(Senate - June 26, 2012)

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 S4602-S4606]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will report the pending 
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       Motion to concur in the House amendment to S. 3187, an Act 
     to amend the Federal Food and Drug and Cosmetic Act to revise 
     and extend the user-fee programs for prescription drugs and 
     medical devices, to establish user-fee programs for generic 
     drugs and biosimilars, and for other purposes.


       Reid motion to concur in the amendment of the House to the 
       Reid motion to concur in the amendment of the House to the 
     bill, with Reid amendment No. 2461, to change the enactment 
       Reid amendment No. 2462 (to amendment No. 2461), of a 
     perfecting nature.
       Reid motion to refer the message of the House on the bill 
     to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, 
     with instructions.
       Reid amendment No. 2463, to change the enactment date.
       Reid amendment No. 2464 (to (the instructions) amendment 
     No. 2463), of a perfecting nature.
       Reid amendment No. 2465 (to amendment No. 2464), of a 
     perfecting nature.

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the 
following hour will be equally divided and controlled between the two 
leaders or their designees, with the Republicans controlling the first 
half and the majority controlling the final half.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, 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.
  Mr. MORAN. 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the quorum call be rescinded.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 
  Mr. MORAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to address the 
Senate as in morning business.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 

                        Putting America to Work

  Mr. MORAN. Mr. President, we have had a lot of news in Washington, 
DC, and across the country over the last few days. There was a decision 
from the Supreme Court regarding immigration laws in Arizona. We are 
expecting and anticipating a decision by the Supreme Court later this 
week regarding the Affordable Care Act. Front and center are issues 
that are important to the country.
  We were successful last week in approving on the Senate floor a so-
called farm bill, an agricultural bill that, again, has an impact upon 
many in our Nation. I want to make certain we don't lose sight of what 
remains and, in my view, what should be front and center.
  All the things people ask government to do and all the things they 
want to accomplish in their own lives can only occur if there is a good 
and growing economy in the United States. So while I certainly would 
not call any of the other issues we are addressing here a distraction--
they are all important--I want to make certain my colleagues understand 
we have to come together to make certain that Americans, individuals 
across our country, can access a job, can feel secure in the job they 
already have, and can have a sense that they have a future where they 
are employed or that if there is a need for a change in job, that 
opportunity exists. Job creation is something the Federal Government 
cannot do in and of itself, but the decisions we make here affect very 
much whether the private sector can have a level of confidence in the 
general economy, a regulatory environment, and a Tax Code that is 
conducive toward the private sector, creating jobs in the United States 
  This matters, certainly from my point of view as a Member of the 
Senate, in that with job growth, with a growing economy, we are better 
able to pay down our national debt. In my view, if we are going to get 
what I consider the most serious circumstance our country faces today--
the deficit and the debt--under control, I don't foresee how that 
happens without a good growing economy, putting Americans to work.
  Of course, from an individual's point of view, it is important as a 
component of our lives--something that is important to us, which is 
that we figure out how to earn a living, put food on the table, save 
for our kids' education, and save for retirement.
  The issues being addressed in the Senate, across the country, and 
across the street at the U.S. Supreme Court matter so much. We must not 
and cannot lose sight of the fact that we have to create an environment 
where jobs are front and center. We know the economic statistics--the 
unemployment rate is 8.2 percent and has been above 8 percent now for a 
long time. The Presiding Officer in the Senate this morning and I have 
introduced legislation the primary function of which is to create an 
entrepreneurial environment where startup companies can grow and 
prosper, and, in the process, they can put people to work. It is growth 
that we need to continue to focus on. I appreciate the opportunity of 
working in that manner with the Senator from Delaware, Mr. Coons, and 
others, to see that we do that.
  The topic I want to specifically address this morning is this. I was 
reading the Wall Street Journal last week, and this article caught my 
attention. I am of the view that for economic growth to occur--and 
especially in communities across Kansas, the State I represent--we are 
going to have to have strong and viable community banks. There is a 
regulatory environment that makes that much more difficult. The 
headline of the article the Wall Street Journal included that I want to 
speak about--at least briefly--this morning is this: ``Small Banks Put 
Up `For Sale' Sign.''
  The content of the article is very much about how small banks are now 
selling to other banks. The primary focus of this article is the reason 
that is happening--``a growing number of tiny community banks are 
deciding it's time to put out the `for sale' sign . . . many executives 
of these small lenders are frustrated by costly new regulations.''
  It talks about banks in Iowa, in Ohio, in Texas, and it talks about a 
number of banks in which the bank or the individuals who own the bank 
never had an intention of selling. This was their livelihood and what 
they expected to pass on to the next generation, the next set of 
stockholders. Because of the regulatory environment, the article quotes 
them talking about how it is no longer any fun. A 66-year-old CEO is 
quoted as saying:

       I don't run a bank anymore. I run around trying to react to 
     regulation and, frankly, that's no fun. This is certainly 
     important for the people who own and run a bank, but it 
     matters in communities in my State that there is access to a 
     local lender, a relatively small financial institution that 
     knows its customers, and that the farmer, rancher, and small 
     business person have the opportunity

[[Page S4603]]

     to develop a personal relationship with the individuals from 
     whom they are borrowing money.

  I know from my own circumstances of growing up and living in rural 
Kansas the likelihood of being able to get a loan from the community 
bank, the banker you know, who knows you, your ability, your 
creditworthiness, and your trustworthiness, is a pretty special 
relationship we have to be very careful we don't lose. If you are 
trying to borrow money from somebody you don't know, it is a different 
  I want to highlight again this regulatory environment not just for 
banks but for all businesses in which the decisions are being made that 
they are not expanding--in this case, they are selling. The reality is 
that has consequences to every American and every American family. Job 
creation is going to be improved whenever we have a regulatory 
environment that encourages economic growth, not discourages it, and a 
regulatory environment that is certain. So much, particularly in the 
financial services industry, with banks and other financial lenders, 
the uncertainty exists in large part because of the passage of Dodd-
Frank, and now its implementation, the uncertainty of whether more 
regulations are coming and what they are going to say and do, and they 
certainly can drive up the costs.
  We certainly want to protect consumers, and we operate, in many 
instances, in a regulated environment. But these regulations need 
common sense and need to take into account the specific circumstances 
particularly of a small bank. My small banks in Kansas had virtually 
nothing to do with the financial debacle of 2008. Yet they are burdened 
with the responsibility of complying with a huge new set of regulations 
that resulted from the efforts to address the financial crisis of 2008.

  In fact, this article, again, points this out regarding the board 
meeting at this small bank:

       The binder of information delivered to the bank's board 
     before the last monthly meeting included 419 pages of 
     information to be reviewed.

  Banks more and more are having to put people on the payroll--
compliance officers--as compared to those kinds of circumstances in 
which the bank is making loans. The cost of doing business and the cost 
of credit increases, and access to credit has diminished, and that is 
diminishing the chance for job creation.
  One of the items under Dodd-Frank was the creation of the Consumer 
Financial Protection Bureau. This hit me while I was visiting one of my 
banks in Kansas. They told me the CFPB called and said they were 
sending 12 examiners and lawyers to come spend more than a month in 
this small bank, examining the bank. Again, these are banks that had 
little to do with the financial collapse of 2008. Almost without 
exception our community banks--certainly in Kansas--didn't make loans 
to people who were unlikely to repay the loans, and they didn't make 
loans to people who had no ability to repay the loans or without 
getting proper documentation and seeking the necessary creditworthiness 
of that borrower before making that decision. Yet the burden of these 
regulations falls directly upon them.
  And while I guess I am speaking in support of trying to change this 
for the benefit of the bankers, who this is going to benefit, if we 
were to change the regulatory environment, is the person who wants to 
borrow money, who wants a buy an automobile or buy a home or who wants 
to buy a piece of commercial property. Yet they go to the banks in 
communities across Kansas and are told that because of the new 
regulatory environment, this is a loan we cannot make.
  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has 12 examiners and 
2 lawyers, is soon to visit a small bank in Kansas and intends to be 
there for more than a month. The regulations the Consumer Financial 
Protection Bureau--well, they haven't created their regulations yet. 
They are auditing a bank before their regulations are in place. My 
reaction, when the banker told me that, was I need to go back to 
Washington and see if I can do something, perhaps through the 
appropriations process. I am the ranking Republican member on the 
Appropriations subcommittee for financial institutions and financial 
services. I thought we need to rein in the CFPB through the 
appropriations process to get them kind of within their sphere of where 
they belong, in a much more commonsense, less intrusive way.
  It occurred to me that I don't have that ability. I can be a member 
of the Appropriations Committee and a Member of the Senate, and I can 
be the lead Republican on the subcommittee responsible for financial 
services, but because of the way the CFPB was created, its money is an 
automatic draft from the Federal Reserve. We, as Members of the Senate 
and Congress in general, have no input into the level of funding of an 
agency that will have a dramatic effect upon the financial institutions 
of this country and, therefore, the individuals, the consumers those 
financial institutions serve.
  In addition to that, there is only one person who administrates the 
program, who is the administrator of the Consumer Financial Protection 
Bureau. Unlike the CFTC and the SEC, where there is a commission and a 
board in which there is a collective decision made, there is only an 
administrator. I have introduced legislation and we have had this 
conversation on the floor before. I encourage my colleagues to look at 
this legislation that would reformulate the way the CFPB is managed and 
directed and would once again give Congress the opportunity to have 
input into how the CFPB functions.
  I would never try to explain to Americans or to Kansans how great 
Congress does its job, but I do know the fact we are subject to 
election--the will of the people of America--every 6 years gives us the 
opportunity to have the input of the people into the administration and 
into the regulatory process that is so burdensome now upon so many 
businesses, including our financial institutions.
  So my effort today is to highlight once again what we do in 
Washington, DC, and in this case particularly what the administration 
does today--what the Obama administration does today and what 
administrations have done in the past in regard to regulations--very 
much has a consequence upon whether Americans are going to live in a 
country with a growing economy in which there is a sense of security 
and people know what to expect or whether they are going to live in a 
country in which a business owner--a small business man or woman in 
Kansas or across the country--is holding back from hiring employees 
because they do not know what next is going to come from their own 
government in regard to regulations which are costly, drive up the cost 
of being in business, and reduce the chances of expansion in our 
economy, which reduce the chances that Americans can have good, solid 
employment opportunities.
  I have two daughters graduating from college--one a couple of years 
ago and one this year--and the job market certainly is important to me 
as a parent and the ability for a young American to find a job and to 
pursue that job so they are able to pay back the cost of their 
education. That is something we need to seriously take into account. 
While I assume we are going to have a conversation again in the Senate 
this week on the cost of borrowing money for students and student loan 
interest rates, we ought not forget the most important thing we can do 
to help our students once they graduate, which is to make sure the 
economy is such that employment opportunities are available. It doesn't 
matter what the interest rate is if they can't find a job.
  So we need to make certain we fulfill our responsibilities to the 
American people to see that the economy and job creation is front and 
center for the benefit of every American and for the benefit of our 
country's deficit. It is so important we create a growing economy.
  I, again, would highlight how important it is for us to get the 
regulations under control and particularly criticize the circumstance 
in which legislation that does not pass Congress somehow takes effect 
because the executive branch concludes they can do by Executive order 
or by rule or regulation what we refuse to do. It is time for Congress 
to reassert its role, and it is time to make certain that in pursuing 
that role we create an environment in which jobs are front and center 
and the

[[Page S4604]]

American people can all pursue the American dream.
  Mr. President, I appreciate the opportunity to address the Senate 
today, and I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Arizona.


  Mr. KYL. Mr. President, I didn't hear all the remarks of my colleague 
from Kansas, but I think what I have to say will follow on directly.
  I saw a prominent news magazine, the cover of which had a likeness of 
President Obama, and the title was ``The Imperial Presidency'' or ``The 
Imperial President,'' and the theme of it was this President seems to 
believe that by Executive order or Executive action he can simply do 
what he wants to do irrespective of whether the Congress has passed a 
law authorizing it or has in some other way directed the President to 
carry out a particular policy.
  When the President takes his oath of office to see that the laws of 
the country are faithfully executed, that is a requirement of his job. 
Our three-branch government has the legislative branch and the 
President jointly deciding what the law is to be, when Congress passes 
the law and the President signs it into law. It then has the President 
required to execute those laws.
  Now, he doesn't do it personally, of course. He does it with the 
Department of Justice. If it is something related to our national 
parks, then it would be the Department of the Interior, and so on. But 
the Department of Justice has a big role to play in this, as does the 
Department of Homeland Security in respect to immigration laws because 
the Department of Homeland Security has now taken over all of the 
immigration functions, and that relates to customs, to issuing visas 
and, of course, enforcing the laws against illegal immigration as well.
  So it is not up to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland 
Security or the Attorney General or the President to decide whether to 
enforce a law of the country. That is their responsibility. Then the 
Supreme Court resolves differences about the meanings of the statutes, 
their application, and whether they are constitutional.
  Earlier this week--yesterday--the Supreme Court determined the 
constitutionality of a law the State of Arizona had passed to deal with 
the problem of illegal immigration in my State of Arizona. It is a 
serious problem there. About half of all the people who cross the 
border do so in the Tucson sector, and the results of that on Arizona 
have been devastating over the years: the damage to the environment, 
creating forest fires; the problem of the people who try to cross the 
border in the summer and end up dying in the desert because of its very 
harsh environment; the people who are brought across the border by 
unscrupulous coyotes, they are called--the smugglers--who then badly 
mistreat them, hold them hostage from their families, perhaps in Mexico 
or Central America and brutally mistreat them in many cases; the 
problems of crime that law enforcement has to deal with, the 
hospitalization and medical treatment they are required to receive 
under the law. All of these things have had a dramatic negative impact 
on my State.
  As a result, the State legislature said: To the extent the Federal 
Government is not enforcing the law in our State, we will try to help 
fill that gap in cooperation and coordination with the Federal 
Government. So they passed S.B. 1070. A key feature of that, which was 
the cooperation between law enforcement, was upheld by the Supreme 
Court. But what has been the Obama administration's reaction to that? 
The Obama administration has reacted by saying: Well, we don't like 
your ruling and, therefore, we are simply not going to cooperate with 
the State of Arizona as we have been in the past or any other State 
that has laws like Arizona, even if you, the Supreme Court, say it is 

  The petulance and the arrogance of this are something the American 
people have to judge, but from a law enforcement perspective, to me, 
this suggests the administration is creating some very serious 
problems. It was one thing for the administration to say, as they did 
last week, as to the 800,000 or 900,000 students primarily who came 
here because their parents brought them here illegally, we are going to 
find a way, in effect, to suspend their deportation so they can go to 
school or work here; we are just not going to apply the law to them. 
But it is quite another for it to say: By the way, we are going to 
treat all the other illegal immigrants here the same way--the 10 
million to 12 million people who have been in the United States for a 
while, those who crossed the border some time ago.
  In effect, that is what the administration has said. Even if local 
law enforcement, such as the Phoenix Police Department, has the right 
to stop someone they see weaving down the road in the manner of a drunk 
driver, and they stop that individual and determine they are driving 
while intoxicated and then ask to see their driver's license; and if 
the individual cannot produce an Arizona driver's license--which is 
already a violation of Arizona law today--but if, for example, the 
individual says: Here is my Matricula card from the Mexican Embassy, 
that may be reason for the officer to believe that individual is not 
here legally.
  So in addition to driving while intoxicated and not having a valid 
Arizona driver's license, the police officer, who now has reason to 
believe that individual may not be an American citizen, ordinarily then 
would take that individual's name, call it in to a Federal database--I 
think it is up in Vermont or New Hampshire--and there is verification 
that either the individual is or is not in the United States legally. 
If the person is not here legally and hasn't been convicted or accused 
of a major crime, they are turned over to Immigration and Customs 
Enforcement, ICE, which is the part of Homeland Security that is 
supposed to take these illegal immigrants and decide what to do with 
them. In most cases, they are simply removed from the United States or 
  But now the administration is saying we are not going to do that 
anymore. We don't even want to know whether the individual is an 
illegal immigrant. We are not going to check, and we are not going to 
allow you access to the database to check. Up to now, the Phoenix 
Police Department or the Maricopa County or Cochise County Sheriff 
could call up the database and say: We have the name of an individual; 
is this person legal.
  The administration is now saying it is not even going to allow 
Arizona to check. So, Mr. President, this is a condition which cannot 
be allowed to stand. Where the administration is not enforcing the 
laws, the Congress is going to have to take what action we need to take 
to ensure the President enforces the laws, as he is sworn to do.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator's time has expired.
  The Senator from North Dakota.

                         Answering Allegations

  Mr. CONRAD. Mr. President, I rise today to answer allegations made by 
the Washington Post in a front-page story in yesterday's edition. Here 
is the story: ``High-level Talks, then Changes to Holdings.''
  First, I want to say I have great respect for the Washington Post. In 
many ways, the Post is a national treasure. But even great newspapers 
make mistakes, and in yesterday's story they made assumptions that are 
simply wrong.
  The story said my wife and I shifted savings in her retirement 
accounts from mutual funds to lower risk money market accounts on 
August 14, 2007. That is true. They showed we made those changes a day 
after a call from Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to me. That is also 
true. But their suggestion the two are related is absolutely false.
  They have made the same error in logic we studied in college. The 
case and faulty logic involved an observer who noted people were 
fainting and street pavement was melting. That led the observer to 
conclude that melting pavement caused people to faint. Of course, that 
was wrong. It was 106 degrees outside. The proper conclusion was that 
heat was causing the pavement to melt and people to faint. That error 
in logic was about causality, and that is precisely the error the 
Washington Post made in their story with respect to me.
  What the Washington Post missed in their graphic--and to be fair to 
them, they largely had the correct context in the story. If you read 
the whole story, it was fairly balanced. What was not

[[Page S4605]]

balanced was the graphics that accompanied that story.
  Let me show the graphic. This is from the Washington Post of 
  Here is a picture of me. Quite a nice picture. I appreciate that. It 

       Senator Conrad, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, 
     was in contact with Paulson about the Nation's economy during 
     the crisis.

  That is true. They then show a timeline with only two points on the 
timeline. They show that on August 13 Secretary Paulson called me at 
4:30, and they show the next day, August 14, that my wife and I shifted 
from her retirement accounts money from mutual funds to lower risk 
money market funds. That is true.
  What they have not shown on the timeline is what was happening in the 
previous days. So let's go back to the Friday before. Here is what 
happened on the Friday before.
  The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 200 points within minutes of 
the opening bell and closed the day down nearly 400 points. That is not 
on the timeline of the Washington Post. If they were going to be fair--
and I don't begrudge them writing the story. I think if I were the 
editor I would certainly have written the story too. It certainly has 
appeal. Here are Members of Congress talking to people in influential 
positions and then changing their holdings. But to be fair, they have 
to provide the context within which those decisions were made.
  The context within which my wife and I made our decisions were pretty 
clear. The Friday before, the market dropped nearly 400 points.
  What the Washington Post also didn't put in their timeline is their 
headline on that Friday. ``Credit Crunch in U.S. Upends Global 
Markets.'' In that story the Friday before, they showed in the weeks 
leading up to our decision to diversify our investments in my wife's 
retirement account the market had dropped in 2 days more than 500 
points, leading up then to the Friday where the markets dropped almost 
400 points.
  The Washington Post in their story also didn't put on the timeline 
what the headlines were in their own paper on the weekend leading up to 
our decision to make these changes.
  This is just one of the headlines: ``Looking for Footing on Shaky 
Ground,'' talking about the turmoil we saw globally. The truth is that 
what made my wife and me decide over the weekend to shift some of her 
retirement accounts from mutual funds to less risky money market 
accounts was what was happening in the markets themselves. That is what 
led us to make these decisions.
  The Paulson call was not about markets. Notes from my staff indicate 
Secretary Paulson was calling a number of members about the importance 
of raising the debt ceiling. The Secretary of Treasury was not calling 
me to give me stock market tips. He wasn't talking to me about the 
stock market. He was talking to me about the need for a debt limit 
  I wish to say clearly and unequivocally, to my friends at the 
Washington Post and anybody who read the story, the call from Secretary 
Paulson had nothing--nothing--do with my wife's and my decision over 
the weekend to shift some of her assets into less risky money market 
accounts. Those decisions had everything to do with what was happening 
in the marketplace itself, which was widely reported, even on the pages 
of the Washington Post. What was happening in the markets was readily 
available to every investor. We were not shifting my wife's retirement 
accounts based on some secret inside information.
  The Washington Post headline: ``Credit Crunch in U.S. Upends Global 
Markets.'' The stock market in 2 days, and the weeks leading up, 
dropped 500 points. On the Friday before the decisions we made over the 
weekend, the market dropped almost 400 points in 1 day. The Washington 
Post had a big story showing the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 
200 points within minutes of opening and dropped almost 400 points for 
the day. Why didn't they put that in the timeline if they wanted to be 
fair? I didn't ask them not to run the story. I asked them to put in 
the context within which the decisions were made. Be fair.
  The fact is there is nothing Mr. Paulson could have said to me about 
market risk that would have been more persuasive than the drop of 
almost 400 points in the market the previous Friday. That, along with 
the 500-point drop that had occurred several weeks before, provided all 
the motivation my wife and I needed to make a decision to move some of 
her retirement assets to lower risked investments.
  To the Washington Post: I respect you. I have had a very good 
relationship with you for a long period of time. But your story was 
unfair to my family, it was unfair to me, and fundamentally it was 
unfair to your readers because the graphics you supplied with the story 
failed to provide a full or fair timeline and the full context that led 
to our decision. In fairness, if you read the whole story, much of the 
context is there. But the graphics--which, of course, is what most 
people are drawn to--have none of the context and don't have a timeline 
that in any way is fair.
  Finally, I just wish to say, I am retiring. This is not going to 
affect me for the future. But the notion that Members of Congress 
should just stick with whatever investment decisions they made when 
they began investing or be accused of trading on insider information 
is, to me, absurd. Our trades should be public knowledge, and they are. 
How did the Washington Post know about these trades? Because my wife 
and I reported each and every one of them in our financial disclosure.
  So trades of Members should be public--absolutely--and they are. The 
Washington Post and others should monitor for evidence of insider 
trading, and they do. But they should also provide context to their 
readers so they can fairly judge if any of us have taken action with 
our investments that are dishonorable. I have not, and that is the 
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from West Virginia.

                       Prescription Drug Epidemic

  Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, since we first began consideration of the 
FDA bill, I have stood on this floor again and again to highlight the 
importance of an amendment I offered to this legislation that is very 
significant to my fellow West Virginians and all Americans.
  This amendment would put tighter control on drugs containing a 
substance known as hydrocodone, a highly addictive prescription 
painkiller that is destroying communities across this country and 
leaving families devastated by abuse and addiction.
  It was a proud moment for me when the Senate came together across 
party lines on May 23 and unanimously adopted my amendment to 
reclassify hydrocodone as a schedule II substance from a schedule III. 
In practical terms, this means those who are using hydrocodone for 
illegitimate reasons would have a harder time getting their hands on 
  I cannot tell you how much this amendment means to the people of West 
Virginia and to every law enforcement group fighting the war on drugs 
across this Nation who believe very strongly that access to hydrocodone 
would give them a powerful tool in combating prescription drug abuse. 
So it pains me to stand here following last night's vote to move 
forward with the passage of the FDA bill, which did not contain this 
important amendment. That is because the influence of special interest 
groups suppressed the voices of the people--not just in the State of 
West Virginia but in Delaware and all across the country--who are 
begging us to do something about the prescription drug abuse epidemic.
  According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, 
prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the 
United States, and it is claiming the lives of thousands of Americans 
every year. Prescription drugs are responsible for about 75 percent of 
all drug-related deaths in the United States and 90 percent in West 
Virginia. These narcotic painkillers claim the lives of more Americans 
than heroin and cocaine combined.
  But the groups opposed to my amendment have a huge financial stake in 
keeping these pills as accessible as possible, and I understand that. 
That is why my amendment was stripped from the FDA bill we advanced 
last night.
  High-powered and well-funded lobbyists may have gotten their victory 
this time around, but I can assure you I will

[[Page S4606]]

not give up this fight. On a daily basis, I am hearing from my 
constituents in West Virginia and all around this country who are 
counting on us to do something about the prescription drug epidemic 
ravaging their communities.
  Since I offered this amendment, I have heard from so many West 
Virginians who have seen a ray of hope because we might be able to do 
something about this problem. I will not pretend it will solve it 
completely, but it is sure a good step in the right direction. So I am 
coming to the floor to share the stories of the people of West 
Virginia, in the hopes of bringing people together around a solution to 
this terrible problem.
  This is from Sheila from Charleston, who sent me this letter in 
support of my amendment after losing a close family member:

       Please continue to fight the drug companies and pharmacies 
     regarding this issue. Our family in the last two months lost 
     a beloved family member to prescription drug overdose. He was 
     a promising young man that lost his life because of addiction 
     to pain medication.
       Our family continues to be devastated, wondering how did 
     this happen. He came from a highly-educated family that was 
     involved in his treatment and cared deeply for him. His 
     family spent $100,000+ in his recovery, but it was all too 
     easy for him to obtain legal prescriptions.
       What truly makes it more painful is he was showing signs of 
     overcoming his five-year battle.
       We are not blaming anyone but the system. We know we are 
     each responsible for our own actions. I have thought for 
     years that our health care system is far behind in technology 
     and record keeping for doctor shopping and prescription 
     dispensing. Please understand I am very much opposed to more 
     government in our personal lives, however this is much needed 
     in the medical arena.
       Please continue to fight this enormous battle for us.

  That letter could have come from our constituents or any 
Congressman's home district from anywhere in this great country. The 
fact is I don't know of a person--whether it be in the Senate, our 
colleagues in Congress or anywhere in America--who hasn't been affected 
by the abuse of legal prescription drugs used in the wrong way. It 
touches everyone's life. It is of epidemic proportion.
  I have said it before, and I will say it again. I understand that 
limiting access to illegitimate uses of hydrocodone pills doesn't 
necessarily fit into the model of selling more product, but there are 
times when even the best business plan can be altered while staying 
successful. Certainly, one of those times is when the health of our 
country and the public good is at stake.
  In fact, the Huntington Herald Dispatch, the second largest newspaper 
in my State, located right on the border between West Virginia and 
Ohio, describes why this amendment is so important.

       Congress is missing out on an opportunity to close the 
     spigot at least partway on the large volumes of commonly 
     abused prescription drugs that flood the country and harm so 
     many Americans.

  In 2010, the most recent year for which data is available, a study 
showed there were 28,310 recorded instances of toxic exposures from 
hydrocodone. The same study showed that 24 million individuals have 
admitted to abusing hydrocodone drugs for nonmedical purposes--
  A different study, put out by the Centers for Disease Control in 
November, showed that more than 40 people die every day from overdoses 
involving narcotic pain relievers such as hydrocodone. Isn't it worth 
doing something to get the pills out of the wrong hands?
  My amendment may not have gone into this bill yesterday, but it is 
not going to go away--I think we all know that--and I am determined to 
see this through to the end.
  While the people of West Virginia, Delaware, and elsewhere are 
disappointed in the outcome of the hydrocodone amendment, I do wish to 
highlight one measure that was included in the legislation that we are 
proud of and is important to me and everybody in this body. It would 
make the sale and distribution of synthetic marijuana and other 
synthetic substances, known as bath salts, illegal by placing them on 
the list of schedule I controlled substances under the Controlled 
Substances Act. These drugs are also taking a terrible toll on all our 
States, and I was proud to cosponsor this provision with my friend 
Senator Schumer. I want to thank Senator Schumer for his leadership in 
getting this passed.
  Finally, I wish to close with one more story from my home State of 
West Virginia as a way to remind everyone what I am fighting for and 
why. This letter comes from Rebecca, a woman who started a group called 
Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse as a way to deal with the 
terrible realities that have accompanied her son's 5-year battle with 
prescription drug abuse:

       Jamie was a great kid growing up. He played basketball, 
     football, and baseball. When he was 14 years old his team won 
     the state tournament and went all the way to Wisconsin to 
     play in Regionals. Jamie was always helping others and had 
     such a kind heart. . .
       When Jamie got out of school he married his high school 
     sweetheart and was employed in the mines.
       After that he just went downhill. He began abusing 
     prescription drugs. For two years I tried everything to get 
     help for him and tried to get him to stop. Things only got 
     worse. He lost his wife, his home, his truck and then his 
       My story is typical to so many families out there who are 
     struggling with loved ones that are addicted. They just want 
     someone to listen. They need to be able to reach out to 
     someone who understands the nightmare that they go through 
     daily, and know that they are not alone. The addict is not 
     the only one who suffers. The family members carry around 
     guilt, sadness, shame, anger, hopelessness, fear, anxiety, 
     etc. . . . I could go on and on about how bad this experience 
     has been for me and how it has not stopped.
       I will continue to fight prescription drug abuse for as 
     long as I have a breath in my body. I will not give up on my 
     son or anyone else who is addicted. Things need to change 
     within our system. We cannot continue to allow just anyone to 
     have access to prescription pain medicine. Parents need to be 
     educated while their children are still at home. Communities 
     need to be aware of crimes (drug dealers) and report them. 
     Doctors need to stop prescribing pain pills to people on the 
     street, and they need to be held accountable.
       What happened to our medical ethics when people who need 
     pain medicine for a while are given strong addictive pain 
     medicine, only to have to keep coming back to the doctor over 
     and over again for refills? Is it greed that is behind the 
     beginning of this growing epidemic? Doctors definitely profit 
     from the addict's return visits, as well as the 
     pharmaceutical companies that make the medicine. We know 
     there is a problem but what are people going to do about it? 
     I am doing what I can, but is it enough? Will you help?

  For Rebecca and all the other mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers 
out there who are pleading for help, we owe it to them to get this 
amendment agreed to.
  I yield the floor and 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.
  Mr. NELSON of FLORIDA. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that 
the order for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.