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(Senate - May 24, 2012)

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[Pages S3612-S3615]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I now move to proceed to calendar No. 410, 
S. 3220.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the motion.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       Motion to proceed to Calendar No. 410, S. 3220, a bill to 
     amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide more 
     effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the 
     payment of wages on the basis of sex, and for other purposes.

                             Cloture Motion

  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I have a cloture motion at the desk.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The cloture motion having been presented under 
rule XXII, the Chair directs the clerk to read the motion.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

                             Cloture Motion

       We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the 
     provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, 
     hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to 
     proceed to Calendar No. 410, S. 3220, a bill to amend the 
     Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide more effective 
     remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages 
     on the basis of sex, and for other purposes.
         Barbara A. Mikulski, Harry Reid, Maria Cantwell, Patty 
           Murray, Frank R. Lautenberg, Jeff Bingaman, Sheldon 
           Whitehouse, John F. Kerry, Kent Conrad, Jeanne Shaheen, 
           Bernard Sanders, Tom Udall, Amy Klobuchar, Carl Levin, 
           Mark R. Warner, Mark L. Pryor, Jack Reed, Kirsten E. 

  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the mandatory 
quorum under rule XXII be waived, and the vote on the motion to invoke 
cloture on the motion to proceed to S. 3220 occur at 2:15 p.m., on 
Tuesday, June 5.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, we are going to arrange a vote Monday night 
on one of the nominees who is trying to become a judge.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.

                             Climate Change

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I want to take a few moments this 
afternoon to do something that has become a bit of a ritual with me; 
that is, to try to take some time each week to speak about the damage 
we are doing to our atmosphere, to our oceans, and to our climate with 
the relentless carbon pollution we are discharging.
  As each week goes by, the information continues to pile up about the 
harms we are causing.
  A recent story says rising temperatures could eliminate two-thirds of 
California's snowpack by the end of this century.

       The snowpack that helps provide water for California cities 
     and farms could shrink by two-thirds because of climate 
     change, according to new research submitted to the state's 
     Energy Commission.
       Higher temperatures appear likely to wipe out a third of 
     the Golden State's snowpack by 2050 and two-thirds by the end 
     of the century, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography 

  Science Daily reports:

       Black carbon aerosols and tropospheric ozone, both 
     humanmade pollutants emitted predominantly in the Northern 
     Hemisphere's low- to mid-latitudes--

  That is basically us--

     are most likely pushing the boundary of the tropics further 

  North and south--

     in that hemisphere, new research by a team of scientists 
     shows. . . .

  The lead climatologist, Robert J. Allen, says:

       If the tropics are moving poleward, then the subtropics 
     will become even drier. If a poleward displacement of the 
     mid-latitude storm tracks also occurs, this will shift mid-
     latitude precipitation poleward, impacting regional 
     agriculture, economy, and society.

  The American people have not been taken in by the campaign of 
propaganda that primarily the polluting industries have put out. There 
have been significant reports in the past on ExxonMobil's funding of 
essentially phony research agencies so they can offer their opinions on 
this issue without having it be ExxonMobil's opinion. They either 
create or take over or subsidize organizations that then put out the 
message, and they sound legit--Heartland Institute, Annapolis Center.
  But the American people are not fooled, it turns out. Seventy-one 
percent of visitors who have come to the Nation's wildlife refuges say 
they were personally concerned about climate change's effects on fish, 
wildlife, and habitat. Seventy-four percent said that working to limit 
climate's effects on fish, wildlife, and habitat would benefit future 
generations. And 69 percent said doing so would improve the quality of 
life today.
  One of the original researchers on climate change--I quoted an 
article earlier, describing how over time the facts have proven his 
initial predictions accurate--is James Hansen. He wrote an article a 
few weeks ago in the New York Times headlined ``Game Over for the 
Climate.'' It begins with these two sentences:

       Global warming isn't a prediction. It is happening.

  Clearly we see that in measurements and observations around the 
planet. But what happens if it keeps going? He is talking about the tar 
sands up in Canada, and he says this:

       If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and 
     continue to burn our conventional oil, gas, and coal 
     supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere 
     would eventually reach levels higher than in the Pliocene 
     era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at 
     least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-
     trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the 
     ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would 
     rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would 
     become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet's 
     species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be 
     at risk.

  That is clearly, as he admits, a long-term outlook, but it is an 
outlook that deserves our attention, because when he has given us long-
term outlooks in the past, as time has marched forward they have been 
proven over and over to be true.
  It is convenient around here to pretend that none of this is 
happening. And it would be nice if we could wait until the disaster, 
the wolf was at the door and then do something about it, but there is a 
strong likelihood that by the time we take action, it will be too late.
  In September of 1940, there was an American living in the Philippines 
with his wife and son. He looked at what was happening over in Europe. 
He looked at the threat to Britain. He cabled back to the United States 
his recommendation. He said:

       The history of failure in war can almost be summed up in 
     two words--``too late.'' Too late in comprehending the deadly 
     purpose of a potential enemy. Too late in realizing the 
     mortal danger. Too late in preparedness. Too late in uniting 
     all possible forces for resistance. Too late in standing by 
     one's friends.

  The author of that cable was GEN George MacArthur. He continued later 
on in the cable:

       The greatest strategic mistake in all history will be made 
     if America fails to recognize the vital moment, if she 
     permits again the writing of that fatal epitaph ``too late.''

  Of course, General MacArthur was talking about what was becoming 
World War II, he was not talking about climate change. Yet his warning 
rings very true against this threat as well. ``Too late'' will be the 
epitaph if we do not prepare now. And I very much regret that we are in 
a situation in which we do not seem able as a body to take this threat 
seriously. The House shows no indication whatsoever of taking this 
threat seriously. Even the White House has dialed back its expressions 
of interest and concern on this issue, probably for the practical 
reason that the Republican-controlled House does not

[[Page S3613]]

want to deal with this issue at all. Period. End of story. But it is 
happening out there. It is happening out there.
  People see the dying forests of the West as the pine bark beetle 
works its way more and more north because winters are no longer cold 
enough to kill off the larvae. People see the habitat of quail, of 
trout, of pheasant, of game animals, change in their lifetimes.
  They see the places where they used to be able to go to fish with 
their grandchildren no longer available. Farmers see changes. Gardeners 
see changes. Plants that could not grow in certain zones now can. 
Tropical plants can grow in northern areas because of changes. In Rhode 
Island we have had winter blooms of some of our fruit trees because it 
has gotten so warm.
  My wife did her dissertation on the species called the winter 
flounder, which was a very significant cash crop for the Rhode Island 
fishing industry. It was not very long ago. She wrote her dissertation 
about it because it was such an important part of the Rhode Island 
fishing industry, and because it had an interesting connection with a 
shrimp, Crangon septemspinosa, in which one fed on the other until it 
got big enough, and then the predatory cycle reversed itself and the 
winter flounder began to eat the shrimp instead of vice versa.
  Well, landings of winter flounder in Rhode Island have crashed 
catastrophically. The reason? The mean winter water temperature of 
Narragansett Bay is up about 4 degrees. That is enough of an ecosystem 
shift that the winter flounder is gone. Fishermen now catch scup 
instead, which is a far less remunerative crop and frankly not as good 
a fish to eat, in my opinion anyway.
  So these changes are happening. It is regrettable that we are unable 
to address them. The science has been discredited by propaganda 
campaigns that are deliberately and strategically designed to create 
doubt in the minds of the public where no doubt should exist. The fact 
is this science is rock solid.
  The notion that when you put lots of carbon dioxide up into the 
atmosphere it warms the atmosphere has been around since the Civil War. 
The scientist who discovered it was an English-Irish scientist named 
John Tyndall. He first reported this phenomenon in 1863. For 150 years 
we have known this. This is nothing new. We can measure the gigatons of 
carbon that we are discharging into the atmosphere. Of course, it is 
going to make a difference. The notion that it does not has been a 
public relations and propaganda campaign by well-heeled special 
interests to protect pollution, because it makes money for those 
companies. But with the damage it is doing to our future, it is very 
hard to honestly look my children in the eye and say I am doing my job 
for them here in Washington while we do nothing on carbon pollution.
  In fact, we continue to subsidize the biggest polluters. ExxonMobil 
makes more money than any corporation has in the history of the world 
and they still claim a subsidy from the American taxpayer. It is a 
ridiculous subsidy. And yet we subsidize them. I see the distinguished 
chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee is 
here on the floor. I want to conclude my remarks and thank him for the 
amazing work he and the ranking member, Michael Enzi, did on the FDA 
bill we just passed with such a strong vote, virtually a unanimous 
vote. There was a lot of very good work that was done there, so that 
proves there are areas where we can do good work.
  I hope the day comes when we can begin to do good work on the damage 
we are doing to our atmosphere and to our oceans with our relentless 
discharge of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, with our relentless 
subsidy of the polluters. One day we will be called into account for 
our inaction, and we will have earned the condemnation of history.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa.
  Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, I want to thank my friend from Rhode 
Island for a very eloquent speech--elegant speech too--eloquent and 
elegant--in portraying what is so frustrating. And that is science 
knows what is happening. The scientists know what is happening. We have 
good data points about what is happening to our climate, our 
atmosphere, our oceans, and yet it seems we cannot do anything about 
  I say to my friend from Rhode Island, I think I was reading recently 
in a Scientific American magazine, which I love to read every month, 
that in terms of this whole global climate change, what is happening is 
that by the time we recognize it is happening--that is broadly, not 
just the scientists and others who do know what is happening--by the 
time it is broadly accepted, it will be too late, that we will have 
reached that tipping point. But the evidence is there for all to see. 
It is a shame that we cannot do something about it.
  The Senator mentioned the fish catch in Rhode Island. I think also in 
the recent issue of Scientific American was a story about the fisheries 
and oceans at large, and there were three pictures. One was a picture 
taken on a pier in Key West in the 1950s showing the size of the fish 
that were caught. Big. I think the average weight was like 30-some 
pounds. Then there was a picture taken in the 1970s--late 1970s, early 
1980s--now it is down to maybe 15 pounds. Same pictures, same pier, 
same dock and everything, and now the catch is down to teeny little 
fish. Same place, same ocean, same waters.
  The article went on to point out how, if you look at the first 
picture, people are very happy. They are happy with this big fish. Then 
the second page, people are happy with what they caught. And now you 
have got this little teeny fish and people are still happy, because we 
kind of tend to accept what it is right now and be happy with what we 
have got without realizing what we have lost in the past.
  Again, I thank the Senator for his speech. We need to do more of that 
around here. We need to focus on this. We seem to be drifting. You are 
right, our grandkids are going to wonder why we did not do something.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. I would suggest that it is more than just that we are 
drifting. I would suggest we are being drifted by politics and by the 
money in politics, particularly the big money the big polluters can 
throw into politics, not only directly by giving campaign contributions 
to people but by flooding money into phony so-called scientific 
organizations that then parrot their message, but without people being 
able to say: Wait a minute, this is ExxonMobil telling me; maybe I 
should be a little more guarded about it. So they launder it through a 
legitimate-sounding organization--not one, dozens--and we get bombarded 
with false propaganda. Scientists are not good at propaganda. It is not 
why they went to graduate school. It is not why they got their Ph.D. It 
is not what they do when they are out in the field taking measurements. 
So you put them up against a company such as ExxonMobil with all of its 
money and its propaganda skills and it is not an even contest.
  As the Chairman points out, by the time we are looking around and 
seeing, oh, my gosh, what have we allowed to happen--now we are awake--
we reject the propaganda. We have to do something about this, and it 
will probably be, as General MacArthur said, too late. That is the 
great danger.
  I thank the chairman for his recognition.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Dakota.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that I be allowed 
to speak as in morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Franken). Without objection, it is so 

                     honoring senator james abdnor

  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I rise today to recognize a former Member 
of this body and my long-time friend and mentor, Senator Jim Abdnor of 
South Dakota. Senator Abdnor passed away last Wednesday, May 16, 2012, 
in South Dakota in the company of friends and family.
  We are both products of the dusty short-grass country just west of 
the Missouri River on the plains of central South Dakota. Jim was a 
product of the active and civically-minded political culture of Lyman 
County and I was from next door Jones County. Despite these counties' 
sports rivalries over the years, Jim took me under his wing and 
introduced me to the American political process. If not for Jim Abdnor, 
I would not be standing here today.

[[Page S3614]]

  After a basketball game when I was a freshman in high school, Jim 
struck up a conversation with me that would change the course of my 
life. I went to work for Jim as a legislative assistant when he was a 
Senator and later at the Small Business Administration. When I first 
ran for office, Jim's guidance and support were invaluable to me.
  This past weekend, hundreds of South Dakotans came out to honor Jim 
Abdnor and remember his great love for them and his state. His funeral 
was held in a Lutheran church in the shadow of the State capital in 
Pierre, where Jim first served in statewide office as Lieutenant 
Governor. Jim was buried just outside of his small hometown of Kennebec 
near where his immigrant father first homesteaded.
  Mr. President, Jim leaves us with many legacies and I want to mention 
a few of them here today.
  First and foremost, Jim's was an American story. It started as the 
tale of an immigrant who boarded a ship for the United States not even 
knowing the English language but knowing he was heading for the land of 
opportunity. That immigrant, Jim's father Sam Abdelnour, wanted to 
escape the growing authoritarianism of his native Lebanon, for American 
  Jim's story is also a frontier story. His father Sam settled in Lyman 
County, South Dakota. Sam Abdnor became a homesteader and planted corn 
and wheat. He also peddled his wares to the other farmers in the area 
and when Kennebec was organized as a town, Sam was one of the first 
people to establish a business on main street. Jim grew up learning how 
to balance the books in a small town store and knowing how to work the 
family farm. He learned financial responsibility and hard work and how 
one can climb the ladder of success in America.
  Jim's story is also a story of the land and farming. Some of us who 
knew Jim through politics may forget that before he was elected to 
Congress Jim had owned and run the family farm for three decades. Jim 
was very proud of the fact that he was good at representing South 
Dakota agriculture because he was an active farmer who did the planting 
and hauled his grain to the elevator in the fall. When he was in 
Congress, South Dakota was ranked as the most agricultural state in the 
Nation and Jim was the first farmer elected to Congress from South 
Dakota. Jim was proud of that correlation and he never forgot his 
farming roots.
  During the 1970s, when people were organizing sit-ins and teach-ins 
and other protests, Jim helped organize a ``beef-in.'' He brought 100 
West River ranchers to Washington, DC, to talk about farm issues. They 
set up pens of cattle on the Washington mall and met with agriculture 
officials. Jim didn't rest until these ranchers had their voices heard.
  Jim's story is also about water. We all live comfortably now with 
running water and hot showers, but that's not how Jim grew up. He grew 
up on his family's windy, dry-land farm in Lyman County. He lived 
through the droughts of the 1930s. He understood the importance of 
water. He never stopped working on the issues of water access--
including being a champion of the WEB water project in Walworth, 
Edmunds, and Brown counties in north central South Dakota that began in 
  The question of water was never far from Jim's mind and I think it 
had something to do with his heritage. That's certainly true of his 
Lyman County roots, which is where the humid Midwest begins to turn 
into the arid High Plains, but also of his roots in Lebanon, where 
water is also scarce. His family's home village of Ain Arab was founded 
because it was a watering hole. Ain Arab literally means ``spring'' or 
``well.'' More specifically, it means ``spring of the Arab.'' When they 
had enough water in Ain Arab they would grow wheat, just like the 
Abdnors would do out in Lyman County.

  Jim's is also a story about organizing. As soon as he came home from 
college, he started organizing Republicans in Lyman County and became 
head of the Lyman County Young Republicans. He helped organize and 
found the Elks lodge in Pierre in 1953. He joined every organization he 
could and he brought as many people into community affairs and politics 
and civic organizations as he could.
  Jim also pushed other people to organize. He liked to tell the story 
of the people in Faith, SD, who wanted a new grandstand at their rodeo 
grounds. They took one look at the Federal regulations involved with 
some grant program and promptly did everything themselves, raising all 
the money they needed from local sources and fundraisers and did it at 
10 percent of the cost. They put in 4,000 hours of their own time and 
made it happen themselves and Jim appreciated that. He liked 
communities working together to solve their own problems.
  During the 1970s, when tensions in the Middle East worsened, Jim 
called for his fellow Arab-Americans to become more involved in the 
political process. He opposed what he saw as their tendency toward 
isolation and self-segregation. He said his ethnic compatriots should 
``get out and mix.'' ``They should become more involved,'' he said, 
``become part of the community.'' Jim never stopped believing in the 
importance of being involved and working with others to make life 
  This is why Jim had so many friends. He never stopped working to meet 
people and bring them together around issues and simply to socialize. A 
friend of mine says that he doesn't think anyone in the State of South 
Dakota has ever attended more weddings, graduations, ceremonial 
dinners, or basketball, baseball, and football games than Jim.
  As someone from the wide open plains who wanted groups of people to 
come together to solve problems on their own, Jim was always resisting 
Federal encroachment on local control. As the son of a small 
businessman, Jim was sensitive to the growing encroachment of Federal 
regulations and how much this encroachment cost small businesses. For 
many years, Jim was especially incensed about OSHA mandating rules for 
small stores on South Dakota main streets. In the 1970s, Jim also had a 
big fight with OSHA because it was trying to mandate that South Dakota 
wheat farmers maintain porta-potties in the fields, which a practicing 
wheat farmer from Lyman County, South Dakota knew was the definition of 
  As a small businessman and farmer, Jim was always worried about the 
bottom line and he constantly tried to apply these concerns in the area 
of the Federal budget. Jim was sounding the alarm bell in the 1970s 
when the Federal Government spent less than $400 billion a year, which 
today seems laughably small given our current state of affairs. Back 
then, he was attacking deficits of $70 billion. He was also adamantly 
opposed to the Federal Government bailing out New York City in the 
1970s because he said it would set a bad precedent. He attacked a 
Federal debt ceiling limit of $500 billion as being highly 
irresponsible. He criticized the fact that each American owed $2,000 
because of the Federal Government's debt. Jim liked to quote the editor 
of the Freeman Courier, who asked ``how can it be that a government 
which is unable to balance its own budget and lives far beyond its 
means, has the authority to tell a businessman'' how to run his 
  Jim wasn't afraid to make hard votes to fix our problems, votes that 
probably cost him his Senate seat. But Jim Abdnor had the moral courage 
to make the tough decisions.
  Mr. President, Jim Abdnor leaves us with a critical reminder. He 
embodied the American dream. He was the son of a poor Lebanese peddler 
who built a successful business and raised a great family, including a 
son who ascended the heights of American politics and became a U.S. 
Senator. Jim Abdnor shows how hard work and diligence can pay off.
  On this occasion of remembrance and during this time of honoring my 
good friend Jim Abdnor, I hope we can remember our solemn duty to 
protect the American dream that the Abdnor family represented.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Begich). Without objection, it is so 

[[Page S3615]]

                  Unanimous Consent Request--H.R. 5652

  Mr. REID. Mr. President, last month, the Senate passed the Violence 
Against Women Act Reauthorization on a strong bipartisan vote of 68 to 
31. Fifteen Republican Senators--including all the women on the other 
side of the aisle--joined Senate Democrats to support this important 
legislation. Senate Democrats strongly stand behind the bill we passed. 
It makes clear that all victims of domestic violence and sexual assault 
should enjoy the protections of the Violence Against Women Act. We 
don't believe we should be in the business of picking and choosing 
which victims deserve protection.
  In contrast, the bill passed by House Republicans fails to include 
crucial protections for Native American women--I have 22 tribal 
organizations in my State, for example--gay and lesbian victims, 
battered immigrant women, and victims on college campuses and in 
subsidized housing. The House bill would roll back many important and 
longstanding protections in current law for abused immigrant victims--
protections that have never been controversial and previously have 
enjoyed widespread bipartisan support.
  So there are many differences to be worked out between the House and 
the Senate in this crucial piece of legislation. The right place to 
work out these differences is in conference. That is why we seek today 
to go to conference with the House on this important legislation, and 
that is why we object to simply passing the House bill that has been 
sent to us.
  The House has raised, I think unfortunately, the so-called blue slip 
problem, which seems to be an issue they raise all the time when there 
is a bill they do not like.
  Having said that, I now ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed 
to the consideration of H.R. 5652, Calendar No. 398; that all after the 
enacting clause be stricken and the language of S. 1925, the Violence 
Against Women Act Reauthorization, as passed by the Senate on April 26 
by a vote of 68 to 31, be inserted in lieu thereof; that the Senate 
insist on its amendment, request a conference with the House on the 
disagreeing votes of the two Houses; and the Chair be authorized to 
appoint conferees on the part of the Senate, with all the above 
occurring with no intervening action or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.

                  Unanimous Consent Request--H.R. 4970

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, let me make a few observations and then 
I intend to offer a consent request myself.
  This is a problem that has been created by the majority, and I am 
sorry they will not accept our offer to fix their problem so we can 
move forward on this legislation. We have all known for literally years 
when the Violence Against Women Act was going to expire. We have known 
that for years. During this time, Democrats controlled the Senate. Yet 
our friends on the other side waited until February of this year--
nearly 6 months after the current authorization expired--before they 
even reported a bill out of committee, and they chose to wait almost 3 
months more to bring a bill to the floor.
  I don't know why that decision was made. Press reports indicate that 
members of the Democratic leadership thought they could use VAWA as a 
campaign issue. When they finally chose to bring this bill to the 
Senate floor, Republicans consented to going to the bill, Republicans 
consented to bringing the debate to a close, and Republicans consented 
to limiting ourselves to just two amendments--just two. Our Democratic 
colleagues also added an amendment. It was a complete substitute. They 
offered it at the last minute.
  This substitute was a couple hundred pages long and it added new 
sections to the bill. One of those sections would generate revenue by 
assessing new fees on immigration visas. I gather our Democratic 
colleagues did this because their bill, unlike the Hutchison-Grassley 
bill, would add over $100 million to the debt.
  Including this provision is obviously a problem, in that adding a 
revenue provision in a Senate bill violates the Origination Clause of 
the U.S. Constitution. If we sent the Senate bill to the House in its 
current form, it would trigger a blue slip point of order, as it always 
  It is not our fault Senate Democrats waited until well after VAWA 
expired to start moving a bill. It is not our fault their bill would 
add to the debt. It is not our fault our friends waited until the last 
minute to try to fix the problem, and, in the course of doing so, they 
created yet another problem. We have offered to help them fix their 
problem. They do not have to accept our help, but they should stop 
demagoguing the issue and blaming others.
  Therefore, I would offer another consent: I ask unanimous consent 
that the Senate proceed to the consideration of Calendar No. 406, H.R. 
4970, the House-passed Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act; 
provided further that all after the enacting clause be stricken, the 
text of the Senate-passed Violence Against Women bill, S. 1925, with a 
modification that strikes sections 805 and 810 related to the 
immigration provisions; that the bill be read three times and passed, 
the Senate insist on its amendment, request a conference with the 
House, and the Chair be authorized to appoint conferees on the part of 
the Senate with a ratio agreed to by both leaders.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, the 
Republican leader is now proposing an amendment to the Senate-passed 
bill--a Senate-passed bill that we are very proud of. It has been 
engineered and advocated by all Democratic Senators but mainly by the 
12 women who are part of our caucus. This is an important piece of 
legislation. We all feel very strongly about this.
  I haven't looked at all the details of this amendment, but I 
understand it. My first response is that the amendment is something the 
conferees should be working on. We can't do that without the proper 
input from all the interested parties, and we have 52, other than 
myself, on my side of the Capitol. That is why I have sought to go to 
conference with the product the Senate passed.
  It may be that sometime in the future, after we evaluate all these 
pieces that have been suggested by my friend, the Republican leader, we 
may be able to proceed along this route, if, in fact, we get to 
conference. But we have to get to conference, and we have to have wider 
discussions airing the proposed amendment we have had just a little 
time to look at, at this stage.
  I understand my friend's proposal, and I object to it.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.