AGRICULTURE REFORM, FOOD, AND JOBS ACT OF 2013
(Senate - May 23, 2013)

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[Pages S3797-S3809]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




             AGRICULTURE REFORM, FOOD, AND JOBS ACT OF 2013

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the 
Senate will resume consideration of S. 954, which the clerk will 
report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (S. 954) to reauthorize agricultural programs 
     through 2018.

  Pending:

       Stabenow (for Leahy) amendment No. 998, to establish a 
     pilot program for gigabit Internet projects in rural areas.
       Sanders/Begich amendment No. 965, to permit States to 
     require that any food, beverage, or other edible product 
     offered for sale have a label on indicating that the food, 
     beverage, or other edible product contains a genetically 
     engineered ingredient.

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, there is 
now 2 minutes of debate prior to a vote in relation to amendment No. 
965 offered by the Senator from Vermont, Mr. Sanders. The time is 
equally divided.
  The Senator from Vermont.
  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, I wanted to thank Senators Begich, 
Blumenthal, Bennet, and Merkley for cosponsoring this amendment, as 
well as support from many environmental and food organizations all over 
this country. The concept we are talking about today is a fairly 
commonsense and nonradical idea. All over the world, in the European 
Union, in many other countries, dozens and dozens of countries, people 
are able to look at the food they are buying and determine through 
labeling whether that product contains genetically modified organisms.
  That is the issue. In the State of Vermont our legislature voted 
overwhelmingly for labeling. The State Senate in Connecticut, by an 
almost unanimous vote, did the same. All over this country States are 
considering this issue.
  One of the concerns that arises when a State goes forward is large 
biotech companies such as Monsanto suggest that States do not have the 
constitutional right to go forward; that they are preempting Federal 
authority. This bill makes it very clear that States can go forward. I 
would appreciate my colleagues' support for it.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Michigan.
  Ms. STABENOW. First, Mr. President, before discussing the amendment, 
I think it is important to note that this is not germane to the farm 
bill. Food labeling is properly subject to the jurisdiction of the HELP 
Committee; therefore, Senator Harkin opposes the amendment.
  While I appreciate very much the advocacy of Senator Sanders on so 
many different issues, I do believe this particular amendment would 
interfere with the FDA's science-based process to determine what food 
labeling is necessary for consumers. It is also important to note that 
around the world now we are seeing genetically modified crops that have 
the ability to resist crop disease and improve nutritional content and 
survive drought conditions.
  In many developing countries we see wonderful work being done by 
foundations such as the Gates Foundation and others that are using new 
techniques to be able to feed hungry people. I believe we must rely on 
the FDA's science-based examination before we make conclusions about 
food ingredients derived from genetically modified foods. They 
currently do not require special labeling because they have determined 
that food content of these ingredients does not materially differ from 
their conventional counterparts. I would urge a ``no'' vote.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The question is on agreeing to the 
amendment.
  Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there a sufficient second?
  There is a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from New Jersey (Mr. 
Lautenberg) is necessarily absent.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senator is necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Arizona (Mr. Flake).
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Are there any other Senators in the 
Chamber desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 27, nays 71, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 135 Leg.]

                                YEAS--27

     Begich
     Bennet
     Blumenthal
     Boxer
     Cantwell
     Cardin
     Feinstein
     Heinrich
     Hirono
     King
     Leahy
     Manchin
     Merkley
     Mikulski
     Murkowski
     Murphy
     Murray
     Reed
     Reid
     Rockefeller
     Sanders
     Schatz
     Schumer
     Tester
     Udall (NM)
     Whitehouse
     Wyden

                                NAYS--71

     Alexander
     Ayotte
     Baldwin
     Barrasso
     Baucus
     Blunt
     Boozman
     Brown
     Burr
     Carper
     Casey
     Chambliss
     Coats
     Coburn
     Cochran
     Collins
     Coons
     Corker
     Cornyn
     Cowan
     Crapo
     Cruz
     Donnelly
     Durbin
     Enzi
     Fischer
     Franken
     Gillibrand
     Graham
     Grassley
     Hagan
     Harkin
     Hatch
     Heitkamp
     Heller
     Hoeven
     Inhofe
     Isakson
     Johanns
     Johnson (SD)
     Johnson (WI)
     Kaine
     Kirk
     Klobuchar
     Landrieu
     Lee
     Levin
     McCain
     McCaskill
     McConnell
     Menendez
     Moran
     Nelson
     Paul
     Portman
     Pryor
     Risch
     Roberts
     Rubio
     Scott
     Sessions
     Shaheen
     Shelby
     Stabenow
     Thune
     Toomey
     Udall (CO)
     Vitter
     Warner
     Warren
     Wicker

                             NOT VOTING--2

     Flake
     Lautenberg
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order requiring 
60 votes for the adoption of this amendment, the amendment is rejected.
  Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, I move to reconsider the vote.
  Ms. STABENOW. I move to lay that motion on the table.
  The motion to lay on the table was agreed to.

[[Page S3798]]

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Missouri.


               Unanimous Consent Request--H. Con. Res. 25

  Mrs. McCASKILL. Mr. President, I rise to make a unanimous consent 
request, but I want to make a few remarks first.
  At the risk of being patronizing to my colleagues about the 
Constitution, I wish to give a basic lesson on the Constitution this 
morning.
  My understanding is our Founding Fathers in the Constitution devised 
a system where we had a House of Representatives and a Senate, and they 
have to agree before something becomes a law. I think this is an 
amazing decision our Founding Fathers made because what it does is 
require the Senate, where all of us represent a whole State, to reach 
agreement with our colleagues in the House, who have much smaller 
constituencies and, therefore, may be targeted more to one specific 
area than some of us are.
  I have listened to lecture after lecture from my colleagues across 
the aisle about the Constitution. It is almost as if some of them think 
they are the only ones who have read it or that they are the only ones 
who understand it. Well, they are not. Here is how the Constitution 
works: When we pass a bill and the House passes a bill, we go to 
conference. Why did the Founding Fathers want that? Because they 
understood that compromise was the mother's milk of a democracy.
  But here is the bizarre thing about this. As a candidate for office 
last year, I bet I heard 10,000 times: Why don't you pass a budget? I 
listened to the leader of the Republican Party stand on this floor--and 
I would love to put together a montage, because we do a lot of 
hyperbole around here. We exaggerate, we go too far and say too much--
but it is not exaggerating that the rallying cry of the Republican 
Party was: Pass a budget. Regular order. Pass a budget. Regular order. 
Pass a budget. Regular order. So what did we do? We passed a budget in 
regular order.
  Here is the bizarre part. Following the Constitution, which my 
friends like to wave around and pretend they are the only ones who love 
it, some people on that side now think regular order doesn't matter 
and, by the way, they do not want to go to conference and they do not 
want to compromise, blowing up the constitutional premise of compromise 
between the two Houses--blowing it up.
  I don't know what the American people think of this, but we have to 
shake our head at the politics of this. We have got to shake our heads, 
because here is what is bizarre. They keep moving the goalpost about 
what it would take to get us to conference.
  By the way, the people who are going to be conferring on the other 
side are in the Republican Party. Are my colleagues worried their 
counterparts in the House haven't read the Constitution and they are 
not answerable to their constituents who voted them into office as 
Republicans so that we have to have another budget bill and redo the 
debate or we have to make sure they can't compromise on anything and we 
have to put it in the law?
  They had an opportunity to get their way. It is called amendments. My 
colleagues could have gotten their way through the amendment process. 
We had over 100 of them. We were here until 5:30 in the morning voting 
on them. We passed 70 of them. How many amendments did the Senator from 
Texas offer on the debt ceiling that he is now saying he has to have 
before we can go to conference? How many amendments did he offer on 
that? Zero. He offered 17 amendments, but he didn't offer 1 on the debt 
ceiling. In fact, there was not one Republican amendment on the debt 
ceiling--not one. So I have to say it is pretty obvious they didn't 
want a budget, they wanted a political talking point. They wanted to 
make it look as though we didn't care about doing our job.
  They didn't care about a budget. Because if they cared about a budget 
they would hightail it to conference right now. They would hightail it 
to conference. It has been 2 months.
  I hope the American people are paying attention. No wonder they think 
we are all losers. This is not a game. You can't love the Constitution 
one day and blow it up the next. You can't be a situational 
constitutionalist when you don't get your way. That is not the way our 
democracy works. I got elected fair and square, and so did my 
Republican colleagues, and that is why we all have to be willing to 
compromise with one another. We are not serving the American people by 
playing these games, and they are sick and tired of it. Frankly, I 
think it makes the body look a little silly.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the 
consideration of Calendar No. 33, H. Con. Res. 25; that the amendment 
which is at the desk, the text of S. Con. Res. 8, the budget resolution 
passed by the Senate, be inserted in lieu thereof; that H. Con. Res. 
25, as amended, be agreed to; the motion to reconsider be considered 
made and laid upon the table; that the Senate insist on its amendment, 
request a conference with the House on the disagreeing votes of the two 
Houses, and the Chair be authorized to appoint conferees on the part of 
the Senate; that following the authorization, two motions to instruct 
conferees be in order from each side--motion to instruct relative to 
the debt limit, and motion to instruct relative to taxes and revenue; 
that there be 2 hours of debate equally divided between the two leaders 
or their designees prior to votes in relation to the motions; further, 
that no amendments be in order to either of the motions prior to the 
votes; all of the above occurring with no intervening action or debate.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there objection?

  The Senator from Utah.
  Mr. LEE. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, I ask 
unanimous consent that the Senator modify her request so that it not be 
in order for the Senate to consider a conference report that includes 
reconciliation instructions to raise the debt limit.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Will the Senator so modify her 
request?
  Mrs. McCASKILL. Could I inquire of the Senator? I am asking: Is the 
Senator saying the constitutional provision for a conference between 
the two Houses--what the Founding Fathers put in the Constitution for 
conferences--is, in fact, a backroom deal of the Constitution; you 
don't accept that part of the Constitution?
  Mr. LEE. My friend and my distinguished colleague from Missouri is 
absolutely correct in citing the Constitution and pointing out the fact 
the two Houses do have to agree before something becomes law.
  It is also important to point out that under article 1, section 5, 
clause 2 of the Constitution, each House of Congress is 
constitutionally charged with the task of establishing its own rules 
for operation. The rules of operation in this body, as they apply right 
here, require this kind of request receive unanimous consent. What that 
means is every one of us has to be willing to vote for this. What I and 
a few of my colleagues have said is that regardless of what you might 
decide to do, we respect your opinion. But if you are asking us to vote 
for this, meaning to give our consent, which is a vote, we are asking 
for one slight modification, and that slight modification includes 
something very simple, which says we are not going to negotiate the 
debt limit as part of a budget resolution.
  They are two separate things. We didn't consider a single amendment 
that would have addressed the debt limit. Not a single part of the 
budget resolution passed out of this body addressed the debt limit. The 
debt limit not having been the subject of the budget resolution, it is 
not important for that to be addressed by the conference committee.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Will the Senator so modify her 
request?
  Mr. McCAIN. Reserving the right to object, and I will object to the 
modification.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Arizona.
  Mr. McCAIN. First of all, I think what is being done here, if we 
agree that a small number of Senators could basically change the way 
the Senate does business, could have serious ramifications for the 
future.
  The Senator from Utah said he doesn't want to be deprived of his 
vote. We are ready to vote, I say to my colleague from Utah. We are 
ready to vote. We are ready to vote on a motion that would send this 
bill, which was the subject of an enormous amount of

[[Page S3799]]

debate and discussion for hours and hours--until perhaps 7 in the 
morning--to a conference, with motions to instruct the conferees.
  I would be more than happy to vote on instructions to the conferees 
concerning his previous concern about a tax increase, which somehow has 
been removed, and/or that of increasing the debt limit--instructing 
those conferees. That is the way the Senate should do business.
  If the Senator from Utah will allow this body to vote on whether we 
should move to conference with instructions to conferees, that is the 
regular order. It is not the regular order for a number of Senators, a 
small number--a minority within a minority here--to say we will not 
agree to go to conference because of a particular problem with an 
issue, which I grant is important to the Senator from Utah, and it is 
important to many Senators as to whether we raise the debt limit.
  We are on the agriculture bill right now, I say to my colleague from 
Mississippi. Suppose we pass the agriculture bill and the House of 
Representatives passes the agriculture bill and we want to appoint 
conferees, but there is a burning issue that a number of my colleagues 
might have. Are we then going to block going to conference?
  Look, this isn't just about the budget conferees, this is about 
whether we will ever be able to appoint conferees on a bill that has 
been passed by the House and also by the Senate; that we will come 
together and do what we have been doing since the Congress of the 
United States started functioning, and that is to sit down and iron out 
our differences.
  If the Senator from Utah is worried about the result, I understand. I 
am worried about the result. I am worried about a bill right now that 
is just outrageous, porkbarrel spending on catfish and all kinds of 
stuff I have concerns about, subsidies for the tobacco companies and 
all that. But that does not mean I am going to object that we move for 
conferees, not when the will of the Senate and the Congress and the 
people is heard in open and honest debate and voting. We are here to 
vote. We are not here to block things. We are here to articulate our 
positions on the issues in the best possible and most eloquent way we 
can and do what we can for the good of the country and then let the 
process move forward.
  I say to my friend from Utah, he is not going to win every fight 
here. He is not going to win every battle here. But if he is right, I 
can tell him from the experience I have had in the Senate, he will win 
in the end if his cause is just. But he can only win if he articulates 
his argument before his colleagues in the Congress and the American 
people.
  We are about to, I hope--I hope--conclude the immigration reform 
bill. There will be portions of that bill I do not like. There will be 
portions of that bill that many of my colleagues do not like. But we 
are not counting on 100 votes in the Senate. But we are counting on a 
majority of votes in passing it, and we are hoping the House will do 
the same. Then we will go to conference.
  Does that mean that if a group of Senators--4, 5, 10; I don't know 
how many colleagues the Senator has on this issue--object to us going 
to conference on the immigration bill that therefore it should stop?
  I am very worried, if this happens, about the precedent that will be 
set on how the Congress of the United States does business. Just a 
couple or few weeks ago, after the Newtown massacre, my colleague from 
Utah and my colleague--I believe from Florida, I am not sure who else--
said we do not want to take up the gun bill. We do not want to discuss 
the gun bill.
  I happen to have disagreed with many of the proposals, but was it 
right? Would it have been right for us not even to debate in light of 
the Newtown massacre? But the Senator from Utah thought it was the best 
thing for us not to move forward. Thank God there was a group of us who 
said let's move forward, let's debate the gun bill, let's do what we 
can to prevent these further massacres. That is our obligation and our 
duty to the American people. So here we are again. So here we are 
again.
  The budget that for 4 years I loved beating the daylights out of my 
friend from Missouri, who would not insist on a budget being brought to 
the Senate--now a budget has been passed. Everybody was talking about 
what a great moment it was. We stayed up all night--at my age that is 
not nearly as enjoyable as it once was--and now, after being so proud, 
we cannot observe at least a vote?
  If the Senator from Utah wants a vote on whether we should appoint 
conferees and what those instructions to the conferees should be, then 
that is what we should be doing. I understand how important it is for 
the Senator from Florida or the Senator from Utah--I don't know how 
many there are. But I can tell you there is a majority of us who want 
the Congress to work the people's will.
  All I would do is say I hope my colleagues will agree with motions to 
instruct the conferees. If it is the concern of the Senator from Utah 
that the conferees should not address the issue of the debt ceiling, 
then let's vote to instruct the conferees to do that. That is the 
regular process. That is regular order around here.
  But I can also tell my colleague from Utah something else. If we 
continue to block things such as this and block what is the regular 
order, then the majority will be tempted to change the rules of the 
Senate. That would be the most disastrous outcome I could ever imagine. 
I do not begrudge anybody--whether they have been here 6 months or they 
have been here 30 years--their rights as Senators. But I hope my 
colleagues will look at the way the Senate has functioned in the past.
  Are the American people unhappy with us? Of course they are unhappy 
with us. One reason is because they do not see us accomplishing 
anything.
  What I have done for these years, and the people whom I have 
respected in this body on both sides of the aisle--we fight the good 
fight. We make our case to our colleagues and the American people, and 
then we accept the outcome of a regular order while preserving our 
rights as an individual Senator. We have maintained that balance to a 
large degree. I hope my colleagues will understand how important that 
is. I urge my colleagues to do what we have been doing; that is, to 
have motions to instruct the conferees--if their issue is taxes, if 
their issue is the debt ceiling--and we vote to instruct those 
conferees and those conferees carry out the will of the majority of the 
Senate.
  [Several Senators addressed the Chair.]
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there objection to the modified 
request? The Senator from Missouri.
  Mrs. McCASKILL. I reserve the right to object to the request made by 
the Senator from Utah to amend my request. I would say within my 
request there is, in fact, the opportunity to vote; and he had the 
opportunity to offer an amendment on the debt ceiling on the budget and 
he did not.
  I thank my colleague from Arizona and I renew my unanimous consent 
request.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there objection to the modified 
request?
  Mrs. McCASKILL. There is an objection to the modified request.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Objection is heard. The Senator 
from Michigan.
  Ms. STABENOW. Just for 30 seconds, this is a very important debate. I 
do not intend to interrupt it. But for purposes of colleagues who wish 
to speak next, I ask that once the debate is done, Senator Feinstein 
and Senator McCain have 15 minutes to discuss a farm bill amendment.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 
ordered.
  Is there objection to the original request?
  Mr. LEE. Mr. President, reserving the right to object.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Utah.
  Mr. LEE. Mr. President, for 62 days several of my colleagues and I 
have objected to the majority's request for unanimous consent to 
circumvent regular order to go to conference with the House on the 
budget.
  They want permission to skip a few steps in the process, and jump 
straight to the closed-door back-room meetings.
  There, senior negotiators of the House and Senate will be free to 
wait until a convenient, artificial deadline and ram through their 
compromise--

[[Page S3800]]

un-amended, un-debated and mostly un-read.
  And with the country backed up against another economic cliff crisis, 
we are concerned they will exploit that opportunity to sneak a debt-
limit increase into the budget.
  We think that is inappropriate.
  And yet, objecting to this dysfunctional, unrepublican, undemocratic 
process has invited anger and criticism from colleagues here on both 
sides of the aisle.
  We just don't get it, you see.
  Proceeding to a secret, closed-door, back-room, 11th-hour deal, we 
are told, is the way the process works. It is the way the Senate works. 
It is the way the House works. It is the way Washington works.
  We know this. That is why we're objecting. In case nobody has 
noticed, the way Washington works stinks. Closed-door, back room, cliff 
deals are not the solution, they are the problem.
  The unspoken premise of every argument we have heard in favor of 
going to conference on this budget without conditions is that Congress 
knows what it is doing.
  ``Trust us--to go into a back room and cut a deal.''
  ``Trust us--to ignore special interests and only work for the good of 
the country.''
  ``Trust us--to not wait until the 11th hour, to not hold the full 
faith and credit of the United States hostage, to not ram through 
another thousand-page, trillion-dollar bill, sight unseen.''
  ``Trust us--We're Congress!''
  As it happens, the American people don't trust Congress--or either 
party. And we have given them at least 17 trillion reasons not to.
  I can even provide physical evidence to support my claim. If the 
American people had confidence in the way the Senate works I know for a 
fact I would not be here. I do not think my colleagues joining me in 
this objection would be here either.
  We were not sent here to affirm ``the way the Senate worked'' as 
Congress racked up trillions in debt, inflated a housing bubble, doled 
out favors to special interests, squeezed the middle class and trapped 
the poor in poverty.
  We were sent here to change all that. We are fully aware that 
``Washington'' and the establishments of both parties do not like what 
we are doing--but as computer programmers say, ``that's a feature, not 
a bug.''
  The tactics of Washington serve the interests of Washington--of 
Congress itself, the Federal bureaucracy, corporate cronies and special 
interests.
  And does so at the expense of the American people, their wallets, and 
their freedom.
  The only time I can think of when it has not worked out that way was 
with the recent budget sequestration and that was--literally--an 
accident; a mistake.
  The sequestration process worked out exactly the opposite of how 
Washington expected and intended.
  There is a reason that six of the ten wealthiest counties in the 
United States are suburbs of Washington, D.C.--a city that produces 
almost nothing of actual economic value.
  And it is not because the two parties have been so effective taking 
on the special interests and doing the people's business.
  There is a reason Tea Partiers on the right and Occupiers on the left 
protest their shared perception that our economy, our politics, and our 
society seem rigged.
  That elites on Wall Street, K Street, and Pennsylvania Avenue get to 
play by one set of rules and people on Main Street have to play by 
another.
  It is because they are mostly right. This is our true inequality 
crisis: not between rich and poor, but between Washington and everyone 
else.
  The national debt, and its statutory limit, is a hidden part of this 
inequality crisis.
  After all, what is new debt but a tax increase on future Americans? 
On those who cannot yet vote? On those who have not yet been born?
  Raising the debt limit thus results in a form of taxation without 
representation. That is why the American people resent it. And it is 
why Washington desperately wants to raise the debt limit with as little 
public scrutiny and accountability as possible.
  And that is why we're objecting.
  Our critics say we should allow the process to move forward so we can 
have a debate. I don't know if they've noticed, but we are having the 
debate. We have had it several days in a row.
  More than that, we are having the debate here on the floor, open to 
public scrutiny, and not secretly behind closed doors. This, right 
here, is how the process is supposed to work. The only way the American 
people can have any hope of supervising their Congress--not ours, their 
Congress--is for us to do our work above board and in the open, 
according to the rules.
  That is all we are asking for--and only on one issue. For all our 
concerns, we have still said all along that we will not block a budget 
conference. We can go to conference right now. We are willing to give 
the majority permission to break from regular order and scurry off to 
closed door negotiations to cut their back room deal.
  All we have asked is one thing, a very small and simple request: 
leave the debt limit out of it. Do everything else you want, spend all 
the money you want, use all the accounting gimmicks you want, but when 
you go into that back room, check the debt limit at the door. That way 
the American people can have that separate debate, on its own merits, 
here on the floor.
  This should not be controversial. The House Republican budget did not 
include a debt limit increase or instructions to include one. The 
Senate Democratic budget does not include it either. House and Senate 
negotiators, therefore, have no procedural or democratic justification 
for including a debt limit hike in their talks. They have no right to 
do it. Yet they won't promise not to.
  Once again: Trust us, we are Congress.
  ``This is how the Senate works,'' they say. ``This is how we do 
things.''
  Respectfully, this is how we fail. This is how we earn our 15 percent 
approval rating. We know this is business as usual around here. That is 
why we're objecting.
  If the majority wants to proceed to a budget conference through 
regular order, we can not stop them. But again, that is not their 
request. Their request is for permission to break from regular order, 
skip a few steps, and go straight to the secret negotiations, behind 
closed doors, where in the Washington-centered view of the world, the 
real governing can be done.
  The American people do not trust secret, back-room deals, and neither 
do I. Unless and until the American people are assured that we will not 
sneak a debt limit increase into the Conference report, I will happily 
continue to object.
  I object to the motion on the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Arizona.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, we have been through it before. In a 
nutshell, what the Senator from Utah has just said is that if we pass 
this legislation, and if the House passes this legislation, we will not 
go to conference unless certain conditions are imposed on those 
conferees that happen to be important to a small group of Senators. 
Obviously, that will paralyze the process. Obviously, we can predict 
the outcome.
  The Senator from Utah keeps talking about backroom, closed-door 
deals. It is the process of the Senate and the House to appoint 
conferees. Those conferees come to agreement and then subject their 
agreement to an overall vote in both bodies.
  If the Senator from Utah wants to get rid of the ``backroom''--and 
all of the other adjectives and adverbs he used--then what is the 
process? What is the process? How do we reconcile legislation that is 
passed by one body and the other body? That is what we have been doing 
for a couple of hundred years.
  Mr. DURBIN. Will the Senator yield for a question?
  Mr. McCAIN. All I can say is, Does the Senator from Utah have another 
way of reconciling legislation between the House and Senate? Of course 
not. Of course he doesn't. Of course he doesn't. Of course he doesn't 
because that is the only way we can get legislation that will be passed 
by both bodies and signed by the President of the United States. That 
is the only way.
  I tell the Senator from Utah again, if this condition is imposed then 
there is no reason why any group of Senators should impose conditions 
on conferees from now on, which will then mean, of course, we would not 
go to conference.

[[Page S3801]]

  I would be glad to answer a question.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I would like to ask the Senator from 
Arizona a question through the Chair.
  It is my understanding the budget resolution passed by the House and 
the budget resolution passed by the Senate, if conferenced and agreed 
upon, will result in a resolution passed by both the House and Senate 
but never sent to the President. It is a budget resolution that governs 
the way we appropriate from that point forward.
  So as to the question of the debt ceiling, it could not be done in a 
budget resolution. If there is going to be any action on the debt 
ceiling, it has to be in a separate legislative vehicle that ultimately 
goes to the President of the United States.
  Even if there were an agreement on debt limit in the budget 
conference, it would have no impact of law. Is that not true?
  Mr. McCAIN. Perhaps the Senator from Utah doesn't know about that, 
and the fact that even if they did raise the debt limit, it could not 
become law because it doesn't go to the President of the United States.
  Again, maybe the Senator from Utah ought to learn a little bit more 
about how business has been done in the Congress of the United States. 
Budget resolutions are not signed by the President of the United 
States, so even if we did vote to increase the debt limit as a result 
of the conference--which, by the way, would be irrelevant to the work 
of the conference--it would not have any meaning whatsoever.
  Mrs. McCASKILL. Would the Senator yield?
  Mr. McCAIN. This business of secret backroom dealmaking, that is what 
conferences are about, and conference results are subject to a vote of 
both Houses as to the conference result.
  Mrs. McCASKILL. Will the Senator yield for a question?
  Mr. McCAIN. I would be glad to yield for a question.
  Mrs. McCASKILL. I say to the Senator, through the Chair, I have 
conferred with our budget chair while Senator McCain was debating this 
with the Senator from Utah, and maybe they are not aware that 
conference committees are open to anyone who wants to observe them. I 
would like Senator McCain to invite the Senator from Utah to sit in on 
the conference committee and listen to every word.
  This notion that our democracy is a backroom deal because of bills in 
conference--the Founding Fathers are shaking their heads in disgust at 
this notion. It is not a closed-door process. It is an open process. 
Anybody can come and listen.
  Mr. McCAIN. It is my understanding since the conference is open to 
the public, it will also be broadcast on C-SPAN so all the American 
people can watch the deliberations.
  I wonder, why would the Senator from Utah say it is a backroom, 
closed-door deal when, in fact--doesn't the Senator from Utah know this 
conference is open to the public and seen by everybody?
  I mean, for the Senator from Utah to say this is a backroom, closed-
door deal, he is either directly misleading or my colleague has no 
knowledge of how the budget conference works. I don't know which one it 
is, and I don't know which one is worse.
  All I can say is we know, one, even if we had a restriction on 
allowing raising of the debt limit, it would not matter because it is 
not legislation that would be signed by the President of the United 
States--no matter what the budget conferees did. We also know the 
budget conferees--I will admit, unlike many--meet in open session with 
C-SPAN so the American people are able to observe it.
  So I at least hope the Senator from Utah would withdraw his comment 
that this is a backroom, closed-door deal because it is not. Those are 
fundamental facts.
  Again, it is disappointing that we are spending this time when we 
should be on the farm bill. The Senator from California and I have an 
important amendment to remove a lot of the corruption that is in that 
bill.
  I will yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Utah.
  Mr. LEE. Mr. President, as to the suggestion that this produces a 
budget resolution that at the end of day does not go to the President, 
and therefore it isn't law, technically, on its own face, is accurate.
  What we are concerned about are the instructions which would 
accompany the conference report. We are concerned about instructions 
that would allow the normal rules of the Senate to be circumvented 
specifically for something like this or perhaps a piece of legislation 
which would itself raise the debt limit to be considered----
  Mr. DURBIN. Would the Senator yield for a question?
  Mr. LEE. I would like to finish what I am saying--legislation which 
would itself raise the debt limit and voted on a 51-vote margin rather 
than a 60-vote margin. So this is different.
  Regardless of how open they make that conference meeting, it is not 
the same kind of open debate in which every Senator and every 
Representative is able to participate in the same way they would be 
able to on the floor.
  Mr. McCAIN. Does the Senator admit it is not a deal that is made 
behind closed doors? Does the Senator admit that? Does the Senator 
admit he misspoke on that issue? It is not behind closed doors.
  Mr. LEE. Compared to the way we do things on the floor, this is a 
closed-door deal. Compared to the way we do things on the floor, this 
is not subject to the same kind of scrutiny.
  The fact is that we have rules in the Senate--rules--on something 
like this, which would allow us to proceed on the basis of a 60-vote 
threshold. That is the whole purpose of this discussion. That is the 
basis of our concern. We don't want legislation that can run through to 
raise the debt limit, incurring potentially trillions of dollars in 
borrowing authority on the basis of only a 51-vote threshold. That is 
our concern.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Washington.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I have been listening to this debate, not 
just today but for 61 days as we have been working extremely hard to 
get the budget passed and go to conference so we can work with our 
House colleagues--and, by the way, the majority are Republicans. We are 
working to do that because the American people have been very loud 
about not managing by crisis. We all know that what will happen if we 
don't go to conference is exactly what the Senator from Utah has been 
saying he doesn't want.
  If we go to conference we will have an open conference committee to 
discuss the differences between the House and the Senate budgets. They 
will then give those instructions to the conference committee on how to 
move forward on our appropriations bills that we are now looking at and 
how we are going to deal with sequestration. It will be an open debate 
that will come back here.
  If we are not allowed to go to conference--we do have to pass our 
appropriations and spending bills or move to a continuing resolution 
because we can't if we don't get a budget deal--we are going to have to 
have a closed-door and secret discussion to figure out what we are 
going to do when the debt ceiling hits. It will come down on them in 
the middle of the night, and they will not have had an opportunity to 
be a part of it because of the delay that is occurring right now.
  If the Senate allows us to go to conference, Members of the Senate, 
both Democrats and Republicans, my counterpart Senator Sessions, and I, 
his committee, as well as Congressman Ryan from the Republican Party in 
the House and his committee members and Democrats will sit together in 
an open process and determine how we move our budget forward.
  Mr. McCAIN. Will the Senator yield for a question?
  Mrs. MURRAY. I am happy to yield for a question.
  Mr. McCAIN. In the case of the appointment of conferees, will that be 
open to the public on C-SPAN or any other media coverage that wishes to 
come in the room?
  Mrs. MURRAY. Once the conference is set and we begin meeting in a 
conference, it is like any other committee hearing where the public 
will be able to come in and listen. They will able to watch on C-SPAN, 
and it will be an open process.
  I will tell the Senator from Arizona that if we don't get to 
conference, we are going to have to have discussions, as a country, 
about how we manage our finances and our government moving

[[Page S3802]]

forward, and those will be behind closed doors.
  So what the Senator is objecting to as to the closed-door secret 
meetings he is causing.
  I hope our Republican colleagues would allow us to move forward. As 
the Senator from Missouri said, we had 50 hours of debate, we had over 
100 amendments which were considered. Not one amendment was offered or 
considered on the debt ceiling, which is now what they are objecting to 
if we go to conference.
  The Senator from Texas, I believe, offered 17 amendments, and he has 
been objecting because of this. Not one of them was about the debt 
ceiling.
  I know the Senator wants to have a debt ceiling debate on the floor 
of the Senate. He is welcome to come to the floor anytime and talk 
about the debt ceiling. We welcome that discussion. We believe our 
bills should be paid, but that is separate from what we are talking 
about here. We are talking about a budget resolution.
  Mr. McCAIN. How many amendments were considered?
  Mrs. MURRAY. There were over 100 amendments considered. There was 50 
hours of debate equally divided. Every Senator participated.
  Mr. McCAIN. How many were voted on?
  Mrs. MURRAY. Over 70 were agreed to.
  Mr. McCAIN. But there was not one amendment on the debt ceiling?
  Mrs. MURRAY. Not one amendment was offered or considered on the debt 
ceiling.
  Mr. McCAIN. I thank the Senator.
  Mrs. MURRAY. I would add that what the Senator from Missouri has 
offered, after talking with the Senator from Arizona, is the ability 
now to have a vote, despite there wasn't any during that time. There 
was an offer, with our consent, that, yes, OK, fine. If you have to 
have that now, we want to get to conference so we will allow a vote on 
that and proceed to the conference.
  So I do not understand this argument that we are going into some 
secret meeting. I assure the Senator that we have seen secret meetings 
here when it comes to the budget in the past that have gotten us all to 
a very frustrating point.
  Let's move to conference so we do not have those secret meetings. The 
Senator is arguing for something--I say to the Senator from Utah--that 
the Senator from Utah is going to cause.
  I hope we can come to an agreement. We have offered a consent which 
offers two motions to be considered. We hope to have those, and we hope 
to go to conference.
  I assure the Senator that we will be as open and as transparent as 
possible. That budget resolution will come back to the Senate, everyone 
will have a chance to have their say if they want that, and then that 
budget resolution will give us our instructions so we can continue to 
move forward on regular order to fund the Defense Department, 
Agriculture, Education, and to fund the different aspects of government 
such as transportation and housing. That is our obligation as the 
United States Congress in order for the American public to be able to 
manage what they are required to do once we pass our budget.
  I urge our Republican colleagues to back off on their insistence on 
this matter. I am ready to go to conference. Am I going to like what 
comes out of conference as chair of the Budget Committee that worked 
very hard to get a budget passed in the Senate? Probably not.
  I know my responsibility as a Senator is to work with my House 
Republican colleagues and those on our conference committee to come to 
the best judgment we can mutually so we can move our country forward 
and get us out of this management by crisis that has been forced on us 
time and time again over the last several years.
  The American people deserve certainty. That certainty will come when 
we can move to conference with an open, transparent committee process 
which allows us to get the budget in order.
  Again, I urge my colleagues to reconsider their objections.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Florida.
  Mr. RUBIO. Mr. President, I too want the Senate to move to negotiate 
with the House on the budget. I think it is critically important.
  I have tremendous respect for the legislative process and our 
Republic at the State level, local level, and the Federal level. In 
fact, my colleagues are correct. Oftentimes in this place we have to 
vote for issues we don't like because it is a product of compromise. It 
may not have everything we want, but it gives us the things we need.
  I have certainly been on the losing end during multiple votes in this 
place during the time I have been here because I am in the minority 
both in party and sometimes in view. So I certainly understand that 
part of it.
  That is why I voted against the budget. I am glad we finally produced 
a budget after 1,000 days, but that budget is one that I believe is 
deficient. That is why I voted against the budget.
  Nevertheless, I believe this institution should move forward in 
negotiating the differences between our budget and the budget that the 
House has so we can finally have a budget in this country and so this 
country can move forward.
  The only thing me and my colleagues are asking for is that as part of 
that negotiation the issue of the debt limit not be included.
  I have heard here today statements made that there were X number of 
amendments filed and they didn't include the debt limit. I think the 
reason is because most of us agree that is an issue which needs to be 
dealt with on its own. This is not just some issue. It is an extremely 
consequential issue--one that needs to be debated in and of itself 
because it is a function not just of an annual budget. The massive debt 
our country faces is a function of a structural problem we have. We 
basically have these massive government programs that are going 
bankrupt, and if we don't deal with it, it will keep getting worse.
  I have also heard statements made here today that we can't raise the 
debt limit even if we wanted to because of the way it is structured. 
That is why I am puzzled. Why, then, the objection? Why the objection 
to a very simple notion?
  We could be in conference with the House today. We could be 
negotiating with the House at this very moment if all we would do is 
just say: Go ahead and negotiate the differences with the budget. 
Negotiate taxes. If there is a tax increase, I am voting against it, 
but negotiate that. Negotiate all of these sorts of things. But the 
debt limit cannot be part of it; it has to be dealt with separately.
  I don't understand the objection to that being in there.
  I would say one more thing about the amendment process, and this is a 
cautionary tale. The next time someone comes up to you and says, 
``Don't file any more amendments; you are slowing the place down,'' 
maybe you should file them because if you don't file them, you will 
have to hold your peace forever.
  With that being the case, I think we need to move to negotiation with 
the House with the very simple language in it that it should not have a 
debt limit increase.
  I am going to move and ask for unanimous consent that the Senate 
proceed to the consideration of Calendar No. 33, H. Con. Res. 25; that 
the amendment which is at the desk, the text of S. Con. Res. 8, the 
budget resolution passed by the Senate, be inserted in lieu thereof; 
that H. Con. Res. 25, as amended, be agreed to; that the motion to 
reconsider be made and laid upon the table; that the Senate insist on 
its amendment, request a conference with the House on the disagreeing 
votes of the two Houses; and that the Chair be authorized to appoint 
conferees on the part of the Senate, all with no intervening action or 
debate; further, that a conference report in relation to H. Con. Res. 
25 not be in order in the Senate that includes reconciliation 
instructions to increase the debt ceiling.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there objection?
  Mr. McCAIN. I object.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Objection is heard.
  Mr. RUBIO. Well, then, we are in the same place we were before. 
Basically, this is senatese, but what I basically said is that I want 
the Senate to go into negotiations with the House. The only thing we 
ask is that when they come back, there not be reconciliation

[[Page S3803]]

instructions in there that the debt limit be dealt with or increased 
because the debt limit is so consequential for our country that it 
needs to be dealt with on its own.
  Let me remind everybody of what we are dealing with. Let me tell my 
colleagues that this is a bipartisan debt. I said it yesterday, and I 
will repeat it today. This is a debt that grew over the last 20 or 30 
years with the cooperation of both parties, unfortunately, although we 
have never seen anything like the last 5 years. It is a function of a 
structural problem in our spending programs. If we don't deal with 
those programs, it is going to collapse our economy within our lifetime 
and certainly that of our children. It is time to deal with it now. 
That issue should be debated on its own, not as part of a budget 
negotiation that deals with a 1-year spending agreement.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Arizona.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, we have been through this quite a bit, 
but, again, I wish to respond by saying that if it were part of the 
budget resolution, it would have no effect in law. So one has to then 
question what the knowledge of those who are advocating this is about 
fundamental procedures.
  Second of all, if this is a prerequisite, then for every conference 
we send, Senators will be allowed, according to this precedent, to set 
certain parameters of those conferences, which is a procedure we use 
now--instructions to conferees. We are willing to have votes on 
instructions to conferees on any issue any Senator feels necessary for 
the conferees to do their job.
  Mrs. McCASKILL. Will the Senator yield for a question?
  Mr. McCAIN. I will be glad to.
  Mrs. McCASKILL. The Senate is a wondrous creation by our Founding 
Fathers in that a great deal of power was given to the minority in the 
Senate.
  Mr. McCAIN. Thank God.
  Mrs. McCASKILL. And I know the Senator from Arizona has enjoyed 
having that power from time to time, and I am sure when my party has 
been in the minority it has been important, and we have respected that 
in this body, although there have been some really dicey times, and I 
am sure the Senator from Arizona has been involved when we have been on 
the brink of blowing up the rights of the minority.
  I want to make sure I understand. The way I really see what is going 
on is we now have a superminority. If this were allowed to pass, what 
we would be doing is changing what the Founding Fathers had in mind in 
terms of the power of the minority and actually saying: Let's go back 
in history and say there were one or two or three Senators or four 
Senators who decided, by gosh, they weren't going to do voting rights 
legislation or they weren't going to do the vote for women or they 
weren't going to do some of the changes that have occurred in our 
country.
  Does the Senator from Arizona see a problem that if we allow a 
superminority--a minority of the minority--to hijack a process laid out 
in our Constitution, that what would happen is the majority would have 
no choice at that point other than to begin to circumscribe the rules 
for the minority?
  Mr. McCAIN. Well, I think that is a danger and I think it is a 
significant danger if a number of Senators, either large or small, 
should insist that certain conditions be imposed unilaterally without 
motions to instruct. That is what we have the motions to instruct for. 
It is not that we don't want the conferees to do certain things, but we 
have motions to instruct. That is the regular order of how we do 
business.
  The Senators who are here who say the debt ceiling should not be part 
of any negotiations, fine. Let's have a vote, motions to instruct the 
conferees. It has been my experience that the conferees have stuck with 
the instructions that were voted on by the majority of the Senate.
  So this is kind of a sad time because here we are debating as to 
whether we should allow the debt limit to be part of negotiations, 
which would have no meaning in law whatsoever because it is not signed 
by the President. We have pressing issues. The Senator from California 
and I have an issue that has to do with tobacco and the health of our 
kids that we would like to have considered before the Senate. We could 
be debating on the instructions to the conferees. We could be doing so 
many things, and we are not. We are not doing those things.
  Finally, I would again share my experience with my colleagues. I have 
lost a lot more times than I have won, but I have come to the floor of 
the Senate using the rules of the Senate and made the argument on those 
things I believe in and stand for. I have been passionate on those 
issues, and sometimes I have irritated my colleagues, but at least I 
have had my say.
  But then after I have had my say, there have been votes, and the body 
has decided, and the body has decided whether I was right or wrong. 
When I have been voted down, I have gone back on those issues and I 
have tried to convince my colleagues of the rightness of my position, 
rather than, as with the gun bill, after people were slaughtered in 
Newtown, CT, my colleagues didn't even want to debate the issue of gun 
control and what we should do about that. That is not how the Senate 
should function. The Senate is supposed to debate and discuss and give 
our passionate appeals and beliefs and then put it to the will of the 
body. That is the protection of the individual Senator, not to just say 
we are not going to do anything. That is not the way the American 
people want us to act. And to throw in all this stuff about the debt 
and the deficit--I will match my record on opposing the debt and the 
deficit against certainly my colleagues here.
  But that is not the point. The point is, will this deliberative body, 
whether it is the greatest in the world or the worst in the world, go 
ahead and decide on this issue so we can have a budget so we can at 
least tell the American people we are going to do what we haven't done 
for 4 years and what every family in America sooner or later has to do, 
and that is to have a budget.
  So, as I say, we have gone on too long. The farm bill is of the 
utmost importance, and the Senator from California and I have 
amendments on it. I hope my colleagues will realize the best way to get 
their point of view over and sway the opinion of our colleagues and the 
American people is to engage in honest and open debate, as the Senate 
does, instruct the conferees, let them go to conference in an open--not 
closed-door, not behind closed doors, not backroom--process that is the 
procedure employed by the Budget Committee in conference.
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Texas.
  Mr. CRUZ. Mr. President, in ``Gulliver's Travels,'' Swift told us of 
two fictional lands--Lilliput and Blefuscu--that had been at war for 
years over which end of the egg to open first. In Lilliput they opened 
the big end of the egg, and in Blefuscu they opened the small end of 
the egg, and the big-enders and little-enders battled endlessly. I am 
sorry to say that satirical depiction often reflects what occurs in 
this august body. We spend a great deal of time arguing about 
procedural niceties, about motions to commit or not commit that do not 
matter to the American people, and all the meantime we are bankrupting 
our children and our grandchildren.
  If I could, I wish to cut through all of the arguments back and forth 
because in my view most of the arguments are by design missing the 
point of this disagreement. This disagreement is over one issue and one 
issue only: Can the Senate raise our debt limit with only 50 votes or 
does it take 60? Everything else that is being talked about is smoke, 
is a side issue. The central fight is, Should the Senate be able to 
raise the debt limit with 50 votes or 60?
  I will note that my friend from Arizona questioned the knowledge of 
those who are objecting, and he suggested that perhaps our knowledge 
was lacking because this could not be done. Well, I know my friend from 
Arizona is a long veteran of this body, and he surely knows it was done 
in 1987 and 1990. This is not a hypothetical. In 1995 and in 2004 it 
was attempted. It didn't quite get accomplished, but it was attempted.
  What occurs under the Budget Act of 1974 is that when a conference 
report is adopted and reconciliation instructions are sent, that raises 
the debt ceiling, and that can then be passed by this body with merely 
50 votes. This is all an avenue to allow a debt ceiling increase to be 
raised with 50 votes. And I

[[Page S3804]]

know my friend from Arizona is well aware of that because he is such an 
esteemed historian of this body, he knows not only that it can be done 
but that it has been done.
  We don't need to hypothesize over whether that is what this is about 
because for 62 days we have asked the majority leader: Simply say we 
won't use this as a procedural trick to raise the debt ceiling with 50 
votes and then we can go to conference. For 62 days the majority leader 
has said: No, no, I will not do that; I will not do that. And those 
protestations make absolutely clear what this is about.
  I think that on both sides of the Chamber there are different things 
at work. On the Democratic side of the Chamber--President Obama has 
been very explicit. He wants to raise the debt limit, and he has said 
he wants no debate about it. He is unwilling to debate. He wants to 
shut down the discussion. He simply wants a blank check. He simply 
wants an unlimited credit card to keep digging the debt hole this 
Nation is in deeper and deeper and deeper. He said this publicly, 
repeatedly from the White House.
  What our friends the Democrats are doing is standing shoulder to 
shoulder with the Democratic President in fighting to enable the Senate 
to raise the debt limit with just 50 votes, which means, if that 
happens, that would then allow the 55-Member Democratic majority to 
vote to do so without listening to a word from the minority. That is 
what this fight is about, and there is no other issue being contested 
here.
  What is happening on the Republican side? Well, some have suggested 
we ought to just have a motion to instruct. The problem with the motion 
to instruct is that a motion to instruct is nonbinding, so it is a 
purely symbolic gesture. But even a motion to instruct not to raise the 
debt ceiling would lose. Why? Because there are 55 Democrats, and the 
55 Democrats would vote against it.
  Here is the dirty little secret about some of those on the right side 
of the aisle: There are some who would very much like to cast a 
symbolic vote against raising the debt ceiling and nonetheless allow 
our friends on the left side of the aisle to raise the debt 
ceiling. That, to some Republicans, is the ideal outcome because they 
can go to their constituents and say: See, I voted no, and yet at the 
same time, wonderfully, they lost, and they did not actually have to 
stand up and stop what was happening. That is an outcome I believe some 
on this side of the aisle desire.

  I do feel obliged to rise in defense of my colleagues, the 
Republicans, because the senior Senator from Arizona has impugned the 
Republicans by claiming repeatedly it is only a minority of Republicans 
who are opposed to raising the debt ceiling on 50 votes. He has 
repeatedly suggested on the floor of the Senate that, in fact, it may 
be a small minority, that the overwhelming majority of Republicans, the 
senior Senator from Arizona said, stand with Harry Reid in wanting to 
be able to raise the debt ceiling on 50 votes.
  Let me suggest to the senior Senator from Arizona that, No. 1, in 
saying that, he is impugning all 45 Republicans in this body, but, No. 
2, it has been suggested that those of us who are fighting to defend 
liberty, fighting to turn around the out-of-control spending and out-
of-control debt in this country, fighting to defend the Constitution--
it has been suggested we are wacko birds. Well, if that is the case, I 
will suggest to my friend from Arizona there may be more wacko birds in 
the Senate than are suspected. Indeed, I would encourage my friend, the 
senior Senator from Arizona, that if he were to circulate to 
Republicans a simple statement that said: We, the undersigned 
Republican Senators, hereby state we support giving Harry Reid and the 
Democrats the ability to raise the debt ceiling with 50 votes instead 
of 60, I believe he will find his representation to this body that it 
is only a minority of Republicans who oppose that is not accurate.
  This issue gets obscured by the procedural complexities, and that is 
not by accident. Washington is very good at speaking doublespeak that 
makes the citizens' eyes glaze over. But as its heart it is very 
simple. Majority Leader Reid and the Democrats want to raise the debt 
ceiling. They have stated they want to raise the debt ceiling, and they 
want to do so consistent with President Obama's instructions to do so 
without debate because he does not want to debate this issue, without 
conditions, without anything to fix our out-of-control spending, our 
out-of-control debt--simply give him an additional blank credit card 
because going from $10 trillion to $17 trillion has not been enough. 
That is the desire of the Democrats, and it is candid.
  We could go to conference right now, today, if the Democrats would 
simply say: We will not raise the debt ceiling with just using 50 
votes. We will debate it on the floor with a 60-vote threshold and 
actually be forced to find some bipartisan agreement. But that is not 
what the majority wants to do.
  Those who are arguing that Republicans should accede to that demand 
are arguing that all of us who have told our constituents we are going 
to fight to solve this economic problem, we are going to fight to stop 
out-of-control spending, we are going to fight to stop bankrupting our 
kids--that those promises are hollow, those are just what we tell 
constituents at home, that is not actually what we do when we are on 
the floor of the Senate.
  I would note, indeed, when the senior Senator from Arizona said it is 
only a small minority that believes this on the Republican side, if my 
friend, the senior Senator, is able to produce a written letter with 
the signature of a majority of Republicans, I will offer here and now 
to go to a home game of my Houston Astros wearing an Arizona 
Diamondback hat. And I can guarantee you, in Houston that will not be 
well received. But yet I stand in complete comfort that I will not find 
myself in that situation because I do not believe it is right that a 
majority of the Republicans in this body have given up the fight on 
spending, have given up the fight on reining in out-of-control 
Washington bipartisan spending, deficits, and debt. I believe we are 
seeing leadership in this body stand together to fix the problem. That 
is what the American people want.
  Let me say this in closing: It is easy to get confused by all of the 
procedural discussions back and forth. This issue is about one issue 
alone: Should Majority Leader Harry Reid be able to raise the debt 
limit an unlimited amount with just 50 votes or should it require 60? 
If it requires 60, there will have to be some positive steps made to 
fix the problem. If it is just 50, the majority leader has the votes 
right now, today, to write a blank check for the Federal debt.
  That is the issue, and I think the American people are not conflicted 
in the answer to that issue. The American people want us to fix the 
problem and stop digging the debt hole deeper and deeper, stop putting 
our kids and grandkids on the path to Greece.
  I am proud so many Senators are standing here working very hard to 
honor our commitments to our constituents because that is exactly what 
our job is.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Baldwin). The Senator from Utah.
  Mr. LEE. Madam President, I thank my friend and my colleague, the 
Senator from Texas, for his remarks and I speak briefly to respond to a 
couple of points that have come up today.
  First of all, it is important for us to remember that although the 
rules of our body might allow for a conference committee to meet in 
public, and although that may have happened in the past from time to 
time, it is not the norm. In asking around to some senior staff members 
who have been here longer than I have, it typically has not happened in 
recent years. In fact, it has become relatively rare in recent years. 
So to suggest it necessarily is an open process because it has the 
capacity to be made into an open process, those are not the same 
things. Typically, we can legitimately expect for this to be a 
backroom, closed-door process.
  That is not the end of the world; we, of course, need conference 
committees. They do valuable, important work. We are not disputing 
that. We are not disputing the fact that sometimes it is important for 
conference committees to meet in order to reconcile competing versions 
of the same legislation--one passed in the House and one passed in the 
Senate. But what we are talking about here is a very limited request: 
to limit the scope of their work

[[Page S3805]]

so as to exclude the possibility of a debt limit increase without the 
60-vote threshold.
  It is also important to remember that although this is the procedure 
the majority has chosen to use in order to try to get to a conference 
committee, it is not the only way. In fact, it is possible to do this 
without unanimous consent. It is possible to do this without, in other 
words, all of us being willing to do it--all of us--by withholding our 
objection as effectively voting to do that.
  If, as has been suggested, the other body does, in fact, want to go 
to conference, the other body could take the budget we passed, could 
slap their amendments on top of it, could even replace most or even all 
of our budget with theirs, send it back over, and at that point it is 
my understanding we could go to conference without the need for a 
unanimous consent.
  So there are other ways. This is just the way the majority has chosen 
to go. The majority has every right to do that, and we have every right 
to object. That we do and that we will continue to do until such time 
as it either becomes unnecessary or until such time as the majority 
agrees to modify the request along the lines we have specified so as to 
permit and ensure that any debt limit discussions and votes will take 
place subsequent to the normal order and subject to a 60-vote 
threshold.
  Thank you, Madam President.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from California.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Madam President, I believe pursuant to a unanimous 
consent agreement propounded by the chairwoman of the Agriculture 
Committee that I am next up to be able to speak on an amendment. But 
for a brief moment I want to reflect on what I have heard and the lens 
through which I see it.
  I have been here for 20 years. When I came to the Senate, it was not 
this way. The rules of the Senate were observed. A small minority never 
tried to subvert the will of a majority. I think Senator McCain said it 
well. We stand on the floor. We advocate for our views. We either win 
or lose. The dye is cast. But we have an opportunity for full 
deliberation.
  It is one thing to have a minority have their rights. It is another 
thing to have a minority of the minority absolutely try and handcuff a 
committee of the Senate. I believe that is wrong. Because what is 
happening here sets a precedent for future answers. And there is no 
reason not to have a conference committee.
  I think the Senator from Utah knows full well these conference 
committees are open to the public. They are open to the press. They are 
often long. They can be laborious. But it is a way of reconciling the 
differences between the House and the Senate.
  So to handcuff this Budget Committee and say it can do this but it 
cannot do that is not the right thing to do. I hope the credibility of 
the minority of the minority running this body diminishes with this 
debate.


                           Amendment No. 923

  Let me now go to an amendment Senator McCain and I are offering to 
eliminate taxpayer subsidies for tobacco production in the farm bill of 
America. It is No. 923. I will not call it up because I understand an 
agreement is--I am just told by the chairwoman of the committee that I 
can call up the amendment, and to this end I call up amendment No. 923.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is this objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will report the amendment.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. I ask reading of the amendment be vitiated, and I 
will proceed with my remarks.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will simply report the amendment 
first.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Fine.
  The bill clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from California [Mrs. Feinstein, for herself 
     and Mr. McCAIN, proposes an amendment numbered 923.

  The amendment is as follows:

    (Purpose: To prohibit the payment by the Federal Crop Insurance 
   Corporation of any portion of the premium for a policy or plan of 
                         insurance for tobacco)

       On page 1101, between lines 5 and 6, insert the following:

     SEC. 11___. PROHIBITION ON PAYMENT OF PORTION OF PREMIUM BY 
                   CORPORATION FOR TOBACCO.

       Section 508(e) of the Federal Crop Insurance Act (7 U.S.C. 
     1508(e)) (as amended by section 11030(b)(2)) is amended by 
     adding at the end the following:
       ``(9) Prohibition on payment of portion of premium by 
     corporation for tobacco.--
       ``(A) In general.--Effective beginning with the 2015 
     reinsurance year, notwithstanding any other provision of this 
     subtitle, the Corporation shall not pay any portion of the 
     premium for a policy or plan of insurance for tobacco under 
     this subtitle.
       ``(B) Deficit reduction.--Any savings realized as a result 
     of subparagraph (A) shall be deposited in the Treasury and 
     used for Federal budget deficit reduction.''.

  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Madam President, I thank the chairwoman. She made a 
commitment to hold a vote on this amendment on Monday evening, and she 
has sought mightily to keep her word, and I very much appreciate that.
  This amendment is, to my view, about common sense. Tobacco is not 
just another crop; it causes 443,000 deaths each year. It is the 
leading cause of preventable death in America. The CDC estimates that 
tobacco costs the American economy more than $200 billion each year in 
health care expenses and lost productivity.
  A recent study estimates that annual smoking-attributable 
expenditures add $22 billion each year to Medicaid's bottom line. In 
other words, Medicaid costs $22 billion more because of tobacco.
  In 2004, Congress approved nearly $10 billion--$9.6 billion, to be 
exact--in payments over the next 10 years to tobacco farmers and quota 
holders in exchange for ending the tobacco program.
  In addition to this $10 billion, tobacco farmers also received more 
than $276 million in taxpayer-funded crop insurance subsidies since 
2004. That is what we are trying to change. Unlike crop insurance 
indemnities, the tobacco insurance subsidy is not based on losses. The 
government pays premium support subsidies year in and year out 
regardless of losses.
  In 2012, farmers received $37.4 million in subsidies; in 2011, $33 
million; in 2010, $37.1 million; in 2009, $40.1 million. If you add 
this up, there is $147 million in subsidies given, despite the big 
tobacco buyout of $10 billion, in subsidies to crop insurance.
  If you look at our $642 billion deficit, why would the government 
continue to subsidize crop insurance for tobacco?
  Now that is not to say tobacco farmers should not have access to crop 
insurance. Insurance is an important risk management tool for any 
business, and our amendment allows tobacco farmers to continue to 
purchase crop insurance.
  The amendment is specific. It eliminates the government's 
contribution to the annual cost of tobacco insurance premiums. But it 
does not impact the ability for crop insurance companies to sell these 
products. Farmers can manage weather and market risk without the 
mandatory taxpayer premium support.
  Some may say: Well, market rate insurance is not feasible for 
farmers. I challenge that notion. Carrot farmers do not have access to 
any crop insurance--federally subsidized or otherwise--neither do 
spinach farmers, broccoli farmers, or artichoke farmers.
  The list of crops with no insurance support goes on: cauliflower, 
celery, eggplant, cut flowers, Kiwi, kumquats, melons, garlic, 
raspberries, and pomegranates, to name a few.
  Farming without government-subsidized crop insurance is possible, 
contrary to what some would have you believe.
  I also want to remind my colleagues that tobacco farmers have done 
quite well by the government. In 2014, North Carolina tobacco farmers 
and quota owners will have received $3.9 billion in buyout payments. In 
other words, they have taken this money to be bought out. Kentucky 
quota owners and farmers will have received $2.4 billion from the 
government. Quota holders and farmers in Tennessee, South Carolina, 
Virginia, and Georgia will each have received more than $600 million in 
buyout payments by the end of next year.
  Evenly divided among the thousands of tobacco quota holders and 
farmers nationwide, the nearly $10 billion buyout has provided very 
generous support. We need to remember this is not a struggling 
industry. Contrary to what some would have you believe, a 2012 
University of Illinois study found that productivity on Kentucky 
tobacco farms increased by 44 percent in the last 10 years.

[[Page S3806]]

  At the same time, tobacco farmers are seeing some of their best 
paydays since the 2004 buyouts began. Tobacco is fetching nearly $2 a 
pound for some farmers. The 2012 crop was valued at $1.579 billion.
  To return to the question at hand, should taxpayers continue to 
subsidize tobacco productions, I believe the answer is no. Tobacco is 
the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. As I said, 
it kills 443,000 people each year. It costs $200 billion in health care 
and reduced productivity.
  I am not alone. This amendment is supported by the American Cancer 
Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, 
the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the American Public Health 
Association, the Environmental Working Group, Doctors for America, 
Physicians for Responsible Medicine, and Taxpayers for Common Sense.
  Some would have you believe this is going to affect the small tobacco 
farmer. Let's take a look at it. There are 16,228 farms that grow 
tobacco nationwide. Well, I will not get into that. The industry is 
concentrated. A small number of large farms produces the vast majority 
of the crop. Two percent of the farms produce 50 percent of the annual 
tobacco crop; 10 percent, 75 percent of the annual tobacco crop. Twenty 
percent of farms that grow tobacco are smaller than 50 acres. Eighty 
percent of farms that grow tobacco are larger than 50 acres.
  The bottom line is most tobacco farmers are not relying on tobacco as 
their primary crop. Thus, it is not surprising that only 4,495--that is 
72 percent of farms--have tobacco sales of more than $50,000 a year. A 
fair assessment shows that about 5 percent of tobacco farmers, 908, do 
fall into the category of small farmers who rely on tobacco as their 
primary farm income.
  The buyout expires, I believe, at the end of 2014. My point is nearly 
$10 billion of taxpayer funds is in the process of being expended to 
buy out tobacco farmers. Why should we then subsidize crop insurance? I 
very much hope my colleagues will join me in supporting what I think is 
commonsense reform. We have to say no to tobacco in America. Most of us 
think we have made great progress. Young people smoke less; older 
people smoke less; you do not smoke in public places. All of these have 
had a big impact. I think by eliminating this subsidy on crop 
insurance, it also can have a constructive impact.
  I urge an ``aye'' vote.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Madam President, I thank the Senator from California 
for her excellent work on the amendment she is offering which takes to 
another level the fight against tobacco addiction that has so plagued 
this country. She has been such a champion of the victims of nicotine 
and tobacco addiction. Her work certainly has been a model for many of 
us who have been involved in this fight.
  (The remarks of Mr. Blumenthal pertaining to the introduction of S. 
1041 are located in today's Record under ``Statements on Introduced 
Bills and Joint Resolutions.'')
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.
  Ms. STABENOW. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the time 
until 1 p.m. be equally divided between proponents and opponents of the 
Feinstein-McCain amendment No. 923; that following the confirmation 
vote this afternoon and the resumption of legislative session, the 
Senate proceed to vote in relation to the amendment; that there be 2 
minutes equally divided prior to the vote and that the amendment be 
subject to a 60-affirmative-vote threshold.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. STABENOW. One more comment, as I see my colleague is waiting to 
speak on the Senate floor. I want to thank everyone. As we are working 
through the farm bill, we are making progress, moving forward, and 
looking forward to continuing to put in place the final path for 
passage of the bill.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.


                 Unanimous Consent Request--S. Res. 133

  Mr. TOOMEY. Madam President, I rise to make a unanimous consent 
request.
  We have been following an extraordinary horror story in the news, and 
it is the story of Kermit Gosnell's truly unspeakable crimes that were 
committed over a long period of time--maybe as long as two decades--at 
the Women's Medical Society in Philadelphia, PA.
  We suspect there were literally hundreds of late-term and very late-
term abortions that were conducted there, and we now know from his 
conviction in a criminal trial that there were babies born alive--
probably many--who were then murdered when scissors were used to sever 
their spinal cords after they were born alive in a failed abortion 
attempt. Further, we know that Kermit Gosnell and some of his 
colleagues kept aborted fetuses in bags and bottles, discarded them, 
left them on shelves.
  It is unbelievable what was happening at that place for years and 
years. In fact, the crimes were discovered by accident. Police raided 
offices to seize evidence of illegal sales of prescription drugs. It 
was only during that raid for illegal prescription drug sales that they 
discovered the evidence of these atrocities.
  It is my view and the view of many of my colleagues that we need to 
do a lot more to make sure that the laws, which were blatantly being 
violated by Kermit Gosnell, are better enforced. We need to do that 
through proper due diligence and discover where they are being 
violated.
  About 2 weeks ago Kermit Gosnell was convicted. He was convicted of 
three counts of first-degree murder for killing three infants. He was 
convicted of one count of third-degree murder in the overdose death of 
a woman. There were 21 counts of abortion of an unborn child of 24 
weeks or more, and he was convicted of 208 counts of violation of 
informed consent.
  We have a resolution, S. Res. 133. It points to these atrocities that 
were committed. It simply calls on Congress and the States to 
investigate and correct the abusive, unsanitary, and the blatantly 
illegal abortion practices that certainly were conducted here at the 
Women's Medical Society in Philadelphia and similar such practices that 
may be occurring in other places.
  I ask unanimous consent that the HELP Committee be discharged from 
further consideration of S. Res. 133, that the Senate proceed to its 
consideration, and that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be 
agreed to, and the motion to reconsider be made and laid on the table, 
with no intervening action or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Madam President, reserving the right to object, and I 
will, in fact, but I want to first discuss the resolution that now for 
the third time essentially has been brought to this body, and I am here 
to speak and object for a third time but not out of disagreement with 
the basic goal that has been well articulated by my friend from 
Pennsylvania.
  I think I am quoting him directly from his remarks just now in saying 
that the goal is to do a lot more to ensure that the laws violated by 
Kermit Gosnell are vigorously enforced. I am here to say, yes, let's 
condemn the kinds of practices that resulted in the conviction of 
Kermit Gosnell and his sentence, in effect, to life in prison. Let's do 
more to ensure that laws are vigorously enforced that protect innocent 
patients in any setting, whether it is a doctor's office, a hospital, 
or a nursing home; whether it is by a nurse, a doctor, or another kind 
of caregiver, or by a vicious, conscienceless practitioner like Kermit 
Gosnell.
  Let's stop this kind of despicable medical conduct even if it may be 
only a tiny fraction of all the caregiving that occurs in the United 
States by an even tinier fraction of a great and noble profession, by 
extraordinarily experienced and expert members of our medical 
profession.
  We need to talk about all of the kinds of malpractice and criminal 
misconduct that can cause death or injury or the threat of death or 
injury.
  We ought to be equally outraged by the doctors and the nurses in 
States such as, for example, hospitals and nursing homes in both New 
Jersey and Pennsylvania--in 2006, a nurse was sentenced to multiple 
life sentences for

[[Page S3807]]

killing at least 29 patients by intentionally overdosing them with 
medication. There was simply no justification for those actions, and 
they are equally as heinous and unforgivable as the crimes that 
resulted in the conviction of Kermit Gosnell.

  We need to talk about the nurse who was charged with killing 10 
patients in a hospital in Texas by injecting them with a medication to 
stop their breathing. She pleaded no contest and is now serving life in 
prison.
  I want this body to adopt a resolution that addresses those kinds of 
lapses in basic decency, ethics, and morality, as well as law.
  We ought to be talking about the doctor who worked in hospitals in 
seven States--New Hampshire, Kansas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, 
New York, Georgia--and exposed almost 8,000 patients to hepatitis C. He 
knowingly injected patients with his own infected blood and exposed 
them to a life-threatening disease.
  The resolution I am going to ask this body to adopt speaks to those 
violations of trust, decency, and law.
  In this place, I have talked about other similar violations--the 
Oklahoma dentist who exposed as many as 7,000 patients to HIV and 
hepatitis B and C through unsanitary practices. In Nevada, 
practitioners at an endoscopy center exposed 40,000 patients to 
hepatitis C through their unsanitary practices, and it went on for 
years.
  My resolution speaks to those basic violations of trust and morality.
  Kermit Gosnell's case has run its course. Our criminal justice system 
has done its work.
  I have a resolution, and I ask unanimous consent that it be adopted.
  I ask unanimous consent that the HELP Committee be discharged from 
further consideration of S. Res. 134 and that the Senate proceed to its 
consideration; that the resolution be agreed to, the Blumenthal 
amendment to the preamble, which is at the desk, be agreed to, the 
preamble, as amended, be agreed to, and the motion to reconsider be 
laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate.
  I object to the resolution offered by my colleague from Pennsylvania 
and ask him and my colleagues to join me in support of this alternative 
resolution.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  Is there objection to the request of the Senator from Connecticut?
  The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. TOOMEY. Reserving the right to object, I think the Senator from 
Connecticut makes a number of important observations and raises a 
number of very important issues. I think there is an opportunity for 
the two of us to work together to address some of these. However, my 
reading of the actual resolution for which he is requesting unanimous 
consent, in my view, equates outcomes--including deaths but outcomes 
resulting from malpractice and unsanitary conditions and other 
completely indefensible practices--equates those with the serial, 
premeditated, intentional murder of babies. I don't think those things 
ought to be equated because I think they are of a very different 
nature.
  Furthermore, the resolution of the Senator from Connecticut, it is my 
understanding, does not call for the investigations that I think are 
necessary to determine how widespread these practices are, under what 
circumstances they are occurring, and what more could be done to 
prevent them.
  For those reasons, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Madam President, being a majority leader is not an 
easy job whether you are a Republican or a Democrat. Some good things 
have been happening in the Senate recently, and I think we should 
credit both the majority leader and the Republican leader with helping 
to make that happen.
  Over the last few weeks we have seen the water resources bill come to 
the floor. The majority leader allowed Senator Boxer and Senator Vitter 
to manage the amendment process, to handle the necessary arguments that 
always occur about what they will be. They came to a conclusion and 
passed a bill. The bill went through committee, went through the floor. 
It is a very important bill because it deals with locks, dams, and 
ports in the United States. We want to make sure that as the Panama 
Canal is widened and deepened, that ports in the United States are deep 
enough to receive the bigger ships and that the locks and the dams are 
in good enough shape so that commerce can move through the company and 
the jobs can be created. That is an important piece of legislation.
  And now we are on the farm bill and we see the Senator from 
Mississippi and the Senator from Michigan managing a bill. There is 
plenty of opportunity for amendments, as far as I have been able to 
tell, and that has been very helpful.
  At the same time, we have coming out of the Judiciary Committee, 
after several days of intense work, a bill on immigration. Probably the 
four most important words that can be said about the immigration debate 
is that we are all Americans, and Americans know we must have a legal 
immigration system if we want to be able to say we are all Americans. 
And we want one. We don't have an enforceable legal system today. All 
of us know that. None of us like the status quo, I don't think, and all 
of us know the President and the Congress are the only ones who can fix 
it. This is not something we can dump on the mayors or the State 
legislatures.
  Many of us haven't formed a final opinion about this legislation that 
is coming forward, but I, for one, respect the fact that it has moved; 
that it has four principal Republican sponsors and four principal 
Democratic sponsors. It has moved through the committee, voices have 
been heard, it is coming to the floor, and, again, the majority leader 
has indicated, and the Republican leader has agreed, there will be a 
full and open debate so the American people can see it and watch us 
come to a result.
  All those are good things. In addition, so that we might do that, 
there are a number of nominations about which we are likely to 
disagree. They will come after that so as not to interfere with the 
immigration debate.
  That brings me to my final point. I would note the fact that with 
occasional interruptions for debate over whether we are going to go to 
a budget, which I hope gets resolved, we are on a pretty good path 
right now. I hope the majority and the minority leaders can see that.
  We are moving this afternoon to a vote on a Federal appellate judge 
for the D.C. Circuit. A major objective of the Democratic side has been 
to get another judge on that circuit, and the President has nominated a 
person, Mr. Srinivasan, who, by every account, is an exceptional 
attorney. He came out of the committee with an 18-to-0 vote and has 
widespread respect and support.
  The only glitch in the process is the majority leader believed it was 
necessary to file a cloture motion this week, even though the 
Republican leader had agreed we would have an up-or-down vote on the 
Tuesday we get back, and every indication is that almost everyone would 
vote for that judge. That has now been resolved, and we are going to 
vote this afternoon at 2 p.m. I know better than to predict how the 
Senate will vote, but I will vote for Mr. Srinivasan, and I suspect he 
will be easily confirmed.
  In all of this the majority leader has believed it was necessary to 
suggest that somehow there is a problem with the President's 
nominations being considered by the Senate, so I think it is important 
that someone other than the Republican leader--because it is his job, 
really, to defend our side--lay out the facts, and I hope I can do that 
with some credibility because I worked with my Democratic colleagues at 
the beginning of the last Congress and at the beginning of this 
Congress to make it easier for this President and future Presidents to 
have their nominations considered. We have changed the rules to make it 
easier.
  Just a few months ago, in a long discussion that involved Senators on 
both sides in a debate on the floor, we made a number of changes to 
make it easier for a President to have his nominations considered. And 
2 years ago we adopted the expedited nominations, where nominations 
simply come to the desk. If no 
single Senator wants it sent to 
committee, it just sits there until all the paper is in, then the 
majority leader will just move it on. Within the next few days there 
will be a number of

[[Page S3808]]

those that come out of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions 
Committee. So that speeds things up.
  We removed from the list of nominations about 160 low-level executive 
nominations. They are not subject anymore to Senate advise and consent. 
The President may just go ahead and appoint those persons.
  We have gotten rid of the secret hold, which was used for a long time 
to hold up nominees, and even to block them, because no one knew who 
was doing that. Earlier this year we changed the rules so that when a 
district judge comes up, there can't be a long debate after the 
district judge comes to the floor. As a result, things are moving along 
very well.
  So I would like to say there is not a problem with the President's 
nominations being considered in a timely fashion by the Senate. There 
is no problem. There is, however, the responsibility for advice and 
consent. Most of our Founders did not want a king. They created a 
Congress and they said: Here is an advice and consent. So we now have 
about 1,000 people the President will nominate whom we are supposed to 
consider, and we should do that well. That is our job to do, and it is 
our check on a runaway Executive.
  When I first came here, Senator Byrd made wonderful speeches about 
that. I remember the speeches Senator Kennedy gave from the back row, 
with that big booming voice of his, about President George W. Bush's 
recess appointments and how offended he was by those because they 
offended the Constitution. Senator Byrd, as I mentioned, was very 
eloquent, going all the way back to President Reagan's days.
  So we have always jealously defended the people's right to have an 
elected group of representatives to check the Executive, and we need to 
use that in a responsible way. Therefore, it is important to have an 
accurate report on just how well President Obama is being treated by 
the Senate in terms of his nominations.
  I have just noted that we have changed the rules to make it easier. I 
did not even say we have even made it easier for the nominees; we set 
up a working process to make it easier. I like to call it a response to 
the ``innocent until nominated'' syndrome.
  The President picks some well-respecting person from the Midwest and 
sends his or her nomination to the Senate, and all of a sudden it is as 
if they were a criminal of some kind. That is because there were so 
many conflicting forms to fill out it was easy to make a mistake and 
look as though you were misleading the Senate. We have tried to 
simplify that, and this President is the first beneficiary of that 
change.
  So this President is the first beneficiary of consecutive Congresses 
that have changed the rules to reduce the number of potential nominees 
subjected to advice and consent. We have expedited a number of others, 
and we have made it easier--easier and quicker--for the President to 
have his nominations considered. This President is the first to benefit 
from that.
  So what are the results? The majority leader suggested there was 
delay and obstruction. Those words just come out automatically 
sometimes when people wake up in the morning on that side of the aisle. 
But let's look at the facts.
  I asked the Congressional Research Service to take a look at the 
Washington Post article written earlier this year--now, these are not 
Republican people I am asking, this is the Congressional Research 
Service--about how President Obama is being treated in terms of his 
Senate nominees.
  According to the Congressional Research Service, as of May 16, 2013--
that is last week--President Obama's Cabinet nominees were still, on 
average, moving from announcement to confirmation faster than those of 
President George W. Bush or President Clinton. President Obama's 
nominees were moving from announcement to confirmation, at that time 
last week, in 50.5 days, George W. Bush averaged 52 days, and President 
Clinton averaged 55 days.
  So let me say that again: President Obama's Cabinet nominees are 
moving ahead in the Senate more rapidly than those of his two 
predecessors: one of them President George W. Bush and one of them 
President Clinton. So there is no delay there that is unusual.
  It is not unprecedented, Madam President, for some second-term 
nominations to take much longer to move from announcement to 
confirmation than the average. President Clinton's nominee for 
Secretary of Labor, Alexis Herman, took 135 days; President George W. 
Bush's nominee for Attorney General, Alberto Gonzalez, took 85 days. I 
remember the case of one especially distinguished nominee for Secretary 
of Education by President George H.W. Bush, a former Governor of 
Tennessee whose name was Alexander. His nomination took 88 days from 
announcement to confirmation, and President Reagan's nominee for 
Attorney General, Ed Meese, took nearly 1 year.
  Now that is an unusual case, but it is not so unusual for second-term 
nominees to take a little while--for the Senate to perform advice and 
consent. And as the Congressional Research Service and the Washington 
Post have reported in their own analysis, President Obama's Cabinet 
nominees are being better treated than either President Bush's or 
President Clinton's in terms of the time it takes to confirm them from 
announcement to confirmation.
  Now, one last thing. What about judges? Sometimes I have heard 
Senators on that side and Senators on this side get up and give 
conflicting information about whether judges are being considered 
rapidly. Here is what the data says about the judicial nomination 
process.
  If Mr. Srinivasan is confirmed today, as I expect he will be, 
President Obama will have had 20 judges confirmed at this point in his 
second term, including 6 circuit judges and 14 district court judges. 
At this point in his second term, President George W. Bush had 4. So 
that is 20 for President Obama, 4 for President George W. Bush. No 
unusual delay there.
  Apparently, President Obama's nominations are being considered more 
rapidly than those of President Bush. To be specific, let's go to the 
district court nominations. We know, with all the talk of a filibuster, 
in the history of the Senate there has never been a nominee for a 
Federal district court judge who has ever been denied his seat by a 
filibuster after that nomination came to the floor. So that needs to be 
said, too. But right now there are five pending district judge 
nominations that have been reported from committee that haven't been 
confirmed.
  There have been 33 nominations this year. Fourteen are already 
confirmed, five are reported from committee, as I said, and await floor 
action. They were reported in May and April and three of them in March. 
So there is no big backlog. There are five. They were reported in the 
last few weeks. So no excessive delay there.
  Finally, on circuit court nominations. I mentioned we are likely to 
confirm one of the three that are today pending, Mr. Srinivasan. Twelve 
nominations of Federal circuit court judges have been received this 
year. Six will have been confirmed after this afternoon. That leaves 
two--two--circuit court judges who have been nominated by the President 
and await floor action. They were reported by the committee in April 
and February.
  So I can't find any evidence of any delay on Cabinet nominations. In 
fact, President Obama is being treated better than his predecessors. I 
don't see any evidence of any delay on judicial nominations. After the 
vote on Mr. Srinivasan, President Obama will have 20 confirmed in his 
second term, President Bush had 4. And there are only five pending 
district court nominations, all reported within the last few weeks. 
There are only three circuit nominations, one of which is likely to be 
confirmed this afternoon. On that one, the majority leader indicated 
Mr. Srinivasan, who has such widespread support on both sides of the 
aisle, had been waiting forever. Well, he has been waiting a while. 
President Obama nominated him on June 11, 2012. But why did he wait? 
Madam President, he had no hearing. Who is in charge of setting 
hearings? The Democratic majority is in charge of setting hearings. The 
Republicans can't call a hearing in the Judiciary Committee.
  So their nominee, Mr. Srinivasan, sat there all of last year, after 
June 11, without a hearing. There may have been delay, but that was a 
self-inflicted delay.
  What about this year for Mr. Srinivasan? Here is the timeline. He was 
nominated again on January 4 by

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the President. His hearing was April 10. I don't know why they had to 
go from January to April to have a hearing, but, again, that is solely 
within the control of the Democratic majority. He returned his 
questions--which we all have to do if we are nominated for an executive 
position--on May 6. That is this month. The committee considered his 
nomination May 16, which is just last week. They approved it 18 to 0. 
That is all Democrats and all Republicans voting yes. He came to the 
calendar of the Senate on May 20. That was on Monday.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Will the Senator yield?

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