provide protections for 
children without regard for the type of dwelling in which they reside.
  The Low Income Housing Tax Credit is the federal government's largest 
housing rehabilitation program. Despite this fact, the LIHTC does not 
have a single lead-based hazard control requirement. This legislation 
sets aside 5 percent of the LIHTC funding for lead-based hazard control 
measures.
  Although weatherization measures can improve energy efficiency and 
save homeowners on energy cost, these measures can also create lead 
hazards in homes. To protect our children from these hazards, this 
legislation requires weatherization programs to do lead hazard controls 
as part of their weatherization work.
  I look forward to working with my colleagues to continue our efforts 
to protect children against lead poisoning.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. DURBIN:
  S. 2245. A bill to establish a comission to ensure food safety in the 
United States, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Homeland 
Security and Governmental Affairs.
  Mr. DURBIN. 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. 2245

       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 ``Food Safety Authority 
     Modernization Act''.

     SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL BIPARTISAN FOOD SAFETY COMMISSION.

       (a) Commission.--
       (1) Establishment.--
       (A) In general.--There is established a commission to be 
     known as the ``Congressional Bipartisan Food Safety 
     Commission'' (referred to in this Act as the ``Commission'').
       (B) Purpose.--The purpose of the Commission shall be to act 
     in a bipartisan, consensus-driven fashion--
       (i) to review the food safety system of the United States;
       (ii) to prepare a report that--

       (I) summarizes information about the food safety system as 
     in effect as of the date of enactment of this Act; and
       (II) makes recommendations on ways--

       (aa) to modernize the food safety system of the United 
     States;
       (bb) to harmonize and update food safety statutes;
       (cc) to improve Federal, State, local, and interagency 
     coordination of food safety personnel, activities, budgets, 
     and leadership;
       (dd) to best allocate scarce resources according to risk;
       (ee) to ensure that regulations, directives, guidance, and 
     other standards and requirements are based on best-available 
     science and technology;
       (ff) to emphasize preventative rather than reactive 
     strategies; and
       (gg) to provide to Federal agencies funding mechanisms 
     necessary to effectively carry out food safety 
     responsibilities; and
       (iii) to draft specific statutory language, including 
     detailed summaries of the language and budget 
     recommendations, that would implement the recommendations of 
     the Commission.
       (2) Membership.--
       (A) Composition.--The Commission shall be composed of 19 
     members.
       (B) Eligibility.--Members of the Commission shall--
       (i) have specialized training, education, or significant 
     experience in at least 1 of the areas of--

       (I) food safety research;
       (II) food safety law and policy; and
       (III) program design and implementation;

       (ii) consist of--

       (I) the Secretary of Agriculture (or a designee);
       (II) the Secretary of Health and Human Services (or a 
     designee);
       (III) 1 Member of the House of Representatives; and
       (IV) 1 Member of the Senate; and
       (V) 15 additional members that include, to the maximum 
     extent practicable, representatives of--

       (aa) consumer organizations;
       (bb) agricultural and livestock production;
       (cc) public health professionals;
       (dd) State regulators;
       (ee) Federal employees; and
       (ff) the livestock and food manufacturing and processing 
     industry.
       (C) Appointments.--
       (i) In general.--The appointment of the members of the 
     Commission shall be made not later than 60 days after the 
     date of enactment of this Act.
       (ii) Certain appointments.--Of the members of the 
     Commission described in subparagraph (B)(ii)(V)--

       (I) 2 shall be appointed by the President;
       (II) 7 shall be appointed by a working group consisting 
     of--

       (aa) the Chairman of each of the Committee on Agriculture, 
     Nutrition, and Forestry and the Committee on Health, 
     Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate;
       (bb) the Chairman of each of the Committee on Agriculture 
     and the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of 
     Representatives;
       (cc) the Speaker of the House of Representatives; and
       (dd) the Majority Leader of the Senate; and

       (III) 6 shall be appointed by a working group consisting 
     of--

       (aa) the Ranking Member of each of the Committees described 
     in items (aa) and (bb) of subclause (II);
       (bb) the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives; 
     and
       (cc) the Minority Leader of the Senate.
       (D) Term.--A member of the Commission shall be appointed 
     for the life of the Commission.
       (E) Vacancies.--A vacancy on the Commission--
       (i) shall not affect the powers of the Commission; and
       (ii) shall be filled in the same manner as the original 
     appointment was made.
       (3) Meetings.--
       (A) Initial meeting.--Except as provided in subparagraph 
     (B), the initial meeting of the Commission shall be conducted 
     in Washington, District of Columbia, not later than 30 days 
     after the date of appointment of the final member of the 
     Commission under paragraph (2)(C).
       (B) Meeting for partial appointment.--If, as of the date 
     that is 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, all 
     members of the Commission have not been appointed under 
     paragraph (2)(C), but at least 8 members have been appointed, 
     the Commission may hold the initial meeting of the 
     Commission.
       (C) Other meetings.--The Commission shall--
       (i) hold a series of at least 5 stakeholder meetings to 
     solicit public comment, including--

       (I) at least 1 stakeholder meeting, to be held in 
     Washington, District of Columbia; and

[[Page S13458]]

       (II) at least 4 stakeholder meetings, to be held in various 
     regions of the United States; and

       (ii) meet at the call of--

       (I) the Chairperson;
       (II) the Vice-Chairperson; or
       (III) a majority of the members of the Commission.

       (D) Public participation; information.--To the maximum 
     extent practicable--
       (i) each meeting of the Commission shall be open to the 
     public; and
       (ii) all information from a meeting of the Commission shall 
     be recorded and made available to the public.
       (E) Quorum.--With respect to meetings of the Commission--
       (i) a majority of the members of the Commission shall 
     constitute a quorum for the conduct of business of the 
     Commission; but
       (ii) for the purpose of a stakeholder meeting described in 
     subparagraph (C)(i), 4 or more members of the Commission 
     shall constitute a quorum.
       (F) Facilitator.--The Commission shall contract with a 
     nonpolitical, disinterested third-party entity to serve as a 
     meeting facilitator.
       (4) Chairperson and vice-chairperson.--At the initial 
     meeting of the Commission, the members of the Commission 
     shall select from among the members a Chairperson and Vice-
     Chairperson of the Commission.
       (b) Duties.--
       (1) Recommendations.--The Commission shall review and 
     consider the statutes, studies, and reports described in 
     paragraph (2) for the purpose of understanding the food 
     safety system of the United States in existence as of the 
     date of enactment of this Act.
       (2) Statutes, studies, and reports.--The statutes, studies, 
     and reports referred to in paragraph (1) are--
       (A) with respect with respect to laws administered by the 
     Secretary of Agriculture--
       (i) the Federal Seed Act (7 U.S.C. 1551 et seq.);
       (ii) the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (7 U.S.C. 1621 
     et seq.);
       (iii) the Animal Health Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 8301 et 
     seq.);
       (iv) the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 (16 U.S.C. 3371 et 
     seq.);
       (v) the Poultry Products Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 451 et 
     seq.);
       (vi) the Federal Meat Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 601 et 
     seq.); and
       (vii) the Egg Products Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 1031 et 
     seq.);
       (B) with respect to laws administered by the Secretary of 
     the Treasury, the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (27 
     U.S.C. 201 et seq.);
       (C) with respect to laws administered by the Federal Trade 
     Commission, the Act of September 26, 1914 (15 U.S.C. 41 et 
     seq.);
       (D) with respect to laws administered by the Secretary of 
     Health and Human Services--
       (i) chapters I through IV of the Federal Food, Drug, and 
     Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 301 et seq.);
       (ii) the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 201 et seq.);
       (iii) the Import Milk Act (21 U.S.C. 141 et seq.);
       (iv) the Food Additives Amendment of 1958 (Public Law 85-
     929; 52 Stat. 1041);
       (v) the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (Public Law 89-755; 
     80 Stat. 1296);
       (vi) the Infant Formula Act of 1980 (21 U.S.C. 301 note; 
     Public Law 96-359);
       (vii) the Pesticide Monitoring Improvements Act of 1988 
     (Public Law 100-418; 102 Stat. 1411);
       (viii) the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (21 
     U.S.C. 301 note; Public Law 101-535);
       (ix) the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 
     1997 (21 U.S.C. 301 note; Public Law 105-115); and
       (x) the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism 
     Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (21 U.S.C. 201 note; 
     Public Law 107-188);
       (E) with respect to laws administered by the Attorney 
     General, the Federal Anti-Tampering Act (18 U.S.C. 1365 note; 
     Public Law 98-127);
       (F) with respect to laws administered by the Administrator 
     of the Environmental Protection Agency--
       (i) the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act 
     (7 U.S.C. 136 et seq.);
       (ii) the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 (7 U.S.C. 136 
     note; Public Law 104-170);
       (iii) the Toxic Substances Control Act (15 U.S.C. 2601 et 
     seq.); and
       (iv) the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 (42 U.S.C. 201 
     note; Public Law 93-523); and
       (G) with respect to laws administered by the Secretary of 
     Transportation, chapter 57 of subtitle II of title 49, United 
     States Code (relating to sanitary food transportation); and
       (H) with respect to Government studies on food safety--
       (i) the report of the National Academies of Science 
     entitled ``Ensuring Safe Food from Production to 
     Consumption'' and dated 1998;
       (ii) the report of the National Academies of Science 
     entitled ``Scientific Criteria to Ensure Safe Food'' and 
     dated 2003;
       (iii) reports of the Office of the Inspector General of the 
     Department of Agriculture, including--

       (I) report 24601-0008-CH, entitled ``Egg Products 
     Processing Inspection'' and dated September 18, 2007;
       (II) report 24005-1-AT, entitled ``Food Safety and 
     Inspection Service--State Meat and Poultry Inspection 
     Programs'' and dated September 27, 2006;
       (III) report 24601-06-CH, entitled ``Food Safety and 
     Inspection Service's In-Plant Performance System'' and dated 
     March 28, 2006;
       (IV) report 24601-05-AT, entitled ``Hazard Analysis and 
     Critical Control Point Implementation at Very Small Plants'' 
     and dated June 24, 2005;
       (V) report 24601-04-HY, entitled ``Food Safety and 
     Inspection Service Oversight of the 2004 Recall by Quaker 
     Maid Meats, Inc.'' and dated May 18, 2005;
       (VI) report 24501-01-FM, entitled ``Food Safety and 
     Inspection Service Application Controls--Performance Based 
     Inspection System'' and dated November 24, 2004;
       (VII) report 24601-03-CH, entitled ``Food Safety and 
     Inspection Service Use of Food Safety Information'' and dated 
     September 30, 2004;
       (VIII) report 24601-03-HY, entitled ``Food Safety and 
     Inspection Service Effectiveness Checks for the 2002 
     Pilgrim's Pride Recall'' and dated June 29, 2004;
       (IX) report 24601-02-HY, entitled ``Food Safety and 
     Inspection Service Oversight of the Listeria Outbreak in the 
     Northeastern United States'' and dated June 9, 2004;
       (X) report 24099-05-HY, entitled ``Food Safety and 
     Inspection Service Imported Meat and Poultry Equivalence 
     Determinations Phase III'' and dated December 29, 2003;
       (XI) report 24601-2-KC, entitled ``Food Safety and 
     Inspection Service--Oversight of Production Process and 
     Recall at Conagra Plant (Establishment 969)'' and dated 
     September 30, 2003;
       (XII) report 24601-1-Ch, entitled ``Laboratory Testing Of 
     Meat And Poultry Products'' and dated June 21, 2000;
       (XIII) report 24001-3-At, 24601-1-Ch, 24099-3-Hy, 24601-4-
     At, entitled ``Food Safety and Inspection Service: HACCP 
     Implementation, Pathogen Testing Program, Foreign Country 
     Equivalency, Compliance Activities'' and dated June 21, 2000; 
     and
       (XIV) report 24001-3-At, entitled ``Implementation of the 
     Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point System'' and dated 
     June 21, 2000; and

       (I) with respect to reports prepared by the Government 
     Accountability Office, the reports designated--
       (i) GAO-05-212;
       (ii) GAO-02-47T;
       (iii) GAO/T-RCED-94-223;
       (iv) GAO/RCED-99-80;
       (v) GAO/T-RCED-98-191;
       (vi) GAO/RCED-98-103;
       (vii) GAO-07-785T;
       (viii) GAO-05-51;
       (ix) GAO/T-RCED-94-311;
       (x) GAO/RCED-92-152;
       (xi) GAO/T-RCED-99-232;
       (xii) GAO/T-RCED-98-271;
       (xiii) GAO-07-449T;
       (xiv) GAO-05-213;
       (xv) GAO-04-588T;
       (xvi) GAO/RCED-00-255;
       (xvii) GAO/RCED-00-195; and
       (xviii) GAO/T-RCED-99-256.
       (3) Report.--Not later than 360 days after the date on 
     which the Commission first meets, the Commission shall submit 
     to the President and Congress a report that includes the 
     report and summaries, statutory language recommendations, and 
     budget recommendations described in clauses (ii) and (iii) of 
     subsection (a)(1)(B).
       (c) Powers of the Commission.--
       (1) Hearings.--The Commission or, at the direction of the 
     Commission, any member of the Commission, may, for the 
     purpose of carrying out this section--
       (A) hold such hearings, meet and act at such times and 
     places, take such testimony, receive such evidence, and 
     administer such oaths; and
       (B) require, by subpoena or otherwise, the attendance and 
     testimony of such witnesses and the production of such books, 
     records, correspondence, memoranda, papers, documents, tapes, 
     and materials;
     as the Commission or member considers advisable.
       (2) Issuance and enforcement of subpoenas.--
       (A) Issuance.--A subpoena issued under paragraph (1)(B) 
     shall--
       (i) bear the signature of the Chairperson of the 
     Commission; and
       (ii) be served by any person or class of persons designated 
     by the Chairperson for that purpose.
       (B) Enforcement.--In the case of contumacy or failure to 
     obey a subpoena issued under paragraph (1)(B), the United 
     States district court for the district in which the 
     subpoenaed person resides, is served, or may be found may 
     issue an order requiring the person to appear at any 
     designated place to testify or to produce documentary or 
     other evidence.
       (C) Noncompliance.--Any failure to obey the order of the 
     court may be punished by the court as a contempt of court.
       (D) Witness allowances and fees.--
       (i) In general.--Section 1821 of title 28, United States 
     Code, shall apply to a witness requested or subpoenaed to 
     appear at a hearing of the Commission.
       (ii) Expenses.--The per diem and mileage allowances for a 
     witness shall be paid from funds available to pay the 
     expenses of the Commission.
       (3) Information from federal agencies.--
       (A) In general.--The Commission may secure directly, from 
     any Federal agency, such information as the Commission 
     considers necessary to carry out this section.
       (B) Provision of information.--

[[Page S13459]]

       (i) In general.--Subject to subparagraph (C), on the 
     request of the Commission, the head of a Federal agency 
     described in subparagraph (A) shall expeditiously furnish 
     information requested by the Commission to the Commission.
       (ii) Administration.--The furnishing of information by a 
     Federal agency to the Commission shall not be considered a 
     waiver of any exemption available to the agency under section 
     552 of title 5, United States Code.
       (C) Information to be kept confidential.--For purposes of 
     section 1905 of title 18, United States Code--
       (i) the Commission shall be considered an agency of the 
     Federal Government; and
       (ii) any individual employed by an individual, entity, or 
     organization that is a party to a contract with the 
     Commission under this section shall be considered an employee 
     of the Commission.
       (d) Commission Personnel Matters.--
       (1) Members.--
       (A) Non-federal employees.--A member of the Commission who 
     is not an officer or employee of the Federal Government shall 
     be compensated at a rate equal to the daily equivalent of the 
     annual rate of basic pay prescribed for level IV of the 
     Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United 
     States Code, for each day (including travel time) during 
     which the member is engaged in the performance of the duties 
     of the Commission.
       (B) Federal employees.--A member of the Commission who is 
     an officer or employee of the Federal Government shall serve 
     without compensation in addition to the compensation received 
     for the services of the member as an officer or employee of 
     the Federal Government.
       (C) Travel expenses.--A member of the Commission shall be 
     allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of 
     subsistence, at rates authorized for an employee of an agency 
     under subchapter I of chapter 57 of title 5, United States 
     Code, while away from the home or regular place of business 
     of the member in the performance of the duties of the 
     Commission.
       (2) Staff.--
       (A) Executive director.--Not later than 30 days after the 
     Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson of the Commission are 
     selected under subsection (a)(4), the Chairperson and Vice-
     Chairperson shall jointly select an individual to serve as 
     executive director of the Commission.
       (B) Additional staff.--The Chairperson of the Commission 
     may, without regard to the civil service laws (including 
     regulations), appoint and terminate the appointment of such 
     other additional personnel as are necessary to enable the 
     Commission to perform the duties of the Commission.
       (C) Confirmation of executive director.--The employment of 
     an executive director under this paragraph shall be subject 
     to confirmation by the Commission.
       (D) Compensation.--
       (i) In general.--Except as provided in clause (ii), the 
     Chairperson of the Commission may fix the compensation of the 
     executive director and other personnel without regard to the 
     provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of 
     title 5, United States Code, relating to classification of 
     positions and General Schedule pay rates.
       (ii) Maximum rate of pay.--The rate of pay for the 
     executive director and other personnel shall not exceed the 
     rate payable for level II of the Executive Schedule under 
     section 5316 of title 5, United States Code.
       (3) Detail of federal government employees.--
       (A) In general.--An employee of the Federal Government may 
     be detailed to the Commission, without reimbursement, for 
     such period of time as is permitted by law.
       (B) Civil service status.--The detail of the employee shall 
     be without interruption or loss of civil service status or 
     privilege.
       (4) Procurement of temporary and intermittent services.--
     The Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, and executive director of 
     the Commission may procure temporary and intermittent 
     services in accordance with section 3109(b) of title 5, 
     United States Code, at rates for individuals that do not 
     exceed the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay 
     prescribed for level IV of the Executive Schedule under 
     section 5316 of that title.
       (e) Funding and Support Services.--For each fiscal year, 
     the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and 
     Human Services shall provide to fund the Commission and carry 
     out this section--
       (1) from funds made available to the Secretary of 
     Agriculture under section 32 of the Act of August 24, 1935 (7 
     U.S.C. 612c) and amounts made available for the Office of the 
     Secretary of Health and Human Services from appropriations 
     Acts, such equal amounts as are necessary to fund the 
     Commission and otherwise carry out this section; and
       (2) such equal contributions of support services as are 
     necessary to assist the Commission in carrying out the duties 
     of the Commission under this section.
       (f) Termination.--The Commission shall terminate on the 
     date that is 60 days after the date on which the Commission 
     submits the report under subsection (b)(2).

     SEC. 3. TERMINATION OF AUTHORITY RELATING TO FOOD AND FOOD 
                   SAFETY.

       (a) Termination of Authority.--The budget authority to 
     implement the provisions of law described in subsection (b) 
     relating to food and food safety shall terminate on the date 
     that is 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act.
       (b) Provisions of Law.--The provisions of law referred to 
     in subsection (a) are--
       (1) the Poultry Products Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 451 et 
     seq.);
       (2) the Federal Meat Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 601 et 
     seq.);
       (3) the Egg Products Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 1031 et 
     seq.); and
       (4) chapters I through IV of the Federal Food, Drug, and 
     Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 301 et seq.).

                          ____________________