(Senate - October 20, 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 S6791-S6800]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the 
Senate will resume consideration of H.R. 2112, which the clerk will 
report by title.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (H.R. 2112) making appropriations for Agriculture, 
     Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related 
     Agencies programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 
     2012, and for other purposes.


       Reid (for Inouye) amendment No. 738, in the nature of a 
       Reid (for Webb) modified amendment No. 750 (to amendment 
     No. 738), to establish the National Criminal Justice 
       Kohl amendment No. 755 (to amendment No. 738), to require a 
     report on plans to implement reductions to certain salaries 
     and expenses accounts.
       Durbin (for Murray) amendment No. 772 (to amendment No. 
     738), to strike a section providing for certain exemptions 
     from environmental requirements for the reconstruction of 
     highway facilities damaged by natural disasters or 
       Landrieu amendment No. 781 (to amendment No. 738), to 
     prohibit the approval of certain farmer program loans.
       Vitter modified amendment No. 769 (to amendment No. 738), 
     to prohibit the Food and Drug Administration from preventing 
     an individual not in the business of importing a prescription 
     drug from importing an FDA-approved prescription drug from 
       Coburn amendment No. 791 (to amendment No. 738), to 
     prohibit the use of funds to provide direct payments to 
     persons or legal entities with an average adjusted gross 
     income in excess of $1,000,000.
       Coburn modified amendment No. 792 (to amendment No. 738), 
     to end payments to landlords who are endangering the lives of 
     children and needy families.
       Ayotte amendment No. 753 (to amendment No. 738), to 
     prohibit the use of funds for the prosecution of enemy 
     combatants in article III courts of the United States.
       Crapo amendment No. 814 (to amendment No. 738), to provide 
     for the orderly implementation of the provisions of title VII 
     of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection 
       Merkley amendment No. 879 (to amendment No. 738), to 
     prohibit amounts appropriated under this Act to carry out 
     parts A and B of subtitle V of title 49, United States Code, 
     from being expended unless all the steel, iron, and 
     manufactured products used in the project are produced in the 
     United States.
       Moran amendment No. 815 (to amendment No. 738), to improve 
     the bill.
       Bingaman modified amendment No. 771 (to amendment No. 738), 
     to provide an additional $4,476,000, with an offset, for the 
     Office of the United States Trade Representative to 
     investigate trade violations committed by other countries and 
     to enforce the trade laws of the United States and 
     international trade agreements, which will fund the Office at 
     the level requested in the President's budget and in H.R. 
     2596, as reported by the Committee on Appropriations of the 
     House of Representatives.
       Blunt (for Grassley) amendment No. 860 (to amendment No. 
     738), to ensure accountability in Federal grant programs 
     administered by the Department of Justice.
       Menendez amendment No. 857 (to amendment No. 738), to 
     extend loan limits for programs of the government-sponsored 
     enterprises, the Federal Housing Administration, and the 
     Veterans Affairs' Administration.
       Lee motion to recommit.
       Sessions amendment No. 810 (to amendment No. 783), to 
     prohibit the use of funds to allow categorical eligibility 
     for the supplemental nutrition assistance program.
       Blunt (for DeMint) amendment No. 763 (to amendment No. 
     738), to prohibit the use of funds to implement regulations 
     regarding the removal of essential-use designation for 
     epinephrine used in oral pressurized metered-dose inhalers.

[[Page S6792]]

       Blunt (for DeMint) amendment No. 764 (to amendment No. 
     738), to eliminate a certain increase in funding.
       Lautenberg amendment No. 836 (to amendment No. 738), to 
     provide adequate funding for Economic Development 
     Administration disaster relief grants pursuant to the 
     agreement on disaster relief funding included in the Budget 
     Control Act of 2011.
       Gillibrand amendment No. 869 (to amendment No. 738), to 
     increase funding for the emergency conservation program and 
     the emergency watershed protection program.

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Missouri.
  Mr. BLUNT. I thank my colleagues for bringing amendments to the floor 
on the Agriculture bill and also on the other two bills we are dealing 
with, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, and Commerce-
  We have had a vigorous debate over the past few days. We will have 
further votes today, and I think we will have further amendments today. 
We look forward to our colleagues continuing to come to the floor to 
debate these amendments. I hope we can continue working together to 
produce a bipartisan piece of legislation that becomes the first 
appropriations bill, as such, that we hopefully will be able to 
complete with the House.
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, what is the pending business?
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Gillibrand amendment is the 
pending amendment.
  Mr. DURBIN. To H.R. 2112?
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. To H.R. 2112.
  Mr. DURBIN. If there are no Members on the floor to offer amendments 
to speak to those amendments, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in 
morning business.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 

                           Wall Street Reform

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, our colleagues on the other side of the 
aisle have an interesting grasp of history. How else can you explain 
their choice of this week to push for the repeal of the most 
significant Wall Street reform since the Great Depression? For those 
who need a reminder, it was 24 years ago this week, October 19, 1987, 
that the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered the largest 1-day 
percentage drop in history. It was known as Black Monday. The Dow Jones 
lost 508 points that day, more than 22 percent of its value, $500 
million in wealth destroyed in 1 day. It took the Dow Jones Average 2 
years to recover from Black Monday. Financial markets had not 
experienced such a disastrous decline since the stock market crash of 
1929 that set off the Great Depression.
  Most of us thought we would never again see such an event. Then came 
the financial crisis of 2008. In between time, I might mention, there 
was a savings and loan crisis. But then came the 2008 financial crisis. 
And 3 years after the near collapse of AIG set off the 2008 financial 
crisis, big banks and big Wall Street investment firms are once again 
extremely profitable. Most of the banks reported their earnings this 
week, and the biggest names made the biggest profits ever.

  Wall Street CEOs are still pulling down salaries and bonuses worth 
tens of millions of dollars a year, hundreds of times more than the 
average worker's income. Most Americans are still struggling. The 
financial crisis of 2008 wiped out millions of jobs.
  I recall the month President Obama was sworn in as President. I stood 
there on that cold January day, and as he took his hand from the Bible, 
I realized we had lost 750,000 jobs the month he took office. And, 
unfortunately, it preceded him and continued for some time. There are 
now 24 million Americans unemployed or underemployed. Millions have 
lost their homes. Millions more are in danger of joining them.
  Nearly one in every four mortgages in America is now underwater, 
which means that the owners owe more on the mortgage than the value of 
the home. In the last 4 years, many Americans have seen their home 
values plummet by nearly one-third since 2007, and their retirement 
savings cut in half. We are paying a heavy price for the perfidy of 
Wall Street.
  Solid, well-run companies across America, many in business for 
decades, have been shaken to the core and cannot find credit to either 
continue in business, expand their business, or hire new employees. 
What do our Republican friends offer as a solution? They want to 
repeal--repeal--the reforms that Congress passed to reduce the reckless 
risk taking and deception on Wall Street. They want to repeal Wall 
Street reform.
  They want to repeal the Sarbanes-Oxley reform that was put in place 
after the debacle of the Enron Corporation. They are offering the same 
mistaken policies of the last decade. They want us to repeat the same 
mistakes that led us to a near meltdown of the global economy.
  This effort to repeal Wall Street reform is part of a larger 
Republican campaign to prevent government from passing and enforcing 
reasonable rules that protect our environment and safeguard America's 
food supply, pharmaceuticals, and consumer products. Cut taxes on 
millionaires and billionaires and get rid of government regulation, 
they argue, and the economy will make a dramatic return. That is what 
they believe.
  But if that were true, the last administration would have been the 
most prosperous in history. Those were the hallmarks of the George W. 
Bush administration: wage two wars but do not pay for them, but cut 
taxes on the wealthy and try to diminish regulation, when it came to 
oversight on the largest corporations, banks and financial 
  Instead, the George W. Bush administration produced ``the worst jobs 
record on record.'' Those are not my words. This is a quote from the 
Wall Street Journal. They said: The Bush years produced the worst jobs 
record on record. And they followed the same playbook that the 
Republicans now offer as their idea for revitalizing the economy.
  During the Bush administration, we saw the largest tax cut in our 
Nation's history with nearly all the benefits going to those at the 
top. It was the first time any President in the history of the United 
States cut taxes in the middle of a war. That is counterintuitive. A 
war is an added expense to government. Cutting revenue to government at 
that point invites deficits, which President Bush saw during his term--
his 8 years.
  The debt of the United States doubled during President George W. 
Bush's term in office. Regulatory agencies were underfunded, 
overwhelmed, and they were represented many times by people who had no 
interest in their mission. In the financial services industry, many 
Federal agencies turned a blind eye to activities that led to the 
global financial meltdown.
  The Securities and Exchange Commission under the Bush administration 
allowed America's largest financial institutions to self-regulate, 
police themselves. The Federal Reserve declined to use its power to 
regulate subprime mortgages, which led to the terrible housing crisis 
which we still face today. The Comptroller of the Currency used that 
power to preempt State consumer laws on subprime mortgages, exactly the 
opposite of what they should have done.
  Under the previous administration, unregulated mortgage brokers sold 
reckless loans, including infamous liar loans and ninja loans. Those 
are the no-income, no-asset loans. Major financial institutions 
packaged the bad loans as securities, which they then sold as 
investments. Credit agencies blessed those toxic assets with AAA 
ratings, while being paid by the very companies that were selling the 
loans. The fix was on.
  Insurance companies such as AIG insured toxic assets against loss, 
turning junk into gold. Investors all over the world then bought those 
assets, sowing the seeds for the economic crisis we still suffer from 
today. It was a daisy chain of deregulation and disaster. And what do 
we hear from the Republican side of the aisle? Let's go back to those 
thrilling days of yesteryear. Let's repeal Wall Street reform. Let's 
let Wall Street, like 10,000 flowers, bloom and we will get back into a 
strong economy.
  America knows better. We have seen this movie. We know how it ended 
in 2007, and we do not want to see it again. This was not the first 
time. In the 1980s, savings and loans were deregulated, made reckless 
investments, and eventually had to be bailed out by

[[Page S6793]]

taxpayers to the tune of $130 billion. And $130 billion is bad enough. 
It was almost $800 billion for the TARP bailout of the big banks under 
the Bush administration.
  The Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill requires institutions that 
sell nonstandard mortgages to keep at least 5 percent of those 
mortgages on their books, reducing the risk that they will try to pass 
toxic assets off as solid investments. Under the new rules, banks have 
to make sure that borrowers can repay the loans. Lenders are forbidden 
from steering into expensive loans borrowers who cannot qualify for 
more affordable mortgages.
  A new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will look out for the 
interests of consumers and prohibit the sale of abusive mortgages and 
other risky and destructive financial products. I cannot think of 
another agency of government, not one, that the Republicans hate more 
than the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I want to tell you, I am 
proud that I introduced the first bill on this issue, working with 
Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor. We put together a bill. I 
credit Senator Dodd and Congressman Frank for rewriting provisions and 
including it in Wall Street reform.
  I think it is about time we had one agency, just one in our Federal 
Government, that is designed to look out for and help consumers and 
families across America, to save them from the tricks and traps that 
are thrown at them which they could not possibly understand when they 
look at the fine print of their mortgage agreements and their credit 
card agreements and things that even lawyers struggle to understand.
  This one agency, one single agency, with the limited power given to 
it and the limited resources given to it, is the target--it is ground 
zero for the Republican attack. They do not want to have even one 
agency of government focusing on protecting America's consumers. The 
new Wall Street reforms tackle the dangers of too big to fail. We saw 
what happened there--almost $800 billion in bailout funds to the 
biggest banks in America. They, of course, had made some stupid 
decisions, greedy decisions, selfish decisions. We paid for it. 
Everybody paid for it, with savings that were lost and pension plans 
diminished. And then, when they were about to fail, in came the 
previous administration and said we have to save them or there will be 
a global meltdown.
  I was persuaded. I didn't want to see a global meltdown. We gave some 
$800 billion to these big banks. Did they send us a note of ``thank 
you''? Yes. They sent us a note of ``thank you'' and put it on the back 
of the most recent bonuses they gave to their officers. They were 
giving officers bonuses after the bank virtually fails and they have to 
rely on hard-working taxpayers to bail them out. That was the ultimate 
irony, but it is the reality of what we faced when we passed Wall 
Street reform.
  When Enron collapsed in 2002, shareholders lost between $11 billion 
and $16 billion, employees lost $2.1 billion in pension plans, 5,600 
jobs were destroyed, and Enron's top executives, whose recklessness and 
greed destroyed the company, received $1.4 billion in compensation.
  In 2007, after watching its stock value fall from $300 billion to $6 
billion in 2 years, Citigroup pushed its CEO, Chuck Prince, out the 
door--and, incidentally, they gave him a $38 million severance package.
  In late 2008, with the financial system on the verge of collapse, 17 
troubled banks that had just accepted billions of dollars in taxpayer 
assistance doled out more than $2 billion in bonuses and other payments 
to their highest earners.
  Dodd-Frank, the Wall Street reform bill, reduces the incentive for 
CEOs to place short-term gains above the long-term health of their 
companies by increasing transparency and giving shareholders a say over 
executive compensation. It is another way that the new Wall Street 
reforms can restore stability and integrity to our markets and 
sustainable growth to our economy.
  Economists still debate the causes of Black Monday 4 years ago, but 
no one who looks honestly at our recent past can seriously debate what 
happens when you take the financial cops off the beat and let Wall 
Street and the big banks regulate themselves. Those who are calling for 
repeal of Wall Street reform are basically saying we are going to give 
free rein to Wall Street to make their own rules again. If they are 
successful, I predict--be prepared--it is coming at us again. Wall 
Street will overdo it, and their greed and excess will eventually cost 
average families and taxpayers who have no fault in the process.
  We cannot afford to repeat these mistakes--mistakes that almost 
crashed the global economy. If our Republican colleagues want to join 
us in creating good, middle-class jobs for Americans, they can help us 
pass the American Jobs Act.
  Let me say a word about that. I know the majority leader will give 
Republicans a chance to vote on one section of that today. Hopefully, 
they will join us. It is a section that takes part of the President's 
jobs act--some $35 billion--and uses it to hire those who would 
otherwise be laid off if they are teachers, firefighters, and 
  Two-thirds of the school districts in Illinois have been laying off 
teachers. That is not good for the teachers, obviously, and it is not 
good for the students either. We are trying to make sure we save these 
jobs and give our students a good education across America in these 
difficult times.
  When it comes to firefighters, we had a rally over in the Russell 
Caucus Room. A number of firefighters were there. They are asking, of 
course, for a helping hand to save their jobs in this tough economy.
  I didn't know it at the time of the rally, but Tuesday night in 
Moline, IL, the city council looked at their tough budget and decided 
to lay off 12 firefighters who are responsible for ambulance service in 
Moline, IL. The fire chief, Ron Miller, said that he could not in good 
conscience continue to be fire chief if they are going to take 12 of 
his firefighters away, that it was not safe for the people of Moline. 
He resigned. It was an act of principle. It is an indication of how 
desperate people have become.
  The amendment we will have today as part of the President's jobs 
package will give us a chance, on a competitive basis, to fill many of 
these jobs for firefighters, policemen, and teachers. I hope some of my 
Republican colleagues will join us in this effort.
  How do we pay for it, incidentally? There is a tax. Let's put it 
right on the table. It is a tax of one-half of 1 percent on the incomes 
of people making over $1 million a year. So the first million dollars 
is not subject to it; the next dollar is. It is one-half of 1 percent. 
The money that is brought in from that will spare hundreds of thousands 
of teachers, firefighters, and policemen from being laid off. I don't 
think it is too much to ask for the people who are wealthy and 
comfortable in America to share in the sacrifice with every other 
American family who sacrifices every day in this tough economy. We will 
vote on it, and I hope we get bipartisan support.
  In the meantime, let's not repeal Wall Street reform. We learned a 
bitter lesson 24 years ago and just 4 years ago as well. Let's not 
repeat that bad history.
  I yield the floor. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I compliment all Senators in the way 
they have worked cooperatively and expeditiously in moving these three 
very important appropriations bills forward. Every Senator who has had 
an amendment has worked with us constructively either to modify it or 
to comply with what the leadership wanted to do.
  I compliment all the managers for their work in moving the bills 
forward. I think it shows that we can govern ourselves.
  This is the first time in a couple of years that we are actually 
following the regular order on due deliberations of our appropriations 
bills. It is very important that we do this to meet our fiscal 
responsibility of funding annual appropriations; that is, actually 
putting money in the Federal checkbook.

[[Page S6794]]

  We have followed the regular order by each subcommittee holding 
rigorous hearings, doing due diligence in terms of oversight, and being 
quiet guardians of the purse. If anybody has watched us over the last 
couple of days, we have moved expeditiously. The debate has had such 
rigor, civility, we have learned from each other, and we have modified 
amendments back and forth. I think this is so positive and so 
  I hope we can conclude deliberations on these three appropriations 
bills today. Again, Senators need to have their say. Better they have 
their say than have their day and we show we can govern in a manner 
that is civil, that has intellectual rigor and due diligence in terms 
of oversight but also looking at how we protect vital American 
  The three bills we have today are agriculture, which is so important 
to the American economy--this is a jobs bill. It is also a food and 
drug safety bill. At the same time, there is transportation and 
  People talk about an infrastructure bank. We don't know what we are 
going to do or how we are going to pay for it, but right here, today, 
we have transportation pending that will go to every State on a formula 
basis, and then to some very important special needs identified by 
Senators in this process, to really then create jobs and meet the kinds 
of needs our respective States have, to build and repair highways, 
bridges, and have mass transit to get people to work.
  At the same time, housing is absolutely crucial to our economy. The 
Federal Government does own and operate housing. It is called public 
housing. The ranking member on the Transportation-HUD bill speaks 
eloquently about that. Maine is well known for its compassionate way of 
dealing with people in need, whether it is the elderly, the 
handicapped, or the poor. But it is also how we can work with local 
government in the Community Development Block Grant Program, where 
local people make local decisions on how best to invest Federal funds 
to have a multiplier effect in economic and community development. We 
don't only want to build housing, we want to build community and at the 
same time build jobs. This is fantastic.
  Then there is my own bill, the Commerce-Justice-Science bill, which I 
have worked on in such a cooperative way with the Senator from Texas, 
Kay Bailey Hutchison.
  We also have the Commerce Committee. The Commerce Committee is 
supposed to be about American business, and we have put in money for 
the Trade Representative to make sure we not only import--we want to 
make sure we just don't export jobs but we export products made in 
America by Americans, helping the American economy.
  We also have the Patent Office. We have just reformed the process. If 
we want to out-innovate, we have to protect our intellectual property. 
There are those who would rather steal our ideas than invent their own. 
We have to have it where if you invent it, you get to keep it and 
profit from it.
  The National Institute of Standards works with the private sector--a 
Federal agency to create the standards necessary so that products can 
go beyond the prototype and then be sold in America, but because there 
are certified standards they can be sold around the world.
  Then we have the Justice Department. Aren't we proud of our Federal 
law enforcement? Sure, BATF had a big spill and cinders with the Fast 
and Furious Program. But look at the FBI, look at the DEA, and look at 
how they are intercepting everything from terrorists to organized crime 
to child molesters. And let's hear it for the Marshals Service, which 
is often overlooked and undervalued. They are out there every day 
protecting people who work in the courthouses and also serving the 
warrants and keeping an eye on sexual predators.
  Then our subcommittee is one of the real engines of innovation 
through its work at the National Space Agency and at the National 
Science Foundation, doing the kinds of basic research the private 
sector can't do but will value in order to invest again in those new 
products that will create new jobs in America.
  We like our bills. Again, we have done oversight to deal with how to 
be more frugal. We want people to work on that as the day moves on. I 
wanted to give everybody the lay of the land.
  For those Senators who want to improve our bill by the regular order 
of the amendment process, we encourage them to come to the floor now to 
offer them and speak out. We want them to have their say and to have 
their day.

                           Amendment No. 750

  Mr. President, while we are waiting for those Senators to come, I 
wish to comment on an amendment offered by our colleague from Virginia, 
Senator Webb.
  Senator Webb has been a longstanding advocate that our people in this 
country be well served by the justice system. He has become 
increasingly concerned about the way the justice system works and feels 
it needs a comprehensive review. He has recommended the establishment 
of a national justice commission to do a review of Federal, State, and 
local Federal criminal justice systems, which will make a final report 
recommending changes in policy and practices to both prevent, deter, 
and reduce crime and violence and also to reduce recidivism and do it 
in a cost-effective way.
  I want my colleagues to know I am an enthusiastic supporter of the 
Webb criminal justice commission. It is just a patchwork now. At times, 
because we so load up in the bottom end after a crime is committed, we 
need to look at prevention and intervention and also other things, such 
as alternative sentencing.
  I wish to acknowledge the validity of the issue raised by our 
colleague from Virginia. We have a very high incarceration rate in this 
  More than 2.3 million Americans are in prison. Another 5 million are 
on probation or parole. Correction costs continue to grow and we have 
to tighten our belt. The problem is definitely evident in my bill. For 
Federal prisons alone, we had to include another $300 million to safely 
guard the Nation's growing Federal prison population, and that does not 
include those in State prisons and local jails. This subcommittee has 
an obligation to fund Federal prisons, but this increase did consume a 
significant part of our allocation at the expense of other DOJ 
  Why is this happening? Is it partly because of Americans being more 
violent, there are more criminals, or are we getting better at catching 
them and prosecuting them? You know what, the answer could be yes, but 
we don't know. Is it that our mandatory sentencing--a good intention--
has now had unintended consequences; that people who are first 
offenders could be in alternative sentencing and doing something else?
  We are spending a lot on prisons, and so I support Senator Webb's 
effort to create a blue-ribbon national commission to do an 18-month, 
top-to-bottom review, examining costs and practices and policies for 
prevention, intervention, prosecution, and imprisonment, looking at 
which programs work and which can be improved. I hope it will end in 
concrete, wide-ranging reforms.
  I support the amendment and look forward to voting for it and then to 
working on a constructive way to take a look at what his 
recommendations are. I understand the Senator from Virginia is 
retiring. Along with his incredible service in terms of the national 
security of our country, this will be one of his more lasting legacies. 
I hope we adopt the Webb amendment.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland is recognized.

                           Amendment No. 769

  Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I do want to comment on the Vitter 
amendment and then be able to have the Senator from New Hampshire 
  But before the leader leaves, I want to express my condolences to the 
Mullins family for what happened. It is a little hard to get back into 
talking about amendments and debating issues when you hear such a 
poignant and wrenching story.
  I am glad the Senator from Louisiana is on the floor, because I know 
we will be debating his amendment.
  I want to make a comment about the Vitter amendment No. 769, as 
modified. I oppose the amendment. I appreciate the intent of the 
Senator from Louisiana to make lower cost drugs available to the 
American people, but we

[[Page S6795]]

have many flashing lights about this and I bring this from knowledge of 
being both on the Intelligence Committee and also in working with the 
FBI through our CJS in both the classified and unclassified setting.
  The amendment allows individuals to import FDA-approved drugs from 
Canada. It sounds great. But we don't know if the drug was made in 
Canada, and we don't know if it is coming from a regulated Canadian Web 
  We are concerned because of organized crime involvement and now 
counterfeit drugs--lethal, lethal, lethal drugs--could come into our 
country and have dire and devastating effects.
  We could talk about how to have pharmaceutical FDA-approved drugs 
available to our people at less cost. Ironically, this is coming from a 
national health system. I am not going to get into ObamaCare and all 
that, but I do want to speak as someone who knows a lot about 
international organized crime.
  What I want our colleagues to know is where there is compelling, 
compassionate human need, there is greed. Where there is greed, there 
are scams, schemes, and in many cases they have lethal consequences. 
What the Vitter amendment does--first of all, it does not give the FDA 
additional resources to combat counterfeit medicine, it just makes an 
allowable use.
  I don't know where we are going to get the money. If our colleague, 
Senator Kohl, were here, he would speak about the money. I wish to 
speak about the safety.
  There are rogue Canadian pharmacy Web sites, and the consequence of 
that is we do not know what is coming. One of the things we do know is, 
we have examples of awful things that have happened. Do many of you 
remember when Coumadin came into this country? That is a blood thinner. 
It was illegally produced and did not meet FDA standards and resulted 
in people dying because they hemorrhaged out because of a counterfeit 
drug. They bled to death taking something they thought was safe.
  There is Tamiflu that came into our country, but it was not Tamiflu; 
it was talcum powder. A person might want to swallow talcum powder. It 
might give them indigestion. But I tell you there are other things that 
can have more dire circumstances--birth control pills made out of rice 
flour. There is a complete list, and I encourage my colleagues, go to 
the FDA, find out what they have experienced in this. Go to the FBI, 
find out what they have done to try to intercept this. Go to our 
customs and border people. They have heartburn trying to prevent 
heartache from those things that could come illegally into our country.
  We do have to deal with the cost of prescription drugs. We did deal 
with it in subsequent legislation in which we have closed the doughnut 
hole. I compliment the Senator from Louisiana for wanting to do that 
and all who modified it. But do not make a good intention have a 
horrible, lethal, unintended consequence.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Brown of Ohio). The Senator from New 
Hampshire is recognized.

                           Amendment No. 753

  Ms. AYOTTE. Mr. President, I rise to discuss my amendment, No. 753. 
This amendment would prohibit the use of funds for fiscal year 2012 for 
the prosecution of enemy combatants in article III courts. 
Specifically, it applies to members of al-Qaida or affiliated entities 
who are also participants in the course of planning or carrying out 
attacks against the United States.
  I heard yesterday many of my colleagues from the other side of the 
aisle, for whom I have great respect, come to the floor to oppose my 
amendment. I would like to address the issues they have raised and 
start with this. I think their arguments miss the point. We are at war 
with these terrorist enemy combatants, members of al-Qaida who are 
planning or who have planned attacks against the United States of 
America. In what other conflict has the default or preferred position 
been to try these individuals in the civilian court systems of the 
United States?
  The primary focus when we capture an enemy combatant needs to be on 
gathering intelligence to protect the people of this country and our 
allies. I have great respect for our civilian court system. I have 
tried many cases. I have both defended criminals in that system, and I 
have prosecuted criminals in that system. Our civilian court system was 
not set up to gather intelligence. It was set up to have a fair 
prosecution of individuals who commit crimes in our country. When 
people rob a liquor store, the police arrest them, they question them, 
but the primary purpose is to find out who is accountable for the crime 
and then within that system to hold them accountable. The primary 
purpose of that system is not to gather intelligence and to make sure, 
within that system, we gather as much intelligence as possible of every 
single connection that individual has, to ensure we are preventing 
future attacks on our country. That has to be our primary purpose when 
we are trying to protect the American people.
  Those who want to--and this administration wants to--use the civilian 
court system as the default system, they are undermining, in my view, 
our ability to obtain valuable intelligence because intelligence does 
not just come, often, with the brief interview that may happen in a 
criminal case, sometimes it takes months to gather the type of 
intelligence we need to protect Americans.
  That is why, under the law of war, we allow people to be held in 
military custody, so we can protect the American people. But also in 
time, as we develop information, we can go back to those individuals 6 
months later and say we just learned from another individual your 
connection with al-Qaida, your connection with an attack on the United 
States of America, and gather further information to protect our 
country. Our civilian court system is not set up to do that because, 
under this administration, when we treat an enemy of our country, an 
enemy combatant, under the civilian court system, they are entitled to 
certain rights, such as the Miranda rights guaranteed under the fifth 
amendment of our Constitution.
  They are, of course, told: You have the right to remain silent; you 
have a right to have a lawyer. These are rights they would not be read 
if they were taken into military custody, where they are not required 
to be read.
  That is a fundamental difference that is very important for the 
American people to think about. When we capture a terrorist, we need to 
know what else they were planning and what they might attempt to do to 
our country or our allies. If we capture them and make the decision to 
treat them in our civilian court system, once we hold them in custody 
for a certain period in our civilian court system, under our fifth 
amendment to the Constitution, we have to tell them they have the right 
to remain silent. Here we are telling terrorists they have the right to 
remain silent. It does not fit to have a system where we are treating 
terrorists that way. It undermines our ability to gather information 
that will protect our country.
  I have heard many of my colleagues, including the distinguished 
Senator from California yesterday, argue that military commissions are 
not effective in holding terrorists accountable. I have heard cited 
time and time again the number of convictions in article III courts 
compared to the number of convictions in military commissions. This is 
an argument that, in my view, is very misleading because one of the 
first steps this administration took when the President came into 
office was to suspend military commissions. To criticize the low number 
of military commission convictions when the President suspended 
military commissions for over two years strikes me as disingenuous--if 
I were making that argument in law school, I think I would have flunked 
my classes.

  The reality is, to say our military commissions are not sufficient is 
actually very unfair to the military commission system. I find it 
astounding that somehow that would be cited as a reason not to treat 
enemy combatants, who are enemies of our country in the first instance, 
in military custody so we can gather the maximum amount of information 
from them, and that may take a period of time to do so, a period of 
time that is not built into our civilian court system because they are 
also guaranteed rights such as speedy presentment. That does not fit 
when we need periods of time to gather information to protect our 
  The distinguished Senator from California also raised the case of Mr.

[[Page S6796]]

Moussaoui. Our court system is, rightly so, an open system for people 
to see. In that system, I would give defense counsel all the 
information I had about a case so they could adequately defend their 
client. When we are dealing with a case involving the prosecution of 
enemy combatants, much of the information is very sensitive. It can be 
sensitive to our national security if it is released. It could be 
sensitive if the individual being prosecuted gets that information to 
other people. We saw that, for example, in the Moussaoui case, when he 
was prosecuted in an article III court where sensitive material was 
inadvertently leaked.
  We also, of course, saw in that case victims of 9/11 having to 
subject themselves to being mocked by him in our open court system.
  Finally, I was astonished yesterday when I heard the argument from 
the esteemed Senator from California that if someone commits a 
terrorist act on our soil, they should be exclusively tried in article 
III courts. She cited Mr. Brennan, who is one of the President's 
National Security Advisers, in saying we should be using article III 
courts as an exclusive way to treat individuals who have actually come 
to our soil to attack our country. To me, that does not make sense.
  If a person is a terrorist, a member of al-Qaida, who actually has 
planned an attack on our country and actually comes to our country to 
attack us, they are going to be given greater rights because they will 
be given their Miranda rights, told they have the right to remain 
silent, they will be automatically treated in our civilian court system 
and we will have to give them speedy presentment and many of the rights 
that, rightly so, are included in our article III court system. So what 
are we saying to terrorists? We are actually going to give them greater 
rights if they come and attack us here. In my view, unfortunately, it 
sends the wrong message. I think it is welcoming people to the United 
States of America, when the message should be, clearly, we are at war 
with them, we are going to treat them in our military system because 
they are an enemy of our country, and we are going to make sure we 
gather the most information from them and their colleagues to protect 
Americans and our allies from future attacks.
  We need look no further than the case of Osama bin Laden for the 
proof that the process of obtaining information from terrorists is 
frequently long and difficult, but I shudder to think what would have 
happen if the detainees from whom we gleaned information that led us to 
bin Laden were instead read their Miranda rights, remained silent, we 
brought them here, we had to give them speedy presentment rights. I do 
not think it is a stretch to say bin Laden might still be at large.
  We have to put the priority on protecting Americans by gathering 
information. We are at war. We have a fundamental duty to protect the 
American people from the threat of future terrorist attacks. To me, 
that is the all-consuming priority, more important than extending 
constitutional rights to foreign terrorists--not American citizens--who 
are at war with us. I urge my colleagues to oppose civilian trials for 
this category of the most dangerous individuals with whom we are at 
  Finally, I wish to address one point which was actually quite 
surprising to me yesterday as well. The distinguished senior Senator 
from California said these individuals should not be treated as enemy 
combatants in military commissions is because, she said, it will reduce 
our allies' willingness to extradite terror suspects to the United 
States for interrogation or prosecution or even provide evidence about 
suspected terrorists if they will be shipped off to military 
commissions in all cases. And she cited that, saying: Our allies are 
very reluctant to give us evidence in a process where they don't feel 
the rule of law is present.

  Well, first of all, military commissions are historically part of our 
system. They are consistent with the Geneva Convention and the rule of 
  Secondly, the notion that we would allow our allies to dictate where 
we would try enemies of our country just seems absurd in terms of what 
policy we are going to take as the United States of America.
  It doesn't make sense to me. Here we have a situation where this 
administration is taking out--and I agree with them on this, and I 
commend them for this--terrorists around the world, members of al-
Qaida, enemy combatants who threaten our country. We are killing them. 
Yet the same administration is saying this same category of 
individuals--that we shouldn't detain them in military custody, we 
shouldn't try them by military commissions, and that seems internally 
  It also seems inconsistent that while we have our allies 
participating with us in attacks against enemy combatants around the 
world, that they would not transfer detained enemy combatants to the 
U.S. for fear that we will put them in military custody. It just does 
not make sense.
  I would urge my colleagues to support my amendment. We shouldn't 
further criminalize this war. We remain at war with terrorists who want 
to kill Americans. I brought forward this amendment because I firmly 
believe our priority has to be to gather intelligence and not to 
provide them Miranda rights and not to undermine, in my view, our 
military commission system but to treat enemy combatants for who they 
are--enemies of our country--and make sure we protect Americans.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The senior Senator from Virginia.

                           Amendment No. 750

  Mr. WEBB. I would like to spend some time today addressing the 
amendment I have introduced, which is pending--it will be voted on 
later this morning or early this afternoon--which would establish a 
national commission to address the issue of criminal justice in our 
  I would like to begin by thanking the senior Senator from Maryland 
for her comments earlier this morning and her strong support of this 
legislation. I also wish to thank the majority leader and, I believe, a 
majority of our Democratic caucus who cosponsored this legislation in 
the last session.
  This is a bill that was put together over a period of 4\1/2\ years. 
It is not so much politics as it is leadership in terms of how we 
address the issue of criminal justice in the United States. We had the 
support last year, we continue to have the support, I believe, and the 
cosponsorship on the Republican side of Senator Graham. Last year, 
Senator Hatch and Senator Snowe also cosponsored this legislation. It 
passed the House in the same form we are introducing it today by voice 
vote, with the cosponsorship of Lamar Smith, who is now the chairman of 
the House Judiciary Committee. It was voted out of the Senate Judiciary 
Committee last year.
  This is a very important moment in terms of how we are going to 
resolve a lot of the pending issues with respect to law enforcement in 
this country.
  I wish to start off by saying that my motivation in getting involved 
in this issue stems first from the time I spent as an officer in the 
U.S. Marine Corps, where one of the strongest leadership principles 
that was ingrained in every marine was that in order for a system to 
function, it has to be firm but also fair, and also from my time as a 
journalist preceding the time I have spent here in the Senate.
  It is the product of 4\1/2\ years of work, outreach, and listening. 
We have listened to more than 100 organizations from across the 
country, across the philosophical spectrum. We have listened to our 
colleagues on the other side. We have adapted the legislation to ensure 
that this is balanced politically, so we can set politics aside and get 
into the complex issue of how we resolve the broken points in our 
criminal justice system.
  Our criminal justice system is broken in many areas. We have some 
strong work in local areas, with people trying to help fix these 
problems, but we need a national commission in order to take a look at 
the criminal justice system from point of apprehension all the way to 
reentry into society of people who have been incarcerated. We have not 
had this overarching national look since 1965.
  What are the two boundaries that affected my approach to this? I 
would like to lay them out very quickly.
  The first is that we have entered a period from the 1980s forward 
where we have tended to overincarcerate for a lot of nonviolent crimes. 
This is a chart that goes from 1925 to today. Beginning in the 1980s, 
our incarceration

[[Page S6797]]

system skyrocketed to the point where there are now 2.38 million people 
in prison in the United States. Seven million people are involved in 
the criminal justice system on one level or another of supervision from 
our authorities.
  The second is that Americans don't feel any safer for all of this 
incarceration and for the approach that it has taken. Survey after 
survey from the last decade indicates that the average American 
community feels more threatened this year than it did last year. Two-
thirds of Americans believe crime is more prevalent today than it was a 
year ago.
  This is a leadership question. How do we fix it? Whom do we go to in 
order to find the answers so we can have the kind of advice that is 
very difficult to obtain in a holistic way so that Congress can move 
forward and the country can move forward and solve this problem?
  This legislation is paid for. It is sunsetted at 18 months--very 
similar to the legislation Senator McCaskill and I put together going 
after the problems in wartime contracting, which now, after a 2-year 
sunset period, has reported out very important improvements in looking 
at a system in Iraq and Afghanistan that resulted in $30 billion to $60 
billion of fraud, waste, and abuse. We put a commission together, we 
brought in good minds to help us solve the problem, they came in with 
recommendations, and we are going to fix that problem as best it can be 
  It is balanced philosophically and politically. I would ask my 
colleagues when the last time was that we had law enforcement lining up 
with people who were generally believed to be on the other side 
philosophically--the ACLU, NAACP, et cetera--all coming together and 
saying the same thing. This needs a national commission. This needs to 
be fixed.
  In terms of law enforcement, we have the strong support of the 
International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs' 
Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs 
Association, the National Narcotics Officers' Association, the National 
Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, the U.S. 
Conference of Mayors, and the National Criminal Justice Association.

  There are a few quotes in terms of supporting this legislation that I 
would ask my colleagues from both sides to consider.
  Chief Michael Carroll, president of the International Association of 
Chiefs of Police, said:

       For more than 20 years, the IACP has advocated for the 
     creation of a commission that would follow in the footsteps 
     of the 1965 Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement . . . 
     The IACP believes that it is imperative that the National 
     Criminal Justice Commission Act be approved in a timely 
     fashion. For far too long our Nation's law enforcement and 
     criminal justice system has lacked a strategic plan that will 
     guide and integrate public safety and homeland security.

  Chuck Canterbury, the national president for the Fraternal Order of 

       Law enforcement has changed a great deal in the last few 
     decades. We believe establishing a national commission . . . 
     will only help law enforcement officers do their jobs more 
     effectively, more efficiently, and more safely.

  Sheriff B.J. Roberts, president of the National Sheriffs' 

     . . . make the creation of a national commission all the more 
     necessary to ensure law enforcement . . . has the tools and 
     knowledge necessary to adapt to the continually evolving 
     justice system. The NSA commends . . . this work on this 
     critical issue. We look forward to supporting you to pass 
     this bill.

  Criminal justice experts from across the philosophical spectrum:
  Chuck Colson, founder of the Prison Fellowship:

       I write from the perspective of a conservative who has 
     always been comfortable as a reformer . . . I don't believe 
     this is an ideological issue at all, but one on which people 
     of good will, conservative and liberal alike, could join 
     forces to make prisons more effective, humane and successful.

  Brian Walsh, the Heritage Foundation:

       Reform experts who are serious about criminal justice 
     reform should . . . reach out to elected officials on both 
     sides of the aisle.

  Mark Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project:

       A new approach to crime prevention is necessary and the 
     time for reform is upon us. The commission created by this 
     legislation would establish an organized and proactive 
     approach to studying and advancing programs and policies that 
     promote public safety, while overhauling those practices that 
     are found to be fundamentally flawed . . . We strongly urge 
     passage of the National Criminal Justice Act.

  Professor Charles Ogletree, Harvard Law School:

       The comprehensive, timely and important bill . . . will go 
     a long way toward addressing some of the severe inequities in 
     the criminal justice system. This effort should be pursued 
     with great vigor to ensure that we not only hold offenders 
     accountable, but that we implement criminal justice policies 
     that are sensible, fair, increase public safety and make 
     judicious use of our State and Federal resources.

  I am grateful that this legislation has been offered as an amendment 
on this appropriations measure. Again, it is paid for. It is sunsetted. 
It is balanced philosophically and politically. We listened very 
carefully to our colleagues from the other side of the aisle to 
incorporate their suggestions as this legislation moved forward. It 
passed the House last year, and I earnestly hope people from both sides 
of the aisle will support this legislation when it comes to a vote 
later today.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The junior Senator from Louisiana.

                           Amendment No. 769

  Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, I rise in strong support of Vitter 
amendment No. 769, which we will be voting on a little after noon in 
the next block of votes. I want to encourage all of my colleagues, 
Democrats and Republicans, to come together in a strong bipartisan way 
in favor of this amendment. It is a bipartisan amendment, and I thank 
Senators Sanders, McCain, Stabenow, and Bingaman for being coauthors of 
it, along with me.
  The amendment is very simple. It would give all Americans another 
avenue to get safe, cheaper prescription drugs by allowing the 
reimportation of prescription drugs for personal use from Canada only. 
Again, it is very modest and very restricted. We are just talking about 
Canada. We are just talking about, of course, FDA-approved prescription 
drugs. We are just talking about small quantities for personal use, not 
big quantities, not wholesalers, not folks in that business. We are 
specifically excluding biologics. We are specifically excluding things 
listed on the controlled dangerous substances schedule. So it is a very 
modest, straightforward, limited amendment, but it would still be real 
in terms of the relief it would give Americans, particularly seniors, 
who are so often under the crunch--another opportunity for safe, 
cheaper prescription drugs.
  In its form as I have described, this is nearly identical to a 
bipartisan Vitter amendment that was passed in the last Senate. It 
passed on a strong bipartisan vote, and I thank Members who voted for 
  This problem, again, is real. It hits millions of Americans. It hits 
seniors particularly hard.
  Let's just take three very common prescription drugs.
  Nexium. In the United States, it is about $635 for a certain amount. 
In Canada, that same volume of the drug is $386. For Lipitor, the price 
difference on average is $572 in the United States versus $378 in 
Canada; Plavix, $644 in the United States, $434 in Canada--huge price 
differences of 39 and 34 and 33 percent. That cost crunch is what all 
too often causes seniors to have to make horrible choices between 
prescription drugs they need for their health or other necessities such 
as food and utilities. Let's give those Americans real relief, and we 
can in this simple, straightforward amendment.

  Let me say two things in closing. First, there have been safety 
concerns brought up about the amendment. We have real safety concerns 
about counterfeit drugs in general, but I do not believe--and I would 
not offer this amendment if I did believe--this amendment expands those 
vulnerabilities or concerns at all. As an example, the distinguished 
Senator from Maryland brought up several cases documented in the press 
in the last few years, and those are serious cases of counterfeit 
drugs, but none of them have anything to do with reimportation; none of 
them have anything to do with Canada; none of them have anything to do 
with small quantities of drugs for personal use. They are other 
unrelated safety concerns. This amendment would not expand those 

[[Page S6798]]

  Finally, this vote is about the amendment I have described, but I 
think it is also about the intersection of money and power and politics 
in Washington. President Obama often decries that intersection of big 
money and big power in Washington, and I agree with him. But I think 
the single biggest example of that sort of money run amok in 
Washington--buying power and influencing politics in the last few 
years--has been big Pharma dealing with the White House, specifically 
visiting the White House over and over during the development of 
ObamaCare and in the end supporting ObamaCare. And, oh, by the way, in 
the end the President no longer supports reimportation, which he had 
consistently up to that point. I decry that sort of intersection of 
money and politics. If my colleagues do as well, they will support this 
amendment. If my colleagues disapprove of that sort of action by PhRMA 
and that interaction of big money and power politics, my colleagues 
will support this amendment too. I urge strong bipartisan support.
  Again, I thank my colleagues from both parties for coauthoring and 
supporting this amendment.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The senior Senator from Maryland.

                      Amendment No. 772 Withdrawn

  Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I know my colleague wishes to speak, but 
I have a matter to dispose of. I ask unanimous consent that the Murray 
amendment No. 772 be withdrawn.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, the amendment is withdrawn.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Thank you very much.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas.

                           Amendment No. 750

  Mrs. HUTCHISON. Mr. President, I rise to speak against the Webb 
amendment to the bill. Senator Webb from Virginia spoke earlier about 
the purpose of this legislation. I believe if we had the time to work 
on this amendment we could accommodate the Senator's proposed goals for 
the commission. However, this has not gone through the Judiciary 
Committee. It is an authorization of a commission--it is called the 
National Criminal Justice Commission--which is purporting to look at 
the entire criminal justice system--Federal, State, and local.
  This is an overreach of gigantic proportions. It is certainly within 
the purview of Congress to do a national commission to look at the 
Federal criminal justice system, but to go into State and local 
governments and purport to examine the criminal justice systems of our 
States and local governments is far beyond the reach of Congress, and 
it is certainly not a priority we should meet in appropriations bills 
when we are already in a deficit and debt crisis in this country.
  I ask unanimous consent that a letter from the National District 
Attorneys Association and a letter from the National Association of 
Police Organizations be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                                 National District

                                        Attorneys Association,

                                                   Alexandria, VA.

Please Oppose S.A. 750, The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 

       I'm writing you today on behalf of the National District 
     Attorneys Association (NDAA), the oldest and largest 
     organization representing over 39,000 of America's state and 
     local prosecutors, to voice our strong opposition towards an 
     amendment to be offered today by Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) to 
     the FY 12 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill 
     which would authorize and fund the National Criminal Justice 
     Commission Act of 2011.
       The amendment to be offered is S.A. 750, which was first 
     introduced by Senator Jim Webb during the 111th Congress. The 
     amendment would establish a Federal Commission to undertake a 
     comprehensive examination of all aspects of America's 
     criminal justice system--federal, state and local--and offer 
     those findings to Congress and the Executive Branch.
       While NDAA believes that a comprehensive examination of 
     America's criminal justice systems could be useful, we 
     believe that S.A. 750 in its current form is flawed in many 
     different ways:
       1. NDAA has major concerns with the formulation and 
     composition of the National Criminal Justice Commission. The 
     14-member Commission would be selected largely by the current 
     President (5 members), with other members selected by 
     Congressional leadership from both the Majority and Minority 
     parties. NDAA feels that the larger number of Presidential 
     selections would skew the panel to favor one political 
     ideology over another. Additionally, while guidelines on 
     areas of expertise (for example, ``law enforcement'', 
     ``prisoner reentry'' and ``civil liberties'') in order to be 
     considered to serve on the Commission are contained in S. 
     306, specific representation from criminal justice 
     practitioners such as District Attorneys, State and local 
     prosecutors, Attorneys General, Chiefs of Police, Judges, 
     Drug Court Professionals, Sheriffs, Police Officers or any 
     other law enforcement practitioner to serve on the Commission 
     would not be mandated.
       2. Simply put, NDAA feels that an analysis of America's 
     federal, state and local criminal justice systems cannot be 
     completed in an 18-month period. The 18-month timeframe was 
     selected largely based on the President Lyndon Johnson's 
     Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice 
     in 1965. Over the past 45 years, the size and complexities of 
     America's criminal justice system has grown by leaps and 
     bounds and NDAA feels an 18-month window isn't near enough 
     time to complete such a study.
       3. NDAA believes that the federal government should never 
     be in the business of auditing state and local criminal 
     justice systems.
       4. During these times of fiscal crisis in America, the 
     Commission would require $5 million in new spending to 
     complete its work over the next two fiscal years. Senator 
     Webb's amendment would offset this new spending through the 
     Department of Justice's Office of Justice Program's 
     Administrative Account, which has already received close to a 
     50% reduction in funding since FY 2010. In addition, many 
     state and local criminal justice programs funded by OJP have 
     been gutted or eliminated over the past few fiscal cycles, 
     including NDAA's National Advocacy Center for State and Local 
     Prosecutor Training and the John R. Justice Loan Repayment 
     Program for Prosecutors and Public Defenders--just two of the 
     hundreds of programs which desperately need funding to 
     provide services for America's communities now instead of 
     funding a 14-member Commission to write a study. It would be 
     fiscally irresponsible to fund such a study while current 
     budget cuts are hitting America's communities hard.
       It is our hope that you oppose this amendment as it is 
     considered on the Senate floor. If you have any questions or 
     concerns, please feel free to contact me at your earliest 
       Thank you for all you do for America's state and local 
                                                      Scott Burns,
     Executive Director.

                                           National Association of

                                   Police Organizations, Inc.,

                                 Alexandria, VA, October 18, 2011.
     Hon. Patrick Leahy,
     Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Chuck Grassley,
     Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Grassley: On behalf 
     of the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), 
     representing 241,000 rank-and-file officers from across the 
     United States, I write to you to ask you to oppose The 
     National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2011 (S.A. 750).
       During the 111th Congress, NAPO did support the original 
     version of Senator Jim Webb's Crime Commission Bill (S. 714). 
     However, over time the bill morphed into a different piece of 
     legislation which NAPO could no longer support. The current 
     proposal mirrors the later language of the 111th Congress, 
     causing great concern to NAPO's members.
       These concerns, which we share with other law enforcement 
     groups such as the NDAA, include concern over the composition 
     and qualifications of the proposed commission; the 
     unrealistic timeframes called for in the legislation, and the 
     appropriation of funds for the commission at the expense of 
     other, proven, Justice Department programs.
       Rank-and-file officers are the most visible and immediate 
     providers of government service and protection for Americans. 
     It is in the best interest of our entire nation to ensure 
     they have the support they need to succeed. We strongly 
     oppose the National Criminal Justice Commission being added 
     as an amendment. If you should have any questions or wish to 
     discuss this further, please feel free to contact me, or 
     NAPO's Director of Government Affairs, Rachel Hedge, at (703) 
                                               William J. Johnson,
                                               Executive Director.

  Mrs. HUTCHISON. Mr. President, the letter from the District Attorneys 
Association looks at an earlier version of the bill which had a $14 
million pricetag and the pricetag on this amendment is $5 million. So 
with that caveat I submit the letter, because the points the District 
Attorneys Association makes are very valid except for that one error of 
the amount of money.
  However, let's talk about the $5 million. Is it the priority of the 
Justice Department to have a national commission that purports to go 
into State and local governments and look at their criminal justice 
systems at a

[[Page S6799]]

time such as this? They are taking the $5 million from the Department 
of Justice's Office of Justice Programs administrative account. That is 
the account that administers the following grant programs, all of which 
I will not read, but they include: the National Center for Missing and 
Exploited Children, Byrne-JAG grants, the National Sex Offender 
Registry, the Bulletproof Vest grants, the National Stalker Database, 
and it goes on and on.
  So the Senator from Virginia wants to take $5 million from the 
administrators of this account and put it into looking into the 
criminal justice systems of our 50 States and whatever local 
governments they would choose to look at. The Senate position is 
already $118 million for that account, which is $64 million below the 
fiscal year 2011 levels. The House has put $79 million in this account. 
We would be taking away $5 million more for us to go to conference with 
to do an overreach against States rights in order to fund a commission 
that is going to look into programs, and take away from the fund grants 
that are so important to so many of our State and local governments, 
not to mention the people of our country.
  Let's talk about the budgetary decisions of the States; for instance, 
New York and Vermont or the State of Virginia or Texas or Alabama. How 
are we going to look at the criminal justice systems with this national 
commission and say, Oh, we think the priority for New York State and 
its prison system or its number of district attorneys should meet the 
Federal standard? Would that be the same standard for the State of 
Vermont? This is such an overreach, and it is not a priority in these 
tight budgetary times, in my opinion.
  The budgetary decisions of our State and local governments and the 
criminal justice systems should be done at that level. If there is a 
massive problem, there will be lawsuits about it. There would be a 
lawsuit against the Texas prison system. There was one, and it changed 
the way the Texas prison systems were even built and how much space 
there was in the cells. If there is a problem, there is a remedy. But 
we don't need a national commission to come in and tell the State and 
local governments they have a problem and rearrange the budgetary 
priorities of those States and local governments.
  The GAO looked at this bill as a freestanding bill and they said the 
definition of ``criminal justice system'' is way too broad. A report on 
the Federal criminal justice system could be valuable to Congress, 
which I submit I would agree with. Maybe that would be important. But 
to be effective, the GAO said, such a report should be narrowly 
targeted on specific features of the Federal criminal justice system 
such as law enforcement, courts, detention facilities, number of 
prosecutors, whether there is a victims rights advocate--they can look 
at a lot of different things, but they should narrow the scope if they 
are going to be effective. If Congress is to responsibly and wisely use 
our taxpayer dollars in these economic times, I think it is essential 
that we narrow the scope.
  Let me mention something that is also mentioned in the District 
Attorneys Association's letter, which is something that caught my eye 
when I read this amendment. The 14-member commission is on its face 7 
members appointed by Republicans and 7 members appointed by Democrats. 
So we have a 14-member commission. On its face, seven from each party 
would pass muster for bipartisan. However, it has the President of the 
United States appointing two of the Republican members. If we want a 
commission that is seven and seven, wouldn't it be more fair or pass 
the test of bipartisanship if Republicans appoint the Republicans and 
the Democrats appoint the Democrats? This commission would essentially 
be nine to five, not seven and seven.
  I don't know that we have partisan issues in criminal justice. In 
some areas we probably do but, in the prioritizing of the budget, 
probably not. Probably there are political differences in our 
priorities for the criminal justice system, so if we are going to have 
a fair commission that purports to have a seven-seven makeup, let's 
make it seven-seven.
  The reason we have a rule in this Senate that says we can't authorize 
on appropriations bills is because we have authorization committees 
that have hearings, that mark up legislation, that make the necessary 
changes to accommodate the needs of the majority and the minority and 
assure that something has at least been vetted. This bill has not been 
authorized. This comprehensive amendment appointing this national 
commission to study the criminal justice systems of the Federal, State, 
and local governments needs a lot of work. I wish to reach out to 
Senator Webb to work with him to assure that it is a Federal commission 
looking at the Federal criminal justice system, and perhaps find out 
what his priorities are for his commission to study, and let's focus on 
those as the GAO said would be necessary. I would not take the $5 
million from the accounts administering the very important grant 
programs to our State and local governments and to the people who are 
affected by missing and exploited children, to assure that the State 
Criminal Alien Assistance program, SCAAP, which helps our border 
counties in the States that are on the border, accommodate the 
incarceration of illegal alien criminals. In my State of Texas, the 
counties on the border don't have the money to incarcerate the 
prisoners who are illegal aliens and who are Federal responsibility. 
The administrators of these programs, such as the Mentally Ill Offender 
Grants, the Cybercrime Economic Program, the Coverdell Forensic 
Improvement grants, the Adam Walsh Act--we shouldn't be cutting the 
accounts that administer those programs. That would not be my choice if 
I had had the ability to work with the Senator from Virginia to 
accommodate his needs, as an authorization committee would.

  This should not be in this bill. If we are going to have a 14-member 
commission--that is 7 Republicans and 7 Democrats--let's have a fair 
appointment of those 7 members on each side. To say the President of 
the United States would appoint two of the Republicans and that is an 
even distribution, it does not pass the test of what appears to be the 
fairness in the appointment of the commission.
  So I oppose this amendment, and I would like to work with Senator 
Webb to have a national criminal justice commission that would focus on 
the national criminal justice system. We do not need to overreach into 
State and local governments. We do not need to set the priorities for 
the budgets of States and local governments. We do not have the 
capacity to do it. I will guarantee, with 14 members, they are not 
going to represent 50 States and the needs of the States that are small 
and the States that have large urban areas and the cities that are 
dealing with these crimes.
  We are into vast overreach with this amendment, and it is not the 
priority, I believe, right now to take $5 million from the National 
Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Byrne grants that are so 
important to our State and local governments and the border prosecution 
funding and the SCAAP funding.
  It has not been vetted as we require in the Senate. Unfortunately, 
the agreement that was made between the majority and minority leaders 
last night said no points of order would be able to be launched against 
this amendment. I would have raised a point of order because it is 
authorizing on an appropriations bill. The reason is, it has not been 
vetted by the Judiciary Committee, which ought to have taken up this 
bill and corrected the problems in it before it came to be full blown 
in an appropriations bill.
  I will reiterate that I will work with Senator Webb. I will work on a 
national commission that studies the national criminal justice system. 
If we can pinpoint it carefully to the needs he is trying to meet, I 
will be happy to work with him on that. I will be happy to work with 
him on the appointment of the commission. If it is supposed to be seven 
and seven, let's make it seven and seven, not nine and five.
  I hope he will withdraw this amendment. I hope the Senate can defeat 
it, if he does not. Most certainly, if we go to conference with this 
amendment on this bill, I will do everything in my power to eliminate 
it, unless it is changed significantly to meet the needs of our country 
to assure a fair Federal system. We do not need to get into the State 
and local government

[[Page S6800]]

budgetary priorities in this appropriations bill.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, we are where in the legislative process 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Legislative session.

                        Higginbottom Nomination

  Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I wish to say a few words, if I may, about 
the nominee whom we are about to vote on.
  I strongly support the nomination of Heather Higginbottom to be the 
Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
  It has been more than 12 years since Heather first came to work for 
me in the Senate as a senior legislative assistant, and later she 
became my legislative director and top policy aide. In all those years 
on the Hill, I want to assure my colleagues who are thinking about this 
position that she stood out not just for her policy knowledge and her 
understanding of the budget and the legislative process but for her 
ability to work across the aisle.
  I know a lot of colleagues are anxious to confirm people who come not 
with partisan intent but with the ability to try to get things done in 
Washington. Believe me, Heather has that ability.
  She worked with me and developed my proposal a number of years ago 
for a constitutional line-item veto--a proposal which now has many 
bipartisan supporters in the Senate. I also saw firsthand her instinct 
to put aside ideology and to go after waste, to push for tough-minded 
budget reforms, all of which protected the taxpayers' interests. She 
worked with me through seven budget cycles, and I am pleased to say, as 
many Members remember, we balanced the budget back in those years. So I 
think she comes with an experience of understanding what the tough 
choices are that can help to improve our fiscal situation now.
  I came to know somebody who worked diligently and looked at the 
budget with a critical eye. When Jack Lew announced Heather's 
nomination, he said she was known for her ``dedication to sound public 
policy that makes a difference in people's lives.''
  Health care, technology, poverty, education, infrastructure--for 
every single one of these priorities, she will look at them to 
determine whether the current policies are working, whether there are 
ways we could do things more effectively, and whether the American 
taxpayer is getting what they deserve in return for their investment. 
For all those efforts, I think Jack Lew could not have chosen a 
stronger or more competent Deputy. 
  For all of those efforts, I think Jack Lew could not have chosen a 
stronger or a more competent deputy. I hope my colleagues will support 
her nomination.