STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS; Congressional Record Vol. 157, No. 73
(Senate - May 25, 2011)

Text available as:

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


[Pages S3341-S3345]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




          STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS

      By Mr. BLUMENTHAL:
  S. 1060. A bill to improve education, employment, independent living 
services, and health care for veterans, to improve assistance for 
homeless veterans, and to improve the administration of the Department 
of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes; to the Committee on 
Veterans' Affairs.
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, we all have a shared commitment to our 
Nation's veterans. That shared commitment is reflected in many of the 
programs that are supported by yourself and my other colleagues in this 
body every year. I deeply respect the knowledge and dedication that my 
fellow Senators have brought to this critical issue. Each of my 
colleagues, almost without exception, has supported measures that have 
helped our veterans over the years.
  I rise to introduce my first piece of legislation, a bill to help our 
Nation's veterans.
  Our Nation must keep faith with the men and women who have served and 
sacrificed for our freedom. Unfortunately, and unconscionably, America 
is still failing them and their families by tolerating unemployment, 
homelessness, and inadequate health care. We must renew our commitment 
to the more than 250,000 veterans in Connecticut and 22 million across 
the country to ensure that no veteran is left behind.
  Our commitment to veterans must be unwavering. Despite our best 
intentions, we fail all too often to accord our veterans the support 
they have earned. Unfortunately, according to the Department of 
Veterans Affairs, more than 76,000 veterans are homeless on any given 
night and nearly twice that number will be homeless at some point 
during the year. The unemployment rate among veterans has doubled over 
the past 3 years. Twenty-seven percent of veterans in their early 
twenties are unemployed. That number is almost twice the unemployment 
rate of their peers who have not served in the military. The Bureau of 
Labor Statistics recently reported that unemployment for veterans who 
served their country after September 2001 to be 11.5 percent, again, a 
figure far higher than the national unemployment rate.
  Twenty percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are estimated to 
suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. When veterans return home, 
they must wait at least half a year, on average, for a claims decision 
by the Department of Veterans Affairs before they can receive benefits. 
Those numbers are simply unacceptable. As I speak today, America's 
longest war continues, with less than 1 percent of the Nation in 
uniform. Never in the history of the country have so few fought for so 
long, at such great personal cost and sacrifice.
  Under the leadership of Secretary Shinseki, the Department of 
Veterans Affairs has taken strong steps toward the goal of building a 
21st century system that supports caregivers of seriously injured Iraq 
and Afghanistan veterans, improving services to women veterans, 
expanding the availability of health care, and preventing veteran 
homelessness.
  Gaps in the system remain, and they are debilitating, destructive, 
and devastating for many veterans. We can do better and we must do 
more. The legislation I introduce today is entitled Honoring All 
Veterans Act of 2011. Its 16 comprehensive provisions are only the 
first phase of my efforts.
  This legislative proposal is a comprehensive package but only an 
opening salvo in a sustained, unceasing campaign to ensure that no 
veteran is left behind. It is a downpayment on a larger debt. The goal 
is to give all veterans the homecoming and the services they need and 
deserve. Our military men and women have kept their promise to serve 
and sacrifice for this country, and we must now keep faith with them. 
Our commitment to veterans should reflect the depth of their sacrifice. 
This measure is entitled Honoring All Veterans Act because all veterans 
are brave service men and women, serving today in places we can barely 
pronounce the names of. They are deployed around the globe, and they 
deserve to be honored for defending our freedom and democracy. We must 
honor that service not only in words but in deed.
  This legislation comes from veterans and their families--seeing and 
hearing their struggles and dreams, their achievements and defeats as I 
have worked for them during my 20 years as attorney general and 4-plus 
months as a Senator.
  In the VFW and American Legion halls, in living rooms, in school 
auditoriums, and in countless gatherings across the State of 
Connecticut, I have been privileged to listen and learn from veterans 
and their families who have shared their personal stories and insights.
  This legislation simply continues the work I have done as attorney 
general. I worked to make the Department of Defense release information 
on those who may have been improperly separated from military service, 
and urged the Department of Veterans Affairs to update its obsolete 
database systems that were preventing tens of thousands of disabled 
veterans from obtaining deserved tax benefits. In 2007, I worked with 
the Connecticut congressional delegation to make the Department of 
Defense provide accurate information about educational benefits to 
veterans. I have fought for them individually when they encountered 
bureaucratic resistance and red tape from an unresponsive system. I am 
proud of that work and proud, most important, of my partnership with 
veterans in Connecticut in proposing this legislation. My goal then, 
and it has been continuously, is to keep faith with our veterans, to 
honor our promises to them.
  This Honoring All Veterans Act of 2011 will address four key areas: 
first, expanding job opportunities for veterans; second, assisting 
homeless veterans; third, improving veterans health care, with a 
special emphasis on mental health services; fourth, modernizing the 
Department of Veterans Affairs.

  On expanding job opportunities to honor all veterans and give them 
the welcome home they deserve, we need to focus first on jobs. Like all 
Americans, veterans are striving to provide for their families and 
participate in the economic recovery to find jobs in our slowly 
recovering economy. Good jobs require education and training, as well

[[Page S3342]]

as independent living services for veterans. Our Nation has done much 
to address this issue, such as the expanded post-9/11 GI bill, but gaps 
in the system remain. They are all too glaring. My legislation will 
expand job opportunities in five significant ways.
  First, the legislation raises the statutory cap for the Vocational 
Rehabilitation and Employment Independent Living Program to welcome 
hundreds of additional veterans. This vital program helps veterans with 
severe service-connected disabilities, enabling them to live 
independently. It helps veterans with those kinds of disabilities to 
participate in family and community life and increases their potential 
to return to work. There is a strong case for removing the cap on 
participation in the program. I would like to recognize the 
distinguished junior Senator from Hawaii for the work that he has done 
in this regard. I hope that my legislation will ensure the program can 
continue to assist veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, 
while Congress works to find funding to remove the cap completely.
  Second, the legislation authorizes veterans to reuse the Department 
of Defense Transition Assistance Program, known as TAP, and meet with 
counselors at any military installation for up to 1 year after their 
separation. This program was developed to assist military personnel 
leaving the service with information about jobs, education, and career 
development. Veterans returning to Connecticut wishing to participate 
again in the Transition Assistance Program should have that opportunity 
to participate for a second time, maybe even a third time. Coming back 
from deployment, servicemembers are often focused on other important 
aspects of the transition process, rather than how to find a job. They 
may have never written a resume before or attended a job interview. 
Having started the job search they have specific areas where they 
realize they need help. I discussed this idea at a recent Senate Armed 
Services Committee hearing with the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for 
Manpower and Reserve Affairs. He testified that the military is right 
now in the process of redesigning the TAP program. I am going to work 
toward having this provision included in the redesign of the TAP 
program so that TAP continues to be an opportunity once a servicemember 
returns home.
  Third, the legislation authorizes a study of how best to ensure that 
civilian employers and educational institutions recognize veterans' 
military training. The military recruits the most talented men and 
women in America to serve, and then it invests heavily in their 
professional development. Yet when they trade their uniforms in for 
civilian clothes, employers and others such as professional accrediting 
organizations often refuse to recognize or understand how to make use 
of their military experience and the expertise they have gained.
  The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America reported that 61 percent 
of employers do not believe they have ``a complete understanding of the 
qualifications ex-servicemembers offer,'' and recently separated 
servicemembers with college degrees earn on average almost $10,000 less 
per year than their nonveteran counterparts.
  One way to close this gap is to have the Department of Defense review 
the list of military occupations specialties, such as the 22 MOS's in 
Army engineering or 16 MOS's in Army communications, and ensure that 
completing MOS qualifications will provide those servicemembers with 
credentials recognized by civilian employers.
  The study authorized in this legislation will start that process. I 
am committed to working in the Senate to see this problem resolved.
  Fourth, the legislation reauthorizes the Veterans Education Outreach 
Program to provide money for campus-based outreach services to 
veterans. This program was first established in 1972 to provide 
colleges with a significant number of veterans on campus with 
additional resources to make sure those students get the most out of 
their educational experience and use VA benefits available to assist 
them. I believe that the return of veterans from deployments during the 
Global War on Terror requires the same kind of on-campus support. While 
there are other programs helping veterans pay the cost of tuition and 
many colleges have great veterans services on-campus, the Veterans 
Education Outreach Program is the missing link to ensuring veterans are 
informed about their VA benefits and maximizing the opportunity to 
study and obtain employment.
  Fifth, the legislation authorizes a comprehensive program at the 
Department of Labor to assist veterans with TBI or PTSD in the 
workplace. It provides technical assistance to employers of veterans 
living with those conditions and provides best practices relating to 
helping those employees develop successful strategies for on-the-job 
success. The legislation requires the Office of Disability Employment 
Policy to coordinate an inter-agency working group which will produce a 
federal homecoming plan for reintegration of these veterans. These 
tasks have been conducted to a limited degree by the Department of 
Labor through the America's Heroes at Work program and the Veterans 
Employment & Training Services and they are to be commended for their 
efforts to date. However, by defining these requirements in statute, it 
is my hope that these programs will expand to reach all veterans that 
need help.
  This legislation also reaches veterans in a variety of other key 
areas. Recently, a female veteran visited my office. She and her two 
children were homeless and needed help. In their case, we could find 
temporary shelter. But on the issue of homelessness, many veterans do 
not know where to turn or are hesitant to do so. The current per diem 
given to homeless veterans does not address rising costs and regional 
variations in helping homeless veterans. Women are particularly 
underserved now, and my hope is that new housing projects take care of 
female veterans. For example, the Newington Mission Homeless Project in 
my state will help forgotten heroes find shelter. The Honoring All 
Veterans Act reforms the per diem program and helps military families 
avoid homelessness by permanently extending their foreclosure 
protection for servicemembers.
  On improving veteran health care and mental health services, as I 
have traveled Connecticut meeting with veterans, I have seen firsthand 
how veterans with traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress 
disorder face unique challenges in accessing the Department of Veterans 
Affairs for benefits and medical assistance. Veterans deserve the best 
possible medical care, particularly when it comes to treating TBI or 
post-traumatic stress. These are the signature wounds of the conflicts 
in Afghanistan and Iraq. More than a quarter of these injuries are 
undiagnosed, according to the military itself. Then too often, even if 
they are diagnosed, servicemembers are screened but do not receive a 
full course of treatment.
  To address this issue, my legislation requires the Department of 
Defense to identify and then close the gap between screenings and 
treatment. Simply diagnosing a soldier or a marine with symptoms of 
PTSD or TBI does not heal them.
  This legislation also addresses the problem of finding qualified 
psychiatrists, psychologists, and nursing professionals to work in VA 
medical hospitals and outpatient clinics by accessing graduates from 
the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. This 
university trains outstanding medical professionals for military 
service. Under existing law the Secretary may exempt graduates from 
working in a military hospital after graduation, based upon forecast 
demand. The Honoring All Veterans Act allows those graduates identified 
by the Secretary as excess to military requirements to serve out their 
commitment in the VA medical systems, rather than releasing them to 
private hospitals. This provision is just one example of how the 
legislation is crafted to better utilize the existing resources of the 
DOD and VA medical systems.
  Modernizing the Department of Veterans Affairs is the final section 
of this legislation. It addresses the DOD and VA transition process 
through improved monitoring and oversight. It increases pension 
benefits and gives veterans grounds for appeal at the Board of Veterans 
Appeals if the VA has misplaced or misfiled their documents.
  I hear about this problem, as my colleagues do, again and again as I 
listen to veterans. Recently, a veteran visited

[[Page S3343]]

my office. He has been waiting on a hearing date with the Board of 
Veterans Appeals for over a year.
  His story is typical.
  This legislation provides much needed improvement to the Board of 
Veterans Appeals. I look forward to working with my colleagues to 
address other much needed improvements.
  We can honor our veterans whose claims are stuck in the Board of 
Veterans Appeals by confirming judges to the court that reviews them. 
Three of those nine seats are now vacant, and each judge must preside 
over 600 cases per year, far more than any other Federal appellate 
court.
  Finally, in closing, let me recognize the many veterans throughout 
the State of Connecticut who helped me craft this measure.
  I thank CDR Richard DiFederico of the VFW and CDR Daniel Thurston of 
the American Legion for their very dedicated work, not only in 
assisting me but day in and day out on behalf of veterans.
  I thank Bob Janicki, who has spent recent years after serving this 
country in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam era, for providing 
help to homeless veterans and veterans seeking jobs.
  Paul ``Bud'' Bucha is a veteran and friend with the most 
distinguished service record possible in winning the Medal of Honor. 
His life after military service, giving back to other veterans and 
managing several successful companies, has been an example of how 
veterans continue to provide leadership with courage and vision.
  MSG Frank Alvarado has made a number of very helpful suggestions, 
including, for example, reauthorizing the Veterans Education Outreach 
Program.
  I would also like to acknowledge my deep respect to Dr. Linda 
Schwartz, who has been a tireless advocate for all veterans.
  Connecticut is blessed to have the leadership of veterans who help 
each other, care for each other, look out for each other. I look 
forward to working with them in ensuring that this legislation is 
passed. I have no illusions that accomplishing passage of these kinds 
of measures will be easy, but I hope for support across the aisle. This 
kind of goal certainly ought to unite us, not divide us. We have so 
much more in common on this issue than in conflict. I am hoping we can 
work together to ensure that we keep faith with our veterans, that we 
honor their service, ensure that we welcome them home with the kind of 
services they need and deserve so that no veteran will be left behind.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record 
a summary of this legislation.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                 The Honoring All Veterans Act of 2011

                      Section by Section Analysis


  Title 1--Education, Employment, and Independent Living Services for 
                                Veterans

       1. Raises the statutory cap for Vocational Rehabilitation 
     and Employment Independent Living program participants from 
     2,700 new, per annum, to 3,000.
       2. Authorizes veterans to retake the Transition Assistance 
     Program (TAP) and meet with counselors at any military 
     installation again up to 1 year after separation.
       3. Authorizes a study of how best to ensure the recognition 
     of military training and qualifications that veterans have by 
     civilian employers and education institutions.
       4. Reauthorizes the Veterans Education Outreach Program to 
     provide $6 million for campus-based outreach services to 
     veterans.
       5. Directs the Secretary of Labor to provide technical 
     assistance to employers of veterans living with Traumatic 
     Brain Injury (TBI) and/or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 
     (PTSD) as they transition to the civilian workplace. Directs 
     the Secretary of Labor to provide best practices related to 
     helping employees with TBI and/or PTSD find and develop 
     successful strategies for on-the-job success. Directs the 
     Office of Disability Employment Policy to coordinate inter-
     agency working group ``federal roundtables'' on TBI and PTSD 
     to produce a national homecoming plan that identifies the 
     role of each federal agency in the reintegration of these 
     veterans.


               Title 2--Assistance for Homeless Veterans

       1. Permanently extends foreclosure protection for service 
     members under the Service Members Civil Relief Act.
       2. Reforms the daily Homeless Housing per diem voucher 
     program to take account of service costs and geographic 
     disparities. Allows use of other funds (such as those 
     authorized under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance 
     Grant) without offset.


      Title 3--Health Care and Mental Health Services for Veterans

       1. Directs DOD and VA to monitor referrals for mental 
     health care to ensure that individuals receive care.
       2. Directs to VA to ensure that all TBI and PTSD patients 
     leave VA medical treatment with a plan for their long-term 
     care needs that utilizes a ``one-VA'' approach to capture and 
     employment and vocational services that can assist in long-
     term care and rehabilitation.
       3. Authorizes VA medical facilities to provide counseling 
     to family members of deployed service members.
       4. Authorizes the VA medical system to receive graduates of 
     the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences (USU) to 
     serve veterans in Community-Based Outpatient Clinics and 
     readjustment counseling Vet Centers of the Department of 
     Veterans Affairs.
       5. Authorizes the VA to Access State Prescription 
     Monitoring Programs to address substance abuse.


     Title 4--Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs

       1. Directs the DOD and VA to establish a monitoring 
     mechanism to identify and address challenges as they arise in 
     all DOD and VA facilities and offices involved in the single 
     separation physical process.
       2. Authorizes an independent review board on the DOD to VA 
     transition process that includes the Inspector General from 
     each Agency and the GAO.
       3. Reforms the Board of Veterans Appeals process to help 
     veterans with misfiled documents.
       4. Increases the pension for disabled veterans married to 
     one another who require aid and attendance.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Ms. MURKOWSKI (for herself and Mr. Begich):
  S. 1063. A bill to allow for the harvest of gull eggs by the Huna 
Tlingit people within Glacier Bay National Park in the State of Alaska; 
to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce legislation, 
the Huna Tlingit Traditional Gull Egg Use Act of 2011, cosponsored by 
my colleague Mark Begich from Alaska, which represents an important 
step forward in allowing the Huna Tlingit people access to enjoy their 
traditional subsistence activity of gull egg collection.
  The collection and consumption of gull eggs is an integral part of 
the culture of the Tlingit people of Southeast Alaska, and eggs were 
gathered at rookeries long before Glacier Bay National Park and 
Preserve's establishment in 1925. A Legislative Environmental Impact 
Statement was completed in 2010 regarding this proposal to allow 
limited harvests of gull eggs in Glacier Bay National Park and 
Preserve, and the preferred alternative authorized the implementation 
of a cooperative management program for gull egg collection and 
emphasized a traditional harvest strategy for the collections.
  My bill will authorize this harvest of gull eggs at five nesting 
areas on two separate days each calendar year within the Park. This 
would allow a large number of tribal members to interact with their 
traditional homeland and provide an opportunity for as many as 12 young 
people to participate annually and spend time with elders learning 
about traditional egg harvest practices in addition to other aspects 
Tlingit culture
  This bill is widely supported throughout the environmental and 
conservation communities, as well as the Alaska Native community. The 
harvesting of gull eggs would only have minor effects on the gulls, but 
the cultural benefits that would be realized by the Native community 
would be great.
  I would like to thank Senator Begich, an original co-sponsor of this 
bill, for his and his staff's hard work in moving this bill forward. It 
is our hope that this bill will receive quick but careful consideration 
as the local tribe members have been eagerly awaiting passage of this 
measure for quite a long time.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. REED (for himself, Mr. Schumer, Mr. Kerry, Mr. Leahy, and 
        Mr. Franken):
  S. 1064. A bill to make effective the proposed rule of the Food and 
Drug Administration relating to sunscreen drug products, and for other 
purposes; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
  Mr. REED. Mr. President, as families prepare for Memorial Day 
festivities, and plan outings this summer, most will be outdoors 
without adequate sun protection, even if they use sunscreen.

[[Page S3344]]

This is because there are currently no rules that sunscreen makers must 
follow when making claims about the level of protection their products 
provide.
  Currently, sunscreen products are only required to protect against 
UVB rays, the rays that cause tans and sunburns and the level of 
protection is documented with a Sun Protection Factor, SPF. 
Unfortunately, even these numbers can be misleading or worse, 
inaccurate. Researchers have found that a sunscreen product with a SPF 
of 30 protects against 98 percent of the sun's UVB rays, while a 
sunscreen labeled with a SPF of 100 protects against 99 percent of the 
sun's UVB rays. The larger the SPF number doesn't always result in 
significantly better protection.
  Moreover, sunscreen products are not required to protect against 
cancer-causing UVA rays. UVA rays actually penetrate deeper into the 
skin and can cause more damage. Some sunscreens and products containing 
sun protection claim to protect against these rays, but there are no 
scientific standards by which to measure their validity.
  We have seen the effects that a lack of reliable sun protection can 
have in the rising rates of melanoma in this country, which has doubled 
in the past 30 years. This year alone, over 2 million people will be 
informed that they have a preventable form of skin cancer. My state of 
Rhode Island is among the top ten for reported melanoma diagnoses.
  After years of working with my colleagues to press the Food and Drug 
Administration to act, in August of 2007, the FDA finally proposed a 
rule that would require sunscreen labels to disclose the level of UVA 
protection in a standard format that appears near the sun protection 
factor rating, and ensure that the SPF rating actually corresponds to a 
product's protection against UVB rays. This was a step in the right 
direction. The downside is that nearly 4 years later this proposal has 
still not been finalized.
  For this reason, today I am introducing the Sunscreen Labeling 
Protection Act, the SUN Act, along with my colleagues, Senators 
Schumer, Kerry, Leahy, and Franken. This legislation would require the 
FDA to finalize the sunscreen labeling monograph. If the FDA fails to 
finalize its proposed monograph of August 27, 2007 within 180 days of 
enactment of the SUN Act, the monograph, as proposed, would become 
effective. I look forward to a summer when Americans can finally feel 
protected from the sun's harmful rays.
  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. 1064

       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 ``Sunscreen Labeling 
     Protection Act of 2011'' or the ``SUN Act''.

     SEC. 2. EFFECTIVE DATE FOR RULE RELATING TO SUNSCREEN DRUG 
                   PRODUCTS FOR OVER-THE-COUNTER HUMAN USE.

       Notwithstanding subchapter II of chapter 5, and chapter 7, 
     of title 5, United States Code (commonly known as the 
     ``Administrative Procedure Act'') and any other provision of 
     law, the proposed rule issued by the Commissioner of Food and 
     Drugs entitled ``Sunscreen Drug Products for Over-the-Counter 
     Human Use; Proposed Amendment of Final Monograph'', 72 Fed. 
     Reg. 49070 (August 27, 2007), shall take effect on the date 
     that is 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, 
     unless such Commissioner issues the final rule, which 
     includes formulation, labeling, and testing requirements for 
     both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation 
     protection, before such effective date.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. UDALL of Colorado (for himself, Mr. Bingaman, and Ms. 
        Murkowski):
  S. 1067. A bill to amend the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to require the 
Secretary of Energy to carry out a research and development and 
demonstration program to reduce manufacturing and construction costs 
relating to nuclear reactors, and for other purposes; to the Committee 
on Energy and Natural Resources.
  Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, I rise today to speak about the 
role safe nuclear energy can play in moving our country toward a more 
secure energy future.
  Given the economic, national security, and environmental threats that 
we face, we need a comprehensive energy policy. In this regard, safe 
nuclear energy clearly has emerged as an important player in our search 
for stable and domestic energy sources with fewer greenhouse gas 
emissions.
  A cleaner energy economy will spur innovation in, and accelerate the 
shift to, clean and domestic energy sources. It will create a new 
industrial sector employing millions of Americans in the research, 
development, and commercialization of new energy technologies. And it 
will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil from unstable regions of 
the world and cleaner energy technologies will help us get there.
  Finally, as we try to emerge from perhaps our greatest economic 
crisis since the Great Depression, we need an ``all of the above'' 
solution to jump-start our economy and create new jobs. Beyond 
renewables and natural gas, this also means next generation nuclear 
energy.
  That is why I am introducing the bipartisan Nuclear Energy Research 
Initiative Improvement Act today. This bill would authorize the 
Department of Energy to carry out a research, development, and 
demonstration program to reduce manufacturing and construction costs of 
safe nuclear reactors. It would support research in areas critical for 
us to achieve these goals, while also protecting national security. For 
example, it would support research into: modular and small-scale 
reactors, balance-of-plant issues, cost-efficient manufacturing, 
licensing issues, and enhanced proliferation controls.
  In light of the disaster at the Daiichi nuclear facility in Japan, it 
is evident a new era of safe nuclear energy development is needed: one 
with enhanced safeguards and more agile manufacturing and operating 
capabilities. My bill seeks to achieve those objectives.
  Nuclear power's energy security and environmental benefits have 
earned this industry an important place at the table. It is my hope 
that we can build new, safe nuclear plants over the next decade to 
create jobs and build a cleaner, more secure tomorrow. My bill would 
help us accomplish these goals.
  I would like to thank Senator Bingaman and Senator Murkowski for 
joining me in introducing this bill.
  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. 1067

       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 ``Nuclear Energy Research 
     Initiative Improvement Act of 2011''.

     SEC. 2. NUCLEAR ENERGY RESEARCH INITIATIVE.

       Section 952(a) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 
     16272(a)) is amended--
       (1) by striking ``The Secretary'' and inserting the 
     following:
       ``(1) In general.--The Secretary;''; and
       (2) by adding at the end the following:
       ``(2) Authorized research initiatives.--In carrying out the 
     program under this subsection, the Secretary shall conduct 
     research to lower the cost of nuclear reactor systems, 
     including research regarding--
       ``(A) modular and small-scale reactors;
       ``(B) balance-of-plant issues;
       ``(C) cost-efficient manufacturing and construction;
       ``(D) licensing issues; and
       ``(E) enhanced proliferation controls.
       ``(3) Consultation requirement.--In carrying out 
     initiatives under paragraph (2), the Secretary shall consult 
     with--
       ``(A) the Secretary of Commerce;
       ``(B) the Secretary of the Treasury;
       ``(C) the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and
       ``(D) any other individual who the Secretary determines to 
     be necessary.
       ``(4) Schedule.--
       ``(A) In general.--Not later than 180 days after the date 
     of enactment of this paragraph, the Secretary shall develop 
     and publish on the website of the Department of Energy a 
     schedule that contains an outline of a 5-year strategy to 
     lower effectively the costs of nuclear reactors.
       ``(B) Public workshops.--In developing the schedule under 
     subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall conduct public 
     workshops to provide an opportunity for public comment.
       ``(C) Review.--Before the date on which the Secretary 
     publishes the schedule under subparagraph (A), the Nuclear 
     Energy Advisory Committee shall conduct a review of the 
     schedule.
       ``(D) Annual updates.--

[[Page S3345]]

       ``(i) In general.--Not later than 180 days after the date 
     on which the Secretary publishes the schedule under 
     subparagraph (A) and annually thereafter, the Secretary shall 
     update the schedule.
       ``(ii) Public workshops.--In updating the schedule under 
     clause (i), the Secretary shall conduct public workshops in 
     accordance with subparagraph (B).
       ``(5) Cost sharing.--Section 988 shall apply to initiatives 
     carried out under this section.
       ``(6) Authorization of appropriations.--There is authorized 
     to be appropriated to carry out this section $50,000,000 for 
     each of fiscal years 2012 through 2016.''.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. BROWN of Ohio (for himself and Mr. Franken):
   S. 1068. A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide 
for temporary student loan debt conversion authority; to the Committee 
on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
  Mr. BROWN of Ohio. Mr. President, this month marks commencement 
season at our great colleges and universities across Ohio and the 
Nation. I have had the honor of speaking at a few this year--Owens 
Community College, Ashland University, Cleveland Marshall College of 
Law, and Ohio Northern University.
  It is a day of achievement and accomplishment, a reaffirmation of why 
education is a key to our economic prosperity. But it is also a day of 
anxiety. Graduates are leaving campuses to enter a difficult job market 
saddled with student debt.
  Approximately 2/3 of Ohioans who attend a private or public 4-year 
college or university graduate with an average of nearly $26,000 in 
student loan debt. Unfortunately, as student loan debt levels continue 
to grow, the Nation's hiring climate remains sluggish. This has led to 
limited employment opportunities for recent graduates; nearly half of 
the 2009 graduating class is currently unemployed or employed in a 
position that does not require a college degree.
  Such circumstances are leading to undue personal stress and 
potentially, a lifetime of financial challenges. Far too often, 
individuals and families are becoming part of the ``sandwich 
generation'' where families are paying for the cost of their children's 
education while also taking care of their aging parents.
  That is why last year I supported--and the President signed into law, 
the Health and Education Reconciliation Act, the single largest federal 
investment in student aid in generations. The law ends wasteful 
subsidies to private lenders through the Federal Family Education Loan, 
FFEL, Program. In doing so, we cut out the middleman and loans are now 
not only originated, but also serviced, by the U.S. Department of 
Education.
  By ending subsidies to private banks, we saved billions of dollars, 
and used the savings to allow the maximum Pell Grant award to reach a 
historic level. We made it easier for students to repay loans through 
the Income-Based Repayment Program. We did this all at no cost to the 
taxpayer.
  For many colleges and universities, the transition from FFEL to the 
Direct Loan program has been a resounding success as there has been no 
disruption to borrowers or financial aid administrators.
  For those borrowers who are in the middle of the transition period, 
I, along with my good colleague Senator Franken, am introducing the 
Student Loan Simplification and Opportunity Act. This legislation, by 
simplifying loan repayment and reducing the loan amount, benefits 
college graduates. And this legislation, by removing costly subsidies 
provided to private lenders, saves 1.8 billion dollars that will be 
reinvested in the Pell Grant Program, thereby ensuring that other 
deserving students can afford to attend college.
  The Student Loan Simplification and Opportunity Act would allow 
students with both FFEL loans and Direct Loans to voluntarily transfer 
their FFEL debt to a Direct Loan servicer over a nine-month period.
  By converting loans, the likelihood that a borrower may miss a 
payment and end up further in debt would decrease. On average, a 
borrower with multiple loan servicers has a 20 percent higher chance of 
defaulting on their loan payments. Yet, this program not only 
simplifies a borrower's loan repayment, it reduces the amount owed. 
Borrowers who transferred their debt would be rewarded with up to a 2 
percent reduction in the principal amount of their FFEL loan.
  I am proud to introduce the Student Loan Simplification and 
Opportunity Act, as this legislation will benefit both borrowers and 
taxpayers.
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mrs. MURRAY (for herself and Ms. Cantwell):
  S. 1079. A bill to amend title 41, United States Code, and title 10, 
United States Code, to extend the number of years that multiyear 
contracts may be entered into for the purchase of advanced biofuel, and 
for other purposes; to the Committee on Homeland Security and 
Governmental Affairs.
  Mrs. MURRAY. 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. 1079

       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 ``Domestic Fuel for Enhancing 
     National Security Act of 2011''.

     SEC. 2. MULTIYEAR CONTRACTS FOR ADVANCED BIOFUEL.

       (a) Civilian Agency Contracts.--Subsection (a) of section 
     3903 of title 41, United States Code, is amended to read as 
     follows:
       ``(a) Definitions.--For the purposes of this section:
       ``(1) Multiyear contract.--The term `multiyear contract'--
       ``(A) means a contract for the purchase of property or 
     services for more than one, but not more than five, program 
     years, except as provided in subparagraph (B);
       ``(B) in the case of a contract for the purchase of 
     advanced biofuel, means a contract for the purchase of such 
     fuel for a period of up to 15 program years; and
       ``(C) may provide that performance under the contract 
     during the second and subsequent years of the contract is 
     contingent upon the appropriation of funds and (if it does so 
     provide) may provide for a cancellation payment to be made to 
     the contractor if such appropriations are not made.
       ``(2) Advanced biofuel.--The term `advanced biofuel' has 
     the meaning given such term in section 211(o)(1)(B) of the 
     Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7545(o)(1)(B)).''.
       (b) Defense Contracts.--Subsection (k) of section 2306b of 
     title 10, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
       ``(k) Definitions.--For the purposes of this section:
       ``(1)(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B), the term 
     `multiyear contract' means a contract for the purchase of 
     property or services for more than one, but not more than 
     five, program years.
       ``(B) In the case of a contract for the purchase of 
     advanced biofuel, the term `multiyear contract' means a 
     contract for the purchase of such fuel for a period of up to 
     15 program years.
       ``(C) Such a contract may provide that performance under 
     the contract during the second and subsequent years of the 
     contract is contingent upon the appropriation of funds and 
     (if it does so provide) may provide for a cancellation 
     payment to be made to the contractor if such appropriations 
     are not made.
       ``(2) The term `advanced biofuel' has the meaning given 
     such term in section 211(o)(1)(B) of the Clean Air Act (42 
     U.S.C. 7545(o)(1)(B)).''.
       (c) Effective Date.--The amendments made by this section 
     shall apply to contracts entered into on or after the date 
     occurring 180 days after the date of the enactment of this 
     Act.

                          ____________________