VETERANS JOBS CORPS ACT OF 2012; Congressional Record Vol. 158, No. 127
(Senate - September 19, 2012)

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[Pages S6395-S6405]
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                    VETERANS JOBS CORPS ACT OF 2012

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the 
Senate will resume consideration of S. 3457, which the clerk will 
report by title.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (S. 3457) to require the Secretary of Veterans 
     Affairs to establish a veterans jobs corps, and for other 
     purposes.

  Pending:

       Reid (for Murray) amendment No. 2789, in the nature of a 
     substitute.
       Reid amendment No. 2808 (to amendment No. 2789), to change 
     the enactment date.
       Reid amendment No. 2809 (to amendment No. 2808), of a 
     perfecting nature.
       Reid amendment No. 2810 (to the language proposed to be 
     stricken by amendment No. 2789), to change the enactment 
     date.
       Reid amendment No. 2811 (to amendment No. 2810), of a 
     perfecting nature.
       Reid motion to commit the bill to the Committee on 
     Veterans' Affairs, with instructions, Reid amendment No. 
     2812, to change the enactment date.
       Reid amendment No. 2813 (to (the instructions) amendment 
     No. 2812), of a perfecting nature.
       Reid amendment No. 2814 (to amendment No. 2813), of a 
     perfecting nature.

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the time 
until 12 noon will be equally divided and controlled between the two 
leaders or their designees.
  The Senator from Illinois.


                       Knowing Who You Really Are

  Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, Bill Daley is a businessman in Chicago 
and a friend of mine. A few years back he was the chairman of the Al 
Gore Presidential campaign. We all know how the campaign ended in the 
Florida recount. Bill was contacted several years later by those who 
wanted to run for President. They made their trip to Chicago and asked 
Bill if he could give them some insight into what it was all about, how 
you would win. Bill said to them, one and all, the same thing: I am not 
sure I have any special strategy to tell you, but there is one thing I 
have discovered over the years. By the end of the Presidential 
campaign, the American people will know who you really are.
  I thought that was very simply and directly stated by Bill Daley and 
reflected the fact that although every candidate at every level tries 
to surround himself or herself with the wisest people in Christendom, 
to give them advice on polling and media and analyzing the electorate 
and the right words to be said, that more so in a Presidential campaign 
than almost any others, by the end of the campaign, the American people 
know who you really are.
  The revelations into a person's values and character are not those 
well-scripted ads or even those flowery speeches. The revelations come 
by observing that person in good times and bad and perhaps hearing the 
unguarded comments which give you an insight into what they think when 
the camera is not on.
  That is why this release of a video of Mitt Romney has had such an 
impact on America. What he said at a fundraiser in Boca Raton, FL, to 
some very wealthy supporters on May 17, 2012, bears repeating in 
specific detail. Here is what he said:

       There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the 
     president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who 
     are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe 
     that they are victims, who believe the government has a 
     responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are 
     entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. 
     That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it 
     to them. And they will vote for this president no matter 
     what. . . . These are people who pay no income tax. . . . 
     [M]y job--

  This is Mitt Romney speaking--

       is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince 
     them they should take personal responsibility and care for 
     their lives.

  It was a moment of candor by Romney in a room full of friends about 
his view of America, and it has become the centerpiece of this week's 
debate in the Presidential campaign, not just because he was caught in 
an off moment or with an embarrassing statement, but the fact that 
since then he has not retracted, he has not backed off of those 
statements.
  In his first press conference, when confronted, he said he was 
``inelegant'' in the way he spoke. Well, assuming that he meant 
ineloquent and not lacking eloquence, I would say he has had enough 
time to develop an elegant reply, and we have not heard it.

  I think there is more truth than not in what he says when it comes to 
his point of view of this country, and it is no surprise when you look 
back to those other unguarded moments and things he has said during the 
course of the campaign.
  We remember the highlights. ``Corporations are people, my friend,'' 
he said. ``I like being able to fire people,'' he said. ``I'm not 
concerned about the very poor,'' Romney said. ``I'm also unemployed,'' 
Romney said. ``Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs,'' Romney said. ``Ten 
thousand bucks? $10,000 bet?'' he said. ``I have some great friends 
that are NASCAR team owners,'' he said.
  It was Bill Kristol who wrote recently--I believe it was yesterday--
in the Weekly Standard a response in which he was critical of President 
Obama but also of Governor Romney. Here is what Bill Kristol, one of 
the prominent conservative spokesmen in America, in response to 
Romney's revelation at the Boca Raton fundraiser, wrote:

       It's worth recalling that a good chunk of the 47 percent 
     who don't pay income taxes are Romney supporters--especially 
     of course seniors (who might well ``believe they are entitled 
     to health care,'' a position Romney agrees with), as well as 
     many lower-income Americans (including men and women serving 
     in the military) who think conservative policies are better 
     for the country even if they're not getting a tax cut under 
     the Romney plan. So Romney seems to have contempt not just 
     for the Democrats who oppose him, but for tens of millions 
     who intend to vote for him.

  End of quote from Bill Kristol.
  This was a revelation into his values and his view of America. But it 
also tells us that he does not understand this country and the people 
who live in it. Because when we take a close look at those in the 47 
percent, here is who we find: the elderly, working families with 
children, and low-wage earners. That is the 47 percent.
  The elderly. One in five of the elderly is in the 47 percent. These 
Americans do not owe any Federal income tax because of a longstanding 
policy choice that Social Security benefits--modest Social Security 
benefits--should not be taxed. Does Romney oppose that? Does he want to 
tax Social Security benefits so these will be responsible nonvictims in 
his view of America?
  Now let's turn to low-income working families with children. They 
make up approximately one out of six people in the 47 percent. They 
benefit from the earned income tax credit. It was an incentive for them 
to go to work. Realizing they do not make much money working, we are 
going to give them a break in the Tax Code to help them get by.
  As the majority leader mentioned earlier, this notion came out under 
President Ronald Reagan. It was Ronald Reagan who said, when he signed 
this into law in 1986, this will remove ``six million [poor] people 
from the income tax rolls,'' making it one of the most effective 
antipoverty programs in our history.''
  So these people are not paying taxes--so-called victims, so-called 
irresponsible, under Romney's analysis. Is he suggesting the earned 
income tax credit has to go?
  When you take a look at these people who make up the 47 percent in 
America, you understand that many of them have paid their dues. 
Veterans on disability may not be paying income taxes. They are part of 
the 47 percent. People who are middle-income working families, whose 
kids borrow money for college are turning to the government for help 
when they want to put their kids through school to make sure they have 
a better life.
  I close because I know I have my colleagues coming to the floor. 
There is

[[Page S6396]]

one thing that leapt off the page when I read this quote from Boca 
Raton. It appears that Mitt Romney makes his value judgments on 
Americans based on their income tax returns.
  Historically, American voters have made a judgment on Presidential 
candidates based on their income tax returns. The man who set the gold 
standard that was followed for decades in America in Presidential races 
was Mitt Romney's father George Romney, former Governor of Michigan. He 
disclosed 12 years of income tax returns, and he said: Do not just give 
me 1 year. That does not tell me anything. One year might look good. 
Give me 12 years, and I can then decide whether this person is paying 
taxes as they should and make a value judgment accordingly.
  Well, the son did not learn from the father. Over the past 36 years, 
Willard Mitt Romney holds the distinction of all Presidential 
candidates of either political party of having made the least 
disclosure of income tax returns of any Presidential candidate--1 year. 
He promises another, but 1 year.
  What did this 1 year reveal? It revealed he is the first Presidential 
candidate in the history of the United States of America with a Swiss 
bank account. I have asked business leaders across America, Why would 
you have a Swiss bank account?
  I asked Warren Buffett--he is one of the wealthiest men in our 
country--have you ever had a Swiss bank account. He said: No, there are 
perfectly good banks in the United States.
  Then I asked business leaders--and seriously--Why would you have a 
Swiss bank account? Two reasons. You want to conceal what you have and 
the transactions that lead up to you acquiring it or, secondly, you 
believe the Swiss franc is a stronger currency than the U.S. dollar. I 
might add that Mitt Romney created a Swiss bank account under President 
George W. Bush's administration.
  Secondly, the offshore tax shelters in the Cayman Islands and 
Bermuda--why do you have those? To avoid tax liability in the United 
States.
  I do not know what is in Mitt Romney's income tax returns. There must 
be something in there he does not want America to see, because he is 
defying all the calls to go public with the income tax returns.
  Are income tax returns important? In Boca Raton he judged 47 percent 
of the American people based on their income tax returns. We should 
judge Mitt Romney based on his income tax returns or his refusal to 
disclose them.
  Madam President, I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Alabama.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, I know my colleague, the Democratic 
assistant leader, is here, and I will make a budget point of order now 
because I understand he would be objecting.
  Madam President, the pending amendment, No. 2789, offered by the 
Senator from Washington, would cause the underlying legislation to 
exceed the authorizing committee's section 302(a) allocation of new 
budget authority and outlays. Therefore, it violates the budget and I 
raise a point of order against this measure pursuant to section 302(f) 
of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, pursuant to section 904 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, I move to waive the applicable 
sections of that act for purposes of the pending amendment, and I ask 
for the yeas and nays.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, I will say to my colleague, I 
appreciate his eloquence and his advocacy. He gave us a real partisan 
speech this morning. I will just ask a few things of one of our leaders 
in the Senate, Mr. Durbin.
  What about the responsibility of this body to pass a budget? We have 
not had one in over 1,200 days. What about the responsibility of this 
body to move appropriations bills? Not one single appropriations bill 
has been advanced. And while we are working on legislation that could 
help veterans find jobs--it will cost about $200 million a year--why 
has this body not brought up the defense appropriations bill that funds 
the Defense Department at over $500 billion? We have not even brought 
it up for a vote, even though the House has passed one.
  Why have we not brought up the defense authorization bill that passed 
the Armed Services Committee unanimously? I am a member of it. It has 
been sitting here for months and not been brought up. Why? Because we 
would have a debate, actually have some votes around here?
  So that is a problem I think we have in this Senate, and I believe it 
is a serious matter.
  I was going to make some comments about the bill before us.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. I will be brief. I thank the Senator from Alabama, my 
friend, for yielding the floor. He asks an important question: Why has 
Congress not passed a budget resolution in a number of years? But he 
knows the answer. The answer is because we did better than that. We 
enacted a statute, a law. A resolution is a message from one house of 
Congress, back and forth, and kind of binds us internally. A law signed 
by the President has the force of law. It was called the Budget Control 
Act.
  The interesting thing about the Budget Control Act is it was written 
by Democrats and Republicans. It charts the course of spending for 2 
years, including the one we are appropriating into now. It was voted on 
in favor by Democratic and Republican leaders alike. It was a 
bipartisan effort signed by President Obama with the force of law. That 
has more power than any budget resolution.
  So, clearly, saying that we did not pass a budget resolution on its 
face is true, but to say that we are not bound by rules when it is 
comes to spending is to ignore the obvious--a budget control act voted 
on by the leaders on both sides of the aisle.
  The second question he asked is, are we ignoring that spending 
restriction when it comes to those veterans programs, and why should 
we?
  Well, first, the bill that is before us, this Veterans Jobs Corps 
Act, is paid for. It does not add a penny to the deficit.
  The second question is, Well, why do you need it anyway?
  Have you noticed the veterans coming home? Have you noticed the high 
unemployment rate? Have you noticed the problems they are facing when 
they bring home visible and invisible scars from this war? Is it 
greater than we thought we would face at this time? Yes. Do we have an 
obligation to spend this money regardless? Of course. Did we not 
promise these men and women: If you raise your hand and swear your 
allegiance to the United States and your willingness to risk your life, 
we will stand with you when you come home. We will help you find a job. 
We will give you the medical care you need.
  We promised it. We are going to keep the promise.
  Now comes the Budget Act, and now a technicality is being argued that 
maybe we cannot keep the promise. I am going to vote to waive the 
Budget Act because I stood on this floor with Democrats and Republicans 
alike, joined in the speeches, joined in the parades, joined in the 
flag waving saying how much we respect these veterans. But when it 
comes to spending the money we promised them we would spend so they 
could become a vital part of America's future, I am not going to step 
back and hide behind the Budget Act. I am going to stand and make sure 
that money is there, paid for, not adding to the deficit, so that they 
have the help they need for the lives we promised them.
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Alabama.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, I thank my eloquent colleague. But we 
do not have a budget. The law requires us to have a budget--passed 
decades ago. The Senate Democratic leadership, of which he is a part, 
said it was foolish to have a budget. They were not going to have one. 
We have not had one for 3 years. So it resulted last year in a debate 
over raising the debt ceiling because we had run up more debt than any 
time in the history of this Republic. And there was an agreement to 
limit spending. It is not a budget. It

[[Page S6397]]

sets a limit on spending--only on discretionary spending, not on the 60 
percent of the government otherwise on which we spend money. It is 
inadequate and insufficient, and before the ink is dry on it, we are 
back in here with a Democratic majority advocating legislation that 
violates that cap. There is no dispute about it. This is the eighth 
time we have raised budget points of order for violation of the 
agreement setting a cap on spending limits. So here we go again.
  Public opinion of Congress is lower today than at almost any time in 
history. According to the most recent Gallup Poll, only 13 percent of 
the public approves of Congress's actions. Americans do not trust us. 
Why should Americans trust us when we keep using gimmicks and budget 
slights of hand to hide more spending and drive this country further 
into debt when we make a promise by passing a law that limits spending 
and then promptly violate that law within months of passage? And, now, 
the Democrats will attempt again today to violate that law? Why should 
the American people respect an institution, such as this one, that 
cannot adhere to a sound financial course for America?
  On August 28, our country's gross debt reached $16 trillion--$16 
trillion--over 100 percent of the entire gross domestic product of this 
Nation. It is a danger zone, according to every expert who has 
testified.
  According to the Office of Management and Budget's latest mid-session 
review of our fiscal condition, our Nation's debt will increase $4.4 
trillion over the next 4 years, rising to over $20 trillion. And in 
that period of time, we will virtually have doubled the entire debt of 
the United States since the Democrats took the majority in the Senate 
and President Obama was elected--double the entire debt. And the course 
we remain on does not get better. These are their budget numbers. This 
is a course America is on, and we are not getting off of it. It is $1 
trillion a year in deficits. The U.S. debt per household is now 
$137,000 per household--up $80,000 since just 2002. While Americans 
have tightened their budgets to make ends meet, Congress has not passed 
a budget in 1,239 days.
  Erskine Bowles, whom President Obama asked to chair the debt 
commission, noted recently--I saw him in a CNBC interview at a 
conference on July 12. He said:

       If you take last year, 100 percent of our revenue came into 
     the country . . . was spent on our--what's called mandatory 
     spending and interest on the debt. Mandatary spending is 
     principally the entitlement programs, Medicare, Medicaid, and 
     Social Security.

  That is what the tax revenue pays for. Everything above that is 
funded by borrowed money. That is what he said. Is he correct? 
Absolutely. We are now borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend. 
That is not sustainable. At that conference, Mr. Bowles repeated what 
he said before the Budget Committee, on which I am ranking member. Mr. 
Bowles said this Nation has never been on a more predictable financial 
crisis path. That is what he said. If we continue at this rate, we are 
going to have a financial crisis like 2007. Hopefully not if we can 
avoid it, but if we do not change what we are doing, we are going to 
have one. He is absolutely confident about it. He has repeated it. So 
has the Federal Reserve Chairman, Mr. Bernanke. He said: These numbers 
are not going to continue. If you do not change, we will have a crisis 
before we get there.

  At the debt debate last summer--most Americans remember that; 
Congress should certainly remember it--we finally reached an agreement 
that is now being violated. We passed the Budget Control Act last 
August at the last minute, if you remember, to set strict spending 
limits over the next 10 years. It created a super committee to solve 
all of our problems, we hoped, or if the committee failed, which it 
did, to enact $1.2 trillion, at least, in cuts through sequestration. 
That would raise the debt ceiling $2.1 trillion. We would have a net 
cut in spending of $2.1 trillion. The debt ceiling money gets spent 
now. We have almost added another $2.1 trillion to the debt since last 
August. We are getting close to the debt limit again. But the cuts were 
promised to be over 10 years. We will spend now, but we promise you we 
have got a plan. We have a law that will keep us on the right path over 
the next 10 years. So the questions are: Are we spending at that limit? 
Will we stay there?
  Secondly, let me note parenthetically that the $2.1 trillion is not 
enough in reduced spending projections. We are talking about reducing 
projected spending rates--the increase--not cutting spending $2.1 
trillion. We are talking about cutting the projected increase in 
spending. So at the current rate of spending--$3.7, $3.8 trillion this 
year--if you carry that out for 10 years, that would be $38 trillion. 
Under the projections, we are to spend $47 trillion over the next 10 
years--almost $10 trillion more. All the Budget Control act says is: We 
are going to spend $45 trillion rather than $47 trillion, that our 
spending would increase from $37 trillion to $45 trillion. Can the 
Republic sustain that? Is that going to throw us into the ocean? Will 
we collapse as a nation? Will children starve and people not get their 
Social Security? Of course not. We will still be spending more money. 
That is all the budget agreement called for, and we are already 
waffling on that commitment that occurred last summer.
  So here we are. While our colleagues have offered well-meaning 
legislation and something that we should work on to try to deal with 
the unfortunate increase in unemployment for our veterans--and we can 
help them, I truly believe--they have refused to go by the promises 
made under the Budget Control Act last summer--flatly refused.
  So I am worried about unemployment. I am worried about it especially 
among veterans. And there are things we can do. In an effort to find 
common ground, Senator Burr from North Carolina, representing Fort 
Bragg, where I spent a summer, offered an alternative bill, the Careers 
for Veterans Act, which would help our veterans find jobs while keeping 
the Federal budget under control and honoring the commitment we made 
last summer. It can be done. This is not hard to do if you want to do 
it.
  Since the Senate majority will not even allow a vote on any bill that 
abides by the budget--Senator Reid is obstructing the right of Members 
to offer amendments to the bill--I have raised a budget point of order 
against Senator Murray's substitute amendment. Sustaining this point of 
order will allow us to keep the promises made in the Budget Control Act 
that Senator Durbin talked about so proudly--just stay within those 
promises. It will allow us to continue to work on this bill in a way 
that helps our veterans without adding more to our children's debt. It 
does not kill the legislation; it simply tells the sponsors: We are not 
going to do this until you get it within the budget limits to which we 
agreed. And it can be done. Senator Burr's bill does it. It certainly 
can be done.
  The Senate majority had the opportunity to write legislation 
complying with the spending limits set in the Budget Control Act. 
Instead, they bypassed the committee process. We have not had any 
committee hearings on this legislation. And they have offered a 
substitute amendment that violates the Congressional Budget Act by 
increasing mandatory spending $700 million over the Veterans' Affairs 
Committee's 302(a) allocation.
  Under the Budget Act, the committee is given a certain amount of 
money to spend for veterans, and this amendment would violate that 
agreement. Specifically, the Murray amendment violates Section 302(f) 
of the Congressional Budget Act by spending $61 million above the 
committee's allocation for 2013 and $480 million above the committee's 
allocation for 2013 through 2017. It would also spend $666 million 
above the committee's allocation for 2013 through 2022.
  Surely, out of a budget that spends $47 trillion over 10 years, we 
can find $700 million in savings to pay for this bill. That is all that 
needs to be done to ensure that the bill complies with the Budget Act. 
As a result of exceeding the Veterans' Affairs Committee's allocation, 
the Murray substitute amendment violates Section 302(f) of the 
Congressional Budget Act. That has been discussed with Chairman Conrad, 
the Democratic chairman of the Budget Committee. He acknowledges that 
it does, and so does his staff. I am very confident that the 
Parliamentarian agrees and will rule that it violates the Budget Act.

[[Page S6398]]

  Now the Senate majority plans to have a vote to waive--to waive the 
promise they made to the American people to control spending just over 
a year ago. So that is the issue before us today. Do we take the bill 
and fix it so it complies with the budget--which can easily be done 
because the substitute Senator Burr has drafted does it--or will we 
once again waive the promises we made last August and so proudly touted 
that we were going to cut $2.1 trillion in spending.

  In effect, there is a tax increase, argued with some validity, to pay 
for this bill. The bill uses a tax enforcement measure to stop abuses 
by people who don't fully pay their taxes. This will raise revenue, 
and, therefore, the bill is offset, and so we shouldn't worry about it. 
So here we have a new idea for helping veterans: We will raise taxes 
and revenue and we pay for it.
  But this is what is called tax and spend. Tax and spend. We agreed to 
a limit on what we would spend. If we have discovered a method to 
collect more taxes or raise taxes to get more revenue, that money, 
under our budget agreement last summer, is to be used to pay down the 
debt, not to take more money to spend on a new program today because we 
have more revenue to spend. So that is a fundamental issue. Just 
because it is paid for does not mean we are not spending more than we 
agreed to spend. We very precisely are.
  Not only does the Murray amendment violate the Budget Act by spending 
above agreed-to levels, but it also uses budget gimmicks--
extraordinarily really--to make the bill appear to be offset. This 
budget sleight of hand is called a timing shift. What about this offset 
or pay-for idea? Let me discuss that a moment.
  This is one of the issues that, if the American people fully 
understood it, would outrage them. As a matter of fact, it is probably 
part of why they are not happy with us now because they have seen so 
much of this. This is a recurring gimmick. If a CEO offered stock based 
on this kind of promise of financial solvency they would go to jail. It 
is as bogus as a three-dollar bill. This is what it is. It shifts the 
payment of corporate income taxes 2 to 3 months sooner so we can count 
it in this fiscal year. Specifically, this gimmick would collect 
additional revenue over the 2013 through 2017 budget window, which is 
the budget window they were trying to deal with since it violates the 
Budget Act over that 5 year period. So this was designed to cover up 
more spending.
  But think about it. It is exactly the same amount of less revenue 
that will occur in the 2014 through 2018 budget window. If we ask 
someone to pay their taxes earlier, they do not owe it the next year 
when we would otherwise expect to receive it.
  The height of this gimmick was demonstrated years ago when I first 
came to the Senate. I was shocked. This is what they did: They moved a 
Social Security check from this fiscal year to the next fiscal year. 
What was the result? It resulted in having a lot of money to spend this 
fiscal year; right? The CBO said we have more money because we didn't 
pay a Social Security payment. They moved--delayed--it by 1 day. That 
is what they wanted to do, to move it 1 day. But what happens to the 
next fiscal year? Is this really a gain or a gimmick? It is a gimmick 
because the next fiscal year we would need to make an additional Social 
Security payment in that budget year.
  It is just a way to spend more today and push off the cost until 
tomorrow. That is what they did then, and that is exactly what this is 
today. It is a smoke-and-mirror scheme used to avoid the rules in the 
Budget Act and the scorekeepers at the Congressional Budget Office. It 
being used to manipulate the scoring for short-term gain. It simply 
speeds up the payments in the first 5 years so it appears we have more 
money to spend. In reality, the gimmick merely creates a hole in the 
budget next year because the money that was expected to come in next 
year--now coming in this year--is not coming in next year.
  So this point of order is not a technical issue, it is an issue of 
whether this body will uphold its commitment to the American people on 
how much money we are going to spend. Congress agreed to certain 
spending levels in the Budget Control Act. We voted on those spending 
levels, and we should stick with those spending levels today. There is 
no reason for us to violate that agreement. The point of order exists 
so that Congress cannot raise taxes and spend money over the agreed-to 
amount. The point of order requires 60 votes to waive, and it exists so 
the Senate does not succumb to political pressure to spend beyond our 
means. Really, it is meant to try to stop spending beyond our means.
  The Senate majority was aware of the budget rules when they wrote 
this bill. They were aware of it. Instead of writing a bill that 
complied with the Budget Act, they decided to go above the agreed-upon 
spending levels. Senator Burr--a fine Senator--was also aware of the 
rules under the Budget Act and the spending levels set under the Budget 
Control Act. He drafted alternative legislation that complied with the 
budget rules and that would fund a veterans jobs program through 
discretionary spending.
  Unfortunately, the Senate majority took most of Senator Burr's policy 
suggestions but did not keep the fiscal discipline found in his bill. 
They will not allow us to have a vote to aid veterans within the 
spending agreement.
  Contrary to what my friends on the other side of the aisle claim, 
this point of order will not kill the bill. It only returns the bill to 
the legislative calendar. It will remain right there on the calendar, 
but it will allow the people who support it, if they want it passed--
and they do--to propose changes so that the bill complies with the 
Budget Act.
  We can still fix and pass this bill before we leave this week. It 
wouldn't take much time at all to fix this matter. A vote in support of 
the point of order will protect the integrity of the budget process. 
Supporting this point of order will allow us to change the underlying 
bill so that it is fiscally sound and complies with the spending levels 
we have agreed to.
  Unfortunately, while the Senate majority refuses to allow a vote on a 
reasonable veterans bill that complies with the Budget Act, they are 
neglecting the looming cuts that face our military men and women on 
January 2, 2013--the sequester. Given the events happening around the 
world today, we need to be very careful not to allow these kinds of 
cuts to take place in the first part of next year. There are various 
ways we could easily fix that, in my opinion, but we will not even 
confront the issue. The Senate majority has refused to address 
sequestration, which the Secretary of Defense--President Obama's 
Secretary of Defense--said would be catastrophic. Defense people have 
said it would hollow out the military. It is too rapid a bite, 
according to the experts in the Obama administration and others, but no 
effort has been brought forward to confront that problem--to bring it 
up on the Senate floor and have a full debate about it.
  We can do a $200 million a year bill that we spent a week or more on, 
but we have no time on the Senate floor dedicated to dealing with the 
sequester, which would take $500 billion out of the defense budget. 
This bill on the floor today would spend nearly $1 billion over 5 years 
above the budget.
  What about the $500 billion in cuts that are looming right now in 
January? We need to wrestle with that and decide how we are going to 
confront that. It is not going to be easy. Maybe defense can sustain 
some more cuts, but I don't think this much. They have already taken 
$500 billion in cuts, and this would be an additional $500 billion in 
cuts.
  The Defense Department, under the plan today, which represents one-
sixth of Federal Government spending, would get half the cuts, and the 
remaining five-sixths of the Federal Government would get the other 
half of the cuts. This is disproportionate. It should not have been 
part of the Budget Act. But they slipped it in the dead of night, and 
it came to the floor and people went along with it so we would not hit 
the debt ceiling. But it is not good, and we need to fix that, in my 
opinion.
  House Republicans have confronted this matter. They realized this was 
a problem, and they proposed a budget and a plan to replace and undo 
the sequester and to do it in a way that made sense without violating 
spending levels we agreed to last August. How many proposals to fix 
this problem have we

[[Page S6399]]

received from Senator Durbin and Senator Reid? Zero. Nothing. They are 
not doing anything but blocking any attempt to bring up legislation 
that would fix it.
  That is why we don't have a Defense authorization bill, which came 
out of my committee unanimously, the Armed Services Committee. It has 
been sitting here and not being brought up. Why? Because if we do, we 
will have a discussion about the sequester and the Defense Department 
and the future of America, and they do not want that. The House passed 
the Defense authorization bill in May, and they passed the Defense 
appropriations bill in June. We have passed none of them, not even 
brought them to the floor.
  They want to attack Republicans as not caring about our men and women 
who serve our country. Yet we are trying to fix the sequester, trying 
to bring up a Defense bill that will actually do some good and give a 
pay raise to our men and women in uniform--a small one, but a pay 
raise. So I am really disappointed we haven't brought up the Defense 
authorization bill, which came out of my committee.
  A few days ago--last week--Senator McCain spoke about this. He said: 
Shame, shame, shame. Imagine that for 51 years, every year, this Senate 
has passed the Defense authorization bill. This will be the first time 
in 51 years we haven't passed the Defense authorization bill, and we 
have so many important issues related to our Defense Department today. 
Nothing is more important than that. Yet we spent a whole week, or the 
last few days, discussing a bill that could have been agreed to just 
like that, with the suggestions of Senator Burr, because we can't wait 
to get out of this place. This could have already passed, and we could 
have been dealing with these important issues. I find it breathtaking, 
frankly.
  Let me just point out the bill is not going to go through the House 
since it violates the Constitution. There are revenue proposals in this 
bill. It will not see the light of day in the House because the 
Constitution says revenue bills must be generated in the House. So we 
have wasted all this time producing a bill that cannot and will not be 
received by the House.
  Article 1, Section 7 of the United States Constitution says:

       All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House 
     of Representatives. . . .

  This is a revenue bill.
  So what has happened? Is it just an idea? Let's see, we don't want to 
talk about the Defense appropriations bill. We don't want to talk about 
the Defense authorization bill; it involves hundreds of billions of 
dollars. We don't want to talk about those, so let's bring up this 
veterans bill. We will bring it up even though it violates the Budget 
Act. And do you know what those stupid Republicans will do? They will 
object and say it violates the Budget Act. And do you know what we can 
say? We can say: You don't like veterans. You don't believe in honoring 
those who served our country. Do you want to know the truth? That is 
what has happened right here today, and it is irresponsible.
  So let's vote for Senator Burr's bill. Let's pass legislation that 
will help veterans right now, or we are going to send this bill back--I 
am confident--to see if they come up with some other plan that would be 
helpful to our veterans and their employment prospects without 
violating the Budget Act.
  I want to mention one more thing because I think it is important. The 
two largest veterans groups, the VFW and the American Legion, have said 
these things. Steve Gonzalez, assistant director of the American 
Legion, said both bills, the Burr and Murray bills ``have ideas on how 
to get veterans quality jobs,'' and added that Burr's version stands a 
better chance of passing.
  What about the VFW? In the Washington Post today:

       ``VFW supports concepts behind the Veterans Job Corps bill, 
     but we have some concerns about the budgetary implications,'' 
     said Ryan Gallucci, deputy director of national legislative 
     affairs for the VFW.

  We don't have to do it the way this bill has come up. Senator Burr 
has offered a very fine proposal that the VFW and the American Legion 
seem to support. Let's do that. Let's do it that way and not violate 
our commitment to the American people to live within our means.
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Colorado.


                         Production Tax Credit

  Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Madam President, I rise again this morning, as 
I have for a number of months, to talk about the most important issue 
facing the American people and this Congress, and that is jobs.
  A good news story on the jobs front has been our wind energy 
industry. The wind energy industry has created thousands of good-paying 
jobs, and it could create thousands more. But the troubling news that 
goes along with the good news is that the potentially bright future of 
this industry is uncertain. Why? Because we in the Congress are holding 
the wind energy industry hostage because we have failed to extend the 
production tax credit.
  As I have said every day I have been on the Senate floor since June 
to discuss this topic, every day that we fail to extend the PTC for 
wind energy more jobs are put at risk. We have seen this unfortunate 
reality unfold across the country as predicted, including in my home 
State of Colorado, where over 100 people have lost their jobs. I don't 
have to tell my colleagues that when people lose jobs, those job losses 
negatively affect families and the communities where they live.
  Just yesterday--it breaks my heart--Siemens Energy announced they are 
going to lay off more than 600 people in Iowa, Kansas, and Florida. 
Enough is enough. These layoffs that continue to be announced almost 
weekly should spur us to extend the wind production tax credit without 
any further delay.
  Jobs are at stake. It is that simple. With many Americans already 
losing their jobs, more jobs are at risk--thousands, literally--if we 
don't act.
  Here is my question: Why would we forfeit leadership in an industry 
that is poised to grow even further? There is no reason we should cede 
leadership of this important industry to China or anywhere else by 
letting the production tax credit expire. If we commit to extending the 
PTC, we will then lead the world in wind power, and here is a part of 
why I come to the floor every day and talk about particular States.
  There are few places that is more apparent than in Wyoming. Wyoming 
has phenomenal wind reserves. If you have driven through Wyoming, you 
know what I am talking about. If you talk to anybody from Wyoming, they 
will always ironically say: One of the things we have in excess in 
Wyoming is wind.
  The National Global Energy Lab based in Colorado estimates that 
Wyoming has enough wind power potential to meet 116 times the State's 
energy needs. To put it another way, that is 25 million homes that 
would be powered by harnessing wind.
  Wyoming is well on its way to harnessing its wind potential. Why? 
Although it ranks 11th in the Nation for installed wind power--which is 
not a shabby number, frankly--there are plans to nearly quadruple the 
amount of wind power in the State of Wyoming. Not only would that 
create thousands of jobs--that goes without saying--it would produce 
enough electricity to power 1.5 million homes. The construction of 
those projects will create hundreds of nicely paying renewable energy 
jobs right in the State of Wyoming.
  It is no wonder then that the massive wind potential in Wyoming has 
also attracted investment for manufacturers. To make that point, I want 
to share a development with you.
  Last year a plan to build the first wind energy manufacturing 
facility in Wyoming was announced. It was a joint venture between the 
Spanish wind manufacturer Gestamp and an Ohio-based company called 
Worthington Industries. They formed a conglomerate called Gestamp 
Worthington Wind Steel. The companies announced they would build a 
facility in Cheyenne, WY, and there would be 150 good-paying jobs 
attached to that facility. They planned to invest $40 million in the 
plant. But here is the twist: That project has now been put on hold. 
Those jobs and the millions in investment that were planned to be 
directed into Wyoming have been shelved.
  This isn't an isolated incident. There are wind manufacturing 
facilities and wind projects across the country where we are seeing 
exactly the same thing happening, and the reason is clear: uncertainty 
over the future of the production tax credit. So our inaction in the

[[Page S6400]]

Congress is putting good-paying American jobs at risk and reducing 
opportunities for further investments in this growing industry. There 
is just no reason for it. The PTC has strong support from both sides of 
the aisle and from both Houses of the Congress. Of course, a broad 
array of groups in the private sector support the wind energy industry.
  Yesterday, a group of businesses from across the country wrote to 
leaders in the House and the Senate urging us to bring up and pass an 
extension of the PTC as soon as possible. Businesses such as Starbucks 
and Levi's joined a diverse group of companies, including Colorado's 
own Aspen Skiing Company and New Belgium Brewery, in urging us in the 
Congress to work across the divide, work across the aisle, and extend 
the PTC. These companies understand how positive the production tax 
credit and our wind industry has been for jobs, national security, and 
our clean energy economy. They made that case yesterday in their 
letter.
  I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record a copy of this 
letter.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                           Business for Innovative


                                    Climate and Energy Policy,

                                   Boston, MA, September 18, 2012.
     Re: Production Tax Credit for Wind Energy.

     Hon. John Boehner,
     Speaker of the House, U.S. House of Representatives, 
         Washington, DC.
     Hon. Nancy Pelosi,
     House Minority Leader, U.S. House of Representatives, 
         Washington, DC.
     Hon. Harry Reid,
     Senate Majority Leader, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
     Hon. Mitch McConnell,
     Senate Minority Leader, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
       Dear Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Reid, Minority Leader 
     Pelosi, and Minority Leader McConnell: As major U.S. 
     employers and some of the largest non-utility purchasers of 
     renewable energy, we urge you to extend the Production Tax 
     Credit (PTC) for wind energy before the end of the 112th 
     Congress. A failure to pass an extension will amount to 
     levying a tax on companies committed to buying American 
     energy and growing the U.S. economy. In today's economic 
     climate, a tax hike on American businesses buying American 
     renewable energy is unwarranted.
       In the past decade American businesses have significantly 
     ramped up their purchase of American wind energy. For 
     consumers of wind electricity, the economic benefits of the 
     PTC are tremendous. Electricity rates, which reflect marginal 
     costs for power plant operations and fuel prices, 
     consistently decrease when wind enters the market. Because 
     wind prices can be locked in up front, businesses 
     incorporating wind into their energy portfolios are better 
     equipped to hedge market volatility in traditional fuels 
     markets caused by supply shocks. We are concerned that 
     allowing the PTC to expire will immediately raise prices for 
     the renewable electricity we buy today.
       The PTC has enabled the industry to slash wind energy 
     costs--90% since 1980--a big reason why companies like ours 
     are buying increasing amounts of renewable energy. Wind now 
     supplies over 3% of U.S. demand and accounts for 35% of new 
     power capacity installed in the last four years. In the seven 
     years that the PTC has been continuously in place, installed 
     wind capacity has grown sevenfold to nearly 47 Gigawatts 
     representing more than $79 billion in private investment.
       As Congress investigates ways to spur business growth, we 
     urge you to ensure an extension of the PTC. Failure to extend 
     the PTC for wind would tax our companies and thousands of 
     others like us that purchase significant amounts of renewable 
     energy and hurt our bottom lines at a time when the economy 
     is struggling to recover. Extending the PTC lowers prices for 
     all consumers, keeps America competitive in a global 
     marketplace and creates homegrown American jobs.
           Sincerely,
         Akamai Technologies, Annie's, Inc., Aspen Skiing Company, 
           Ben & Jerry's, Clif Bar, Johnson & Johnson, Jones Lang 
           LaSalle, Levi Strauss & Co, New Belgium Brewing, The 
           North Face, Piney Bowes, Portland Trail Blazers, 
           Seventh Generation, Sprint, Starbucks, Stonyfield Farm, 
           Symantec, Timberland, Yahoo!

  Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Madam President, as I conclude I want to 
remind us that in August, before we adjourned for our month's State 
work period, our Senate Finance Committee passed legislation that would 
include an extension of the production tax credit. I was encouraged to 
see that the committee bridged the partisan divide to advance what is 
really and truly a commonsense policy that will help our American 
economy and our middle class.
  We should build on what the Finance Committee did and take up and 
pass this legislation as soon as possible. The longer we delay, the 
more jobs we put at risk and the more our economic recovery is at risk.
  It is very simple: The production tax credit equals jobs. We should 
pass it as soon as possible. So, my colleagues, let's work together. 
Let's find a path forward, and let's pass this critical tax credit as 
soon as possible.
  Madam President, I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a 
quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. COBURN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 
ordered.
  Mr. COBURN. Madam President, I want to spend a few moments this 
morning talking about the budget point of order. But a bigger topic is 
we are going to have a vote at noon, and the question, in my mind, is: 
Will we at some point in the future recognize the hole we are in?
  When I talk to individual Members they all agree we are in a hole, we 
have a problem, and it is getting ready to bite this country in ways 
that are unimaginable in terms of its impact on the everyday citizens 
of this country. Yet in the Senate we have done nothing to address the 
bigger problems facing the country.
  Now we have a bill that has a budget point of order that is lying 
against it, and the question is: Will we continue the behavior that put 
our country in the problems we are in today or will we take a new 
track?
  The desire to help veterans is a noble desire, but there are a lot of 
points about this bill that the average American and the average 
veteran ought to be asking. There are also other questions, such as: 
What are the other things we are doing for jobs for veterans, and how 
well are they working.
  We have six veterans job training programs. We already have a 
preference across the Federal Government for hiring veterans. We have 
SBA programs like crazy. We have contracting programs 8a and 8b. We 
have all these programs, but not one hearing has been held by the 
committee of jurisdiction oversight of the job training programs or the 
other programs we have to enhance the economic well-being of our 
veterans.
  So what we have is a bill that is brought to the Senate floor that 
has good intentions behind it but shows the absolute laziness of 
Congress in terms of digging things out.
  When the GAO issued its duplication report on the job training 
programs for veterans, four of them do exactly the same thing. None of 
them has a metric. So we don't know if they are working, and we haven't 
held a hearing to find out if they are working. But what are we doing? 
We are proposing another jobs program for veterans without having done 
the serious work of how we invest $1 billion.
  Now, the other point that we should know is, we are spending $1 
billion a year right now on veterans job training programs. This bill 
has $1 billion over 5. The second point I would like to make--and I 
think it was made by the ranking member of the Budget Committee--is 
there is no honest accounting in this bill regardless of the budget 
point of order or the blue slip, the nonconstitutionality of 
originating revenue bills in the Senate. There is absolutely no 
transparency nor correctness nor character nor integrity in the 
financing of this bill. When we find ourselves $16 trillion in debt and 
we are going to pay for another bill over 5 years by 10 years of 
change, we never get out of the problem. We make the problem worse.

  What are we doing and whom are we doing it for? Are we truly thinking 
about veterans when we do not solve the bigger problems? We have the 
manifest presence in this bill of the very problems we say we need to 
be addressing. Yet we are making them worse with this bill. We are 
making the financial problems worse with this bill.
  I am befuddled and disappointed that we cannot, as a group of 
individuals who all love this country very much,

[[Page S6401]]

come together on some certain baseline principles that we ought to be 
operating under in the Senate. The first of those ought to be we ought 
to do nothing now that makes the problem worse for our kids and 
grandkids. We are now over $200,000 per family of debt in this country. 
We are over $200,000--it is actually about $225,000. Think about the 
median family income over the last 4 years that has gone down 9 percent 
in this country, and we are going to make sure it goes down even 
further if we continue to do what we are doing in this bill. We have 
gone from $54,900 median family to $50,200 in the last 4 years, median 
family income, and we have gas prices as high as they have ever been 
and we are going to perpetuate a system that says we are going to 
continue to make the problem worse, not better.
  There is also another little gimmick in this bill that if we were to 
do it in private, we would go to jail for it; that is, we are going to 
charge corporations more income tax than what they actually owe to get 
past 1 year, and then after the year is over, we are going to flip it 
back so we can say we paid for something when we did not. That violates 
all aspects of integrity and honesty. Do you know what the answer I 
hear as to why we are doing it? ``Oh, we have done that in the past.'' 
It was not right in the past, and it is certainly not right now to lie, 
to cheat, to be dishonest about the accounting principles surrounding 
this bill in terms of how we pay for it because, in essence, it 
violates pay-go--the very rule we said was going to help us get out of 
our problems that 67 times has been waived in the last 3 years. As a 
matter of fact, I don't know the last time a pay-go challenge was not 
waived.
  The second principle we ought to be dealing with is we ought to 
follow the rules we set up for ourselves that are supposed to 
discipline us in terms of getting our country out of the problems which 
we are, regrettably, continually ignoring. If, in fact, we want to help 
veterans get jobs, there are a lot of ways for us to do it. One is make 
sure the job programs we have are working--and they are not. If they 
are not working, why are we continuing to spend $1 billion a year on 
them? No. 2, create a level of confidence in this country, by our own 
behavior, that we are actually addressing the real problems in front of 
the country rather than the political dynamics of an election that says 
we want to do something and everybody in this Chamber knows, even if we 
pass this bill, it is not going to accomplish anything because, in 
fact, it has a blue slip against it because of the Constitution.
  On Monday mornings when I get up--I get up about 4:30 to catch a 
flight to come back here--I have noticed I have an attitude problem. I 
don't want to come anymore. The reason I don't want to come anymore is 
because we are not doing anything to address the real problems that are 
in front of our country. We are ignoring the real problems so we can 
create political contrasts for an election, all the while the country 
is sinking and sinking and sinking.
  What it is is a lack of leadership. We can lead in the wrong 
direction, knowing what the problems are and making mistakes, and we 
can be forgiven for that. But when we know what the real problems are 
and we are ignoring them, that is an unforgivable failure of 
leadership. That is where we find ourselves.
  I heard my colleague mention the Defense authorization bill. There is 
absolutely no excuse for us not to have passed a Defense authorization 
bill that gives the planning, the direction, and the commitment for 
this country's future in terms of our defenses--the No. 1 priority for 
us as a Congress, according to the Constitution. Yet we have not done 
that. We have made the immediate political situation trump everything. 
That is the opposite of leadership. It is actually cowardice, because 
when someone is a leader and they duck the real problems in front of 
them, they take everybody down with them--the well intentioned and the 
not well intentioned. That is where we are--as a country, as a Senate--
by not addressing the real issues of this country.
  I don't know what is going to happen on the votes on this bill, but I 
know what needs to happen in the Senate. There needs to be a renewed 
sense of awareness of the real problems facing this country and a 
redoubling of our commitment to shed partisan roles and get down to 
fixing the real problems in front of us. Parochialism has no place in 
that discussion. The political careers of Members have no place in that 
discussion. The real future of our country is at risk and we are, 
similar to the proverbial person with their head in the sand, ignoring 
that risk. The greatest country in the world is on the precipice of 
falling, predicted long ago by such people as John Adams and Thomas 
Jefferson--that the day would come that we, in fact, would put the 
political ahead of the best interests of our country. That is what we 
are seeing played out in Washington. That is exactly what we are seeing 
played out with this bill. The American people deserve much better.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, before the Senator leaves, I would ask 
him a question. And the reason I am asking Senator Coburn about this is 
because there is no one of these 100 Senators here today who has spent 
more hours, effort and time in dealing with the duplicative programs of 
the Federal Government than Senator Coburn. He has brought up these 
issues time and again.
  I just ask, according to the GAO, in 2009, Senator Coburn, I 
understand that 9 Federal agencies spent $18 billion to administer 47 
job training programs. The Senator has looked into that. I know I have 
heard him speak on that specifically. I was surprised the Senator 
brought out that there are already six programs for veterans now, and 
this would be a new one added to it.
  What is the Senator's view of what a responsible Congress should do 
when we learn we are spending this much money on these programs with 
their own bureaucrats and so forth? Can we do better?
  Mr. COBURN. Absolutely. Let me give people some hope. Virginia Foxx, 
a Representative in the House, who is the chairman of the Subcommittee 
on Workforce and Labor, has passed a bill out of her committee that 
consolidates 33 of those job training programs into 1, puts metrics on 
every one of them so we will know if they are working and requires 
mandatory oversight of them. The reason she did not do all 47 is 14 of 
them are not in her jurisdiction.
  But add to it another $4 billion, and another 20-plus programs for 
the disabled, so we actually have almost 70 programs and $23 billion a 
year we are spending on job training, of which nobody knows--as a 
matter of fact I know they are not working.
  We actually released a report on job training in Oklahoma. We looked 
at every Federal job training and State job training program going on 
in Oklahoma. Do you know what works? Oklahoma programs. Do you know 
what does not work? Federal job training programs in Oklahoma.
  We have 1 city in Oklahoma that is 16,000 people, 17 Federal job 
training centers, and an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent; 17 different 
Federal agencies in 1 city of 16,000 people with an unemployment rate 
of 4.7 percent. What we are doing is employing people in the job 
training industry--which may be good if they are having results. But we 
have results that are untenable.
  Job training is just one area of our Federal Government. The GAO has 
released reports on duplication. Their final report will come in 
February of next year, where they will have looked at the entire 
Federal Government. What we know right now is if we did our work, the 
100 Senators who care about our country did our work, over the next 10 
years we could save $200 billion by eliminating duplication in Federal 
programs--$200 billion. I said over 10 years; that is, $200 billion per 
year. It is $2 trillion over 10 years. We could save over $200 billion 
per year.
  We wouldn't be having sequestration if we did our job, if we did our 
oversight, if we consolidated programs, made them transparent and made 
them accountable and then put metrics on them to see if they were 
working and then did oversight to see that they are working. We would 
not be in sequestration. We would not have near the problems we have 
today. But the failure is us. The Congress has failed to do its job.
  The consequences will not be borne by us. The consequences will be 
borne by the son of my health LA who was just born, by my new grandson 
who is

[[Page S6402]]

now almost 7 weeks old. That is who is going to pay the consequences--
the children of this country--when we fail to do our jobs.
  I appreciate the Senator's leadership. I am going to support his 
point of order. It is the right thing to do. I did not even talk about 
the areas he talked about in terms of--we set up this budget agreement 
for 2 years. I will tell you what, the CR coming--this is the irony of 
all ironies. Had we not had that budget agreement and we did a CR, we 
would spend $2.6 billion less next year if we had a clean CR than under 
the Budget Control Act we passed. By doing the Budget Control Act, we 
are actually going to spend more money than we did last year.

  So everything is upside down in Washington because everything is 
political or parochial and nobody is thinking long term about the big 
problems facing our country.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, I thank the Senator from Oklahoma. He 
served on the debt commission. He is steeped in the challenges facing 
our country and he is working hard to fix our problems.
  I salute Senator Burr for coming forward with a proposal that helps 
veterans while abiding by the rules set forth in the Budget Act. 
Regretfully, I think we will end this matter today, the legislation 
that is coming forward, through the budget point of order.
  I thank the Chair and yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Florida.
  Mr. NELSON of Florida. Madam President, the Senator from Alabama 
knows the personal friendship we have and my high regard for him and 
the privilege I have had working with him over the years. It has been a 
working relationship.
  Regardless of what one feels about a budget and a budget point of 
order, we are talking about a technicality to kill a bill to help 
unemployed veterans at a time they desperately need help because they 
are coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan and they can't find work. 
Until we come out of the recession--and the recovery is under way, but 
veterans have a higher percentage of unemployment and especially 
veterans under age 24 have an even higher percentage of unemployment. 
So what we have is a piece of legislation to give an employment cushion 
for veterans for at least a year, until they can find employment in the 
private sector.
  This is employment to do things we need, since so many of our 
national resources, such as parks and emergency responders and 
firefighters and police, need help. Look at all of the deterioration in 
the national parks. This would be an opportunity to employ those 
veterans and to employ them up to a year. Everybody knows this makes 
common sense and it is the right thing to do.
  What is happening is the folks on that side of the aisle, because we 
are in an election year and because this happened to be a proposal 
coming out of the White House and is brought to the floor by this 
Senator from Florida, are not going to support it, and they are going 
to kill it on a technicality by denying us 60 votes in order to waive 
the budgetary point of order. That is the bottom line. That is what is 
going on here, and it is sad. Yet that is what is happening.
  Look at the votes in the last week. We passed the motion for cloture 
on the motion to proceed by 95 to 1. Doesn't that tell us something? 
Then we had the second procedural vote which was 84 to 8. All we need 
is 60 votes to get over this hurdle and to get to the bill and then 
probably pass it by unanimous consent because everybody agrees with the 
substance of the bill. It is clear that commonsense legislation that 
has bipartisan support is getting thwarted in this Chamber. We all know 
how important it is to help our veterans find work as they return home.
  Does the Senator from Oklahoma want to ask a question? The Senator 
from Oklahoma knows my respect for him and my personal friendship for 
him. I admire the Senator for the courageous stance he takes. But I 
hope the Senator from Oklahoma understands--and I respectfully say 
that--for a need so great as unemployed veterans, this is not the time 
to draw a technical line on a budget. I would earnestly and 
respectfully request of my friend that this be one of the 
considerations he would make.
  Does the Senator wish to engage in any conversation? If not, I will 
complete my remarks.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. COBURN. Madam President, I would ask to have a back-and-forth 
real debate on this, recognizing us both, with the Senator from Florida 
controlling the time, if he has no difficulty agreeing with that.
  One of the reasons I came out is I don't agree with the substance of 
this bill and I don't want the Senator from Florida to make a statement 
on the floor that everybody agrees with it. We have six veterans job 
training programs that nobody is overseeing. Nobody knows if they work.
  Mr. NELSON of Florida. OK. Then what I would suggest to my friend--
and he knows he is my friend--if we have a difference of opinion, I 
respect that, and I would like him to share that. I wish to complete my 
very brief statement and then the Senator from Oklahoma may make 
whatever statement he wishes to make.
  The unemployment rate among veterans returning from Iraq and 
Afghanistan is hovering around 11 percent, and for those unemployed 
veterans age 24 and less it is even higher. We have taken steps to 
combat this problem. This past summer we passed legislation that will 
help veterans get Federal occupational licenses when their military 
training matches civilian requirements. That made sense. That made 
common sense. As a matter of fact, we got that through the Senate 
unanimously and it was signed into law. The bill recognized that a 
veteran gets all of this specialized training and they ought to be able 
to utilize that training without having to go through all the 
retraining and the relicensing. We could do that--and what we passed is 
now law--we could do that in Federal employment where there is a 
similar kind of requirement.
  What is in this bill is to do that for the State occupational 
requirements; to take a veteran who has a military discipline--a 
specialty--as that veteran is applying for a private sector job that 
happens to be covered by State law on the occupational requirements and 
requirements of licensing, that it is a consideration, instead of the 
veteran having to go through all of that again. That makes common 
sense.

  That particular idea was offered by the Senator from Arkansas, Mr. 
Pryor, and it is a part of the bill. Also, Senator Murray, who is here 
on the floor and who is the chairman of the committee, reached out and 
incorporated a number--and she can address that--of the different 
bipartisan ideas and not just my idea, which is the one I was talking 
about wherein veterans can have employment up to a year--but so many 
others that are incorporated into the bill that came out of committee.
  So we already did something about matching civilian requirements, 
albeit what was signed into law was just with regard to Federal 
employment.
  Also, last year we passed a bill that granted tax benefits to 
companies that hire wounded warriors. Of course, we know what 
inspiration all the rest of us take from the wounded warriors. The 
Senator from Oklahoma and I from time to time go to Bethesda to what 
used to be called Bethesda Naval and now is the combined, all-military 
services Walter Reed. For every one of us who goes out there and 
suddenly sees these veterans coming in who are on these new kinds of 
computer-controlled prostheses where they can actually walk and run, 
even when their leg has been blown off above the knee, it pulls at our 
hearts and yet we are so glad that technology has moved forward. But 
those same ladies and gentlemen need jobs. Until the recovery is 
complete, they are having difficulty. That is why I filed this bill. 
The chairman of the committee and the ranking member have done their 
best to work across the aisle.
  Veterans don't care to hear about why we can't help them. They don't 
care to hear about technicalities of a budget point of order. They want 
our country to support them in the way they have supported us, and that 
is an obligation. A lot of us in this Chamber have served in the 
military. I think it is engrained in every Senator here that we have an 
obligation to those who have served this country.
  This effort here today that we are going to vote on in 20 minutes has

[[Page S6403]]

broad support from veterans and police organizations. The Disabled 
American Veterans, the Military Officers Association of America, the 
National Association of Police Organizations, and the American Legion 
all support it. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America have 
called and pleaded for its immediate passage. They know why: Because of 
their veterans' need to know that Congress has their back.
  So I would make a plea to the Senate. We just need a few votes from 
that side of the aisle to get to the threshold of 60 to waive the 
technicality of the budget point of order.
  I look forward to the comments of my friend, the Senator from 
Oklahoma.
  Madam President, since the time is controlled over here, I reserve 
the final 7 minutes for the chairman of the committee.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 
ordered.
  Mr. NELSON of Florida. I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. COBURN. Madam President, my colleague from Florida raises some 
good points about us wanting to help our veterans. I don't think there 
is anybody who does not recognize their significant sacrifice. As a 
matter of fact, it was not long ago that the 45th from Oklahoma lost 17 
people in Afghanistan and hundreds were wounded.
  The real question is: how do we help them the best? How do we really 
help veterans? We are going to have plenty of opportunities to say 
there is a reason to not do the right thing for the long-term best 
interests of our country.
  We have never found ourselves in the predicament we find ourselves in 
today in terms of our financial exposure and the real risk to the 
veterans who have jobs today--which nobody is talking about but the 
real risk for them. Because when this thing goes down--and I am talking 
about the financial collapse of this country--when it happens, those 
who have jobs who are veterans today are going to lose them. So there 
could be no more noble cause than to make an exception for veterans, 
except that is not what the Senate does. We make an exception every 
time--every time.
  Here is the question for my friend: Under what system of values, 
honor, and integrity did these veterans serve? The highest and noblest 
of honor and integrity, without a doubt.

  They put their life on the line so I do not have to, so my adult, 
mature children in their thirties and forties do not have to. The 
difference is, what they put their life on the line for was to ensure 
that the freedom and liberty and vibrancy of this country goes forward. 
We are taking a little pocketknife to one of the legs of the three-
legged stool with our actions and slowly nibbling the support of that 
leg. We are taking it away by our very actions.
  Mr. NELSON of Florida. Madam President, I would like to respond to my 
friend.
  Mr. COBURN. If I could finish. Since the other side has the last 7 
minutes, I will be finished well before then.
  We are going to say the financial condition of the country does not 
matter. We are going to say it does not matter the $1 billion a year we 
are spending already on veterans job training programs. It does not 
matter. We are going to say here is a year's program for jobs for 
20,000 veterans and that is going to trump everything else.
  You would not have any objection from this Senator if you actually 
really paid for this, No. 1, if you did not violate pay-go and you 
truly did it in a way that oversighted the present job training 
programs we have and you truly did it in a way that matches the 
integrity and honor of our veterans. But we did not do that. No. We 
played games. We played games with budget rules. We played games with 
pay-go. We did not do any oversight. We did not even have a hearing. 
There was no hearing on this bill.
  You took Senator Burr's suggestions, which were common sense, and 
applied it broadly across the government. But we did not match the 
honor and integrity and valor and purpose. When I meet with veterans in 
townhall meetings, I ask them why they serve. Do you know what they 
tell me? Because this is the greatest country the world has ever known 
and they want to keep it that way.
  What we are doing today does not keep it that way. It perpetuates the 
same problems that created the very dangerous situation this country is 
in.
  So when we make a claim about that everybody agrees with this bill, I 
just wish to say I do not agree with the bill. There are a whole lot of 
ways to help veterans that are better than this, that give them a 
permanent job. We passed the post-9/11 GI bill; right? They can get 
paid a stipend while they go to college to learn a new skill, the same 
as a noncom officer. They get paid for the books and tuition and 
everything else so they can become whole as they learn a skill. We have 
the capability for studies while we are in the military. We have six 
separate job training programs that we are spending $1 billion a year 
on.
  The best way to help veterans is to fix this country's economic 
situation to create opportunity, and they will fly because they have 
already proven they have the initiative, the strength, the moral 
courage, the integrity, and the valor to accomplish anything they want 
to accomplish.
  So I am in disagreement with my friend. I think we have a political 
device in front of us, and I am going to be very interested to see the 
character of the Senate on whether it succumbs to the parochial and 
political over the best long-term interests of the country. If it does, 
it just proves that the Senate needs to be changed to truly address the 
real problems in front of our country. That is what it is going to 
prove, regardless of the outcome: Do we have the character? Do we match 
the valor, honor, and integrity of the people who serve this Nation in 
the Armed Forces with our willingness to sacrifice our political 
careers to do what is in the best long-term interest of the country?
  They set the example for us. The question is whether we will follow 
their example.
  I yield to my friend from Florida.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Florida.
  Mr. NELSON of Florida. Madam President, before the chairman of the 
committee uses the time reserved for her, I wish to respond to my 
friend from Oklahoma--and he is my friend--by telling him why I think 
he is wrong on this issue and telling him by way of a compliment to him 
because the Senator from Oklahoma and I, the Senator from Florida, had 
worked together, he being much more prominent in the efforts, to bring 
the budget under control 1 year ago.
  In having discussions across the aisle--often private discussions--
what started as a rump group known as the Gang of 6 that grew and 
blossomed into what, in effect, became a group of 45--and I think that 
was the number of us who stood in the Senate Press Gallery in the 
summer 1 year ago; it was the summer of 2011--and we said we wanted a 
big $4 trillion-plus budget deficit, and we pointed out ways we could 
get there.
  Indeed, what this Senator has said--and I have heard other Republican 
Senators who feel and have said very close to identical things 
publicly; and I will name one and that is Senator Lindsey Graham and he 
stated it on ``Meet the Press'' a couple months ago--that the way we 
get there is producing revenue through reform of the Tax Code by going 
after all the tax preferences which have ballooned out of control since 
the last tax reform bill in 1986, that this Senator, then a young 
Congressman, voted for, to the point that tax expenditures, tax 
preferences are now $14 trillion over 10 years. A lot of them have 
outlived their usefulness. For a lot of them, their special interests 
or sponsors would tell us: We would not want that if we could have a 
certainty of a lower rate.
  Therefore, we have said many times on this floor and in public 
statements, we can take tax preferences, restrain them, and use that 
revenue to do two things: lower everybody's tax rates, including 
corporate, streamline the Tax Code by getting all this underbrush of 
preferences out of the way, and then use the rest of the revenue to 
lower the deficit.
  I suspect the Senator and I feel very similar about that issue. So 
when he talks about reforming the spending process, the fiscal process 
which includes the revenue process of this country, then I think we 
have grounds for significant agreement, and I would hope we are going 
to address that in the lameduck session that starts.

[[Page S6404]]

  My plea is that we do not take it out, in this particular case, on 
something that can be done immediately for veterans in need returning 
home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
  Mr. COBURN. Will the Senator yield for a question?
  Mr. NELSON of Florida. Of course.
  Mr. COBURN. Through the Chair, I would ask the Senator, how did he 
vote on the tax extender package coming out of the Senate Finance 
Committee? Because that is the real test of whether the Senator wants 
to reform the Tax Code. As I recall, the Senator voted for it and I 
voted against it. There is a very big difference.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator's time has expired.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, I would remind all the Senators, we are 
here on the floor on a very important bill on the Veterans Jobs Corps, 
and I wish to thank my colleague from Florida, Senator Bill Nelson, for 
his tremendous leadership and passion on the issue of making sure our 
veterans get back to work, at a time when they have a 20-percent-plus 
unemployment rate, and for his work on this bill as we move to this 
point.
  I have been listening to the debate on this bill, and what I have 
heard are some pretty weak arguments against the merits of this 
legislation. I have heard we have not held hearings on the employment 
or on the provisions of this legislation.
  The Senators who spoke may not have known--they are not on our 
committee--but, indeed, we have had hearings on employment both last 
year and this year and on this bill. Veterans groups and the VA at 
multiple hearings, in fact, have had multiple opportunities to give 
their views. The COPS and SAFER Grant Programs in this bill have been 
around for years, and we know they work.
  On the point I heard reiterated here, that the bill was not paid for, 
violated pay-go, as all bills that come before the Senate, this bill is 
fully paid for. It does not violate pay-go rules.
  We are going to have a vote shortly on a point of order on this bill. 
A vote to support the point of order, plain and simple, says we spend 
enough now on our veterans.
  That is what it says: We spend enough on our veterans. A vote to 
support this point of order says that despite the fact that we have 
paid for this bill, despite the fact that one in four of our young 
veterans is out of work, despite the fact that veteran suicides are 
outpacing combat deaths, and despite the fact that more and more 
veterans are coming home today, we are not going to invest in those 
challenges. It says we have done enough.
  This point of order puts a price on what we as a country are willing 
to provide our veterans and says we are not going to do a penny more. 
It is a point of order that not only will kill our ability, I will tell 
my colleagues, to pass this bill, but it will also affect every effort 
we make to improve the lives of our veterans going forward.
  In fact, just last week we held a markup in the Veterans' Affairs 
Committee. We passed a slew of bills in a bipartisan fashion. Those 
were very important bills to improve mental health access, to give 
students new tools so they can maximize their GI benefit, and, 
importantly, it would give veterans who have lost their ability to 
start a family access to fertility services. All those bills, under 
this, would be subject to a point of order, as would, of course, 
countless other bills introduced by Senators on both sides of the 
aisle. There is no end in sight, I would tell everyone, for how long 
this point of order could be raised.
  We have to consider, as we vote, the lasting effect of this vote that 
we are about to take. We should all consider the fact that veterans are 
watching this vote very closely.
  (Mr. FRANKEN assumed the Chair.)
  Mr. President, this is a bill that has been endorsed by the American 
Legion and by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. They know, 
as I do, neither party has a magic bullet for this problem of 
employment, and we should be taking good ideas from both sides of the 
aisle, which is exactly what we have done with this bill that is before 
us. This bill includes 12 different provisions to help create veterans 
jobs. Eight of them are ideas that have come from Republicans. In fact, 
to make this bill even more inclusive and more bipartisan, we took 
Senator Burr's entire alternative bill and added it to our bill.
  At every turn we have sought compromise. But instead of meeting us 
halfway, we have been met with resistance. Instead of saying yes to 
nearly 1 million unemployed veterans, it seems that some on the other 
side of the aisle have spent the last week and a half seeking any way 
to say no.
  It does not have to end this way for our unemployed veterans. We can 
join together and pass this bill.
  Mr. President, as you have heard me say, our veterans don't ask for a 
lot. My own father never talked about his service. The veterans whom I 
meet across the country do not want to be seen as dependent on 
government. But we owe them more than a pat on the back, sending them 
out to the world when they come home. We owe them more than bumper 
stickers and platitudes. We owe them more than procedural roadblocks, 
which is what we will vote on shortly, that will impede our ability to 
provide them not only help now but into the future.
  We owe them action. We owe them real investments that will help them 
get back to work, and that is what this legislation does. It does so 
because putting our servicemembers back to work is a cost of war. 
Putting our veterans back to work is a cost of war, just like their 
health care and benefits. It is part of what we owe the less than 1 
percent of men and women who sacrificed for the 99 percent who did not.
  It is no secret that this is not the easiest time of year to get a 
bill passed.
  It is too easy to point to the calendar here and level accusations 
about politics against one another. But in my two decades working on 
veterans issues here in the Senate, I have seen veterans issues rise 
above politics time and again, even when it seemed our backs were 
against the wall. I have seen Democrats and Republicans come together, 
and they have done so because there is one group of Americans who do 
not care about the calendar or how many days we are out from an 
election; that is, our unemployed veterans. What they care about is 
finding work in their communities, finding work that gives them the 
self-esteem they need today, and finding work that helps them provide 
for their loved ones. We can do that today.
  I urge my colleagues to join with us in waiving this point of order, 
to join with us in telling our veterans we are not done investing in 
their care and benefits, not by a long shot. Join with us in moving 
forward with a bill that is paid for, that will not add to our deficit, 
and that should not be killed by procedural games. Join with us in 
putting veterans above political obstructionism and back to work.
  I yield the floor and yield back any time that remains.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the question is on 
agreeing to the motion.
  The yeas and nays have previously been ordered.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk called the roll.
  Mr. KYL. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Oklahoma (Mr. Inhofe) and the Senator from Illinois (Mr. Kirk).
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The yeas and nays resulted--yeas 58, nays 40, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 193 Leg.]

                                YEAS--58

     Akaka
     Baucus
     Begich
     Bennet
     Bingaman
     Blumenthal
     Boxer
     Brown (MA)
     Brown (OH)
     Cantwell
     Cardin
     Carper
     Casey
     Collins
     Conrad
     Coons
     Durbin
     Feinstein
     Franken
     Gillibrand
     Hagan
     Harkin
     Heller
     Inouye
     Johnson (SD)
     Kerry
     Klobuchar
     Kohl
     Landrieu
     Lautenberg
     Leahy
     Levin
     Lieberman
     Manchin
     McCaskill
     Menendez
     Merkley
     Mikulski
     Murkowski
     Murray
     Nelson (NE)
     Nelson (FL)
     Pryor
     Reed
     Reid
     Rockefeller
     Sanders
     Schumer
     Shaheen
     Snowe
     Stabenow
     Tester
     Udall (CO)
     Udall (NM)
     Warner
     Webb
     Whitehouse
     Wyden

                                NAYS--40

     Alexander
     Ayotte
     Barrasso
     Blunt
     Boozman
     Burr
     Chambliss
     Coats
     Coburn
     Cochran
     Corker
     Cornyn
     Crapo
     DeMint
     Enzi
     Graham
     Grassley
     Hatch
     Hoeven
     Hutchison
     Isakson

[[Page S6405]]


     Johanns
     Johnson (WI)
     Kyl
     Lee
     Lugar
     McCain
     McConnell
     Moran
     Paul
     Portman
     Risch
     Roberts
     Rubio
     Sessions
     Shelby
     Thune
     Toomey
     Vitter
     Wicker

                             NOT VOTING--2

     Inhofe
     Kirk
  Mr. FRANKEN. On this vote, the yeas are 58 and the nays are 40. 
Three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn not having voted in 
the affirmative, the motion is not agreed to. The point of order is 
sustained, and the amendment falls.
  Under the previous order, the cloture motions with respect to 
amendment No. 2789 and S. 3457 are withdrawn and the bill will be 
returned to the calendar.
  The majority leader.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I now move to withdraw my motion to proceed 
to Calendar No. 499.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has that right. The motion is 
withdrawn.

                          ____________________