(Senate - October 13, 2011)

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[Pages S6494-S6496]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                             IRAN SANCTIONS

  Mr. KIRK. With regard to our policy toward Iran and the recent 
revelation of a potential attack involving not just foreign embassies 
and ambassadors but Americans, potentially Senators, being killed by a 
plot hatched by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Quds Force, there 
should be consequences, not just concerns expressed from the 
administration. We have witnessed a growing aggressiveness by the 
Iranian regime toward the United States and toward their own people.
  For example, recently, an Iranian actress who appeared uncovered in 
an Australian film was then sentenced to 90 lashes for her so-called 
crime. With regard to the 330,000 Baha'is, a religious minority in 
Iran, first they were excluded from all public contracting, then they 
were told all their children had to leave Iranian universities, and 
then all their home addresses were registered in secret by the Iranian 
Interior Ministry.
  I would suggest we have seen this movie before in a different decade 
wearing different uniforms. But this is the bureaucracy necessary to 
carry out a Kristallnacht in Farsi.
  We have seen, for example, the Persian world's first blogger, Hossein 
Ronaghi, who was thrown into jail simply for expressing tolerance 
toward other peoples and other religions. Probably most emblematic, we 
saw the jailing of Nasrin Sotoudeh, a young mother and a lawyer, whose 
sole crime was to represent Shirin Ebadi, a Noble Prize winner, in the 
courts of Iran.
  We hear and have watched unclassified reports of an acceleration of 
uranium enrichment in Iran. We even have the irony, according to the 
International Monetary Fund, that despite comprehensive U.N. and U.S. 
sanctions--according to the IMF--Iran had greater economic growth last 
year than the United States and the Iranian indebtedness is only a 
fraction of U.S. indebtedness. According to the IMF, the United States 
owes about 70 percent of its GDP in debt held by the public. For Iran, 
it is only 5.5 percent.
  Now the United States has enacted a new round of sanctions against 
Iran. President Obama signed it into law last year. There were 410 
votes in the House, and it was unanimous in the Senate. I worked for 
many years on a predecessor to that legislation when I was a Member of 
the House. The record of the administration, and especially our very 
able Under Secretary of the Treasury David Cohen, has been very good at 
implementing that bill. He has been very successful in reducing formal 
banking contacts between American, European and Asian banks and Iran. 
It is very important, when we look at the situation of how to deal with 
Iran, that we not see it from Washington's view, looking toward Iran, 
in which we see an awful lot of banks and an awful lot of transactions 
shut down, but look at it from Tehran's view, looking back from the 
United States, and we will see a quickly growing Iranian economy, a 
growing record of brazen oppression, actresses sentenced to 90 lashes, 
Noble Prize-winning attorneys thrown in jail, an accelerating nuclear 
program, and then a decision by the head of the Iranian Revolutionary 
Guard Corps, Quds Force, to attack the United States.
  Long ago, I thought it was a mistake to have the Drug Enforcement 
Agency left outside of the U.S. intelligence community. Luckily, we 
reversed that decision and we brought DEA back into the intelligence 
community. It was a lucky strike that the person who was contacted by 
the Quds Force to carry out an attack on the United States actually 
contacted a confidential informant working for the DEA. It was on that 
lucky break that we had the ability to break this plot. But if we read 
Attorney General Holder's complaint against the defendant involved, we 
will see--I believe it is on page 12--a rendition of how, if they could 
not kill the Ambassador outside the restaurant, it was perfectly OK 
with the Quds Force operator that a bomb go off involving dozens--if 
not over 100--of Americans killed. The bonus, he thought, maybe a large 
number of Senators would be involved. If that was necessary to kill 
this Ambassador, all the better.
  The Treasury Department has designated, finally, the head of the Quds 
Force under our law. But it is ironic that when we look at the 
comprehensive record of designations, the Europeans, who actually are 
not known for their strong-willed backbone on many international 
questions, have a more far-reaching effect on calling it the way they 
see it in Iran. Both Europe and America now have a regime to bring 
forward sanctions and designations against Iranians who are 
``comprehensive abusers of human rights.''
  Currently, our government has only designated 11 Iranians, where the 
European Union has designated over 60. One of the people missed by our 
administration is the President of Iran, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who often 
talks about ending the state of Israel. Probably the only head of state 
of a member of the United Nations who regularly talks about erasing 
another member of the United Nations from the planet. We also have not 
designated President Ahmadinejad's chief of staff. We have not 
designated dozens of people that even the European Union has designated 
as comprehensive abusers of human rights.
  So what should we do when we have uncovered a plot to attack the 
United States in which the highest levels of the Iranian Revolutionary 
Guard Quds Force was involved? Thank goodness for the DEA and the rest 
of the law enforcement and intelligence community of the United States, 
the plot was foiled, and so no attack was carried out. In my mind, we 
should take the toughest action possible, short of military action. Is 
there consensus in the Congress behind what that action should be? I 
would argue yes.
  Senator Schumer and I, this summer, put forward what we feel is one 
of the real, most crippling sanctions the United States could deliver 
against Iran; that is, to ensure that any financial institution that 
has any contact with the Central Bank of Iran be excluded from the U.S. 
market. Because the United States is the largest economy on Earth, we 
believe nearly every financial institution on the planet will cut its 
ties to the Central Bank of Iran. That, most likely, would cripple 
Iran's currency and cause chaos within their economy. You know what. 
Iran might actually suffer a recession, which it currently is not in, 
and I think that would be an appropriate price to pay.
  When Senator Schumer and I reached out to the Senate to ask for 
support, I was very surprised at the answer because all but eight 
Senators signed our letter. There were 92 Republicans and Democrats who 
signed the letter stating it should be the policy of the United States 
to collapse the Central Bank of Iran, to cripple its currency. After 
what we learned this week of a plot to kill Americans and to carry out 
terrorist attacks on the Capital City of the United States, I think 
that represents appropriate consequences, not just concerns.

  We heard from the administration this morning--and while I was 
encouraged by the diligent work, especially of the Treasury Department, 
I was concerned about another thing. There are press reports that the 

[[Page S6495]]

learned about this plot in June and only revealed it to us the day 
before yesterday. So the administration has had months to understand 
what this plot meant and plan for the consequences. Yet except for 
minor actions against a small airline in Iran called Mahan Air, except 
for actually finally designating the head of the Iranian Revolutionary 
Guards' Quds Force, we have no comprehensive action by the United 
  My recommendation to this House and to the administration is we 
should take yes for an answer. With 92 Republicans and Democrats all 
standing behind an effort to collapse the Central Bank of Iran, this is 
the appropriate sanction. On top of that, we have the Menendez 
bipartisan legislation to close loopholes in the sanctions already 
cosponsored by 76 Senators. This is a tough time of partisanship in 
Washington. We don't get bipartisan issues such as this that often. I 
am surprised, it having known about this plot since June, the 
administration has not already put forward action, but I would urge 
them to do so. This was not a multilateral attack by a collection of 
countries on the United States; therefore, I don't think we should wait 
for multilateral approval before the United States acts against the 
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the highest levels of the Iranian 
Government. We should designate the full list of comprehensive abusers 
of human rights the way the EU has done. We should exclude any 
financial institution from the United States that does business with 
the Central Bank of Iran. We should make sure that in the case of high-
level Iranian officials who have plotted an attack, potentially 
involving dozens of American deaths right here in the Capital City of 
the United States, there should be severe consequences, they should be 
fairly swift, and our inaction should not be mistaken for weakness in 
the face of what is one of the most brazen international acts we have 
seen in recent times.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to be recognized 
for up to 20 minutes as if in morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. INHOFE. Let me make one comment to the Senator from Illinois. I 
am glad he said what he did. It is very significant. People don't look 
at Iran as seriously as they should. It is not even classified that 
Iran is going to have the capability of a weapon of mass destruction 
and a nuclear warhead and a delivery system by 2015. That was the very 
reason they were going to have a ground-based interceptor in Poland, so 
we can defend against something coming from that direction, since all 
our ground-based interceptors are on the west coast in Alaska and 
southern California.
  When we see things such as this, and the fact that they are coming 
out and doing things they haven't done before, that just tells me our 
expectations of their nuclear capability are very true and it is very 

                               Jobs Bill

  That is not what I want to talk about. In the wake of the defeat of 
President Obama's jobs bill, I wished to give a couple thoughts here 
and then talk about something we better look out for in the future. 
That jobs bill failed by a large margin, and we heard the President 
say: Pass the bill, pass the bill, pass the bill. We didn't pass the 
bill. I can see why the President wants to consider passing some kind 
of jobs bill right away, when we stop and remember what he did with the 
last one. The last stimulus bill was $825 billion. This package was 
rammed through the Congress shortly after he entered office. The 
Recovery Act, as it was called, had only $27 billion out of $825 
billion for roads and highways. The occupier of the chair is very well 
aware of my concern over infrastructure in America.
  I remember when that bill was on the floor and Senator Boxer, from 
California, and I had an amendment to increase that amount. It was only 
3 percent of the total of $825 billion that would go to roads, 
highways, maintenance, bridges, and this type of thing--only 3 percent. 
We were trying to raise that to 30 percent. If that had happened, then 
look where we would be today. We would have the jobs, we would have all 
the shovel-ready jobs throughout America.
  In my State of Oklahoma, our portion of that would have been well 
spent just distributed in the way that we had the formula after the 
2005 highway reauthorization bill. Anyway, that actually was only 3 
percent. It was only $27 billion out of $825 billion. The one we just 
defeated was a $447 billion stimulus bill. It only had $27 billion in 
roads, highways, construction, maintenance--the things that provide 
jobs and the things this country needs.

  I have been ranked as the most conservative Member of the Senate 
seven different times in the past. Yet I readily say I am a big spender 
in two areas: One is national defense and the other is infrastructure. 
I think that is what we are supposed to be doing here. We are in a 
desperate situation with our infrastructure around the country.
  So one might say, well, the President had the $825 billion stimulus 
package and only $27.5 billion went to roads and highways. What 
happened to the rest of it? Well, the rest of it, in spite of what he 
said--I am going to read what he said--right after the passage of the 
bill, when he was signing the bill, the $825 billion stimulus bill, he 

       What I'm signing, then, is a balanced plan with a mix of 
     tax cuts and investments. It's a plan that has been put 
     together without earmarks or the usual pork barrel spending. 
     It's a plan that will be implemented with an unprecedented 
     level of transparency and accountability.

  Well, stop and remember as I tell my colleagues what this actually 
went for. It is clear the most recent example was this loan guarantee 
with Solyndra. Everyone here is aware of what happened with Solyndra. 
We know it was a firm that was producing supposedly green energy. We 
know the people who were behind this loan guarantee of $535 million 
were big contributors to the administration, and they went ahead and 
were able to get bailed out--not bailed out, but get their loan 
guarantee--costing the taxpayers $\1/2\ billion, and that is part of 
what was in this bill. That is where the money was. The genesis of that 
was the $825 billion stimulus bill.
  I am reminiscing a little bit about what happened back in the middle 
1990s, back when Bill Clinton was President of the United States, when 
we had a very similar thing happen at that time. There is a company 
called the Loral Corporation. The Loral Corporation is headed up by 
Bernard Schwartz. Bernard Schwartz was one of the biggest contributors 
to the Democratic national party and to Bill Clinton. Bernard Schwartz, 
the company, the Loral Corporation, built a guidance system for a 
missile so that missile could be more accurate. Even though China 
wanted to have that system so they would be able to guide their 
missiles more accurately, for obvious reasons we didn't want them to 
have it. So it took a waiver signed by the President of the United 
States. President Bill Clinton did it. He signed the waiver and they 
got the money. I see similarities in here. I think, again, everyone is 
familiar with that.
  How did they get the money? Where did it come from? The $825 billion 
in the stimulus bill.
  Let's look. Since the President gave that statement, which I will 
read again--he said:

       What I'm signing, then, is a balanced plan with a mix of 
     tax cuts and investments. It's a plan that has been put 
     together without earmarks or the usual pork barrel spending.

  What do we call the Solyndra thing? It is porkbarrel spending.
  What about the earmarks? This is a confusing thing for most people 
because my well-meaning conservative friends in the House of 
Representatives a couple of years ago put a 1-year moratorium on 
earmarks, and earmarks would be defined, of course, as appropriations 
or authorizations. By doing that, it totally contradicts what the 
Constitution, article I, section 9, says we are supposed to be doing 
here. It says we are supposed to be doing the appropriations and the 
authorizations. That is specifically precluded from the President in 
the article of the Constitution. So it is one that was very obvious. We 
find out later that the person who was behind that was none other than 
President Obama.
  There is a reason for this. Because most people don't understand 
there are two different kinds of earmarks. One is congressional 
earmarks. That is when

[[Page S6496]]

a Congressman, a lot of times in the dark of night, will try to put 
something down that maybe is not in the best interests of the United 
States but helps his district. That occasionally happens. It shouldn't 
happen. Under our system, it won't happen if we require all 
appropriations to be authorized. But the other kind, in addition to the 
congressional earmarks, are bureaucratic earmarks. That is what the 
President can do.
  I will give an example. I am on the Armed Services Committee. The 
President's budget comes out. He says what we should spend money on to 
defend America. A couple of years ago, before this moratorium the 
Republicans put on in the House, one of the lines he had in his budget 
was $330 million for a launch system called a bucket of rockets. It was 
a good system, and I would like to have that system for defending 
America. But we thought in our committee that the same $330 million 
would be better spent on buying six new FA-18E/F model strike fighters 
for our Air Force. Well, we could do that, except that would be called 
an earmark. When we destroy an earmark, we don't save any money, we 
just say, Mr. President, we are not going to do it, so you go ahead and 
you do it. Consequently, we were able to take the $330 million and put 
it in the FA-18s, but after that would pass, that would be called an 
earmark, and so the President would have all the power.
  If we look back at the $825 billion stimulus bill, we can look at 
some of the things that were in there. He said he wasn't going to have 
any earmarks. These are Presidential earmarks: $219,000 to study the 
hookup behavior of female college co-eds in New York; $1.1 million to 
pay for the beautification of Los Angeles' Sunset Boulevard; $10,000 to 
study whether mice become disoriented when they consume alcohol in 
Florida; $712,000 to develop machine-generated humor in Illinois; 
$259,000 for foreign bus wheel polishers in California. It goes on and 
  There is $150,000 for a Massachusetts middle school to build a solar 
array system on its roof; $1 million to do research on fossils in 
Argentina. Here is a good one. I will not attribute this to my two good 
friends who are Senators from Wyoming, but $1.2 million to build an 
underpass for deer in Wyoming.
  That is what the President put in. Those are all earmarks. 
Consequently, I think what we are trying to get to here is if he had 
been successful in the $447 billion stimulus bill earlier this week, 
then we could anticipate the same type of thing happening.
  I want the conservatives of America to wake up to the fact that the 
problems we have, when they talk about earmarks, are not congressional 
earmarks, they are bureaucratic earmarks.

  It wasn't long ago that Sean Hannity on his show had a feature, I 
think it took him several nights to do it. It was the 102 most 
egregious earmarks. He named all of these earmarks, one after another, 
and went on and on and on. I came down to the Senate floor the morning 
after that and I read that same list. There were 102 earmarks, very 
similar to what I read. The interesting thing about it--and I said this 
on the Senate floor at that time--what did these 102 earmarks have in 
common? Not one was a congressional earmark. They were all bureaucratic 
  We are going to be attempting to do something about this, because it 
is something that almost everyone would agree needs to be done. What we 
are going to introduce and the bill I am working on now, and I am 
gathering some cosponsors, is legislation that will bring real 
transparency and accountability to this process. It would do this by 
involving Congress in the grant-making process.
  Right now, agencies are required to disclose a lot of information 
about grant awards, but not until after they are already awarded. We 
don't know about them. Even we here in this Chamber don't know about 
them until some unelected bureaucrat actually makes these what I would 
refer to as bureaucratic earmarks. So it is setting up a system very 
similar to the Congressional Review Act.
  The Congressional Review Act lets us look at the regulations and have 
a process by which we can stop the bureaucrats from passing regulations 
that we may think as elected Members, elected by the people, are not 
good. This will do essentially the same thing the CRA does for 
regulations, it would do for these earmarks. So it is something we will 
be active in. I think back now, if we had not defeated that $447 
billion stimulus bill the first part of this week, we would be looking 
at right now, and I am sure they would be putting together, their list 
of earmarks.
  I think we have an opportunity now to do two things. No. 1, when the 
President--and I say when, and not if--when the President comes up with 
another jobs bill, let's look at it very carefully to make sure we have 
everything specifically in there if it is going to be deserving of our 
votes. I say that to each individual, Democrat and Republican, in this 
  The second thing is make sure we don't open the door for him to be 
able to come up with another several hundred billion dollars of 
earmarks as we did in the $825 billion stimulus bill 2 years ago.
  With that, Madam President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence 
of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. McCaskill). The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. INHOFE. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. INHOFE. Madam President, since there is no one seeking time right 
now, even though I have used my time, I ask unanimous consent to be 
recognized again for up to 10 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.