(Senate - January 08, 2014)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Pages S88-S124]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the 
Senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 1845, 
which the clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       Motion to proceed to Calendar No. 265, S. 1845, a bill to 
     provide for the extension of certain unemployment benefits, 
     and for other purposes.

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. REED. Mr. President, it has been 11 days since Federal 
unemployment insurance expired for 1.3 million Americans, and every day 
more Americans lose their benefits as their 26 weeks of State benefits 
  I hope my colleagues join Senator Heller and me in our efforts to 
swiftly pass this 3-month extension. Many of my colleagues have talked 
about issues with respect to a longer term piece of legislation, the 
cost of it, should we pay for it, and are there changes necessary in 
the program to make it more effective and efficient. Those are 
thoughtful and worthy considerations, but they should not deprive 1.3 
million Americans--and that number is growing each day--basic benefits. 
These are modest benefits--about $300 a week--that allow them to just 
keep their families together, keep trying to search for a job.
  I would point out that the only way one qualifies for this benefit 
is, No. 1, if someone had a job and they lost it through no fault of 
their own, and they are constant in keeping up the search for work. 
That is one of the requirements. It is all about work. In this economy, 
it is all about the fact that there are two or three job seekers for 
every job. In some parts of the country--in Rhode Island, 

[[Page S89]]

Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee, States that have high unemployment--it is 
not just three to one, in some cases it is more.
  I mentioned on the floor just 2 days ago an article that appeared in 
the Washington Post that talked about a new dairy opening, or 
reopening, in Hagerstown, MD, with 36 jobs. They thought there would be 
a large demand for the jobs, but there were basically 1,600 applicants 
for 36 jobs. That is not unique to that town in Maryland. That is, 
unfortunately, something that is happening all across this country, and 
it reflects the need to extend these benefits immediately.
  We have serious issues to work out, but we understand, or we should 
understand, that to do it carefully and thoughtfully requires time and 
requires the attention of the experts in the relevant committees. In 
fact, I can recall coming down here before these benefits expired 
asking unanimous consent to extend them for 1 year, and one of the 
responses, one of the objections from my colleagues on the Republican 
side was we have to do this through the committee. We have to do this 
thoughtfully and deliberately. We have an opportunity to help people 
who desperately need help and start that deliberative process, and I 
hope we do that.
  Yesterday, we took an important step forward. We procedurally moved 
forward to start consideration of this legislation. I wish to thank 
again Senator Heller and all of my colleagues who joined in that vote. 
That has given us a chance to finish the job, but it is going to be a 
very difficult job to finish.
  I think what we can do immediately--and this might be a two-step 
process--is quickly pass the Reed-Heller legislation--90 days, 
unfunded. It will immediately put money into the economy. It will 
immediately help struggling Americans who are looking for work--they 
have to in order to qualify for these funds--and it will help overall 
the economy. As the CBO has projected, if we do not fund for the year 
unemployment insurance, we will lose 200,000 jobs; 200,000 jobs which 
would be generated by this program will be lost.
  So we will have a double whammy. We will still have people unemployed 
searching for work without any assistance and some, in fact, will stop 
searching. They will give up. Then we will not have the creation of 
additional jobs because of this money going into the economy, 
generating further demand, and further demand generating a need to keep 
people on and hire some more.
  I hope we can finish the job we started yesterday. It was a very 
important step forward and a very important step forward not only to 
help individual families, as I suggested, but to bolster economic 
demand throughout the economy and that is going to lead to growth.
  I find it somewhat ironic when I hear some of my colleagues talking 
about, oh, we truly need to create jobs. That is what we have to do. 
Yes, we agree. But there have been so many proposals that have been 
presented both by the administration and by my colleagues that have not 
been given consideration--creating a national infrastructure bank which 
will fund, through a quasi-public mechanism, highway construction, 
bridge renovations, sewer lines, and those things--that have been 
languishing for months and months and months and months. So we should 
get on with those things, I agree. But the immediate crisis is helping 
these 1.3 million Americans, and that number is growing.
  There is another reason why it is particularly critical to talk about 
the extended unemployment benefits that are the subject of our debate. 
We should not end this program now. As this chart indicates, long-term 
unemployment is much higher today than it has ever been when we 
terminated these benefits. In April of 1959, when they ended the 
extended benefits, it was .9 percent--long-term unemployment. In April 
1962, .9 percent; .4 percent in March of 1973; .9 percent in 1977; 1.2 
percent long-term unemployment in 1985; 1.3 percent in 1994; 1.3 
percent in 2003; and today, 2.6 percent of long-term unemployment.
  We are in a new situation. These could be structural market changes 
which are making it harder and harder for some people to find 
employment, even after searching desperately, and that is exactly who 
this program is designed to help. The State program, the initial 26 
weeks, covers people who lose their job and then relatively quickly--
relatively quickly--can find other employment. This program is the one 
that is designed for those people who, for many reasons, are having 
difficulty finding a job over many weeks and months. Today we are at 
twice the level we have ever been when we considered cutting off these 
benefits. Actually, we have cut off these benefits. It was December 28.
  For that reason alone, this issue of extended benefits has to be 
addressed first, I would argue, on an emergency basis. Then let's think 
long and hard about longer term efforts to address the problem. Many of 
my colleagues have suggested issues with respect to job training, with 
respect to incentives for education, and all of them are worthy, but 
they can't be done in the context of dueling proposals on the floor. 
They have to be done thoughtfully. If we can quickly adopt the Reed-
Heller bill, it will give these long-term unemployed--this record 
number of long-term unemployed who have been cut off from benefits--it 
will give them help and give us time.
  We have heard from countless citizens all across the country, and 
they come from all walks of life and from every aspect of unemployment. 
The other day, Senator Klobuchar released a report from the Joint 
Economic Committee which was extremely well done and which described in 
detail the recipients. There is no one age group. It spans the gamut. 
There is no one ethnic concentration. There are some geographic areas 
that are doing quite well, but there are areas that are doing quite 
badly that are scattered across the country. Rhode Island and Nevada 
are, unfortunately, leading the list of states with high unemployment. 
They are very dissimilar States, thousands of miles apart, different 
economies entirely, but they are caught up in this same problem of 
unemployment and particularly long-term unemployment.
  The people who are unemployed are not sitting around passively. They 
are out looking every day. In Rhode Island I have met people who have 
worked for 30 years. They are in their fifties. They had good jobs. 
They were bookkeepers. They were white-collar professionals. They are 
trying to take care of an elderly parent, they have responsibilities to 
children, and they desperately want to work.
  One constituent who wrote to my office has been out of work since 
December of 2012. He has applied to over 300 jobs. He has taken 
additional classes at our local community college in the hopes of 
becoming a more attractive candidate for employment. Yet he remains out 
of work.
  Another constituent who has lost her benefits doesn't have enough 
money to pay her bills and they have to move in with a sister because 
she can't pay the rent.
  That is what is happening. This is not some academic exercise, some 
rhetorical ideological debate. This is about helping real people who 
want to work and they can't find a job after desperately looking for 
  A third constituent wrote me the following letter:

       I never thought that I would be among the unemployed, but 
     here I am after over 30 years of experience in my field in 
     higher education administration. I used to make 60K a year 
     and now my unemployment benefits run out in mid March. I have 
     been searching for a job not only in my field, but also doing 
     anything possible using my transferable skills. I have not 
     received an invitation for any interviews at all. . . . So to 
     those who say that extending benefits causes people to stay 
     unemployed longer--they are wrong. When you lose your job, 
     you would do anything to gain employment and regain your 
     dignity. No one wants to subsist on unemployment 
     compensation. Please keep up the fight for extended benefits. 
     It has been a lifeline for me.

  Thirty years of experience, retraining already undertaken, searching 
relentlessly for a job. An important point here, too, is it is about 
the economics, but it is also about an individual's dignity and their 
identity. I don't care who you are. A job helps define who you are. It 
gives one a sense of esteem and accomplishment, whether one is mopping 
floors or directing the operations of the hugest national corporation. 
For my colleagues to suggest somehow, well, yes, if someone is a CEO of 
a company, that is very valuable work and that gives them self-esteem, 
they miss the point. A job well

[[Page S90]]

done, whether it is cleaning floors or merging companies, gives the 
kind of satisfaction and the kind of self-respect that is critical. So 
this is about money, yes, but it is also about giving people the 
opportunity as Americans to live out their full potential, to 
contribute to their family and to the economy.
  There are 1.3 million Americans and more each day who are facing this 
same dilemma, and that is why Congress needs to create jobs today and 
help Americans compete for the jobs of tomorrow. It means taking a 
multifaceted approach with things such as restoring our manufacturing 
might by focusing on advanced technologies, ensuring local businesses 
have access to the capital they need to grow and expand, improving our 
schools and workforce training programs to ensure we have a highly 
educated and skilled workforce, and investing in our infrastructure. 
All of these things have to be done, but it is going to be very 
difficult to do them in the context of this legislation. That is why 
again I urge, let us move this bill forward. Let us help these people 
who are struggling and working very hard and then let us put ourselves 
on a very fast track to deal with these issues--manufacturing 
renaissance, job training.
  We have not reauthorized the Workforce Investment Act since 1998. 
That is the basic sort of education program for those adults and for 
people looking to move into the workforce, and the world has changed a 
lot since 1998. That is the result of some indifference. I would ask 
why in 1998, with a Republican Congress, and in the last few years of 
the Clinton administration, from 2000 to 2006, a Republican President, 
a Republican Congress, we couldn't do those things. It is not a time to 
assess blame, but it is a time to point out the situation that if we 
want to get these issues done, let us start moving, but let us not 
leave these unemployed Americans behind indefinitely without hope.
  Mr. DURBIN. Will the Senator yield for a question?
  Mr. REED. I would be happy to.
  Mr. DURBIN. I would like to ask a question of the Senator from Rhode 
Island through the Chair.
  There has been a debate on the floor, and we have heard it off the 
floor, about whether we should pay for unemployment benefits. 
Historically, if I am not mistaken, most of the decisions to extend 
unemployment insurance benefits have been considered emergency measures 
and not paid for, and now there is a suggestion from many Republicans 
that we need to cut spending in areas to compensate for this extension 
of unemployment benefits which, if I am not mistaken, are in the range 
of $25 billion or $26 billion a year.
  One of the suggestions yesterday from Republican Senate leader Mitch 
McConnell would, not surprisingly, address the Affordable Care Act, so-
called ObamaCare, and would eliminate one of the basic protections in 
that law. What Senator McConnell proposed yesterday was to eliminate 
the responsibility of every individual to have health insurance, which 
was put in the law so we could have a large pool of insured people and 
say to anyone with a preexisting condition: You will not be 
disqualified for health insurance.
  So the Senator from Kentucky has given us this approach which the 
Republicans support: If you will agree to eliminate protection from 
health insurance for people with preexisting conditions, then we will 
allow you to give unemployment benefits. In other words, if you will 
eliminate this protection in health insurance for 300 million-plus 
Americans, we will give you 1 year of unemployment benefits for 1.3 
million Americans. I might add, for the record, there are 1.9 million 
individuals with preexisting conditions in the State of Kentucky--the 
State of the Senator who made this proposal.
  I would ask the Senator from Rhode Island, who has shown 
extraordinary leadership on this issue of extended unemployment 
benefits: First, would he address the issue of paying for these 
benefits? And, second, would he address the specific suggestion of the 
Republican leader that the best way to pay for the benefits for 1.3 
million unemployed people is to reduce protections in health insurance 
for over 300 million Americans?
  Mr. REED. I thank the Senator from Illinois.
  Let me first address the issue of paying for the benefits. The 
Senator from Illinois is correct, typically these benefits are 
considered emergency spending and they are not offset. In fact, the 
legislation which was passed in the wee hours of January 1, 2013, as I 
recall, had a 1-year extension of unemployment benefits, unpaid for. It 
received overwhelming votes--I believe 89 to 8--a huge majority of 
Republicans and Democrats coming together. So a year ago, this issue of 
pay-for was not even on the table. And, by the way, I think it probably 
led to the creation, given CBO's estimates going forward, of roughly 
200,000 jobs this year because it was enacted and it wasn't offset.
  It goes to a second point about sort of the bang for the buck. This 
is one of the best commonsensical programs we have, because when we 
give these benefits to individuals and don't take other benefits, other 
funds out of the economy, it has a multiplier effect, some people 
estimate $1.50 for every $1 in terms of economic activity. And it makes 
common sense. These funds go directly from the recipient, not to their 
savings account or to build up, but right out to buying gasoline, 
keeping cell phone service on. By the way, if you don't have a car and 
don't have a cell phone today, you can't find a job, you can't go to 
the interview, you can't get the call for the interview, you can't 
apply for the job. It is not 1955 anymore, where you take the bus and 
hand your clipboard across the barrier to the clerk. You have to have 
this electronic connection to be in the workforce, as well as mobility.
  So from the point of view of an economic national perspective: One, 
we typically have done these as emergency spending; two, you get a big 
bang for the buck when you do it that way. There is a strong argument 
that is probably the most sensible approach.
  With respect to the pay-for the Republican leader suggested, I concur 
entirely with the Senator from Illinois in that it is robbing Peter to 
pay Paul. I am sure, not only these folks who are struggling to find a 
job, but of the 1.3 million people who are currently receiving 
benefits, I have to assume a significant number--at least some of 
them--have preexisting conditions. For the first time many of them are 
able to qualify for health care benefits. And to take this protection 
away for millions of Americans--you say it is 1.9 million just in 
Kentucky alone. It is a huge number across the country--would be bad 
policy, and it would in fact for many families be a crushing blow. 
Again, I don't think we have to rob Peter to pay Paul.
  From an economic standpoint, we have typically done this without 
offsets because we want to have the economic stimulus and the demand 
creation which comes. But from a basic fairness point of view, we are 
going to go ahead and give benefits of $300 a week to people who need 
them. I want to do that. But we are going to pay for it by telling some 
families: No, you don't get insurance. Or: You have to pay $25,000 a 
year because your child has asthma. That is not fair. It is not good 
common sense and it is not good economics. So I concur.
  To resume: We talked about some of the big issues here and paying for 
this bill. This is all in the context of deficit reduction, which we 
have made significant progress on.
  The Bowles-Simpson report suggested that over 10 years we cut $4 
trillion from the deficit, and we achieved roughly about $2.5 trillion 
of that, most of it coming from cuts to programs--not revenue 
increases, but cuts. So we have made significant progress on deficit 
reduction. We have to do more, but we have to do it sensibly and 
logically. And we have proposals we have brought forward.
  I must commend my colleagues in the Senate. This was on a bipartisan 
basis. We passed an immigration reform bill in this body. It has 
languished in the House. But in that bill alone, scored by CBO, will 
cut nearly another $1 trillion in the deficit, which will get us to 
that target or very close to that target. Yet it is languishing in the 
House. If we can pass it, then this issue of deficit--which has 
dominated and been very important over the last several years--is 
something we can practically resolve. And, by the way, as I suggested 
in my colloquy with Senator Durbin, if we pass this legislation,

[[Page S91]]

it will help too in terms of stimulating economic growth, et cetera.
  There are many things we can do. But, again, I go back to this point. 
These people are in a desperate situation. As my constituent wrote, 30 
years of work, middle-aged, getting retraining, 300 applications, no 
interviews, looking for anything. It is not just about dollars and a 
check. It is about dignity. It is about who you are.
  We have to respond and we have to respond quickly. And we have the 
opportunity to do this. As we look at a longer term effort, it doesn't 
foreclose and it shouldn't foreclose considering programmatic changes, 
considering if we would offset or not. In response to Senator Durbin, I 
pointed out, typically we don't offset this program but we have at 
certain times in the past. My preference would be, frankly, to get this 
bill done and then look at this issue over the longer term without 
preconditions. So we have to be clear. We can move this and we should 
move it.
  Again, this question of offsets seems to be coming up more and more, 
as was reflected in the comments of the Senator from Illinois. As we 
initiated this program under President Bush back in 2008--and the 
unemployment rate was roughly 5.5 percent, much lower than it is 
today--we did not ask for offsets every time. In fact, it was the 
exception to the rule. I think now is not the time, particularly in 
this 90-day proposal which Senator Heller and I have.
  We have worked through some difficult issues, and I commend Senator 
Murray and Congressman Ryan particularly for the work on the budget, 
and I think we can work through this issue. So I again urge that we 
thoughtfully and very conscientiously and collaboratively work together 
longer term, but not ignore the crisis today--not leave 1.3 million, 
and more, Americans dangling, uncertain, desperate, frustrated, losing 
not only their income but in many respects their identity and their 
dignity. We can do better than that. Then we have the time--we have the 
time to work constructively, collaboratively, and cooperatively to come 
up with principled proposals to extend these benefits for hopefully the 
whole year.
  Madam President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Heitkamp). The Senator from Kansas.

                       Remembering Sonny Zetmeir

  Mr. MORAN. Madam President, I appreciate the opportunity to be here 
on the Senate floor this morning since I am intruding on the discussion 
about unemployment insurance extension. However, I wish to take a few 
minutes to highlight the life of a Kansan who passed in late 2013.
  At the end of last year, I learned of the death of a resident of 
Parsons, KS, in the southeast corner of our State. E.J. ``Sonny'' 
Zetmeir was a person of such optimism and so engaged in improving the 
lives of other people, I wanted to highlight and pay my respects to him 
and his family.
  The community of Parsons lost one of its greatest champions when 
Sonny Zetmeir passed away. His humor and selflessness truly made an 
incredible impact upon that community.
  Sonny had moved to Parsons, KS, from Grandview, MO, with his parents 
in 1965, along with a company his family owned that made cabinets. The 
company was called Grandview Products. He originally agreed with his 
family to stay in Parsons for a year to help get the business off the 
ground in its new location, but his commitment to his family and to his 
family's business continued to grow and he never left. He went on to 
purchase the company from his parents when they retired in 1982, and he 
helped build it into the outstanding cabinetmaking business it is 
  Under his leadership, Grandview Products grew from a local small 
business with 24 employees to a $50 million company with 430 employees, 
shipping cabinets from coast to coast. Today, the company is the 
largest employer in Parsons, and it also owns a facility in the 
neighboring community of Cherryvale.
  Sonny's legacy as a businessman is rivaled only by his commitment to 
his community and improving the lives of others around him. As 
president and CEO of Grandview Products, he cared deeply about the 
health and well-being of his employees and their families. Through the 
recession of 2008, he fought hard to keep the company's doors open and 
keep as many employees as possible at work. When Grandview Products 
regained its footing, he worked to bring many of the former employees 
back to work.
  Even when he received the devastating cancer diagnosis that would 
ultimately take his life, just a few weeks later, Sonny's thoughts 
immediately went to the well-being of his employees and their families. 
His wife Sophia relayed this story about his final weeks. She says:

       His number one concern was the company and his employees. 
     It wasn't just his employees, it was the families that he was 
     responsible for . . . Sonny was able to have a meeting with 
     216 employees. First, they all got a raise . . . so they 
     wouldn't be afraid for their futures. No raises had been 
     given in 5 years because of the recession. We're making money 
     now, so everyone got a raise. Then, he told them who was 
     going to be running what departments. Then, he told them how 
     sick he was.

  But his concerns for others and selflessness extended well beyond his 
business. He was passionate about Grandview Products being a locally 
owned company, and he felt a calling to serve the community through his 
  Over the years, Sonny donated cabinets to community projects, 
churches, and schools. He also encouraged his employees to be 
charitable in whatever capacity they were able. In fact, Sonny was so 
dedicated to giving back to the local community that he would only buy 
Girl Scout cookies from Girl Scouts in his home counties of Labette and 
  His service, honors, and achievements are numerous, and they include 
two terms as a trustee of Labette Community College and chairman of its 
capital fund campaign; 6 years as Labette County Republican chairman; 
board member of Meadowlark Girl Scout Council; and many years as 
president of the Parsons Area Community Foundation.
  Sonny was named Parsons Chamber Business Person of the Year and the 
Kansas State Chamber Employer of the Year in 2003. He received the 
Kansas Manufacturers Association management appreciation award in 2007, 
and in 2008 he was chosen to receive the Cardinal Citation Award by 
Labette Community College. Since 1985 the Zetmeirs have cosponsored the 
Fourth of July fireworks at Marvel Park in Parsons.

  I have always believed what we do here in the Nation's Capital is 
important, but the reality is we change the world one person at a time. 
So while what we do in the Senate matters, so much more is accomplished 
by a person like Sonny. Sonny Zetmeir lived that life. By investing his 
time and talent and financial support into the community where he 
lived, he made a difference every day. His involvement in the community 
and his selflessness serves as an inspiration and should be a role 
model for every American.
  He was married to his wife Sophia for 51 years and was a devoted 
father to their 3 daughters: Ellen, Joan, and Amy. I ask the Senate to 
join me today in extending our heartfelt sympathies to Sonny's wife and 
to his family as they begin this new year in the absence of their loved 
  He was loved by them, and he will be greatly missed. If one's value 
in life is determined by whether or not you made a difference while you 
were here on this Earth, Sonny's life was priceless. God bless him and 
let him be a role model for all of us.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Mr. MARKEY. Madam President, 1.3 million people already have not had 
a happy new year. That is because, when we tried to extend the 
emergency unemployment insurance before the holidays, the Republican 
leadership said no. The temperatures may be dropping to new lows, but 
we should not freeze unemployment benefits.
  When the economy was collapsing and AIG, the multinational insurance 
company, needed funds, we found that money for AIG. But when the 
Americans who are still recovering from the very recession caused by 
these institutions need more unemployment insurance, we just cannot 
seem to find a way to get it done.
  These are not just numbers. These people, 1.3 million people across 
the country and 60,000 in my home State of Massachusetts, now face the 
harsh reality in 2014 that their country no longer has their backs.
  One of these people is named Vera Volk. She is from Lynn, MA, just 

[[Page S92]]

of Boston. She is a 20-year employee in the biotech/pharmaceutical 
industry who was laid off in May of 2013. Her layoff was in part due to 
sequestration, cuts in the Federal funding of biotech last year.
  Last month Vera lost her unemployment benefits when the emergency 
unemployment insurance program ended. Vera has suffered a double 
injustice. First, her job was eliminated through sequestration, and 
then she was denied the extension of her unemployment benefits. Without 
the additional unemployment insurance, Vera and her family now need 
help to obtain food and medical assistance. In the near future, Vera's 
family faces the loss of their car and their home. Thousands of 
families in Massachusetts are facing similar but equally difficult 
decisions due to the termination of this critical program.
  Published reports say that unemployment insurance kept 2.5 million 
Americans, including 600,000 children, out of poverty last year alone. 
That is why I am a cosponsor of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation 
Extension Act that Senators Reed and Heller have introduced, to 
reinstate and continue Federal support for the emergency unemployment 
insurance program until the end of March. Under that legislation, 
unemployed residents of Massachusetts such as Vera Volt would be 
eligible to receive up to 35 weeks of additional unemployment benefits.
  Today, there are approximately 11.3 million Americans out of work and 
looking for a job. In Massachusetts, the unemployment rate is 7.1 
percent and approximately 245,000 are looking for work. Unfortunately, 
in too many cities such as Lawrence, New Bedford, and Springfield--all 
over Massachusetts there are cities with much higher unemployment 
rates. Those unemployed workers in Massachusetts and across this 
country are finding it extremely difficult to find a job in this 
market. According to the Economic Policy Institute, for every one job 
opening there are 3.1 unemployed workers. So 2 out of every 3 job 
seekers have no job that they can actually find. Yet we are going to 
pretend that there is a job for them to be able to find.
  There are many people who believe they are not working hard enough to 
find a job. Let me tell you something. Back in 2000, the unemployment 
rate in the United States of America went down to 3.8 percent. Guess 
what happened. People who were unemployed took those jobs. When 
unemployment goes down to 3.8 percent, when the government and the 
private sector are doing their job, people come to work.
  In Massachusetts in 2000, unemployment went down to 2.8 percent. 
People were not hiding under their beds. People were not pretending 
they could not work. When the job was there, people took it. This is 
not ancient history; this is 2000, 3.8 percent unemployment, 2.8 
percent unemployment for the State of Massachusetts. People who are 
offered a job will take a job. The jobs are not there. It is not the 
fault of these families. It is not the fault of these job seekers. We 
should not be punishing them. We should not be punishing their families 
because this capitalist system is not producing the jobs right now.
  We have to reach out with a helping hand to these families so they 
can make it through this difficult time when the system is failing 
them. Instead, we are going to blame them for not finding jobs that do 
not exist. It is a beautiful circular argument where you never have to 
help the people who are actually being victimized by a failure in the 
economy. The truth is--and I restate this--when it went down to 3.8 
percent unemployment in 2000, employers called these people back and 
said we want to put you to work, and the workers said, yes, we are 
ready to do it.
  Here we are, once again, back in this cycle where too many people are 
pointing the finger at the worker when we know the worker will do the 
job. We have to be honest. The system, this capitalist system, this 
interaction between the government and capitalism right now is not 
producing the jobs for these workers. We have to work on that. That is 
our responsibility. We should be humble enough to say that it is the 
government, it is the private sector, not working together smarter--not 
harder--in order to accomplish these goals for all of these workers 
across our country.
  If we did that, I think that ultimately we would have the very 
interesting result, according to all economists, of actually injecting 
more funding into the economy, creating more jobs, not destroying an 
additional 200,000 or 300,000 additional jobs this year because we did 
not inject the funding that would be provided to the unemployed that 
would be spent on the economy that would keep it on the upward tick it 
is on right now.
  Instead, paradoxically, we are going to wind up with Republicans, if 
they are successful in cutting off this funding for long-term 
unemployment, seeing unemployment actually rise instead of being lower.
  We have to work together in a bipartisan fashion in order to make 
smart investments now that will create the jobs, continue our country's 
economic recovery, and lower unemployment. I believe that our national 
strategy for job growth must continue to emphasize the areas where we 
excel as a nation. It is education, it is health care, it is biotech, 
it is clean tech, it is technology in general, and it is the investment 
into these areas that continues to give us the opportunity to be an 
engine for job growth in the world.
  But while we chase this dawn of a brighter economy, we must not leave 
behind millions of Americans and their families. Let's not punish those 
who are already the victims and who continue to be the victims of a 
Wall Street collapse because we, as a nation, fail to understand and 
identify these innocent victims who still sit up there with their 
  I hope we can come together on a bipartisan basis to continue this 
program which is such a lifeline to the unemployed, their families and 
our economy.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Missouri.
  Mr. BLUNT. Madam President, first of all, on the bill before us, we 
should be sure to continue to remember, if you are an employee and do 
lose your job today or tomorrow or in coming weeks, in every State you 
immediately qualify for 6 months of unemployment. In States that have 
high unemployment you immediately qualify for an additional 13 to 20 
  There are really two different debates going on here today. One is, 
is this really a long-term plan or a long-term policy? I suggest if 
this Congress and the administration spent the kind of effort and time 
on what it takes to create private sector jobs or encourage the 
environment where that happens, we would be spending our time much more 
wisely than we are as we continue to perpetuate a program that the 
majority would suggest should not even be paid for and many would 
suggest is just not a program at all.
  Other things that are affecting our economy is why I came to the 
floor today. There are a number of things, from constantly talking 
about more taxes to higher utility bills to more regulation to, 
obviously, this overwhelming discussion about health care. I noticed 
the majority leader this weekend said that roughly a third of all the 
people who have been added to the insured roles because of the 
Affordable Care Act were because of a bill I introduced in 2009 that 
would allow dependents or children to stay on their family policies 
longer. I was the only one who introduced that bill in the House. I 
don't think it was introduced in the Senate. I thought it was a good 
idea then. I think it is a good idea now. Apparently, it is such a good 
idea that a third of all the people who have insurance that did not 
have insurance before are just because of that bill.
  I have the bill before me. It was H. Res. 3887. It is 3\1/2\ pages 
that could have passed by itself--not 2,700 pages, 3\1/2\ pages that 
would have added a third of all of the people the majority of the 
Senate said had been added because of the Affordable Care Act. No 
taxpayer money involved; 3\1/2\ pages that would not have disrupted 
anybody else's insurance.
  There were other solutions out there that would have made a lot more 
sense. I am tired of hearing from the administration that nobody else 
had any other ideas. Apparently my idea was one-third of all the people 
who have been added to insurance, according to the majority leader. 
Apparently, I had a third of all of the ideas, and they were in 3\1/2\ 
pages with no taxpayer cost.

[[Page S93]]

  Just as I suspect is the case with every Senator, I am getting 
letters, postings on our Facebook page, contacts through all of the 
social media every day, from Missourians who are seeing this is not 
working out like they thought it was going to work out. At Ozark 
Technical Community College in Springfield, MO, my hometown, the 
adjunct faculty there, as is the case in many community colleges, has 
taught an awful lot of the courses. I think 58 percent of the courses 
taught are taught not by full-time faculty members but by part-time 
members. The problem is those faculty members are now more part-time 
than they were before. Many of them were teaching 30 credit hours per 
year prior to this year. But largely because of the Affordable Care 
Act, they are now teaching 24 credit hours. They lost that percentage 
of their work, that percentage of their pay, that percentage of their 
ability to work with and be dedicated to students.
  According to the Springfield newspaper, the Affordable Care Act is 
one of the reasons that for those faculty members, 58 percent of all 
the credit hours taught are taught by people many of whom were teaching 
30 credit hours and are now are teaching 24 credit hours. There is only 
one reason that they are working 24 hours a week instead of 30, and 
that is because 30 is the point where benefits, according to the 
Affordable Care Act, have to be offered at a level that is defined by 
the Affordable Care Act, not defined by the community college.
  In fact, some community college in America, I am sure, gave some 
benefits before for people who were part of the adjunct faculty, just 
not the benefits the Federal Government appears to think are absolutely 
  Let me go through a few emails from people who reached out to our 
office in recent days.
  Jeffrey, from Blue Springs, MO, is a small business owner who offers 
health care benefits to his employees. Jeffrey said:

       It feels like a bait and switch. Get everyone to drop the 
     coverage they liked, then stick it to them once company 
     provided healthcare is no longer available.

  When I was home--as I was for much of the break we just had--I asked 
people: What are you doing with your health care? Employer after 
employer who doesn't have 50 employees and is not impacted by this is 
saying: I think the government is about to take this over, and before 
they get in, I am getting out.
  The 12 people at the dentist's office and the 36 people at the radio 
station either lost their health care January 1 or already know they 
are going to lose it next January 1, and the only reason is the so-
called Affordable Care Act.
  Marsha, out of Auxvasse, MO, has three children who are all under the 
age of 5. Her husband's employer has been informed that because of 
ObamaCare, they will have to absorb more than $1 million in order to 
keep providing insurance for their employees. The employer is still 
trying to do that, but the coverage is not what it was, the deductible 
is higher than it was, and one of the messages is ``We may not be able 
to do this much longer.''
  Sabra and her husband, from Purdy, MO, were notified that they will 
lose health care--and did lose their health care--on December 31 
because of the health care act. She said:

       We live on less than $14,000. Now we are at a point where 
     we have to make a choice, food or medication, both of which I 
     can no longer afford. So I choose to go without the much 
     needed medication.

  Theresa's husband--they are from Joplin, MO--lost his coverage on 
December 31. When she tried to sign up for health coverage at 
healthcare.gov, she was told they were ineligible because they were 
incarcerated. It turns out neither of them has ever been arrested or 
incarcerated at all, but they were ineligible because they were 
  I guess the greater point there is that he lost his health care. She 
would not have been on healthcare.gov and found out--much to her 
surprise--that the government believes she is incarcerated if her 
husband hadn't lost his health care at work.
  Melanie, from St. Charles, MO, is a single mother of three. Her 
employers cut her hours because of ObamaCare. She is no longer able to 
work more than 28 hours a week and had to find two additional part-time 
jobs to make up for the job she lost.
  Here is what she said:

       I feel like the government is working against me, and I am 
     the person they say they are trying to help.

  Jean, from St. Louis, said her insurance was canceled because of the 
President's health care plan. The most similar plan she could find in 
the exchange to the one she had before cost $775 per month, which is 
more than double what she was paying before the Affordable Care Act.
  She said:

       Why did we break a healthcare system that allowed people to 
     find what they needed, instead of just government making 
     improvements to it?

  Jefferson City Schools, which is in the same city as our State 
capital, said the health care plan will cost their school district 
$150,000. They have to pay for health insurance for substitute 
teachers, which they didn't pay for in the past. There are people who 
are listening to this who will think: That is fine; they are paying for 
substitute teachers. Many of those substitute teachers are no longer 
allowed to work 30 hours a week in school districts all over America, 
and then there are others in districts, such as this one, where it 
costs $150,000 more than it did.
  The district officials in the article I read didn't go as far as to 
say the Federal Government is hurting more than it is helping, but they 
did point out that $150,000 is about three full-time teachers whom they 
won't hire whom they might have been able to hire otherwise.
  Barbara, from Novinger, MO, said:

       For the first time in 50 years, my husband and I do not 
     have health care. My hours have been reduced from 40 to 28 
     hours a week and they pulled out our insurance at work.

  Interestingly, employers who provided insurance for years because 
they thought it was the right thing to do and the competitive thing to 
do are now taking a different view of this when the government begins 
to tell them what they have to do.
  I think it is one of the most interesting applications of the health 
care law. When the government begins to tell you what you have to do, 
then suddenly it is OK not to do anything except what you have to do. 
How do you meet that criteria? How do you draw that line? You have 
people work less than 30 hours, you don't create new jobs, or you 
outsource your work.
  Let me give three or four more examples as I finish with my time on 
the floor.
  Sandra, from Springfield, is upset that her health care plan will 
require them to have pediatric dentistry and maternity care.
  She said:

       I'm upset that my health care plan will require my husband 
     and I to have pediatric dentistry and maternity care that we 
     do not need to have.

  I don't know how many letters like that all of us have received. The 
benefits are supposed to be better than the insurance they had, but for 
a whole lot of people, it turns out these are benefits they simply 
don't need. Suddenly, they are paying for benefits they don't need, and 
people who don't have insurance can have insurance once they get sick. 
How is that supposed to make any kind of economic sense or health care 
  Mark, from Chesterfield, MO, said that his plan was canceled because 
his plan--back to my point, I suppose--didn't meet the requirements of 
the President's health care plan.
  Here is what he said:

       My current plan will no longer be offered after December of 
     2014. This is a direct contradiction to President Obama's 
     promise that I could keep my plan.

  Some people lost their insurance on December 31 of last year. Other 
people have already been told they are going to lose their insurance 
December 31 of next year.
  This letter is from somebody who works at the Ozarks Medical Center 
and lives in West Plains.

       We are a sole community provider, with the closest hospital 
     providing the same level of care or above over 100 miles 
     away. The loss of this healthcare system will devastate the 
     economics of this community and surrounding communities.

  What we are going to find is a system that is not designed to meet 
the needs of the people of the country. What we could have done is we 
could have given

[[Page S94]]

them more choices to figure out what they need to meet their needs 
instead of coming up with a system that simply is going to leave so 
many people who had insurance 2 years ago without insurance 2 years 
from now. Surely that wasn't the goal, but people in this Chamber and 
Washington, DC, had better wake up and figure this out. Whether that 
was the goal or not, it is going to be the result if we don't do 
something about it.
  The best thing to do is to start over--now that we have learned all 
we have learned over the last 4 years--and make changes to the best 
health care system in the world that will make it even better and work 
for more people.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Republican whip.
  Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, despite the differences between the 
different sides of the aisle on the underlying legislation--
particularly on the refusal so far of the majority leader to actually 
pay for the $6 billion cost of the 3-month extension of long-term 
unemployment benefits and adding that $6 billion to the $17.3 trillion 
national debt--I am confident both parties would like to find a way to 
deal with the problem of America's long-term unemployed.
  There are people who don't necessarily want to collect unemployment 
benefits because they want a job and they want to work. They want to 
provide for their families.
  Even as we stand here and debate yet another extension of Federal 
unemployment benefits, it is important that we keep the big picture in 
mind. Obviously, what we are talking about--just to remind everybody--
is the basic unemployment program, which provides half a year or 26 
weeks of unemployment benefits. Democrats want to extend that emergency 
measure, which was enacted after the fiscal crisis of 2008 and now 
appears to be permanent. We have spent $250 billion since 2008, and to 
continue to recklessly borrow money from our creditors, such as the 
Chinese, and others, and leave it for our children to pay back--how 
responsible is that?
  The best way to help the unemployed and the best way to help 
Americans and America is to increase economic growth and increase job 
  We had a grand experiment known as the stimulus, which was back in 
2009 when we had $1 trillion worth of borrowed money. Grand projections 
were made at that time that if the Federal Government would just spend 
borrowed money rather than have the private sector do it, we would see 
unemployment rates plummet, and, of course, that has proven not to be 
the case. In fact, this economic recovery after the great recession of 
2008 has been the slowest economic recovery we have seen since the 
Great Depression back in the 1930s.
  Congress and the Federal Government can't adopt policies that hamper 
growth and discourage job creation and expect the economy to grow and 
jobs to be created. Let me say that again. You can't adopt policies 
that actually discourage small businesses from starting a business or 
growing their business and creating jobs and expect jobs and economic 
growth to follow. What that means is that, notwithstanding the good 
intentions of those who embrace some of these policies, they are 
actually hurting the unemployed no matter how many times they want to 
extend unemployment benefits on a long-term basis. Unfortunately, that 
is exactly what the Obama administration has done time and time again.
  Let me say that I am confident President Obama would like to help 
people who can't find work. I am sure the President believes as well 
that ObamaCare will improve the health care system for 300-plus million 
Americans. The problem is that we have seen that this experiment in big 
government and government takeovers--whether it is of the health care 
system or through a $1 trillion stimulus package--simply has not 
worked. At some point good intentions have to give way to reality and 
the facts, especially when those good intentions are not translated 
into good results.
  Let me give one example. Recently, I was in Tyler, TX--which is over 
in northeast Texas near Louisiana--at a restaurant doing a roundtable 
on the impact of the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, on employers, 
such as the owner of the small diner where we met. He told many tales, 
but one story that stuck in my mind was of a single mother who, instead 
of working her normal 40 hours a week, was relegated to a part-time job 
of 30 hours a week, and that is in order for her employer to avoid the 
penalties and mandates of ObamaCare. So what this single mom has to do 
in order to compensate for her lost income is to find another part-time 
job. So instead of working 40 hours at one job, she works 60 hours at 
two jobs in order to make up for that lost income. Here again, if the 
President and his allies think we are going to make up for the lost 
wages this single mom is making by having her workweek cut from 40 
hours to 30 hours, I think they need to think again. That is what I 
mean when I say the policies of this administration have actually hurt 
the very people they now say they want to help by increasing long-term 
unemployment benefits.

  It is true that facts are stubborn, and there is a mountain of 
evidence that says if we pay people too generously, it actually 
discourages some people from actively seeking employment. In fact, 
several years ago, President Obama's own former chief White House 
economist said that ``job search is inversely related to the generosity 
of employment benefits.'' Translated, that means if we pay people too 
much not to work, some people are going to be persuaded not to look for 
  Indeed, I know there are perhaps many explanations for the slow 
economic recovery and the high rate of unemployment, which is up around 
7 percent, including the largest number of people who simply dropped 
out of the workforce in the last 30 years, known as the labor 
participation rate. There are a lot of reasons for why we find 
ourselves where we are now. But adding benefits for people not to work 
and not dealing with the underlying problem of slow economic growth and 
people being discouraged from creating new jobs or making full-time 
work part-time work--we need to be looking at the root causes of the 
problem as well as the problems and the policies of this administration 
time and time again.
  The majority leader and his allies want to extend benefits for 3 more 
months--3 more months. This is on top of the 26 weeks which are part of 
the basic unemployment compensation package. But my question is, if we 
want to extend it for 3 months, where will we find ourselves 3 months 
from now? Will we be met with yet another request for the extension of 
long-term unemployment benefits that adds another $6 billion to the 
deficit? What about 3 months later?
  I hope I can be forgiven for saying this feels like a political 
exercise more than a sincere effort to deal with the underlying problem 
of joblessness in our country, particularly since we are $17.3 trillion 
in debt, something the President seems to not care one bit about. Also, 
as the Federal Reserve begins to wind down their bond-buying program, 
we are going to see interest rates go up and we are going to end up 
spending more and more tax dollars just to pay our creditors for the 
debt while we ought to be focused on dealing with some of the root 
causes of unemployment.
  Let me get back to my point. Some Republicans have offered to find 
ways to pay for this 3-month extension. My impression is that if that 
were done, it would probably happen--for 3 months. But we have also 
suggested long-term reforms that would make our system of unemployment 
insurance more effective. Senator Alexander, a former Secretary of 
Education and former Governor of Tennessee, discussed yesterday at our 
conference lunch some ideas he has, including making Pell grants--I 
think they are in excess of $5,000 per person--available so people can 
study job retraining at community colleges during that 26 weeks of 
unemployment. So if they can't find a job in their existing field, they 
can learn new skills that will allow them to get well-paying jobs in 
another field, using those Pell grants for job retraining.
  There are a lot of good ideas about how we can improve the 
unemployment system if, in fact, the majority leader will just allow 
it. He remains agnostic, I would say, at this point about whether he is 
even going to allow us to offer amendments to pay for the 3-month 
extension or some of these good, solid ideas of dealing with the root 

[[Page S95]]

rather than just continuing to treat the symptom with the same lack of 
success in terms of decreasing joblessness and getting the economy back 
on track.
  I know many of our colleagues on the other side share these same 
goals. Yet the majority leader has made it clear this week that he is 
more interested in rhetoric and political gamesmanship than in real 
reform. That is why I objected on Monday night when 17 Senators were 
missing. The majority leader wanted to have a vote on cloture that was 
doomed to fail. Why? Not because he was interested in a real solution 
but because he wants a ``gotcha'' moment, to say, look, with 17 
Senators missing, the 60-vote threshold for cloture was not going to be 
achieved. What possible purpose could be served by having that vote 
then instead of doing it on Tuesday? The vote was moved to Tuesday, at 
which time that 60-vote threshold was met. The only conclusion I can 
draw is the majority leader was interested in a ``gotcha'' moment 
instead of a real solution. Fortunately, he reconsidered and moved it 
to Tuesday.
  So far, the majority leader is refusing to pay for this extension of 
benefits. They are refusing to change the program by modernizing it, 
making it more efficient, and helping people learn new skills so they 
can get back to work, and they are refusing to consider any other ideas 
than those cooked up in the majority leader's conference room behind 
closed doors.
  I have in my hand 11 Republican amendments, many of them are 
bipartisan or they enjoy bipartisan support. For example, Senator Paul 
from Kentucky has the Economic Freedom Zones Act. I saw the President 
announce this morning--I think there were five and he calls them by 
another name--basically, the same sort of concept, looking at blighted 
areas and trying to provide incentives for investment and job creation 
in those areas of high unemployment. So Senator Paul has a bill that 
would deal with that.
  Senator Portman from Ohio has a reform that would prohibit 
simultaneous collection of disability benefits and unemployment. That 
is double-dipping, it seems to me, and something we ought to be dealing 
  Senator Moran of Kansas has a bill he calls the Startup Act 2.0, 
which is a jobs bill.
  Senator Coats of Indiana wants to offset the extension of 
unemployment insurance by delaying individual and employer mandates for 
1 year. The President has already done that unilaterally for employer 
mandates. Why not delay the individual mandate for 1 year and use that 
to offset this extension for 3 months of unemployment insurance?
  So there are plenty of ideas out there. I mentioned some of them. 
Both of the Senators from Oklahoma have amendments that would be good 
amendments to offer on this legislation. The Senator from Louisiana has 
one. The Senator from New Hampshire has one. So these are at least 11 
ideas. If the majority leader would allow us to actually have a real 
debate as opposed to a political exercise, I believe we could come up 
with a bipartisan consensus that would actually help deal with the 
underlying problem and not just treat the symptoms in a way that 
ignores those root causes.
  Let me get back to what I think is cause No. 1 for the difficulties 
many small businesses are having and the difficulties many people who 
work for those small businesses are having; that is, ObamaCare. I 
realize some people would like us to believe this is all about the Web 
site and once the Web site gets fixed it is all going to be hunky-dory, 
regardless of the fact that more people have lost their current 
coverage by cancellation than have been signed up on the ObamaCare 
  The administration seems particularly proud of the fact that 
ObamaCare has added hundreds of thousands of Americans to Medicaid. As 
we all know, this is the safety net program designed to help low-income 
people. The problem is Medicaid itself is a fundamentally broken 
program that is failing our neediest citizens. The problems with 
Medicaid are a stark reminder that access to coverage does not mean the 
same thing; access to coverage is different from having access to care.
  Here is what I mean by that. In Texas only about one-third of doctors 
will see a new Medicaid patient. Someone might say that doesn't make 
much sense. It does if we consider the fact that Medicaid--this 
government program--pays doctors about 50 cents on the dollar of what a 
private insurance coverage would pay, and because it reimburses at such 
a low rate, some physicians have simply said: I can't continue to add 
new patients to my practice and be compensated 50 cents on the dollar. 
So they have limited their practice. That is what I mean when I say 
there is a difference between access to coverage and access to care.
  Medicaid is sorely in need of reform. All across the country, 
Medicaid patients have been forced to endure the humiliating experience 
of walking into a doctor's office and then getting turned away because 
the office doesn't accept Medicaid for the reason I mentioned.
  We have also seen lawsuits brought by providers and patients against 
their own State Medicaid Program, saying the reimbursement rates are so 
low, doctors can't actually see patients at that price. In Texas, a 
2012 survey conducted by the Texas Medical Association shows that a 
large majority of Texas physicians agree that Medicaid is broken and 
should not be used as a mechanism to reduce the uninsured. Despite all 
of that, there are those who say that ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion 
will help hospitals cope with excessive emergency room visits. Again, 
the problem is that flies in the face of the facts. In a recent study 
in Oregon, Medicaid recipients in Oregon went to the emergency room 40 
percent more frequently than people without health insurance. One might 
ask why in the world would they go to the emergency room for routine 
care if they have Medicaid coverage? Because they can't find a doctor 
to see them at Medicaid prices. Again, ObamaCare is creating the 
illusion of access but with no real access to care but for through the 
emergency room.
  There are much better ways to expand health coverage than simply 
pushing Americans into a dysfunctional safety net program that is 
supposed to help the most vulnerable in our society but which does not. 
Our side of the aisle made that argument consistently 4 years ago, but 
the President and his allies chose not to listen and decided to go it 
themselves on a purely party-line vote when ObamaCare was passed. Maybe 
after voters render their verdict on ObamaCare in November, we will 
have another chance to revisit this issue.
  Rather than asking the States to expand their existing Medicaid 
Programs, the Federal Government should give each State greater 
flexibility to design a program that meets those States' needs. What 
works best in Texas may not work as well in New York and vice versa. 
What we ought to do is give the States a defined amount of Medicaid 
funds with very few strings attached so they can create innovative 
programs that provide quality care. One of the good things about doing 
that is the States would actually be the laboratories of democracy we 
have talked about from time to time, where we can actually learn from 
best practices and innovations, and other States can then use that 
knowledge to improve access to quality health care at a more affordable 
  I will tell my colleagues that despite all of our differences over 
ObamaCare, Republicans and Democrats alike both want to find a way to 
make health care more affordable and more accessible. Unfortunately, 
ObamaCare has proven not to have worked out as the most ardent 
advocates hoped or promised.
  Republicans believe the best way to achieve these goals is to leave 
the choices in the hands of patients. That is the fundamental 
difference between ObamaCare and the alternatives. The President wants 
the government to choose the plan, to choose the doctor, and to make 
those decisions for patients. We think it is better to leave those 
choices in the hands of patients, in consultation with their own 
personal physicians--a doctor they have come to trust over the years--
to help counsel them on what are wise health care choices for 
themselves and their families. We can add to that by increasing 
transparency and enlarging a real marketplace so people can shop, as 
consumers do day in and day out. We know that kind of transparency in

[[Page S96]]

terms of price and competition, when it comes to people providing a 
service, improves the quality, and it lowers costs. That is what our 
market economy teaches us. We know, I would hope by now, the answer is 
not to place more people into a broken government program that takes 
their choices away.

  As I said earlier, good intentions do not always produce good 
results. But I would hope we would learn from our mistakes as 
individuals, as a Congress. The results of the last 5 years include 
some pretty miserable outcomes that I would hope would cause us to 
reconsider, as we go forward together, to try to address the problem of 
chronic joblessness in our society.
  As I said, the last 5 years have given us the longest period of high 
unemployment since the Great Depression, a massive decline in labor 
workforce participation. The percentage of people actually looking for 
work has declined to a 30-year low. It has also given us growing income 
inequality--the thing the President says he cares the most about, but 
he does not offer any proposals that deal with the underlying cause, 
merely treating the symptoms by paying people extended unemployment 
  We have seen an explosion of job-killing regulations. I am reminded 
when I see the Presiding Officer that I think the city with the lowest 
unemployment rate in America is Bismarck, ND, if I am not mistaken. 
Close behind that is Midland, TX. The two things they have in common 
are the shale gas renaissance and the jobs that have been created by 
unleashing this great American job-creating machine and particularly in 
the energy sector. So what we need to do is look for ways to avoid some 
of the job-killing regulations, which make it harder, not easier, to 
produce those jobs in places such as North Dakota and Texas.
  We have also seen millions of canceled health care policies, millions 
of people with higher premiums, not lower premiums like the President 
offered and promised. We have seen an unprecedented increase in our 
national debt and an incredible complacency when it comes to adding $6 
billion more to our national debt for a 3-month extension of long-term 
unemployment benefits.
  We have seen, not surprisingly, associated with all of this a huge 
erosion in the public trust in the Federal Government. That is why this 
side of the aisle has been pushing, and will continue to push, a new 
set of policies that address the biggest concerns of the American 
people and the biggest challenges facing the American dream.
  The only question is this list of 11 bills that Senators on this side 
of the aisle would like to offer on this underlying legislation, not 
just to treat the symptoms of unemployment, but actually deal with the 
root causes--whether the majority leader is going to allow those 
amendments to be taken up, debated, and voted on, and to allow the 
Senate to work its will on a bipartisan basis. That remains to be seen. 
If he does not--and recent history does not give me a lot of optimism 
that he will--then I think it will become even more transparent that 
this is not an exercise in trying to help people who are out of work. 
This is an exercise in trying to politicize this in a way that 
distracts attention from the epic failure of ObamaCare and its wet 
blanket effect on the American economy and job creation.
  So I guess hope springs eternal. You cannot serve in this body and 
hope to make a difference in the lives of the American people without 
being an optimist by nature, but, unfortunately, in the case of the 
majority leader and this, there is some doubt in my mind. I hope he 
proves me wrong. I hope he will open this up to an amendment process 
that will allow us to deal with the root causes and will not just be 
another exercise in gotcha Washington politics.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana.
  Mr. DONNELLY. Madam President, family is important to Hoosiers. We 
work hard every day to care and to provide for our loved ones and to 
give our children and grandchildren the opportunity to live healthy and 
fulfilling lives.
  We also recognize that strong families are often built on good jobs. 
Good jobs allow us to put food on the table, educate our children, and 
ultimately retire in dignity, and good jobs are, of course, critical 
for stronger communities and a vibrant economy. It all starts with 
jobs. Without good jobs, nothing else works.
  As I have said before, most Americans think Congress can do 
something--even if it is just not doing any harm--to help create jobs 
and strengthen our economy. Unfortunately, over the last year, the 
partisan gridlock that has too often defined Congress has been in full 
  During the starkest example of the gridlock, the government shut 
down. A poll found that Americans cited Congress as the single biggest 
threat to our economy. That should have been a wake-up call for all of 
us, a clear signal to collectively focus on working together to give 
our families the opportunity to compete and succeed in the American 
  Opportunity means creating the conditions for businesses to expand 
and to hire more workers. It means an economic environment that 
encourages the private sector to invest and innovate in an ever-
changing global economy. It means providing American workers with the 
training they need to get the skills and education necessary to fill 
the jobs available today and to adapt to fill the jobs and careers of 
the future.
  As we start a new year, I encourage us all to refocus our efforts and 
our attention on our responsibilities to the families we represent. To 
that end, I am focused on my opportunity agenda--a blueprint of 
commonsense policies designed to expand economic opportunities for 
Hoosier workers and workers all across our country, for businesses, and 
for their families in four critical areas where we can help create more 
good jobs: No. 1, going all-in on American energy; No. 2, providing 
American workers the training necessary to fill the jobs available 
today; No. 3, investing in our infrastructure; and, No. 4, keeping our 
country competitive through exports and innovation.
  Why are these four areas important to families across our country? As 
the Presiding Officer knows, a strong domestic energy economy is at the 
foundation of our potential for economic success. Affordable, reliable 
energy allows families to heat their homes and to travel to work and to 
school. Affordable, reliable energy ensures businesses can manufacture 
products efficiently, on time, and can compete in our global economy. 
Affordable, reliable American energy ensures that we are investing our 
money here at home rather than each year sending hundreds of billions 
of dollars overseas to buy energy that is already here in the United 
States. The production of affordable, reliable American energy here at 
home creates jobs here at home, not overseas.
  Our country is blessed with abundant energy resources. In fact, in my 
State of Indiana, we produce coal, biofuels, wind and solar energy, and 
natural gas--and we can do more.
  Going all-in on American energy also means establishing smart 
regulations that protect our environment while also allowing our 
economy to grow. My home State of Indiana is a large producer of coal, 
as I know the Presiding Officer's home State of North Dakota is. We are 
annually in the top 10 of coal-producing States in the Nation. The coal 
industry supports over 3,000 jobs in 10 southwestern Indiana counties 
and contributes over $750 million to our State's economy.
  Hoosiers count on the affordable, reliable energy from our home State 
coal. This is why efforts to regulate carbon dioxide emissions at coal 
plants should be realistic about the technology that exists now and not 
negatively impact our economy. If we do not address these standards in 
a commonsense way, the affordable, reliable energy that Hoosier 
families and businesses depend on is in doubt. We should also continue 
full speed ahead on technology efforts that will make coal a cleaner 
and cleaner energy source for all of our energy needs in the years 
  Indiana is also a leader in biofuel production, where more than 600 
Hoosiers work at 13 ethanol plants and 5 biodiesel plants across our 
State. I have seen firsthand the good work being done at many of these 
plants. They use products grown here at home

[[Page S97]]

to produce fuel here at home, to power vehicles here at home.
  With ethanol and other biofuels, we are not, again, sending our hard-
earned money overseas. We are putting our neighbors to work. We are 
putting their hard work into creating more energy and more opportunity 
in our communities and across our country. This industry is another 
example of American-made energy and American-made entrepreneurial 
  Second, it is very important we help our workforce hit the ground 
running by improving workforce development and training. The Department 
of Labor estimates there are 3.9 million job openings in the United 
States right now, despite a national unemployment rate of 7 percent and 
millions of Americans looking for work.
  Estimates by the Manufacturing Institute indicate there are as many 
as 600,000 job openings in our country that remain unfilled because 
employers cannot find workers who have the necessary skills to do that 
job. We must make a better effort to close this skills gap.
  I often hear from Hoosier business owners, educators, and workers 
about the pressing need to close the skills gap and have people trained 
in all of these opportunities and skills. Workers need to know that the 
time they spend training is more likely to lead to employment in a 
good-paying job, as employers are more likely to hire people they know 
have the training that is needed to be productive on day one.
  Third, it is important we invest in infrastructure. Indiana is called 
the ``Crossroads of America.'' In order to live up to our name, we need 
the best roads, the best rail, the best airports, the best waterways so 
we can continue to expand our logistics and other transportation 
industries. Today, 22 percent of our bridges are structurally deficient 
or functionally obsolete. Seventeen percent of Indiana's roads are in 
poor or mediocre condition.
  A good way to create jobs in Indiana and across the country is to 
establish the right conditions for investment in our country's 
infrastructure. I have and will continue to support encouraging 
investment by requiring government agencies to work together to cut 
redtape, set deadlines, and increase transparency.
  We should be building things in this country, and that means 
expediting the transportation, energy, and other infrastructure 
projects that strengthen our economy.
  Finally, it is important we keep Hoosier and all American businesses 
and industries competitive through the promotion of exports and 
innovation. We produce some of the best quality products in the world--
from automobiles, to agricultural products, to medical devices--and we 
should continue to look for opportunities to sell these products to the 
rest of the world.
  Manufacturing accounts for a big portion of Indiana's exports, and 
manufactured goods exports support nearly 23 percent of Indiana's 
manufacturing jobs. That is much higher than the national average. 
Small businesses account for nearly 17 percent of our exports. We need 
to do more to promote the good work of these Hoosier businesses.
  American businesses are competing in an increasingly challenging 
global economy, and we must promote a global economy that is built on 
responsible and fair trade policies. I am a longtime supporter of 
cracking down on currency manipulation, which results in an unfair 
playing field for American manufacturers.
  The Economic Policy Institute estimated that if we address global 
currency manipulation, we could reduce the U.S. goods trade deficit by 
up to $400 billion and create several million jobs right here at home, 
reducing our national unemployment rate. I have supported enhanced 
oversight of currency exchange rates, including new requirements that 
the Commerce Department investigate claims of undervalued foreign 
currency at the request of U.S. industry.
  I also support using U.S. trade law to counter the economic harm to 
U.S. manufacturers caused by this currency manipulation, and tools to 
address the impact of this misalignment of currency on U.S. industries. 
We all know good trade policies create good jobs, fuel economic growth, 
and benefit consumers both at home and abroad. Yet we also must 
remember that trade only works when everyone is playing by the same 
  That is why I testified before the U.S. International Trade 
Commission regarding the importance of maintaining existing antidumping 
and countervailing duty orders against unfairly traded imports of hot-
rolled steel. The steel industry supports over 150,000 jobs in Indiana. 
These trade orders help maintain a level playing field for an already 
vulnerable domestic steel industry. Given a level playing field, 
Hoosier workers can compete with anyone in the world, which is why I 
was pleased the ITC ruled that these trade orders would be maintained.
  It is critically important that our intellectual property is also 
respected and is also protected. We have a lot of work to do, but I am 
hopeful that Congress can learn from last year's dysfunction and start 
this year in a bipartisan way. Senators from both parties can agree, 
there is nothing more important to American families and American 
communities than good jobs. They want us to work for them and not worry 
about politics.
  I look forward to continuing these opportunities and these efforts 
under my opportunity agenda. By working on commonsense, bipartisan 
ideas to go all in on American energy, to give workers the tools they 
need to hit the ground running, to invest in our infrastructure, and to 
keep homegrown businesses competitive through exports and innovation, 
we can help lower unemployment and build a stronger economy.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Baldwin). The assistant majority leader.
  Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, 50 years ago today, in his first State 
of the Union Address, President Lyndon Johnson committed America to 
what he called a war on poverty. Over the next several years, America 
conducted the most ambitions, determined, and successful campaign in 
history to reduce poverty since the Great Depression.
  Later today, my friend Senator Harkin, the chairman of the Senate 
HELP Committee, will speak in detail about the accomplishments of the 
war on poverty. I hope my colleagues will listen closely. Senator 
Harkin himself has spent over four decades in Congress working to make 
sure these antipoverty programs continue to work.
  We believe on our side of the aisle that we have to be careful in 
spending taxpayers' dollars. But we also believe in a safety net, a 
safety net for those Americans who, because of circumstances beyond 
their control, need a helping hand. I once worked for a man who served 
in the Senate. He was my inspiration to enter public life. I am honored 
today to have his Senate seat. He was Paul Douglas of Illinois. He once 
said, ``To be a liberal one does not have to be a wastrel.'' He went on 
to say, ``We must, in fact, be thrifty if we are to be really humane.'' 
I think we can balance both. We can help people who need a helping 
hand, but we can do it without wasting taxpayers' dollars.
  So what did this war on poverty of 50 years ago, that has been much 
maligned, achieve? Medicare. Medicaid. The Head Start Program. The 
Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which was the first time our 
Nation committed the Federal Government to helping local school 
districts; special education legislation, the Higher Education Act, 
which increased grants, loans, and work-study opportunities.
  My story is a story that many can repeat. I went to college and law 
school borrowing money from the Federal Government. It was called the 
National Defense Education Act. I borrowed money to get through college 
and law school; otherwise, I could not have done it. The deal was that 
starting a year after graduation, you paid it back over 10 years at 3-
percent interest. I like to think that loan from the government, which 
I paid back, was a good investment. It sure was in my life, for my 
family, and I hope some people in Illinois might think it was a good 
investment for the Nation. But it is an indication that a helping hand 
from the government can make a difference, a profound difference in a 
person's life.
  Before the Higher Education Act and the war on poverty, just over 9 
percent of Americans had college degrees.

[[Page S98]]

Today almost one-third of Americans have at least a bachelor's degree. 
There has been no act of Congress, since President Lincoln pushed 
through the land grant college system during the Civil War, that has 
done more for higher education to democratize it and to give us the 
scientists, doctors, and other educated citizens we need.
  Before the war on poverty, before the Higher Education Act, before 
Federal loans for students, take a look at the colleges and 
universities. It was the province of those who were well-off. It was 
the province of great alumni who took care of their sons and daughters. 
It was a very sophisticated group of people who went on to higher 
education. It did not include a lot of folks like me, the son of an 
immigrant woman who grew up in East Saint Louis, IL. But I got my 
chance, and millions like me got their chance, because of the war on 
poverty, because of the Higher Education Act, and because of the 
thoughtful programs of this Federal Government that gave me and many 
others a helping hand.
  What else was in the war on poverty? The Civil Rights Act of 1964, 
one of the most transformative laws in our history; the Voting Rights 
Act of 1965, which some view as the most important civil rights 
legislation in our history; the Fair Housing Act of 1968; we expanded 
efforts to feed families who were hungry; we created the food stamp 
program, now known as SNAP; and we created the School Breakfast 
  How important is the School Breakfast Program to America and to 
education? Visit a school. Meet the kids. Talk to the teachers about 
what a well-fed child is as a student compared to one who has stomach 
pains from lack of breakfast and lack of food.
  A few years ago there was an interesting exchange, not surprisingly 
on the Glenn Beck show on Fox. There was an actor on there who was 
really upset about the growing role of the Federal Government. Here is 
what he said, this actor on Glenn Beck's Fox News show:

       We are a capitalistic society. Okay. I go into business and 
     I don't make it, I go bankrupt. They, the government, aren't 
     going to bail me out.

  And then he added:

       I have been on food stamps and welfare. Anybody help me 
     out? No.

  Wait a minute. He was on food stamps and welfare. That came from the 
same government he was just maligning. Let me repeat that. This 
conservative actor said:

       I have been on food stamps and welfare. Anybody help me 
     out? No.

  That is an indication of how people get so far afield when they 
criticize the government without pausing to reflect. Folks used to say 
to us during the course of this health care debate: Keep government out 
of my Medicare. My Medicare is important to me. Do not mess it up. Do 
not let government--government created your Medicare. Government 
created Medicaid for the poor and disabled.
  The idea or some variation on it seems to be the position of many of 
our friends across the aisle. When it comes to government efforts to 
reduce poverty and create opportunities for middle-income and poor 
families, they seem to think these programs are just going to reward 
the lazy.
  We are in the middle of a debate right now on unemployment benefits. 
The belief on the Republican side of the aisle is, if you give people 
enough money to pay their rent and their utility bills, to put gas in 
their cars, those lazy people will never go to work.
  I do not believe that. Will there be people who cheat the system? Of 
course. There are wealthy people cheating our tax system. But the fact 
is, the vast majority of Americans given a helping hand want to get 
back to work.
  The extension of unemployment benefits is the humane and right thing 
to do. It used to be the bipartisan thing to do. Right now, we are 
divided. We could only get six Republicans to step up to extend 
unemployment benefits in America. Those benefits are now cut off at 27 
weeks. The average person is out of work in our country for 38 weeks. I 
have met them and I have talked to them. Perhaps people on both sides 
of the aisle should. These folks want to get back to work. They are 
desperate to get back to work. But if you do not give them unemployment 
benefits they cannot put gas in the car, they cannot pay for their cell 
phone. In this day and age, as Senator Reed of Rhode Island said on the 
floor, that is how you go to work and find a job. You need to have your 
cell phone and your car to get up and go. It is not a matter of taking 
a bus and filling out an application on a clipboard any more. We need 
to give those folks a helping hand. Government needs to do it, because 
at this point in their lives they desperately need it.
  I say to my friends in the right conservative circles, put down those 
Ayn Rand books for a minute and take a look at the real world and 
listen to some real economists too. The nonpartisan Congressional 
Budget Office tells us that extending unemployment benefits for the 
long-term unemployed will create 240,000 jobs in America.
  How is that possible? How can spending $26 billion on unemployment 
benefits create jobs? I thought these folks were out of work. What do 
they do with the money they receive in unemployment benefits? Do they 
put it into the stock market, into their savings account? No. They 
spend it. They buy clothes for their kids. They pay the utility bills. 
They fill up their cars with gas. They put it right back in the economy 
because they are living literally day-to-day. So 240,000 jobs will be 
created if we extend unemployment benefits. For those who say we should 
not, sadly they are reducing the number of jobs available. That is the 
fundamental point that many on the far right do not seem to understand. 
Helping to reduce poverty and create opportunity in America is going to 
help us all. All of us. It creates a stronger economy.
  I know Paul Ryan. He is my neighbor, being a Congressman from the 
neighboring State of Wisconsin. I like him. We served on the Simpson-
Bowles Commission together. He is thoughtful. We disagree on a lot of 
issues, but he is a thoughtful, conscientious person. But when he calls 
America's social safety net a hammock that creates dependency and 
perpetrates poverty, he is just plain wrong.
  Opponents of government action who look at the fact that there are 
still poor people in America and conclude that therefore the war on 
poverty failed are just as wrong as he is. The official poverty level 
looks only at cash income. It does not take into account noncash 
benefits such as SNAP or housing assistance.
  A recent analysis by the Center on Budget Policies and Priorities 
used a broader, more accurate measure of poverty called the 
supplemental poverty measure. That measure looks not just at cash 
income but noncash benefits. Using this more accurate measure, the 
center found that government benefits elevated 40 million Americans out 
of poverty in 2011.
  We have these Republican critics of the food stamp program who say: 
It is just plain wrong that so many people are drawing food stamps. 
They ought to go out and meet these people. Who are these people? Out 
of the 43, 44 million Americans drawing food stamps, over half of them 
are children, dependent children who are receiving enough money through 
the food stamp program for their parents to put food on the table. 
There is also a large portion of them who are elderly and disabled, and 
a large portion, 1 million, who are veterans. Those are the recipients. 
Many of those who qualify for food stamps are working. They are not 
getting a very good paycheck. They are earning the current minimum 
wage, which is not enough to get by. Food stamps give them a little 
extra help each month to keep food for their family. That is the 
reality of low-income, hard-working Americans, a reality which sadly 
this Chamber is removed from many times. This Chamber does not realize 
what people are up against.
  Social Security has had the largest impact of any program. But means-
tested programs, such as SNAP, the earned income child credit and the 
child tax credit, lifted 20 million Americans, including 8\1/2\ million 
children, out of poverty. When the Republicans in the House 
particularly want to cut back on these programs, they are going to push 
these hard-working, low-income families deeper into debt and further 
away from the basics they need in life.
  The poverty rate in America is already too high. Growing income 
inequality should be an embarrassment

[[Page S99]]

to all of us. Lifting 40 million Americans out of poverty through the 
war on poverty programs and government assistance is an undeniable 
success. Without the public social safety net, the poverty rate in 
America would be nearly twice what it is today.
  Joe Califano served as the Secretary of Health, Education, and 
Welfare under President Johnson. Here is what he said 15 years ago:

       If there is a prize for the political scam of the 20th 
     century, it should go to the conservatives for propagating as 
     conventional wisdom that the Great Society programs of the 
     1960s were misguided and failed social experiments that 
     wasted taxpayers' money.
       Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, from 1963 
     when Lyndon Johnson took office until 1970 as the impact of 
     his Great Society programs were felt, the portion of 
     Americans living below poverty dropped from 22.2 percent to 
     12.6 percent, the most dramatic decline over such a brief 
     period in this century.

  Califano went on to say:

       This reduction in poverty did not just happen, it was the 
     result of a focused, tenacious effort to revolutionize the 
     role of the Federal Government in a series of interventions 
     that literally enriched the lives of millions of Americans.

  Some of the critics say that it is the job of churches and charities, 
not government, to help those who have hit a rough patch in life.
  One of my ``sheroes'' in life is a woman named Sister Simone 
Campbell. She is the director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice 
organization, and she is probably better known as the ringleader of the 
``Nuns on the Bus.''
  Sister Simone Campbell testified last summer at a House hearing 
chaired by Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. She said that Bread for 
the World has calculated how much money religious institutions and 
charities would have to raise just to make up for food stamp cuts 
proposed by last year's House Republican budget.
  Sister Campbell said: Every church, synagogue, mosque, and house of 
worship in the United States--every one of them--would need to raise 
$50,000 each year for 10 years to make up for proposed cuts that the 
Republicans wanted to make in the food stamp program in the House of 
Representatives. That is only one cut that they have proposed.
  To say that the charities of America, which are legendary and well 
deserved in terms of their praise--to say that they can take care of 
this problem ignores the reality.
  Denigrating and decimating anti-poverty programs won't reduce poverty 
or create jobs or strengthen America's struggling and shrinking middle 
class. As President Johnson said nearly 50 years ago: ``Our time is 
necessarily short and our agenda is already long.''
  So we ask our friends on the other side of the aisle to work with us 
to help Americans. Please start off by extending unemployment benefits 
for 1.3 million Americans. For goodness sake, at this time of year when 
most of this country is facing bone-chilling cold in Wisconsin and 
Illinois--we just went through it this week. I have never seen 
conditions such as this that I can ever remember--and to think that it 
might be part of an unemployed worker's family, wondering if they might 
be able to pay that utility bill, keep the kids warm, put some food on 
the table, while they look for a job--and we pick this moment in time 
to cut unemployment benefits.
  We are a caring and compassionate nation. If we can't stand behind 
those who are struggling at this point in life, who are we? What are 
we? There are all kinds of excuses that could be made, but at the 
bottom line it gets down to something very basic.
  John Kasich is the Governor of Ohio. He and I came to know one 
another when we were both elected to the House of Representatives some 
years ago. He is a Republican. He is one of the few who won in 1982 and 
went on to become Governor of the State.
  He had a moment of reflection the other day, which I will paraphrase. 
He said: I would like to say to my Republican friends, when you die and 
get to the pearly gates, St. Peter is not going to ask you how much you 
invested in your life in making government smaller, you are going to be 
asked what did you do to help the poor while you were on Earth?
  That is a legitimate question Governor Kasich raised, not only for 
Republicans but for all of us. What have we done to help those people 
who are struggling to get by--those who would be very interested in a 
long-term debate about growing our economy but are more interested in 
putting food on the table today. That is what it is all about.
  The war on poverty successfully raised Americans out of poverty. The 
government stepped in when there was no place else to turn. That is 
truly the role of government, to be there when there is no place else 
to turn.
  The American family, through its government, stood by those who were 
less fortunate. We have to do the same thing.
  I will close by saying the proposal Senator McConnell made yesterday 
troubles me greatly. He said: We will pay for the extension of 
unemployment benefits, $26 billion, but the way we will pay for it--the 
Republicans suggested--was to eliminate that section of the Affordable 
Care Act which guarantees that you can't discriminate against people 
because of preexisting medical conditions.
  What the situation was before this law passed was, of course, if 
someone had a child with diabetes, if their wife was recovering from 
cancer, they might not be able to buy health insurance or if they did, 
it would be too expensive. We changed that. We said they can't 
discriminate against people with preexisting conditions.
  Senator McConnell came to the floor yesterday and said: We want to 
eliminate the personal responsibility section when it comes to the 
Affordable Care Act, we want to eliminate the so-called individual 
mandate, and that is how we will pay for 1 year of unemployment 
  What Senator McConnell was suggesting was reintroducing into health 
insurance this discrimination against people with preexisting 
conditions for 300 million Americans as a way to pay for 3 months or 1 
year of unemployment benefits. That is a terrible trade-off.
  I know how much the other side hates and loathes the Affordable Care 
Act. A Senator from Arkansas, Dale Bumpers, used a phrase often: They 
hate the Affordable Care Act like the devil hates holy water.
  But the fact is to turn on 300 million Americans and to remove their 
protection under the Affordable Care Act against discrimination based 
on preexisting medical conditions to pay for unemployment benefits--
what a Faustian bargain.
  Is that the best the other side can come up with? It isn't.
  The best they can come up with is to stand by these people, the less 
fortunate people among us struggling to find work and give them the 
basics of life, give them the necessities they need to get by. I am 
confident they will find a job, get back to work, and they will be 
taxpayers again someday. Let's stand by them, their spouses, and their 
children in this time of need.
  That is what happened 50 years ago with President LBJ's State of the 
Union address. That is what should happen today.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nebraska.
  Mrs. FISCHER. As we begin a new year, the Senate returns with many 
significant challenges before us. One such challenge is the security of 
our citizens' private information.
  Just before Christmas, news broke out that Target, a popular retail 
store in Nebraska and all across this Nation, had experienced an 
enormous data breach involving nearly 40 million debit and credit 
account numbers. That is nearly 1 in 10 Americans who had their 
sensitive personal information put in jeopardy.
  Between November 27 and December 15, scammers silently stole massive 
amounts of consumer information from Target. The timing of this breach 
is significant, not only because it happened during the peak of the 
holiday shopping season, but also because this data is reportedly being 
sold on black markets around the world.
  On December 20, Target announced: ``The information involved in this 
incident included customer name, credit or debit card number, and the 
card's expiration date and CVV.''
  It was further determined on December 27 that encrypted PIN 
information, or encrypted personal identification numbers, associated 
with that data was also stolen.

[[Page S100]]

  This wasn't only an attack on Target, which has 14 stores in my home 
State of Nebraska, it was a crime against millions of hardworking 
citizens. Let me be clear. It is also much more than just a mere 
inconvenience for consumers.
  Yes, such thefts complicate the daily routines of Americans, but it 
can also potentially damage their credit ratings, and it is an 
incredible tax on people's time. It also leaves many feeling 
vulnerable, including, unfortunately, the most vulnerable among us, the 
  As a Member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction 
over this issue, I urge the chairman and our ranking member to begin 
looking into this matter further. Our Nation's entire data security 
system is in desperate need of revamping, and that is going to require 
congressional action.
  What happened with that Target breach was not an isolated incident.
  TJX Companies, which owns national retail chains TJ Maxx and 
Marshalls, was breached in 2007. Sony and Epsilon were also attacked in 
  We learned on New Year's Eve that the popular social communication 
platform Snapchat was also hacked, a breach of about 4.6 million user 
names with their corresponding phone numbers. These are only the latest 
examples, but we all know the problems run much, much deeper.
  Identity theft has been the No. 1 consumer complaint at the Federal 
Trade Commission for the last 13 years in a row. The average financial 
loss for each instance of identity theft is $4,930, and it has been 
estimated that identity theft resulted in a $24.7 billion loss for our 
country in 2012.
  Given these realities, we need to dedicate more time and energy to 
solutions that substantially improve the safety of our online 
activities. While the Target breach is important and deserves our 
attention, so too should the security risks posed by healthcare.gov, as 
well as the Federal and State insurance exchanges set up under 
  Experian, a major U.S. credit reporting bureau, recently released its 
``2014 Data Breach Industry Forecast,'' which states: ``The healthcare 
industry, by far, will be the most susceptible to publicly disclosed 
and widely scrutinized data breaches in 2014.''
  As those who found out the hard way can tell us, healthcare.gov takes 
and holds a lot of sensitive information, including our social security 
numbers, names, and other information that can be transmitted. It has 
also been reported that hackers have attempted to break into the Web 
site at least 16 different times. Several experts say those numbers are 
very conservative estimates of known attempts.
  Health and Human Services contractors also identified security 
vulnerabilities, which HHS ignored, before the site went public on 
October 1.
  The protections and breach notifications standards for ObamaCare, 
which people were forced into, don't even meet the minimum standards 
put in place for the private sector. Every Nebraskan, and every 
American, has the right to know if their private information has been 
compromised because of ObamaCare.
  Fortunately, data security appears to be an area where Republicans 
and Democrats can come together and do something positive for the 
American people.
  We must take great care, however, not to make the problem worse. 
Smart policy results from an open, collaborative process, with input 
from businesses, consumers, and security experts. That is going to be 
the answer, not more red tape.
  We should seek to streamline our data security laws to provide 
clarity and consistency. I look forward to working with my colleagues 
on the commerce committee to address these data breaches and to protect 
the integrity of Nebraskans' and Americans' personal information.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.
  Mr. LEAHY. While the distinguished Senator from Nebraska is still on 
the floor, I found much to agree with in her comments.
  I hope that after we introduce the Personal Data Privacy and Security 
Act she may wish to become a cosponsor. This would better protect 
Americans from the growing threat of data breaches and identity theft.
  Last year, according to Verizon's report, there were more than 600 
publicly disclosed data breaches all over the country.
  The recent breach of Target involved debit and credit card data of as 
many as 14 million customers. That is a reminder that developing a 
comprehensive national strategy to protect data privacy and cyber 
security remains one of the most challenging and important issues 
facing our Nation.
  The Personal Data Privacy and Security Act will help meet this 
challenge, by better protecting Americans from the growing threat of 
data breaches and identity theft. I thank Senators Franken, Schumer, 
and Blumenthal for cosponsoring it.
  When I first introduced this bill 9 years ago, I thought we very 
urgently needed privacy reforms for the American people. At that time, 
the threat to the American people was nowhere near as extensive as it 
is today.
  The Judiciary Committee has favorably reported this bill in the 
past--Republicans and Democrats have joined together numerous times--
but it has languished on the Senate calendar.
  I wish to point out some of the dangers to Americans' privacy and our 
national security posed by data breaches that have not gone away. 
According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, more than 662 million 
records have been involved in data security breaches since 2005. In 
Verizon's ``2013 Data Breach Investigations Report,'' there were more 
than 600 publicly disclosed data breaches.
  These are just the ones that are publicly disclosed.
  The Personal Data Privacy and Security Act requires companies that 
have databases with sensitive personal information on Americans to 
establish and implement data privacy and security programs. The bill 
would also establish a single nationwide standard for data breach 
notification and require notice to consumers when their sensitive 
personal information has been compromised. It provides for tough 
criminal penalties for anyone who would intentionally and willfully 
conceal the fact that a data breach has occurred when the breach causes 
economic damage to consumers. The requirement for companies to publicly 
disclose a breach will also encourage them to implement far better 
security than many have today.
  Protecting privacy rights is of critical importance to all of us, 
regardless of party or ideology. I hope all Senators will join with 

                       Retirement of Barry Meyer

  Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, I would like to speak for a few minutes 
on a personal matter. It is about a dear friend of mine, Barry Meyer. I 
would like to recognize his remarkable career. He is retiring this 
month from Warner Brothers after 42 years with the company.
  We know that Warner Brothers is one of America's most legendary 
entertainment companies. It is a household name for families around the 
Nation. I think of the times I have walked through the company's 
grounds with Barry Meyer. We would talk about his coming there as a 
young lawyer and about the history of the company that he eventually 
came to lead. He showed an impressive sense of history, and it is 
gratifying to see somebody who takes such pride in his work.
  We have all heard of Warner Brothers, but far fewer Americans have 
heard about the man behind the magic for the past 14 years. It is a 
testament to his leadership as chairman and CEO that he allowed the 
company and its properties to shine in the spotlight.
  Despite his quiet style, Barry stood at the forefront of pop culture 
during his tenure at Warner Brothers. Think of movies and television 
shows such as ``Harry Potter,'' ``The Big Bang Theory,'' ``The Blind 
Side,'' and ``The Dark Knight'' trilogy. They made people laugh, cry, 
or simply marvel at the memorable productions that have sprung from his 
tenure at this company.
  I would also note as a lifelong Batman fan that I have had the 
opportunity to see two of Barry's productions from the inside while 
they were filming. I can speak firsthand to the culture he fostered at 
Warner Brothers that brought people together and allowed creativity to 

[[Page S101]]

  Barry first joined Warner Brothers in 1971--before I was in the 
Senate, I might add--as director of business affairs for the television 
division. In 1999 he became chairman and CEO. His steady leadership of 
the company came at a time when the entertainment industry was 
beginning to face new challenges. The industry was facing the rise of 
the Internet as well as the tremendous challenge of online piracy. 
Barry pushed the company to innovate, but he also became an important 
voice about the impact online piracy has on our economy and on 
industries that are a vibrant part of American life. His counsel has 
been invaluable to me as Congress has looked for solutions to address 
this issue. He has always been available to give advice--solid advice 
based on knowledge, not on emotion.
  Warner Brothers has been one of the world's most successful 
entertainment companies under Barry's tenure, but he has also focused 
on humanitarian and charitable pursuits. He is a member of the board of 
directors for Human Rights Watch and the advisory board of the National 
Museum of American History here at the Smithsonian.
  He was also recognized in 2006 with the American Jewish Committee's 
Dorothy and Sherrill C. Corwin Human Relations Award for his 
humanitarian efforts. I know that when he was given that award, his 
request was that the speakers not praise him but instead praise things 
of importance to all Americans. This is typical of Barry Meyer as a 
  Among these efforts was joining with his wife Wendy to establish 
scholarships at the University of Southern California to support 
students who have been in foster care. Barry and Wendy have wonderful 
children and grandchildren. They have a loving family with them. 
Visitors to their home find that it is a welcoming place that feels 
lived in, a place where children and grandchildren can feel comfortable 
and play. Barry and Wendy are fortunate to have that family. What they 
have done is they have worked to help those who have not necessarily 
had that advantage.
  My wife Marcelle and I have gotten to know Barry and Wendy. They have 
been together with us in Vermont, here in Washington, and out in 
California. Some people who have the position he does might make sure 
everybody knows that they are important--not so with either one of 
them. They are down-to-earth and quiet. When we get together, we pick 
up the conversation we had months before. They make you feel as if you 
are a member of the family.
  So this remarkable couple is going to be working in other endeavors.
  There have been some great articles about Barry, as he looks back on 
his career and the work he has done to make sure the company remains in 
good hands with his successor. As he begins this next chapter of his 
life, I wish Barry all the best. I congratulate him on a wonderful and 
distinguished career. Warner Brothers and the entertainment industry 
are not going to be quite the same without him, but he leaves behind a 
legacy, an example for the next generation to follow. I know his 
successor, and I wish Kevin Tsujihara the very best in following him.
  Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the 
Record a December 29, 2013, article from The Wrap, which my daughter 
Alicia showed me.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                     [From TheWrap, Dec. 29, 2013]

  Barry Meyer Ends 42-Year Tenure at Warner Bros.--A Modest Mogul Who 
                         Shunned the Spotlight

                     (By Brent Lang and Lucas Shaw)

       This year was Meyer's last at Warner Bros. after more than 
     four decades at the studio.
       One of the most low-key moguls in Hollywood, Barry Meyer 
     will slip from the stage this January, when he relinquishes 
     his title as chairman of Warner Bros.
       But Meyer's 42-year tenure at the studio--a remarkable 
     record in its own right, including 14 years at the helm--is 
     notable for being one of the most effective in the studio's 
       Under his stewardship, Warner Bros. has consistently ranked 
     among the industry leaders in box office, syndication sales 
     and television ratings, launching franchises like ``Harry 
     Potter,'' driving the international success of shows like 
     ``Two and a Half Men'' all while managing the company during 
     a rocky corporate merger with AOL, the rise of digital piracy 
     and the steep decline of home entertainment.
       And yet, Meyer, 69, is someone you rarely saw quoted in the 
     media or taking victory laps with stars of the big or small 
     screen--he generally left that to others.
       Meyer gave up the CEO title to Kevin Tsujihara last March, 
     but has remained as chairman to ease the transition. Next 
     month, Tsujihara will succeed Meyer in that title as well.
       Typical of Meyer's effectiveness behind-the-scenes came 
     when the studios were trying to convince Chris Dodd, the 
     former U.S. senator from Connecticut, to take the job as the 
     movie industry's top lobbyist.
       Meyer and Walt Disney Company Chairman Bob Iger took Dodd 
     to dinner and suggested his reservations about becoming the 
     Motion Picture Association of America's new chairman and CEO 
     were unwarranted.
       ``He said `Be a leader,' and that sounds like a simple 
     enough thing to say--but that's what he was at Warner 
     Bros.,'' Dodd told TheWrap. ``He was not a grandstander at 
     all and he does not seek the spotlight. He was not worried if 
     his name was in the press.''
       Dodd also recalled that at a screening of ``Argo'' by the 
     Motion Picture Association of America, Meyer stood in the 
     back of the room as the audience applauded director Ben 
     Affleck and the real life CIA agent Tony Mendez, whose 
     heroism inspired the hit film. He waved off Dodd's attempts 
     to take the stage and share in the adulation.
       ``That was a quintessential moment and that's why he got 
     listened to every time he talked,'' Dodd said. ``People knew 
     he never had agenda.''
       Even Meyer's rivals agree that the mogul's style was one of 
     unusual discretion (he declined to be interviewed for this 
     piece). ``He never looked for recognition,'' Ron Meyer, vice 
     chairman of NBCUniversal, told TheWrap (no relation). ``He 
     never looked to have his name out there.''
       Meyer's accomplishments came at a time when the 
     entertainment industry was beset by tectonic changes in how 
     people consume, distribute and pay for entertainment.
       ``He was a source of stability in a choppy sea,'' Hal 
     Vogel, CEO of Vogel Capital Management, told TheWrap.
       Warren Lieberfarb, the former head of home video at the 
     studio, recalled that shortly after Meyer assumed his 
     leadership role, Time Warner's rank and file became dismayed 
     that the merger with AOL had sent the company's share price 
       ``There was a lot of discontent and agitation in the 
     organization,'' Lieberfarb recalled. ``Barry brought 
     stability to the company and boosted morale at a critical 
     juncture in the post-AOL period and throughout the decade.''
       Bob Daly, Meyer's predecessor as chairman, said his one 
     hesitation in recommending him for the job was that he lacked 
     experience on the film side of the business, but noted that 
     his reservations were ultimately unfounded.
       ``He was a terrific executive and a good negotiator, but he 
     wasn't a movie guy,'' Daly said. ``What he did do was hire 
     great people and put them in a position to succeed.''
       Meyer's partnership with Alan Horn, who oversaw the movie 
     side of Warner Bros., and later with Horn's successor Jeff 
     Robinov, yielded a string of hits such as the ``Harry 
     Potter'' and ``The Dark Knight'' franchises and critical and 
     commercial successes such as ``Argo,'' ``Mystic River'' and 
     ``The Blind Side.''
       ``The biggest part of his management style was in his 
     selection of people he would have run his divisions,'' 
     Charles Roven, producer of ``Man of Steel'' and ``The Dark 
     Knight Rises,'' told TheWrap. ``He had the ability to pick 
     excellent people and to trust that they were doing a good 
       Under Meyer, the television side of the business produced a 
     stream of hits such as ``The Big Bang Theory'' and ``Two and 
     a Half Men'' that made it an even bigger source of profits 
     than the film business. Warner Bros. remains one of the most 
     prodigious producers of television series in the world.
       Meyer also was instrumental in turning the CW into a 
     destination for younger female viewers with shows such as 
     ``The Vampire Diaries'' and ``Gossip Girl.''
       ``In the syndication arena they've had great success and 
     they've been able to establish some first rate shows,'' Bill 
     Carroll, a television industry analyst for Katz Media Group, 
     said. ``They have a diverse lineup and they have had success 
     each season in introducing new shows.''
       Facing a challenge from digital disrupters, under Meyer's 
     tenure the studio pushed back against Netflix by limiting its 
     access to new releases, while also signing deals with the 
     streaming giants such as Amazon, that licensed television 
     programs and other content. Warner Bros. has also been a key 
     booster of UltraViolet, the studio backed cloud service that 
     has helped bolster digital sales of films.
       ``Barry saw what was happening in the world,'' Les Moonves, 
     chairman and CEO of CBS Corp., told TheWrap. ``And he 
     encouraged his executives to experiment and figure things 
       Not surprisingly, Tsujihara, the winner of a year-long 
     executive bake-off that ultimately led to the departures of 
     Robinov and TV chief Bruce Rosenblum, comes from the world of 
     online distribution. Now he faces the challenge of 
     maintaining Warners' success in the face of myriad 
     technological and social challenges.
       ``Kevin is a really terrific guy,'' Daly said. ``He knows 
     so much about the technology

[[Page S102]]

     and he's a good administrator. When you look at Warner Bros.' 
     90 years, it's an unusual company in that there's been a 
     remarkable continuity of management . . . Kevin is the right 
     man at this time to run this company, but the challenges that 
     he faces will be completely different now than when I ran it 
     or Barry ran it.''
       ``Barry continued the Warner Bros. tradition--you always 
     groom your replacement,'' Daly added.

  Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, I know I look forward to the next time 
Marcelle and I have an opportunity to be with Barry and Wendy, and 
while he may be retired, neither one of them is going to be sitting 
back doing nothing. I know them too well for that.
  With that, Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. COONS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent the order for the 
quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. COONS. Madam President, 50 years ago today President Lyndon 
Johnson challenged a joint session of Congress and the American people 
to begin a war on poverty. ``Unfortunately,'' President Johnson said, 
``many Americans today live on the outskirts of hope. Our task is to 
replace their despair with opportunity.''
  Since President Johnson first issued that call, Congress and our 
Nation have taken important steps to build and sustain a circle of 
protection around the most vulnerable in our society. That protection 
is not as complete or as strong as it can or should be, but through 
programs such as unemployment insurance--which we are considering this 
week in this Congress--we are more able to catch our neighbors when 
they fall and support them as they work to get back to their feet.
  Earlier this week this Senate began debate on whether to extend 
emergency unemployment insurance for the 3,600 Delawareans and more 
than 1 million American job seekers whose benefits just expired. It is 
absolutely critical that we approve this extension.
  During this fragile but sustained economic recovery, unemployment 
insurance has been a critical lifeline, one that has prevented millions 
of unemployed Americans from slipping further, falling into poverty. In 
2012, unemployment insurance kept 2.5 million Americans, including 
600,000 children, out of poverty. That means without Federal action to 
extend unemployment insurance, the Nation's poverty rate would have 
been doubled what it was. These numbers are for 2012, not the height of 
the recession.
  So let's be clear about what we are debating when we discuss an 
unemployment insurance extension. These are long-term benefits for 
jobless Americans who have been out of work through no fault of their 
own for more than 26 weeks. When I say through no fault of their own, I 
mean it. People cannot get benefits if they are fired for cause. As 
they receive unemployment insurance benefits, they must diligently 
search for another job. So when we talk about the millions of long-term 
unemployed Americans, we are talking about folks who were laid off 
because of the recession, are fighting to get back on their feet, and 
rely on those benefits to keep their families afloat, to keep a roof 
over their head, food on the table, their families together, and 
sustain them as they continue looking for work.
  Yet 2 weeks ago, funding for long-term emergency unemployment 
insurance benefits ran out. That meant $300 less weekly income for the 
average job seeker and that meant $400 million left our economy in just 
the first week.
  In Delaware it pulled $877,000 out of our economy. That is money that 
otherwise would be spent in local grocery stores and our markets.
  One of the most vexing comments I have heard in the debate over 
whether to continue these benefits is that they somehow incentivize 
people to not bother looking for jobs, to not be serious; they instead 
lull able-bodied Americans into lives of dependency. Given the people I 
know in Delaware, that is not just absurd, it is, forgive me, 
offensive. As President Obama said yesterday, it sells the American 
people short.
  I have met a lot of people in my years of public service. I have 
heard from and spoken with Delawareans up and down my State who are 
relying on unemployment benefits that they paid into when employed. 
Every one of them would trade a job for not relying on unemployment 
insurance in a heartbeat. Let me share a few stories of Delawareans who 
have contacted me and shared how hard this has been for them.
  Debbie from Middleton, DE, wrote to me that while she is receiving 
unemployment benefits, she has applied to 156 jobs. She has been 
interviewed three times. She is 56. She has worked diligently since she 
was a teenager. She has worked hard. She paid her taxes. She paid into 
this unemployment insurance system practically her whole life. Yet now 
when she needs it most, we fail to continue to provide this lifeline of 
  Linda from Newark wrote to me that on just $258 a week her family has 
been barely able to stay afloat. They are doing everything they can to 
keep up on their bills, to stay current, but even with unemployment 
insurance they have had to sell some of their family's treasured 
possessions and goods. She wrote to me:

       This is no way for anyone to live. It's disheartening and 
     it is difficult to stay motivated to keep searching.

  Frankly, she said:

       I am thoroughly fed up with being categorized as someone 
     who lives off the Government by collecting unemployment 

  I agree with her because, frankly, Linda, you paid into these 
benefits for years. This is what it is there for.
  John from Frederica told me he was laid off from the Dover Air Force 
Base in part because of the sequester and now depends on unemployment 
benefits while he continues diligently searching for another job. This 
is a man who is a Navy veteran, was willing to make the ultimate 
sacrifice for our country. Yet right now, because of the partisan 
gridlock in this Congress, we are not there for him and his family.
  The millions of Americans such as Debbie, Linda, and John in Delaware 
face a very tough job market. Nationally, for every available job there 
are three job seekers. The longer someone remains unemployed, the 
harder it becomes for them to find work. The more their skills are out 
of date, the more difficult the search becomes and the more they need 
our support to sustain that job search.
  I have seen these effects up close and personal in Delaware. In my 3 
years as a Senator I have hosted 16 different job fairs to connect 
Delawareans looking for work with employers looking to hire, and I have 
been honored to partner with Senator Carper and Congressman Carney in 
hosting these job fairs. In fact, we are hosting another one in Dover, 
DE, in just a few weeks.
  When you listen to unemployed Delawareans and listen to them talk 
about their struggle, about how hard it is to keep making ends meet and 
get a job, you get a sense of how important these jobs are for their 
survival as families and you get a sense of how much more we can and 
should be doing to tackle long-term unemployment in America.
  As poverty of opportunity and hope afflicts too many of our 
communities and darkens the lives of too many of our neighbors, let us 
not suffer in this Chamber from a poverty of imagination, 
determination, and ambition. On this issue, which is so fundamental to 
who we are as a nation and to our service to this body, we cannot give 
in to complacency and apathy. Fighting poverty is hard, and adapting 
our economy to the realities of a new era is a challenge we have 
struggled with for more than a generation. It is hard finding out how 
to realize an economy with growth that is both strong and more 
equitable, one that is dynamic and creative and competitive and also 
has a broad middle class, provides security for working families and 
leaves no one behind, an economy that invests in the dreams and 
aspirations of every child, but building that economy is surely one of 
the most urgent and difficult challenges we face. Doing so requires 
that we put aside our personal politics and ideologies and come 
together in areas where, until recently, there has been a broad and 
bipartisan consensus.

  I now hear some of my Republican colleagues talk on this floor about 
the war on poverty, 50 years later, as having been an abject failure. 
They make sweeping indictments on government

[[Page S103]]

action, putting small government ideology ahead of the shared national 
goal of fighting poverty. But this perspective misses the point. The 
original war on poverty was made up of a lot of programs, energetic 
initiatives that worked at every level of government, some that failed 
but many others that through steady and determined bipartisan work and 
steady improvement and refinement over the years have become critical, 
central, and widely valued strands that hold together our social safety 
net. Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, food stamps, unemployment 
insurance, all of these programs are valued and hold American families 
together and sustain American job seekers. Bipartisan leaders across 
the decades have reaffirmed the importance and value of these programs 
time and time again. These programs, let's remember, are about so much 
more than lifting people out of poverty. They are about keeping people 
out of poverty in the first place. We need them to build and strengthen 
the American middle class, which is one of the greatest legacies of 
this Nation.
  As we search for ways to adapt our fight to new times and new 
challenges, there is no one way to win the war on poverty President 
Johnson declared 50 years ago. It is not a question of big or small 
government, Federal or local action. As President Johnson himself said:

       It will not be a short or easy struggle. No single weapon 
     or strategy will suffice. . . . Poverty is a national 
     problem. . . . But this attack, to be effective, must be 
     organized at the State and local level. . . . For the war on 
     poverty will not be won here in Washington. It must be won in 
     the field, in every private home, in every public office, 
     from the courthouse to the White House.

  This was not an ideological call for big, centralized government. It 
was an all-hands-on-deck call, a moral call, for our Nation to meet a 
national challenge. Although we have made progress since he first 
addressed this Congress in 1964, his call to combat poverty remains 
just as important today, even as our challenges have evolved.
  We have come a long way since the depths of our own great recession 
just a few years ago. More than 8 million private sector jobs have been 
created. There has been more than a three-point drop in the national 
unemployment rate. We have resurgent energy, housing, agricultural, and 
manufacturing sectors. Although a few years have passed since our 
economy sunk to its lowest lows, this crisis remains for those 
Americans and their families who are still struggling to find a job 
either for their families' food or to keep a roof over their heads.
  This week, while we are debating extending emergency unemployment 
insurance, we should note this is not only obvious and necessary to do, 
it is the beginning of our real work of sustaining the war on poverty.
  I am proud to be engaged in bipartisan efforts to strengthen the 
middle class, to focus on jobs and skills and manufacturing. We have to 
find bipartisan solutions that engage the private and public sectors, 
Federal and local governments, in putting our people back to work. 
While we do that, we cannot forget to continue to insist on a circle of 
protection around the most vulnerable in our society rather than 
allowing that valued circle to crumble. We have to remember we are all 
in this together, that ``there but for the grace of God go I,'' as we 
see those in our community, in our families who are struggling in this 
  We know that today it may be our neighbors, tomorrow it may be us. 
President Johnson called on us to focus on the best of America, the 
spirit that we hold each other up, the spirit that builds community 
through mutual sacrifice. As we begin our work in this new year to 
jump-start our economy and spread hope and opportunity, we must never 
forget that basic spirit which President Johnson called forth and which 
has kept this country moving from generation to generation.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Madam President, I rise to speak on actually two 
topics; one on extending the unemployment benefit program that is so 
essential to the people of Maryland and to other fellow Americans and 
also to comment on the National Security Agency surveillance programs, 
the need for reform of the program but the need not to reject the 
mission of the agency and cast a disparaging light on the men and women 
who work there.
  Let me start first though talking about unemployment benefits. I come 
with a great sense of urgency and passion that we need to extend these 
unemployment benefits that expired January 1. This is one of the 
coldest spells we have had in decades in the Northeast-Midwest area. I 
find it unfathomable, when it is so cold, that the big chill in 
Washington is that we are not going to extend the unemployment 
benefits, extending a warm helping hand to Americans who have lost 
their job through no fault of their own and have been unemployed for 
more than 6 months.
  Where are our national priorities? If we cannot help one another, be 
a bridge to get to a job, then what is our government all about? We 
spend billions overseas--and I support that. We spend billions on tax 
breaks to send jobs overseas. I do not support that. I want to make 
sure that for the men and women who do not have a job today but are 
looking for one every day, that we help them out.
  Senator Coons, the Senator from Delaware, just spoke and said today 
it could be your neighbor, tomorrow it could be you. I think we are 
going to be unemployed unless we start focusing on how to help the 
middle class. The middle class is shrinking and unemployment is 
staggering. We have to lower the unemployment rate, although I want to 
make sure that during this time while we look at how to create jobs, we 
continue to provide a social insurance program that helps people when 
they are laid off through no fault of their own.
  My own home State of Maryland is right this very minute affected by 
23,000 people--that is 23,000 families--who have now lost a modest 
benefit which averages out to about $313 per week. That enables people, 
while they are looking for work, to be able to pay for their housing, 
pay for their food, and pay for their heat.
  There are those who are implying that if we provide unemployment 
compensation or assistance we are going to encourage sloth, laziness, 
laggardness; that they are going to kind of lounge around not looking 
for work.
  Let me tell the story about Western Maryland. This is not Barbara 
Mikulski; this is reported in the Baltimore Sun and in the Washington 
Post. We have a community called Washington County. The unemployment 
rate is 7.3 percent. Just a few years ago they had a Good Humor plant. 
They made ice cream. I visited that ice cream plant. Everybody was 
happy, and they were busy producing Good Humor, which was sold all over 
this country. Well, 2 years ago it closed, and 400 good-paying jobs 
left Hagerstown. That is the bad news.

  The good news is a co-op dairy farmer came in, purchased it, and is 
now producing milk and ice cream but in smaller amounts. Guess what. 
They received 1,600 job applications for 36 job openings. They had 36 
job openings, and 1,600 people in that small rural county applied for 
those jobs. There were 44 people for every job available.
  Hagerstown has a great sense of patriotism. They sent many men and 
women to fight and die in the two wars we just fought. They have a 
great work ethic. They need an opportunity to have jobs. Don't tell 
those people in Hagerstown or in Salisbury or in Baltimore or 
throughout my State that they are too lazy. Maybe we are lazy; maybe we 
don't get the job done.
  One of the quickest ways to jump-start the economy, if we want to, is 
to pay unemployment compensation. All the data shows that unemployment 
insurance adds about $1.60 back into the economy.
  I want to create a sense of urgency. I say to my friends on the other 
side of the aisle: Over a decade ago, you had a man run for the 
President of the United States who won. His name is George W. Bush. He 
campaigned on something that I thought was so interesting. I looked 
forward to actually hearing more about something he called a 
compassionate conservative. We understand that people are conservative. 
We understand that people are fiscally conservative, but the message 
was that we can be compassionate conservatives.
  I say to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle: Remember the 
compassionate conservative message from

[[Page S104]]

a decade ago, and remember that man's father said we need the points of 
light to light up America. I say, let's be a point of light here. Let's 
add a beacon of hope to the unemployed so we can help them. Don't be 
critical of those who can't find work.
  Let's look at how we can have a job strategy. Let's get our 
infrastructure back so we can create jobs in the construction industry. 
Let's eliminate the tax breaks that send jobs overseas and bring the 
jobs back home. Let's do the tax extenders so we can get people working 
again. Let's put people back to work.
  Pass unemployment compensation. Let's pass some job creation bills. 
Let's get America working again, and in order to do that, we need to 
get to work and pass the unemployment compensation bill.

                        National Security Agency

  I want to also comment on something else, and that is the NSA, the 
National Security Agency, which I am very familiar with as a member of 
the Intelligence Committee, and it is also located in my State. I know 
the men and women who work there, and I know the mission they provide. 
I also know that a few months ago a man by the name of Edward Snowden 
lit up the airwaves with his illegal barrage of revelations about the 
role of surveillance that the National Security Agency played. Mr. 
Snowden provided a titillating, mesmerizing inside view of the United 
States. Whether he was a whistleblower or a traitor, I will leave that 
for another discussion.
  Right now we know about NSA surveillance, and it sparked a lot of 
debate. I think that is good. I think that is healthy.
  I come to the floor today, first of all, to thank President Obama for 
establishing a commission to look at this and make recommendations. My 
view is that we ought to review the recommendations of the Presidential 
commission. We need to make reform where reform is necessary, but let's 
not reject the mission of the National Security Agency that has 
protected us for decades and decades. Let us not reject the men and 
women who work there every single day, standing sentry to protect us 
against attacks, whether it is a terrorist attack or a cyber security 
  Yes, we need to protect the civil liberties of the United States of 
America and honor our Constitution. As a member of the Intelligence 
Committee, and as part of my principles, I have always said: Before we 
ask NSA agents--or any member of any intelligence agency--to do 
anything, we should ask: Is it constitutional? Is it legal? Is it 
authorized? Is it necessary? Remember the criteria. I recommend that 
this be the grid of the prism we look at: Constitutional, absolutely; 
legal, a necessity; and authorize. NSA doesn't do it on its own. The 
authorization comes from the President and his intelligence apparatus. 
And last but not at all least, is it necessary to protect people?
  I think we need to really work on this. President Obama established a 
review commission. I think it is great, and I think Congress should 
review it. I know appropriate hearings are already looking into that.
  At the same time, we should practice reform. I am absolutely on the 
side of reform. I have joined with my colleagues in supporting reform 
for these programs. For years I led the fight on the accountability of 
leadership. Back in 2007, I wanted the head of the National Security 
Agency confirmed by the Senate. I was stiff-armed by the Congress. I 
was held back by the Armed Services Committee. We had to deal with the 
turf wars at the Pentagon: Don't meddle with our generals. Well, I 
wasn't meddling with the generals. I just think the head of the 
National Security Agency should be there. So let's get off of the turf 
wars and fight terrorist wars. Let's restore confidence in the National 
Security Agency and have its head confirmed by the Senate. I am a great 
admirer of General Alexander.
  The committee also recommends that the next head of NSA be a 
civilian. I think we ought to look at that. I think we ought to examine 
that and see what is in the best interests of the mission of the agency 
and what we need to be able to do. But whoever is the head of the 
National Security Agency, be they civilian or military, I think they 
ought to be confirmed by the Senate.
  I also joined across the aisle with my great colleague Senator Coats 
of Indiana to ask that the NSA inspector general also be confirmed by 
the Senate to make sure that we have a confirmable position so there is 
a bona fide whistleblower route with a confirmable inspector general to 
make sure that NSA is doing the right thing and whistleblowers have an 
avenue to do it.
  I also supported transparency to make sure that those NSA programs 
are accountable and as transparent as they can be. That doesn't mean we 
reveal the secrets of the United States. Joining with Senators Wyden, 
Udall, and Heinrich, I have introduced an amendment to make the secret 
FISA court opinions were publicly available under certain 
  I also worked with Senators King, Warner, and Collins to bring 
greater transparency to the FISA court through amicus curiae, or friend 
of the court, to assist in the consideration of novel interpretations 
of the law. There are those who say, in the President's report, that 
there should be a civil liberties council and a red team that can go in 
there. Let's talk about that. Let's debate it. Let's make sure there is 
more than one opinion before the court on its legality. I support those 
  Let's look at the constitutionality. One judge recently said the NSA 
surveillance program, particularly under something called section 215, 
was shocking, and he said it was not constitutional, but 36 other FISA 
court opinions by 15 judges said it was constitutional.
  I am a social worker. I am not a constitutional lawyer. Do you know 
who decides on what is constitutional? The Supreme Court of the United 
States. I think that Congress ought to call for--or the executive 
branch and the President--an expedited review of these programs. I 
would like to settle, once and for all, whether the programs and laws 
passed by the Congress in the area of surveillance--I would like to 
know if they are constitutional. If they are, then we know that. If 
they are not, then that ends the program. We will follow the law, and 
we will obey the Constitution of the United States.
  Let's get to work here. Let's go to work here. Let's make sure that 
we are bringing about reform.
  I want to talk about the mission of the agency. The National Security 
Agency is not a puzzle palace, and it is not some sneaky surveillance 
agency with people in tan raincoats and fedoras, hiding behind doors 
and spying on people. In fact, remember what they think they do--they 
think what they do is constitutional, legal, authorized, and necessary.
  We need the National Security Agency. There is only one thing the 215 
program does: It protects us against counterterrorism. They are there 
to protect us against counterespionage. They are there to protect us 
and make sure that weapons of mass destruction are contained. They are 
advocates for nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction in 
cooperation with the CIA and NRO.
  They also protect us in the area of cyber security. Those 80 million 
people who recently had their credit cards stolen at Target--we don't 
know if that was a job that was done in the United States of America. 
For all we know, it was organized cyber crime coming out of Albania or 
another Eastern European country with shoddy rules and regulations. We 
don't know. However, we do know the FBI and the NSA are working on it, 
as well as others. NSA's job is to look at what is over there. Some of 
our biggest bank heists in organized cyber crime are coming from over 
there. Did you know that one of the biggest thefts out of the Medicare 
Program was done by a cyber heist by organized crime out of Albania? 
Can you believe that? It was caught. In working with the inspector 
general at CMS, the FBI, and the NSA, we caught them, got our money 
back, and now we are back on track. So they do a good job, and we are 
kind of losing sight as far as these concerns about surveillance.
  There is no doubt that we protect the civil liberties of the United 
States of America. We do believe in privacy. I am not going to describe 
the program or go into it, but I will tell you what really bothers me. 
What really bothers me is that somehow or another, through the media, 
and even conversations in this body, we are painting NSA

[[Page S105]]

as if it were a bad, villainous, duplicitous, surreptitious agency. 
That could not be further from the truth. Somehow or another, the men 
and women who work there every single day, standing sentry on behalf of 
the United States of America on signals intelligence, are somehow or 
another to feel that something is wrong. The morale at that Agency is 
terrible. The morale at that Agency is falling. The morale at that 
Agency is not in a healthy situation.

  We have to do something about that by showing respect for the men and 
women who work there. Most of them are civilians. They are some of the 
brightest people in the world. Did my colleagues know that the NSA is 
the largest employer of mathematicians in the world because of the code 
breakers, the cryptologists? They break codes. Who uses codes? It is 
not Mother Teresa.
  Respect. Let's have respect because they are hard at work. While the 
rest of us were home for Christmas enjoying turkey or home for 
Thanksgiving, they were out there working. They were making sure there 
wasn't another Underwear Bomber. When our defenses appear to be 
lowest--when people are traveling on airplanes, when people are in the 
holiday spirit--they are working. They are working right now to make 
sure our Olympic athletes are safe, working with appropriate 
international law enforcement. They are at it every single day. Can't 
we give them respect while we sort out constitutionality and legality? 
Let's sort it out, but let's stop the finger-pointing.
  I must tell my colleagues that I was taken aback today when I got my 
National Journal Daily and read where it says ``Obama Invites NSA Top 
Congressional Critics To Meet.'' I think it is always great when the 
President speaks with Congress, but he invited the critics of the 
program to the White House. I think that is good. I would prefer, 
though, to read--instead of ``inviting the critics,'' the phrase would 
have said ``reformers.'' Put me in the ``reformer'' category. If there 
are abuses, I am one of the first to criticize them. I have been part 
of reform. I intend to be part of reform, but I don't intend to be a 
part of rejecting the mission, and I don't intend to be a part of any 
effort that downgrades or downplays the contribution of the men and 
women who work there. So call the people reformers.
  I hope the White House and this Congress will signal to the men and 
women at the National Security Agency that they are respected, that 
they are valued; as we pursue reform, we will always do our duty to 
ensure that what they do is constitutional, legal, authorized, and 
necessary. But don't blame them for the job we asked them to do. I 
think if we proceed with a spirit of reform rather than blame, we will 
be able to accomplish a great deal.
  This is a big day in the Senate. Let's pass unemployment 
compensation. Let's do the reforms we need, and let's do a good job, as 
we are supposed to do.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, I come to the floor this afternoon to 
talk about the fact that 50 years ago today President Lyndon Johnson 
made his first State of the Union Address. He used that date--January 
8, 1964--to chart a new agenda for the country and to declare that 
America would take on an unconditional war on poverty. With that 
directive, Congress worked on some of the most successful programs in 
the history of our country: Medicare, Head Start, Pell grants, and 
expansions to Social Security. President Johnson knew that the 
devastation of poverty went deeper than just the lack of a job or the 
lack of basic needs. Americans in poverty didn't even have a fair 
chance to make a better life for themselves and their families.
  Now, since 1964, economists estimate the poverty rate has now fallen 
by 10 percent when accounting for social safety net programs. So we are 
moving in the right direction, but we have a lot more work to do to 
give everyone the fair chance they need to succeed in this country.
  For too many people today, the war on poverty is a daily battle just 
to make ends meet. More than 46 million people in our country live in 
poverty--46 million people. That is according to the Census Bureau. 
More than 20 percent--that is one in five of our kids in this country--
live in poverty. So to win this fight, we need to strengthen the 
programs that support those in need.
  Without question, one of the reasons we have seen a decline in 
poverty is because of the programs that provide a safety net for our 
most vulnerable Americans. In 1964 Congress created the food stamp 
program for those struggling to feed their families. Today it is known 
as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or better known as 
SNAP. In 2012 alone the program lifted 4.9 million people out of 
poverty, according to the Center on the Budget and Policy Priorities.
  We have also worked to make sure preschoolers from low-income areas 
have the building blocks they need to start kindergarten ready to 
learn. Since the mid-1960s Head Start has provided early childhood 
learning and health services to more than 30 million children and their 
  That is the kind of progress we have to continue. Those programs and 
many like them have provided economic security and opportunity to 
millions across the country.
  Yet even with the successes we have had in fighting hunger and ending 
unemployment, there are those today here in Congress who want to slash 
the very assistance that gives so many Americans today an opportunity 
to make better lives for themselves and their families.
  We can't waver in the fight to give all Americans a fair chance--a 
fair chance to get ahead. We have to expand opportunities for young 
learners by investing in universal pre-K. We have to ensure that 
workers can earn enough to put food on the table by raising the minimum 
wage. We have to keep fighting, and we have to win the war on poverty.
  I know personally how vital these programs are. When I was just 15 
years old, my dad, who fought in World War II and was a veteran, was 
diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Within just a few years he couldn't 
work anymore. My mom found a job. She stayed home to raise seven kids. 
The job she found wasn't enough to support seven kids, and my dad had a 
growing stack of medical bills. All of a sudden, my family, without any 
warning, had fallen on hard times.
  This country at that time didn't turn its back on us. For several 
months my family relied on food stamps. It wasn't much, but it helped 
us get by. With the help of a government program--a government 
program--my mom was fortunate to attend Lake Washington Vocational 
Technical School and got the training she needed to get a better job so 
she could support her family. My older brother, my twin sister, and I 
were able to stay in college because of student loans and support from 
what we now call Pell grants--all from this government.
  Even through those hard times, none of us lost hope. With a lot of 
hard work--and we had help from our government--we were able to get to 
where we are today. That is why I believe so strongly that here in 
Congress today, we have to expand that hope I had as a young girl to 
many more families and Americans who are struggling today.
  Fifty years ago President Johnson recognized that poverty is a 
national problem, and that is why he made it a national priority. So I 
think we ought to rededicate ourselves today to that national priority. 
Let's work together here to support the men and women across the 
country who hope for their chance at the American dream. Let's not just 
commemorate this anniversary; let's begin to use and have a renewed 
energy to winning the war on poverty in our country once and for all.
  Thank you, Madam President.
  I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii.
  Ms. HIRONO. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. HIRONO. Madam President, 50 years ago today President Johnson 
declared a war on poverty. He said:

       Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of 
     poverty, but the symptom. The

[[Page S106]]

     cause may lie deeper in our failure to give citizens a fair 
     chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of 
     education and training, in a lack of medical care and 

  He proposed a broad range of new initiatives to address these deeper 
failures: Medicare, Head Start, the Elementary and Secondary Education 
Act, the Higher Education Act, and housing and transportation programs. 
These initiatives have given millions of people more opportunities to 
succeed and help them get back on their feet when they stumble. 
President Johnson called on Congress to take up these proposals 
because, he said, ``many Americans live on the outskirts of hope. Our 
task is to help replace their despair with opportunity.'' That is still 
our task today.
  We have come a long way since 1964, but clearly the fight is not 
over. For years our American dream has been that if people work hard 
and play by the rules, they will succeed. However, the divide between 
the very rich and the very poor is as wide as it has ever been. Wages 
have stagnated, and more and more middle-class families struggle to get 
ahead and provide opportunities for their children.
  We have to carry on the work that began 50 years ago and update it 
for the needs of our modern economy. Let's keep fighting to create new, 
good-paying jobs and sustainable American industries. Let's make sure 
all Americans have access to the education and training needed to get 
those jobs and succeed. Let's work to make sure that as our economy 
grows, so do middle-class incomes and the opportunity to climb into the 
middle class and beyond.
  I wish to speak briefly about three ideas for these goals. First, 
let's increase the minimum wage so workers earn more than poverty-level 
wages. Second, let's make education more accessible from pre-K through 
college so that Americans are well prepared for the jobs of the future. 
Finally, let's strengthen the safety net programs that have kept so 
many out of poverty so working families can get through the tough times 
and get back on their feet.
  First, our economy has grown fourfold over the last 50 years, but the 
poor and middle class have not seen enough of the benefits of this 
growth. According to Census data, the economy is producing 45 percent 
more per person than it was in 1987, but real median income has 
remained flat.
  Workers earning minimum wage have fared even worse because today's 
Federal minimum wage has not kept up with inflation. The 1968 minimum 
wage, adjusted for inflation, would be $10.68 today, not $7.25. That 
means the minimum wage has lost one-third of its buying power. It is no 
wonder our families are struggling. The minimum wage should be 
  Raising the minimum wage is important for many Americans, but it is 
particularly important for women. Most minimum wage workers--over 64 
percent of them--are women. Today millions of women are trapped in 
minimum wage jobs.
  The Federal minimum wage of $7.25 yields only $15,000 per year for a 
full-time worker. If this woman is supporting a child or an elderly 
parent, as is often the case, their family income would be below the 
Federal poverty line. Their situation is even more dire in Hawaii, 
where the cost of living is much higher.
  Fighting poverty is a women's issue. Poverty hurts more women and 
children than men. More than 58 percent of adults in poverty are women. 
More than one in seven women--nearly 17.8 million--live in poverty. 
More than one in five children--about 21.8 percent--are poor, almost 
twice the rate for adult men.
  The low minimum wage hurts not only workers--and particularly women 
workers and children--it is unfair to taxpayers. That is because 
minimum wage workers are often eligible for food assistance, housing 
vouchers, and other safety-net programs. This means we taxpayers are 
subsidizing companies that pay their workers poverty wages. If we want 
to reduce government spending--and make more workers fully self-
sufficient--raising the minimum wage is a good place to start.
  Second, expanding access to education--from birth to college and 
career training--will build new ladders out of poverty.
  When I came to this country as an 8-year-old immigrant, my mother 
enrolled me in Hawaii public schools. That is where I learned English 
and developed a love of reading. When I graduated from Kaimuki High 
School, I attended the University of Hawaii. The Higher Education Act 
of 1965 helped me--and millions of other students--pay for college 
through work-study and low-interest Federal student loans. Today we 
need to strengthen our commitment to our next generation of scientists, 
architects, teachers, and innovators.
  I know firsthand the power of a quality education. That is why for 
years I have been fighting for quality preschool in Hawaii and 
nationwide. Children in poverty come to kindergarten with half the 
vocabulary of their higher-income peers. If they start school already 
behind, how can we expect them to catch up?
  President Johnson helped pass the Head Start Act. This law helped 
millions of poor children attend preschool, while parents got the 
skills they needed to help their kids at home. Since then, we have 
reformed and strengthened Head Start quality, but, still, fewer than 
half of eligible 3- and 4-year-olds can get a Head Start seat. Fewer 
than 1 in 20 eligible infants and toddlers can get a spot in Early Head 
  The Federal Government cannot do it all. States and local governments 
want to do their part too. That is why Governors, educators, and 
legislators across the country--both Republicans and Democrats--have 
expanded State preschool in 2013. Let's support their efforts.
  This Congress I worked with Senators Harkin, Murray, Casey, and 
others to introduce the Strong Start for America's Children Act. This 
bill would create a Federal-State partnership for high-quality 
preschool. It includes elements from our PRE-K Act so States such as 
Hawaii that have further to go can have more support as they build 
their preschool system.
  The bill's supporters include parents, educators, business leaders, 
and even police. They recognize that we can pay for quality preschool 
now or pay later for law enforcement when kids drop out of school and 
commit crimes. Let's come together to get this done.
  While we need to focus on helping kids start kindergarten ready to 
succeed, we also need to improve access to higher education when they 
graduate from high school.
  With student debt skyrocketing, the Pell grant is a bedrock 
investment in college access. In 1978, the Pell grant helped pay for 75 
percent of college costs at a 4-year public university. Today it pays 
for only a third.
  This year I plan to introduce the Pell Grant Protection Act, a bill 
to strengthen and preserve the Pell grant. There is also more we can 
do--like simplifying the Federal student aid process, improving work-
study, and expanding access to adult basic education. I look forward to 
working on these and other efforts in the Higher Education Act and 
Workforce Investment Act this year.
  Third, let's strengthen our safety net programs, including Social 
Security, Medicare and Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and the 
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
  These programs provide real hope and real opportunity for people. I 
know this because I have lived it. My mother raised three children by 
herself. Most of us have relied upon or known families who have relied 
upon food stamps or unemployment insurance. My mother's unemployment 
checks were a safety net for us, providing us with much needed 
temporary help. They gave us breathing room and put food on the table 
while she searched for work. I know the anxiety when the family 
breadwinner loses her job through no fault of her own.
  These safety net programs have helped keep millions of Americans out 
of poverty. Using the Census Supplemental Poverty Measure, the national 
poverty rate has gone down from 26 percent in 1967 to 16 percent in 
2012. Without safety-net programs, the poverty rate would have climbed 
to 29 percent. Seniors would have been hurt especially badly.
  Thus, it is alarming to see many of my Republican colleagues calling 
to shred the safety net programs. They have proposed drastic cuts to 
SNAP, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and a host of other vital 

[[Page S107]]

  The basic idea of the safety net is to prevent people from falling so 
far behind that they cannot catch up. So instead of making cuts, we 
should strengthen these programs and, of course, focus on creating 
  With the challenges facing our families today, the war on poverty 
continues. Let's not give in to the naysayers seeking to dismantle our 
safety net. Let's not retreat in our efforts to help people climb out 
of poverty. Let's fight even harder to provide an opportunity agenda, 
one that reaffirms the idea that if you work hard and play by the 
rules, you can get ahead. If we work together, I know we can get this 
  I yield.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. PORTMAN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. PORTMAN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that Senator 
McConnell or his designee be recognized from 2 o'clock to 2:45 this 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. PORTMAN. Madam President, I rise today to address the question 
that is currently before the body; that is, whether we should extend 
the emergency unemployment insurance for millions of Americans who are 
still unable to find work. This is in addition to the 26 weeks that is 
provided in most States--some a little more, some a little less--and 
the question is whether we extend this again, as we have done several 
times since the great recession. The question is, should we extend it 
and, if so, how should we extend it? Should we pay for it? Should there 
be some training or other requirements attached to it so it works 
  It is a good debate to have. I came on the floor yesterday to say 
let's have a full debate on this issue. It is one of great importance 
to folks who are unemployed. It is also important to our Nation as a 
whole that we deal with this issue, to encourage economic growth, to 
get people back to work. I was encouraged yesterday that the Senate 
majority would permit appropriate amendments to this legislation. That 
is one reason I voted to proceed, of course with the understanding that 
we would have the opportunity to talk about this issue, and debate it, 
and offer amendments. One ought to be how we pay for it.
  Second, we ought to be able to deal with the underlying problem. 
Unemployment insurance is more of a bandaid, and we need to be sure we 
are dealing with the underlying problem of a weak economy and the lack 
of jobs and the lack of a connection between the skills that are needed 
and the jobs that are available. Let's really get at this problem in a 
serious way.
  I will be frank. I heard from a lot of people in the last 24 hours--
after the vote on the motion to proceed--that they were surprised that 
I voted to proceed and that other Republicans did as well because they 
thought Republicans would all vote against it. In fact, I saw some 
press reports this morning indicating that some of the Democratic 
leadership would have been happier had that motion failed last night 
because then they could say: Well, we are blaming Republicans for being 
  I do not think my colleagues who voted the other way were being 
obstructionist. I think their concern was that they were not going to 
have the opportunity to debate this issue and to offer amendments that 
are sensible, that are relevant to the issue at hand--like how we pay 
for it, how we improve unemployment insurance so it works better for 
those who are unemployed.
  But anyway, for my part, I took my colleagues at their word when they 
said they were serious about actually improving unemployment insurance 
and taking serious steps to deal with the lack of growth and economic 
opportunity in our economy today. So in good faith I voted on this 
motion to proceed yesterday, hoping again that we would be willing here 
in this body to have real debate, which is what the Senate is supposed 
to be about, have a debate over the long-term fiscally sound way 
forward on unemployment. I have come to the floor today in an effort to 
be sure that people understand there are alternatives out there, offer 
a specific idea to pay for the insurance, one that deals with fraud and 
abuse, one that is out of the President's budget actually, one that 
should be bipartisan.
  I have heard earlier today, some have come to the floor on their side 
of the aisle and said: We should not pay for this extension. We should 
just go further into debt and deficit. My question would be: If we can 
pay for it, why would we not? Why would we want to take the country 
further into deficit this year, bust the budget caps that we just 
established in the budget agreement? I was one of nine Republicans who 
voted for that budget agreement. It was not perfect, but it set up a 
process going forward where we can get back to our constitutional 
duties here in the Senate of actually appropriating, meaning the 
oversight necessary of the Federal departments and agencies. There has 
been none over the last 4 years when we have not had a budget. Then 
prioritizing spending. That is what we are supposed to be doing. That 
is our constitutional responsibility.
  It also did not raise taxes. It also does have a little bit of 
deficit reduction--not as much as it should have; it was not perfect, 
but it enabled us to move forward. So I voted for that budget. Now we 
are talking about, right after that, putting forward an unemployment 
emergency extension that is not paid for, that will bust those very 
caps. I am told a budget point of order is going to lie against this 
because of it.
  That is not the way we should go. Let's pay for it. The debt and 
deficit are affecting our economy today. It is like a wet blanket over 
the economy. You cannot have trillion-dollar deficits year in and year 
out. This year it is $680 billion. People are saying, well, that is 
  Are you kidding? That is the fifth highest deficit in the history of 
our country. It all adds up to a $17 trillion debt--unprecedented. I 
believe that is understated given all the liabilities we have as a 
government. But the point is, we have never had debts of this level. 
They are historic levels. It is not only the wrong thing to do for our 
economy today and to help getting people back to work, but it is also 
clearly unfair to do to future generations. We have some young people 
on the floor this afternoon. It is even immoral that we are leaving 
this to them. So let's pay for this.
  I was glad to hear Senator Reid say yesterday of our efforts to fund 
this legislation, ``If they come with something serious, I'll talk to 
them.'' Well, I have something serious--I think other Members will as 
well--something that reflects, in my case, reforms proposed in the 
President's own budget, ideas that should be bipartisan.
  My amendment would close a loophole that opens the system to double 
dipping. What do I mean by that? It is called concurrent receipts, 
where somebody is getting one Federal program, and then another Federal 
program they should not be eligible for if they have got the first one, 
specifically, people who are both on Social Security disability 
insurance, meaning they cannot work, SSDI, and also receiving funds 
from unemployment insurance, which means you are looking for a job or 
you are working. We also add trade adjustment assistance. That is 
exactly the same theory.
  We should not allow double dipping. In fact, we should stop this 
abuse. This is in the President's budget. This reform makes sense. 
Social Security disability was designed to help people who are unable 
to work because of a serious medical condition. As we all know, the law 
requires those on unemployment insurance to actively seek out job 
opportunities. So the two do not work together. Let's stop the double 
dipping. These two programs are mutually exclusive. Those who cannot 
work should be on disability. Those who can work should be on 
unemployment insurance if they are eligible. By passing this simple 
amendment, we can close this loophole and save $5.4 billion, almost 
enough to pay for the entire 3-month extension that we are talking 
about on the table here today, which is about $6.2, $6.3 billion.
  In addition, I will be adding another provision to my amendments that

[[Page S108]]

takes the unemployment insurance program integrity provisions directly 
out of the President's budget. These are programs again in the 
President's budget to ensure that the unemployment insurance program is 
working properly, again taking out the fraud and the abuse in it. The 
President's budget instructs the Department of Labor to implement it. 
My amendment does too. By implementing the President's own plan to 
reduce these improper payments and speed reemployment, we save even 
more money in the long run. This pays for, again, this unemployment 
extension over 3 months.
  I hope we can pass my amendment, pay for this extension, and show 
that this legislation is not just about politics--what we are talking 
about here on the floor is not just about politics, it is about 
actually helping people who are unemployed to get back to work. I hope 
when my Democratic colleagues say they are ready to take real action on 
getting our economy moving again, to help Americans who are suffering, 
they mean it.
  By the way, the fact that we are having this debate, the fact that so 
many Americans are in need of long-term unemployment insurance in and 
of itself shows that something is not working. In fact, as we have 
talked about on this floor before, we are now at historic levels in 
terms of long-term unemployment, people who have been unemployed for 
more than 26 weeks.
  The approach taken by the administration and many of my colleagues 
here and in the other body to bring down unemployment and get this 
economy moving does not seem to have worked, by their own standards. 
Recall that we had a stimulus package. It was said that unemployment 
would be far lower than it is today. So by their own standards, it has 
not worked. If it had, we would not be debating this today. We would 
not be talking about the need for an extension on an emergency basis of 
unemployment insurance.
  We cannot spend our way to prosperity. That is what we tried to do, 
in my view, in the stimulus package. That is one reason it has not 
worked. We certainly tried that over the last 5 years. If you look at 
what the government has done, we spent trillions of dollars we did not 
have, we have burdened the next generation with previously unimaginable 
debt levels that we talked about earlier. We have now run 5 years of 
historic deficits--5 years, trillion-dollar deficits the first 4 years.
  Before this administration we had never had a trillion-dollar 
deficit. Last year's deficit, again, $680 billion, the fifth largest in 
history, is certainly no cause for celebration, particularly when the 
Congressional Budget Office tells us that we are going to go back to 
trillion-dollar deficits within 10 years. So we obviously have a huge 
problem in terms of our debt and deficit.
  What do we have to show for all of this spending that we did? 
Seventy-one months after the recession began, the economy has still not 
recovered the jobs we lost in that recession. This has never happened 
in the history of our country. We have never had a recovery this weak. 
We are down 1.3 million jobs. By comparison, we were up 10.4 million 
jobs at this point after the 1981-1982 recession. That recession was 
also deep. In fact, it was deeper if you measure it by the number of 
people who were unemployed.
  Ronald Reagan came in, and frankly he took progrowth policies and put 
them in place and helped to create millions of jobs. By this time we 
were up 10.4 million jobs after that recession. We were up 9.8 million 
jobs after the 1990 recession at this point. We were up 4.8 million 
jobs after the 2001 recession. Remember that? The recovery was called 
the jobless recovery. Again, we have not even gained back the jobs at 
all yet after this recession. We were up 4.8 million jobs at this point 
after the 2001 recession.
  Making matters even worse, 1 out of every 3 unemployed persons has 
been out of work for 27 weeks or longer. As I said, this rate of long-
term unemployment is at levels we have not seen. You would think we 
would have learned a lesson here in Washington. You would think 
Washington would want to do something differently. Yet I heard the 
President and the majority leader just yesterday present an 
unemployment extension as if it were some kind of economic panacea, a 
silver bullet justifying their failure to pay for this extension with 
all of the growth they say it will generate.
  Well, the Senate majority leader said yesterday, ``For every dollar 
we spend on unemployment benefits, it gets $1.50 back to us just like 
that.'' Just like that? Think about this. If unemployment benefits 
create so much growth, why would we just do a 3-month extension? Why 
not a 3-year extension? Why would there be any limit? Money may not 
grow on trees, but apparently in the eyes of some it grows from 
government programs.
  That is not how the economy works. I know there are economists out 
there you can cite for just about anything. But the President's own 
economic advisors have written that unemployment benefits slow down the 
search for jobs. But we do not need to get into a battle of experts 
here. History has proven that just spending more money, even on 
unemployment benefits, is not the solution. It is not the long-term, 
serious solution to the problems we face as a country.
  This extension, if it passes, will be the 11th time we have extended 
unemployment benefits in the last 5 years. These extensions have cost 
more than $200 billion. No economic boom has resulted from this 
spending, just as it did not result, as I said earlier, from the 
trillion dollars in stimulus money.
  If spending were the answer, we would not be standing here today 
having this debate. We would be celebrating full employment. Our 
economy would not be better off if we had higher unemployment and we 
were paying out more in unemployment benefits. That is kind of the 
logical extension of what has been argued on the other side as to why 
we cannot pay for this. I cannot imagine anyone actually believes this.
  Yet for too long we have treated government spending as if it does 
create wealth. If I take $1 from the Presiding Officer, take $1 from 
one person and give that dollar to someone else, that other person may 
be better off, but I did not add a dollar to the economy. Government 
programs have to come from somewhere. So that dollar is being taken 
from somewhere and given to somebody else. Somehow the notion is that 
is going to add to the economy.
  Again, the logical extension is: Let's just continue to provide more 
and more government spending; everything will be great. That is not how 
it works. Dividing the pie up differently does not create more pie. It 
creates real, concrete progrowth policies to do that, policies that 
mean we are paying out less in unemployment benefits because more 
people have the skills they need to get good jobs. That is what we 
ought to be talking about.
  Yes, I am willing to extend unemployment insurance and pay for it. 
But during that period, let's come up with a better unemployment 
insurance program that actually connects people to the jobs that are 
out there. Because there are a lot of jobs that require skills that are 
not being filled. Our employment system ought to, both for the long 
term and even for the short term, focus on that. How do you create 
better skills so that people have the opportunity, have the tools to be 
able to access those jobs?
  Policies that allow more companies and small businesses to produce 
quality products they can sell here and around the world, creating 
better jobs and profits, would help. Implementing these kinds of 
policies is not as easy as extending unemployment benefits for a few 
months or raising the minimum wage. We will not be able to ram these 
kinds of policies through in a week on a party-line vote with no debate 
and no amendments. But there is a real solution to the chronic 
unemployment we are seeing in our States, and that is the only way to 
encourage the kind of income mobility that will close the income gap, 
not by tearing people down but by bringing people up. Progrowth 
economic policies obviously need to be part of the solution here. If we 
extend unemployment insurance, we should do so because people are 
hurting as a result of the failed policies in Washington. But we should 
not kid ourselves into believing that this extension alone will somehow 
solve these economic problems. Again, it certainly will not pay for 
itself. As I said earlier, you cannot take a dollar away from one 
person and give it to someone else and create more purchasing power. 
You are redistributing that across the economy.

[[Page S109]]

  It does not have to be that way. We can pass these pay-for 
amendments. I have my own amendments, as I said. Others have also 
proposed their amendments. I know Senator Ayotte has an amendment I am 
supporting that, again, gets at fraud and abuse in government programs 
and says: Let's pay for the unemployment benefits.
  She also, by the way, pays for veterans' benefits that were cut 
during the budget agreement we just passed. I also support that. She 
has a little left over for actual deficit reduction.
  Senator Coburn is going to have a proposal out here. I think Senator 
Hatch will have one. Senator McConnell will have one. My understanding 
is that Senator Coburn has one that is also out of the President's 
  There are plenty of ideas here as to how to pay for this extension, 
short term, while we look at better ways to have the unemployment 
insurance system work, to connect people who are unemployed to the jobs 
that are out there, by giving them the skills they need. That is where 
the hard work begins.
  We have got to get this country moving again. We have got to do 
things to actually increase economic growth and give people the skills 
they need to access the jobs that are out there. We need to pass bills 
such as the CAREER Act, bipartisan legislation I have introduced with 
Senator Mike Bennet from Colorado.
  In Ohio, we have about 400,000 people unemployed. We are told there 
are about 100,000 jobs right now open in Ohio. A lot of these jobs are 
high-tech jobs. Some are in advanced manufacturing, some are in 
bioscience, some in information technology. We need to be sure that the 
people who are unemployed get the skills they need to be able to take 
advantage of those jobs, those opportunities.
  We can also start by working on tax reform. Everybody seems to talk 
about it. Let's do it. Corporate tax reform alone would result in a lot 
more revenue coming into the Federal Government by repatriating 
profits. It would help expand opportunities, not for the boardroom, for 
the people who work in those companies.
  People who have looked at this at the Congressional Budget Office, 
the economic experts, have said: If we did corporate business tax 
reform, over 70 percent of the benefit goes right to the workers: 
higher pay, higher benefits. It is time to ensure that we have a 
growing economy, we are growing that pie, not just carving it up.
  Let's streamline the regulations in this country. Currently the 
United States ranks 34th in the world in the time it takes to get a 
government green light to actually build something. Think about that. 
This is a key World Bank measure for ease of doing business. We want 
America to be at the top of that list, not halfway down that list. 
Unless we do that, we are not going to see the kind of investment we 
want in this country. How many jobs are lost every year because people 
cannot get a permit, that a good idea cannot be built? These are jobs 
that are there if we change the policies here in Washington, DC.
  Congress continues to pat itself on the back for scoring political 
points rather than taking on these challenges that face our country. I 
can tell you who is not patting us on the back: It is the American 
people. They are not happy. They are not pleased with our progress. 
There is good reason. They are actually seeing their take-home pay go 
down as the deficit goes up, in, as the President talked about, a 
better economy.
  Fifty years ago the United States declared a war on poverty. Yet 
poverty is still a major problem. The goal was noble, but the tools we 
used were not up to the challenge.
  Since the recession began, 9 million more Americans have fallen into 
poverty and the median household income is down more than 8 percent. 
Poverty rates have actually increased during this administration with 
the policies we have.
  It is time for a change. For decades we have exported to the nations 
around the world these principles that have allowed us to enjoy so much 
prosperity and success. We have said: Follow the American way; the free 
enterprise system works. We have preached to them this gospel, as well 
as our belief that by removing the shackles of government interference 
from the market--whether in the form of overregulation, overspending, 
or overtaxing--everyone can prosper.
  As U.S. Trade Representative I had the opportunity to travel all 
around the world representing our great country. It was a great honor 
to tell people the benefits of liberalizing trade, knocking down 
barriers to increase economic growth and opportunity. It works. 
Entrepreneurs and job creators have lifted more people out of poverty 
around the world over the past few decades than any government program 
ever could because the free enterprise system does work. We need to get 
back to that.
  Let's do something we can be proud of in this Chamber today. Let's 
empower the American people instead of the American Government. Let's 
not kick the can of spending down the road any longer. Let's take some 
votes. Not all of them are going to be easy votes, and they shouldn't 
be. After all, that is what we are elected to do--take tough votes. 
These votes we take today, though, can make a real difference in 
people's lives.
  Let's start today. Let's pay for this legislation. Let's use these 
pay-fors we just talked about that are bipartisan, that are sensible, 
that can be supported on both sides of the aisle and in both bodies. 
Let's ensure that we put in place the progrowth policies so that we 
aren't just giving people a little more unemployment insurance for a 
few more months but giving them the opportunity to get a job and the 
dignity and self-respect that come with that.
  I urge my colleagues to support my amendment, pay for this 
legislation, put politics aside, and get to work for the American 
  I yield back my time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Heinrich). The Republican leader.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, over the past several years those of us 
who are fortunate enough to serve have engaged in many fierce debates. 
Some have been forced upon us by external events, including a searing 
financial crisis, while others were brought about by an 
unapologetically liberal President who promised dramatic change and who 
has worked very hard to follow through on that pledge--in some cases, 
even in the face of legal obstacles and widespread public opposition. 
So change has, indeed, come.
  Despite the daily drumbeat of headlines about gridlock and 
dysfunction in Washington, the truth is that an activist President and 
a Democratic-controlled Senate have managed to check off an awful lot 
of items on their wish list one way or another. Yet just as important 
as what they did, my colleagues, is how they did it because that also 
has been at the heart of so many of the fights we have had around here 
over the past few years. These conflicts haven't stemmed from personal 
grievances or contempt, as some would have it. They are, instead, the 
inevitable consequence of an administration that was in such a hurry to 
impose its agenda that it neglected to persuade the public of its 
wisdom and then cast aside one of the greatest tools we have in this 
country for guaranteeing a durable and stable legislative consensus, 
and that tool is the Senate.
  Remember, I think we all know partisanship is not some recent 
invention. American politics has always been divided between two 
ideological camps. Today that is reflected in the two major parties, 
but it has actually always been there. On one side are those who 
proudly place their trust in government and its agents to guide our 
institutions and direct our lives. On the other are those of us who put 
our trust in the wisdom and the creativity of private citizens working 
voluntarily with each other and through more local mediating 
institutions, guided by their own sense of what is right, what is fair, 
and what is good.
  Recent polling suggests that most Americans fall squarely into the 
latter camp. People are generally confident in their local governments 
but lack confidence in Washington.
  Despite the political and ideological divides which have always 
existed in our country, we have almost always managed to work out our 
differences--not by humiliating the other side into submission but 
through simple give-and-take. It is the secret of our success. The same 
virtues that make any

[[Page S110]]

friendship, marriage, family, or business work are the ones that have 
always made this country work. And the place where it happens, the 
place where all the national conflicts and controversies that arise in 
this big, diverse, wonderful country of ours have always been resolved, 
is in this Chamber.
  I realize it may not be immediately obvious why that is the case, but 
the fact is that every serious student of this institution, from De 
Tocqueville to our late colleague Robert Byrd, has seen the Senate as 
uniquely important to America's stability and to its flourishing. In 
their view, it has made all the difference, and here is why--because 
whether it was the fierce early battles over the shape and scope of the 
Federal Government or those that surrounded industrialization or those 
that preceded and followed a nation-rending civil war or those 
surrounding the great wars of the 20th century or the expansion of the 
franchise or a decades-long cold war or the war on terror, we have 
always found a way forward, sometimes haltingly but always steadily, 
and the Senate is the tool that has enabled us to find our footing 
almost every time.
  I mention all this because as we begin a new year, it is appropriate 
to step back from all the policy debates that have occupied us over the 
past few years and focus on another debate we have been having, and the 
debate we have been having is over the State of this institution. What 
have we become? It is not a debate that ever caught fire with the 
public or with the press, but it is a debate that should be of grave 
importance to all of us because on some level every single one of us 
has to be at least a little bit uneasy about what happened here last 
November. But even if you are completely at peace with what happened in 
November, even if you think it was perfectly fine to violate the all-
important rules that say changing the rules requires the assent of two-
thirds of Senators duly elected and sworn, none of us should be happy 
with the trajectory the Senate was on even before that day, even before 
November, or the condition we find the Senate in 225 years after it was 
created. I don't think anybody is comfortable with where we are. I know 
I am not, and I bet, even though there is nobody over here at the 
moment, I bet almost none of them are either.
  I wish to share a few thoughts on what I think we have lost over the 
last 7 years and what can be done about it together. ``Together'' 
obviously requires the involvement, one would think, of some people on 
the other side of the aisle. Even though they are not here to listen, 
they have been invited.
  Let me state at the outset that it is not my intention to point the 
finger of blame at anybody, although some of that is inevitable. I 
don't presume to have all of the answers either, and I am certainly not 
here to claim that we are without fault. But I am absolutely certain of 
one thing: The Senate can be better than it is. Many of us have seen a 
better Senate than we have now, no matter who was in the majority. This 
institution can be better than it is. I just can't believe that on some 
level everyone in this Chamber, including the folks on the other side, 
doesn't agree. It just can't be the case that we are content with the 
theatrics and the messaging wars that go on day after day. It can't be 
the case that Senators who grew up reading about the great statesmen 
who made their name and their mark over the years are now suddenly 
content to stand in front of a giant poster board making some poll-
tested point-of-the month day after day and then run back to their 
respective corners and congratulate each other on how right they are. I 
can't believe we are all happy about that on either side.
  Don't misunderstand me--there is a time for making a political point 
and even scoring a few points. I know that as well as anybody. But it 
can't be the only thing we do. Surely we do something other than 
scoring political points against each other. It cheapens the service we 
have sworn to provide to our constituents. It cheapens the Senate, 
which is a lot bigger than any of us.
  Hopefully, we can all agree that we have a problem. I realize both 
sides have their own favorite account of what caused it. We have our 
talking points, and they have their talking points. We all repeat them 
with great repetition, and we all congratulate each other for being on 
the right side of the debate. I understand that. People over there 
think Republicans abuse the rules, and we think they do. But, as I 
said, my goal here isn't to make converts on that front; my purpose is 
to suggest that the Senate can be better than it has been and that it 
must be if we are to remain great as a nation.
  The crucial first step of any vision that gets us there is to 
recognize that vigorous debate about our differences isn't some 
sickness to be lamented. Vigorous debate is not a problem. When did 
that become a problem? It is actually a sign of strength to have 
vigorous debates.

  It is a common refrain among pundits that the fights we have around 
here are pointless. They are not at all pointless. Every single debate 
we have around here is about something important. What is unhealthy is 
when we neglect the means that we have always used to resolve our 
differences. That is the real threat to this country, not more debate. 
When did that become a problem?
  The best mechanism we have for working through our differences and 
arriving at a durable consensus is the U.S. Senate. An Executive order 
can't do it. The fiat of a nine-person court can't do it. A raucous and 
precarious partisan majority in the House can't do it. The only 
institution that can make stable and enduring laws is the one we have 
in which all 50 States are represented equally and where every single 
Senator has a say in the laws we pass. This is what the Senate was 
designed for. It is what the Senate is supposed to be about, and 
almost--almost--always has been.
  Take a look at some of the most far-reaching legislation of the past 
century. Look at the vote tallies. Medicare and Medicaid were both 
approved with the support of about half the Members of the minority. 
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed with the votes of 30 out of the 32 
Members of the Republican minority--all but two Republican Senators. 
There weren't many of them. That was the year after the Goldwater 
debacle. Only two Senators voted against the Social Security Act, and 
only eight voted against the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  None of this happened, by the way--none of it happened--by throwing 
these bills together in the back room and dropping them on the floor 
with a stopwatch running. It happened through a laborious process of 
legislating, persuasion, and coalition building. It took time and it 
took patience and hard work and it guaranteed that every one of these 
laws had stability--stability. Compare that--compare that, if you 
will--to the attitude behind ObamaCare. When Democrats couldn't 
convince any of us the bill was worth supporting as written, they 
decided to do it on their own and pass it on a party-line vote and now 
we are seeing the result.
  The chaos this law has visited on our country isn't just deeply 
tragic; it was, my friends, entirely predictable--entirely predictable. 
That will always be the case if we approach legislation without regard 
for the views of the other side. Without some meaningful buy-in, we 
guarantee a food fight, we guarantee instability, and we guarantee 
  It may very well have been the case that on ObamaCare the will of the 
country was not to pass the bill at all. That is what I would have 
concluded if Republicans couldn't get a single Democratic vote for 
legislation of that magnitude. I would have thought: Well, maybe this 
isn't such a great idea. But Democrats plowed forward anyway. They 
didn't want to hear it. The results are clear. It is a mess, an 
absolute mess.
  The Senate exists to prevent that kind of situation. Because without 
a moderating institution as the Senate, today's majority passes 
something and tomorrow's majority repeals it; today's majority proposes 
something, and tomorrow's majority opposes it. We see that in the House 
all the time. But when the Senate is allowed to work the way it was 
designed to, it arrives at a result that is acceptable to people all 
along the political spectrum. That, my friends, is the whole point.
  We have lost our sense for the value of that, and none of us should 
be at peace. Because if America is to face up

[[Page S111]]

to the challenges we face in the decades ahead, she will need the 
Senate the Founders, in their wisdom, intended, not the hollow shell of 
the Senate we have today--not the hollow shell of the Senate we have 
  First, one of the traditional hallmarks of the Senate is a vigorous 
committee process. It is also one of the main things we have lost. 
There was a time--not that long ago--when chairmen and ranking members 
had major influence and used their positions to develop national policy 
on everything from farm policy to nuclear arms. These men and women 
enriched the entire Senate through their focus and their expertise. 
Just as important, they provided an important counterweight to the 
executive branch. They provided one more check on the White House. If a 
President thought something was a good idea, he had better make sure he 
ran it by the committee chairman who had been studying it for the past 
two decades. If the chairman disagreed, then they would have a serious 
debate and probably reach a better product as a result.
  The Senate should be setting national priorities, not simply waiting 
on the White House to do it for us. The place to start that process is 
in the committees. With few exceptions, that is gone. With very few 
exceptions, that is gone. It is a big loss to the institution, but most 
importantly it is a big loss for the American people who expect us to 
  Here is something else we have gained from a robust committee process 
over the years. Committees have actually served as a school of 
bipartisanship. If we think about it, it just makes sense. By the time 
a bill gets through committee, one would expect it to come out in a 
form that was generally broadly acceptable to both sides; nobody got 
everything, but more often than not everybody got something, and the 
product was stable because there was buy-in and a sense of ownership on 
both sides.
  On the rare occasions when that has happened recently, we have seen 
that work. The committee process in the Senate is a shadow of what it 
used to be, thereby marginalizing, reducing the influence of every 
single Member of the Senate on both sides of the aisle. Major 
legislation is now routinely drafted not in committee but in the 
majority leader's conference room and then dropped on the floor with 
little or no opportunity for Members to participate in the amendment 
process, virtually guaranteeing a fight.
  There is a lot of empty talk around here about the corrosive 
influence of partisanship. If we truly want to do something about it, 
we should support a more robust committee process. That is the best way 
to end the permanent sort of shirts-against-skins contest the Senate 
has become. Bills should go through committee. If Republicans are 
fortunate enough--if Republicans are fortunate enough--to gain the 
majority next year, that will be done.
  Second, bills should come to the floor and be thoroughly debated. We 
have an example of that going on right now, and that includes a robust 
amendment process. In my view, there is far too much paranoia about the 
other side around here. What are we afraid of? Both sides have taken 
liberties and abused privileges. I will admit that. But the answer 
isn't to provoke even more. The answer is to let folks debate. This is 
the Senate. Let folks debate. Let the Senate work its will, and that 
means bringing bills to the floor. It means having a free and open 
amendment process. That is legislating.
  That is what we used to do. That is exactly the way this place 
operated just a few years ago. The senior Senator from Illinois, the 
Democratic assistant majority leader, likes to say--or at least used to 
say--that if you don't want to fight fires, don't become a fireman, and 
if you don't want to cast tough votes, don't come to the Senate. I 
guess he hasn't said that lately.
  When we used to be in the majority, I remember telling people: Look. 
The good news is we are in the majority. The bad news is, in order to 
get the bill across the floor, you have to cast a lot of votes you 
don't want to take--and we did it and people groaned about it, 
complained about it. Yet the Sun still came up the next day and 
everybody felt as though they were a part of the process.
  Senator Durbin was right about that when he said it. I think it is 
time to allow Senators on both sides to more fully participate in the 
legislative process, and that means having a more open amendment 
process around here. As I said, obviously it requires us, from time to 
time, to cast votes we would rather not cast. But we are all grownups. 
We can take that. There is rarely ever a vote we cast around here that 
is fatal.
  The irony of it all is that kind of process makes the place a lot 
less contentious. In fact, it is a lot less contentious when we vote on 
tough issues than when we don't, because when we are not allowed to do 
that, everybody is angry about being denied the opportunity to do what 
they were sent here to do, which is to represent the people who elected 
us and offer ideas we think are worth considering.
  At a meeting we just came out of, Senator Cornyn was pointing out 
there were 13 amendments people on this side of the aisle would like to 
offer on this bill, all of them related to the subject and important to 
each Senator who seriously felt there was a better way to improve the 
bill that is on the floor right now. But, alas, I expect that 
opportunity will not be allowed because one person who is allowed to 
get prior recognition can prevent us from getting any amendments or, 
even worse still, pick our amendments for us, decide which of our 
amendments are OK and which aren't.
  I remember the late Ted Stevens telling the story about when he first 
got here. Senator Mansfield was still the majority leader, and he tried 
to offer an amendment--Senator Stevens did--and the Member of the 
majority who was managing the bill prevented it, in effect. Senator 
Mansfield came over to Senator Stevens, took his amendment, went back 
to his desk and sent it to the floor for him. He sent it to the floor 
for him. That was the Senate not too long ago.
  If someone isn't allowed to get a vote on something they believe in, 
of course they are going to retaliate. Of course they are going to 
retaliate. But if they get a vote every once in a while, they do not 
feel the need to. Voting on amendments is good for the Senate and it is 
good for the country. Our constituents should have a greater voice in 
the process.
  Since July of last year, there have been four Republican rollcall 
votes. In the whole second half of 2013, Members on this side of the 
aisle have gotten four rollcall votes--stunning. That is today's 

  So let me say this: If Republicans are fortunate enough to be in the 
majority next year, amendments will be allowed, Senators will be 
respected, and we will not make an attempt to wring controversy out of 
an institution which expects, demands, and approves of great debates 
about the problems confronting the country.
  A common refrain from Democrats is that Republicans have been too 
quick to block bills from ever coming to the floor. What they fail to 
mention of course is that often we have done this either because we 
have been shut out of the drafting process--in other words, had nothing 
to do with writing the bill in the first place--or it had been made 
pretty clear that there wouldn't be any amendments, which is, in all 
likelihood, the situation we are in this very day.
  In other words, we already knew the legislation was shaping up to be 
a purely partisan exercise in which people we represent wouldn't have 
any meaningful input at all. Why would we want to participate in that? 
Is it good for our constituents? Does it lead to a better product? Of 
course not. All it leads to is a lot more acrimony.
  So look. I get it. If Republicans had just won the White House and 
the House and had a 60-vote majority in the Senate, we would be tempted 
to empty our outbox too. But you can't spend 2 years emptying your 
outbox and then complain about the backlash. If you want fewer fights, 
give the other side a say.
  That brings me to one of the biggest things we have lost around here, 
as I see it. The big problem, my colleagues, has never been the rules. 
Senators from both parties have in the past revered and defended the 
rules during our Nation's darkest hours. The real problem is an 
attitude that views the Senate as an assembly line for one party's 
partisan legislative agenda rather than as a place to build consensus 
to solve national problems. We have become far

[[Page S112]]

too focused on making a point instead of making a difference, making a 
point instead of making good stable laws. We have gotten too 
comfortable with viewing everything we do here through the prism of the 
next election instead of the prism of duty, and everyone suffers as a 
  As I see it, a major turning point came during the final years of the 
Bush administration, when the Democratic majority held vote after vote 
on bills they knew wouldn't pass. I am not saying Republicans have 
never staged a show vote when we were in the majority. I am not saying 
I don't even enjoy a good messaging vote from time to time. But we have 
to wonder, if that is all we are doing, why are we here? It has become 
entirely too routine, and it diminishes the Senate. I don't care which 
party you are in; you came here to legitimate, to make a difference for 
your constituents. Yet over the past several years the Senate seems 
more like a campaign studio than a serious legislative body.
  Both sides have said and done things over the past few years we 
probably wish we hadn't. But we can improve the way we do business. We 
can be more constructive. We can work through our differences. We can 
do things that need to be done. But there will have to be major changes 
if we are going to get there. The committee process must be restored. 
We need to have an open amendment process.
  Finally, let me suggest that we need to learn how to put in a decent 
week's work around here. Most Americans don't work 3 days a week. They 
would be astonished to find out that is about it around here.
  How about the power of the clock to force consensus? The only way 100 
Senators will be truly able to have their say, the only way we will be 
able to work through our tensions and disputes is if we are here more. 
A number of you will remember this: Not too long ago, Thursday night 
was the main event around here. There is a huge incentive to finish on 
Thursday night if you want to leave on Friday. It is amazing how it 
  Even the most eager beaver among us with a long list of amendments 
which were good for the country--maybe 10 or 12--around noon on 
Thursday, it would be down to two or one by midnight on Thursday. It 
was amazing how consent would be reached when fatigue set in. All it 
took was for the majority leader--who is in charge of the agenda--to 
say: Look, this is important. There is bipartisan support for this. 
This came out of committee. We want to have an open amendment process, 
but we want to finish this week, and we can finish on Thursday 
afternoon or Thursday night or Friday morning. We almost never get worn 
out around here.
  What happened to the fatigue factor to bring things to a close? 
Amendments voluntarily go away, but important ones still get offered, 
and everybody feels like they have a chance to be involved in the 
process no matter which side of the aisle they are on. This is 
obviously particularly effective on bills which come out of committee, 
with bipartisan support, so there is an interest in actually passing 
it. We almost never do that anymore--almost never. On those occasions, 
we worked late, sometimes well into the morning.
  I know that sounds kind of quaint for people who haven't been around 
here very long, but it actually worked. There is nothing wrong with 
staying up a little later and getting to a conclusion. I can remember 
the majority leader himself, when he was whip, walking around late at 
night on Thursdays with his whip card making sure he had enough votes 
to do whatever he wanted to do.
  When you finished one of those debates, whether you ended up voting 
for the bill or voting against the bill, you didn't have the feeling 
that, unless you chose to go away with your amendment, you had been 
denied the opportunity to participate and to be a part of the process 
and actually make a difference for your constituents.
  That is how you reach consensus: By working and talking and 
cooperating through give-and-take. That is the way everyone's patience 
is worn down, not just the majority leader's patience. Everyone can 
agree on a result even if they don't vote for it in the end. Using the 
clock to force consensus is the greatest proof of that, and if 
Republicans are in the majority next year, we will use the clock. 
Everybody gets an opportunity, but we will use the clock, we will work 
harder, and get results.

  Restoring the committee process, allowing Senators to speak through 
an open amendment process, and extending the workweek are just a few 
things the Senate could and should do differently. None of it would 
guarantee an end to partisan rancor. There is nothing wrong with 
partisan debate. It is good for the country. None of it would cause us 
to change our principles or our views about what is right and what is 
wrong with our country.
  Partisanship itself is not the problem. The real problem has been a 
growing lack of confidence in the Senate's ability to mediate the 
tensions and disputes we have always had around here. There are many 
reasons some have lost that confidence, and ultimately both parties 
have to assume some of the blame.
  But we can't be content to leave it at that. For the good of the 
country, we need to work together to restore this institution. 
America's strength and resilience has always depended on our ability to 
adapt to the various challenges of our day. Sometimes that has meant 
changing the rules when both parties think it is warranted. When the 
majority leader decided a few weeks back to defy bipartisan 
opposition--there was bipartisan opposition to what happened in 
November--by changing the rules that govern this place with a simple 
majority, he broke something. He broke something.
  But our response can't be to just sit back and accept the demise of 
the Senate. This body has survived mistakes and excesses before. Even 
after some of its worst periods, it has found a way to spring back and 
to be the place where even the starkest differences and the fiercest 
ideological disputes are hashed out by consensus and mutual respect. 
Indeed, it is during periods of its greatest polarization that the 
value of the Senate is most clearly seen.
  So let me wrap it up this way. We are all familiar with the Lyndon 
Johnson reign around here. Robert Caro has given us that story in great 
detail. Some look at LBJ's well-known heavyhandedness as a kind of 
mastery. Personally, I have always believed the leader who replaced him 
was a better fit for this place, and evidently so did Johnson's 
colleagues who elected Mansfield upon Johnson's departure with 
overwhelming enthusiasm. They had had it up to here with LBJ, and they 
were excited that he was gone.
  In fact, Caro reports that he tried to come to the first lunch after 
he became Vice President and was going to act as the sort of de facto 
majority leader even though he was now Vice President. That was, shall 
I say, unenthusiastically received, and he was almost literally thrown 
out of the lunch never to return, and Mansfield was, as I said, 
enthusiastically chosen to replace him.
  The chronicles of LBJ's life and legacy usually leave out what I just 
told you, but by the time he left the Senate, as I indicated, his 
colleagues had had enough of him, right up to here. They may have bent 
to his will while he was here, but the moment they had a chance to be 
delivered from his iron-fisted rule, they took it.
  With their support, Mike Mansfield would spend the next 16 years 
restoring the Senate to a place of greater cooperation and freedom. As 
we look at what the Senate could be--not what it is now, but what it 
could be--Mansfield's period gives us a clue.
  There are many well-known stories about Mansfield's fairness and 
equanimity as leader. But they all seem to come down to one thing, and 
that was his unbending belief that every single Senator was equal. That 
was Mansfield's operating mode: Every single Senator is equal. He acted 
that way on a daily basis and conducted himself that way on a daily 
basis: The unbending belief that every Senator should be treated as 
  So, look. Both sides will have to work to get us back to where we 
should be. It is not going to happen overnight. We haven't had much 
practice lately. In fact, we are completely out of practice at doing 
what I just suggested as the first steps to get us back to normal. But 
it is a goal I truly believe we can all agree on and agree to strive 
toward together, and it takes no rules change. This is a behavioral 

[[Page S113]]

It doesn't require a rules change. We just need to act differently with 
each other, respect the committee process, have an open amendment 
process, and work a little harder. None of that requires a rules 
change, because restoring this institution is the only way we will ever 
solve the challenges we face. That is the lesson of history and the 
lesson of experience. We would all be wise to heed it.

  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I congratulate the Republican leader 
for his remarks. Without being presumptuous, I think I could express 
the hope that all of us feel that he will help us restore the Senate to 
the role the American people need it to play in this country.
  There is a new history of the Senate, ``The American Senate,'' 
written by Neil MacNeil, the late Neil MacNeil, who wrote the best book 
about the House of Representatives, and the former Historian of the 
Senate. I suspect this book is likely to become the best chronicle of 
this body. It speaks of the Senate as ``the one touch of authentic 
genius in the American political system.'' It needs to be restored to 
that position.
  The Republican leader is absolutely right. This does not require a 
change of rules. This requires a change of behavior--some behavior on 
our part on this side of the aisle, but a great deal of behavior on the 
part of whomever the majority leader of the Senate is, because that is 
the person who sets the agenda.
  The debate for this year really is: Will this year be the end of the 
Senate--which is what the distinguished majority leader said it would 
be if we ever changed the rules in a way that allowed the majority to 
cut off debate--or will it be the year in which the Senate is restored, 
restored to that role of authentic genius in the American system? I 
hope it would be that way. I hope it starts tomorrow because it could 
be started as quickly as tomorrow because it requires no change of 
rules, only a change in behavior, and that could happen as soon as 
tomorrow. But we know it can happen after November if we have six more 
Republican Senators on this side.
  We have heard your commitment on the floor today about how the 
committees can operate, about how amendments should operate. We have 
heard that before in our own meetings, in private lunches, and I am 
glad you took the occasion in this eloquent way to say to the American 
people and all of us what we expect out of service in the Senate.
  I had the privilege, as the Senator from Kentucky did, of seeing 
Senator Mansfield as the leader of this body. I have not served in the 
Senate as long as others who were here, but I came here--it seems hard 
to believe--47 years ago as a young aide to a Senator who eventually 
became the majority leader of the Senate, Howard Baker. Those were the 
days of Mansfield and Dirksen. Those were the days when Barry Goldwater 
and John Tower and Hubert Humphrey would engage in hours of debates 
here and hug each other at the end of their discussion. Those were the 
days when the Democratic majority leader would offer an amendment of a 
Republican Senator whose amendment had been denied unfairly, he 
thought. Those were the days of committees that did their work and 
Republicans and Democrats who came to the floor and together offered 
  I saw the Senate in the 1970s when I came back and Senator Baker was 
the Republican leader and I saw it in the 1980s and the 1990s. I saw 
what the Republican leader said--let's take the Panama Canal debate. 
Senator Baker and Senator Byrd would run the Senate in the way the 
Republican leader suggested, in the way most majority leaders have 
suggested. They would come to the floor and they would put a bill on 
the floor that a Republican and a Democratic Senator agreed on--let's 
say it is Senator McCain and Senator Levin, Senator Inhofe and Senator 
Levin. They would ask for amendments. They might get 300 amendments. 
They would then ask for unanimous consent to cut off all the amendments 
and of course they would get it because everyone had a chance to have 
his or her amendment.
  Then within that unanimous consent agreement would be a procedure for 
how to vote on them, and they would say: We are here on Monday and we 
are going to finish this week, just as the Republican leader had said.
  It does not work perfectly. There was a Senator from Alabama, and 
then there was a Senator from Ohio, and they did all they could to put 
glue in the works. But the majority leader had all the tools he needed 
to run the Senate in that way. Everybody got a say. Senator Byrd, in 
his last remarks before the Rules Committee, and I was there to hear 
it, said we should never tear down this necessary fence. He meant the 
filibuster that protects us from an excess of the executive and runaway 
popular factions. But he said one other thing. Senator Byrd said in 
2010 that any majority leader had the tools he needed already in the 
rules to operate this Senate in the way it should be run. So we need a 
change in behavior, not a change of the rules.
  One more example that goes to the point the Senator from Kentucky 
made. How important is it to be able to offer an amendment? Serving in 
the Senate today is like being invited to join the Grand Ole Opry and 
not being allowed to sing. The people of Tennessee expect me to have an 
opinion on their behalf about ObamaCare, about Iran, about all of the 
issues--how do we help unemployed Americans get a job, about the 
minimum wage or the lack of it. They expect me to have a say about 
that, not because they want to hear me but because I am their voice.
  Senator Byrd wrote eloquently about that in his book. He talked about 
the Panama Canal debate. There was a tough debate. They didn't just 
bring the Panama Canal treaty here and plop it on the floor and say we 
are going to vote on it next Monday. Do you think it would have gotten 
67 votes? No, it would not have gotten 67 votes. How did it get 67 
votes? The Democratic leader, Senator Byrd, and the Republican leader, 
Senator Baker, read David McCullough's book and changed their minds and 
they both supported the treaty. Then they allowed every single 
amendment and reservation that anybody wanted to offer.
  Senator Byrd wrote that many of those were killer amendments. In 
other words, they were designed to kill the treaty. But, he said, we 
allowed every one of them--192 of them. Nothing passed that was not 
acceptable to the joint leadership. He said we beat everything else. We 
tabled them or defeated them. But if we had not allowed that to happen 
and the Senators had not had a chance to have their say, we would have 
never ratified the treaty.
  I know there may be others who want to speak. But we have gone down a 
trail in the last several years--just a few years--that I never thought 
imaginable. We have 43 new Members of the Senate, 43 Members of the 
Senate who are in their first term, plus 1, the Senator from Indiana, 
who is in his first term but served before so he has a broader view of 
this. Those Senators have never seen this body operate properly. Most 
of them are on the other side. So it is not necessarily their fault 
that this is happening, but this is not the way the Senate earned the 
reputation as the unique deliberative body in the world. No one would 
recognize it as that today. No one would recognize it as the authentic 
touch of creative genius in the American system of government.
  My hope would be that the Democratic leader would recognize this and 
have a change of behavior tomorrow, or maybe later this afternoon. But 
if he does not, I hope the American people take this seriously and take 
it into account when they cast their votes in November and put six more 
Republicans on this side of the aisle so a Republican leader can 
restore this body to the luster it deserves, and the American people 
deserve, as the authentic touch of genius in the American political 
  Mr. WICKER. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Coons). Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, we just heard a very eloquent speech given 

[[Page S114]]

the Republican leader on the Senate floor about the history of the 
Senate and the role it has played in our democracy, its past, and what 
could be its future if we can restore it to where it once was.
  The leader talked a lot about what used to be taken for granted 
around here, such as the committee process working and functioning 
where committees reported legislation out, worked on it, and brought it 
to the floor.
  We had an amendment process. When legislation got to the floor, it 
could actually be debated. We would have amendments offered and 
amendments would be voted on. Individual Senators had an opportunity to 
offer amendments and could thereby be the voice our people who elected 
us to be here in the Senate.
  Unfortunately, in many respects with this current Senate, the wheels 
have come off. We find ourselves with a process where typically the 
amendment tree is filled, which blocks amendments from being offered. 
Perhaps the best factoid with regard to that is that there have only 
been four Republican amendments voted on since July--half a year. Over 
the course of half a year, we have had four Republican amendments that 
were voted on in the Senate. In any institution where there is any form 
of open debate and open amendment process, there is going to be a lot 
more votes than that, and I think that is very telling about where we 
  I was here as a young staffer back in 1985 and 1986. At that time 
Senator Bob Dole was the majority leader in the Senate. It was a very 
different place. I worked on some issues for my boss, and he had his 
opportunity, as did other Senators at that time, to come to the Senate 
floor, offer amendments, and speak out on behalf of his constituents on 
issues that were important to them and important to him, and that is 
something that has become a bygone era.
  I also had the opportunity--prior to being elected to the Senate--to 
serve in the other body, the House of Representatives, where things are 
very structured. There is a rules committee there that basically 
regulates what legislation comes to the floor, what amendments will be 
made in order, and how much time is allowed for debate on each 
amendment. That is how that institution was structured.
  The Senate, as Senator McConnell the Republican leader pointed out 
earlier, is a very different institution by design. Our Founders wanted 
it to be different. Senator Alexander, in his remarks, talked about an 
author who described the Senate as a touch of authentic genius. We have 
gotten very far away from that in terms of its historic role and 
certainly what should be its role today as we debate major policy and 
major legislation that impacts over 300 million Americans.
  Today I come to the floor to discuss an issue that was debated here a 
few years ago, which is an example--a byproduct, if you will--of one-
party rule, where a big piece of legislation is jammed through in a 
partisan way; that is, ObamaCare.
  My colleagues on the Democratic side recently spent a lot of time 
talking about income inequality. After 5 years of stagnation in the 
Obama economy and an ever-growing gap between the rich and poor, I say 
it is high time for us to talk about that. But a critical part of that 
discussion that Democrats don't want to have has to be the ways in 
which ObamaCare is contributing to the problem.
  As the last few months have made clear, ObamaCare is making it worse 
for millions of Americans. Huge premium increases and soaring out-of-
pocket costs mean that families will have to take money that they would 
have used to buy their first home or pay for a child's college 
education and use it instead to pay for health care. Crippling mandates 
on employers mean that fewer jobs are available for the unemployed and 
hours are reduced for workers. As if the economic problems caused by 
the law aren't enough, recent weeks have made clear that the quality of 
care is likely to diminish thanks to the President's health care law.
  Contrary to the President's promise that you could keep the doctor 
you had and liked, millions of Americans are discovering they will be 
losing their doctors this year and their choice of replacement is 
limited. Why? Because ObamaCare provides an incentive for insurers to 
limit the pool of doctors--and I might add hospitals as well--that you 
can visit. The President's health care law placed a number of new 
burdens on insurers, from new taxes to a requirement that everyone with 
preexisting conditions be covered at the same rate as healthy 
  On top of that, the law gave States the authority to tell insurance 
companies how much they are allowed to charge for their health plans. 
As a result, insurance companies are facing huge new cost increases 
with very few ways to cover those costs. Many companies have chosen the 
one cost control measure still available to them; that is, limiting 
their networks of doctors and hospitals.
  In California, for example, as a Time magazine article recently 
reported, Blue Shield offered doctors a choice--be reimbursed up to 30 
percent less for medical care or be excluded from the network. The Time 
article was entitled ``Keeping Your Doctor Under ObamaCare Is No Easy 
Feat'' and goes on to report that ``among the providers who declined to 
accept the lower rates were some of the state's most prestigious--and 
expensive--hospitals, including Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los 
Angeles and hospitals affiliated with the University of California.''
  There is a reason these hospitals are prestigious and expensive. They 
are on the cutting edge of medical research and offer breakthrough 
treatments that are unavailable at many other hospitals. People come to 
these hospitals when other treatments have failed, and they often find 
hope. But these kinds of hospitals--world-class, cutting-edge 
facilities--are the hospitals most likely to be excluded from exchange 
  Time reports that ``a December 13 McKinsey study of 20 U.S. 
Metropolitan areas found that two-thirds of ACA plans analyzed had 
`narrow' or `ultra' narrow networks, with at least 30 percent of top 20 
hospitals excluded for coverage.''
  The consequences of these narrow or ultranarrow networks are many. 
First, of course, these networks might not include your doctor. If you 
have been forced off your health plan into a new private plan or 
exchange plan, your new plan may not cover the doctor you have been 
seeing for years--the doctor you like and who knows your medical 
history. This is detrimental to any patient, but for someone who is 
being treated for a serious illness, this could be devastating.
  Switching doctors midstream while being treated for cancer or another 
serious illness could have a disastrous impact on the quality of the 
care the patient receives.
  In addition to losing the doctor you have and like, these narrow 
networks also mean your choice of a replacement will be limited--at 
times severely limited--and that the same quality of care may simply 
not be available in the new network.
  Still another consequence, as Time points out, is the distance people 
may have to travel to get to their doctor or hospital. Excluding 
hospitals from an insurance network may not present a huge travel 
problem for urban residents--the article notes--but residents in rural 
areas may be forced to drive a long way to reach a hospital in their 
  Time quotes Kaiser Family Foundation senior fellow Karen Pollitz, who 
notes that exchange customers in central Maine have to travel as far as 
Portland to reach a covered hospital. That could be a 2\1/2\-hour 
drive. That is not exactly ideal if someone is, say, having a baby or a 
serious health crisis.
  Let's suppose that you do somehow find an affordable plan on the 
exchanges that does cover your doctor. You still may not be able to get 
care. A recent FOX News article focused on expert warnings that the 
health exchange system may start to look a lot like Medicaid, the 
Federal health insurance program for the poor. Similar to the 
exchanges, Medicaid features narrow provider networks, as many doctors 
either refuse Medicaid patients all together or limit the number they 
see because of Medicaid's lower reimbursements.
  So what is the result? Medicaid patients generally face worse 
outcomes than patients with private insurance.

[[Page S115]]

They wait longer for doctors if they can get in to see them at all. The 
survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 66 
percent of children on Medicaid were denied appointments with 
specialists compared to just 11 percent of children covered by private 
insurance. Patients on Medicaid are more likely to suffer complications 
and spend longer in the hospital, and they are more likely to die from 
cancer, surgical complications, and other problems.

  Unfortunately, this could soon be the future of those forced into 
narrow networks on the exchanges. Patients will be denied access to top 
doctors and hospitals and will be forced to compete with other patients 
for access to a limited number of health care providers. Even those 
Americans whose plans cover their preferred doctors will not 
necessarily be able to get in to see their doctor if he is forced to 
start limiting the number of exchange patients he takes.
  Analysts, Fox News warns, ``emphasize . . . that having health 
insurance won't necessarily translate into access to health care.''
  Let me repeat that: Analysts emphasize that having health insurance 
won't necessarily translate into access to health care.
  This is what the grand promise of ObamaCare has come to: Even those 
who have managed to make their way through the broken exchange Web 
sites and find an affordable plan still may not be able to get health 
  Is this the rosy future we were promised? ObamaCare was supposed to 
fix our health care system. The President promised it would reduce 
costs and expand access to care. Every American was supposed to 
benefit. Instead, millions of Americans have lost their plans. Health 
insurance costs have soared. There are parents who now can't afford to 
insure their children and cancer patients who are losing their doctors 
and hospitals. Those few who have gained coverage are facing a system 
well on its way to becoming a copy of Medicaid.
  Surely we can do better. We have to do better. It is time to abandon 
the failed ObamaCare experiment and move on to real health care reform. 
We can do that and we should do that.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.

                        Truth in Settlements Act

  Ms. WARREN. Mr. President, I rise to support the Truth in Settlements 
Act. This bipartisan legislation, which I introduced earlier today with 
my colleague from Oklahoma, Dr. Coburn, will help the public hold 
Federal agencies accountable for the settlements they make with 
corporate wrongdoers.
  I am honored to partner with Dr. Coburn on this bill. In his decade 
in the Senate, he has been a leader in the fight for greater government 
transparency. Dr. Coburn and I do not agree on every issue, but we 
strongly agree that sunlight is a critical component of good 
government. That is the motivation behind the Truth in Settlements Act, 
and I am proud to fight alongside Dr. Coburn to advance this 
  When companies break the law, Federal enforcement agencies are 
responsible for holding them accountable. In nearly every instance, 
agencies choose to resolve cases through settlement rather than going 
to a public trial. The government agencies defend this practice by 
arguing that their eagerness to settle is in the best interests of the 
American people. But their actions paint a very different picture.
  If agencies were truly confident that these settlements were good 
deals for the public, they would be enthusiastic about publicly 
disclosing all of the key details of those agreements--hang it right 
out there so everyone can see what a great job they did on behalf of 
the American people.
  So is that what they do? No. Instead, time after time, agencies do 
the opposite, hiding critical details about their settlements in the 
fine print or, worse, hiding those details entirely out of public view.
  Copies of these agreements--or even the basic facts about the 
agreement--are not easily accessible online. Many agencies regularly 
deem agreements confidential without any public explanation. When 
agencies do make public statements about these agreements, they often 
trumpet large dollar amounts of money for the taxpayers. What they 
don't trumpet is that the companies often pay dramatically less than 
the ``sticker price''--through ``credits''--for engaging in routine 
activities or through potentially huge tax deductions.
  Add up all of these tricks and we end up with a predictable result: 
Too often the American people only see what the agencies want them to 
see about these agreements.
  These hidden details can make all the difference. When we dig below 
the surface, settlements that seem tough and fair can end up looking 
like sweetheart deals.
  For example, last year, Federal regulators entered into a settlement 
with 13 mortgage servicers accused of illegal foreclosure practices. 
The ``sticker price'' on the settlement was $8.5 billion--that is a 
really nice headline--but $5.2 billion of the settlement was in the 
form of credits, not in cash outlays. These credits were described in 
the government's press release as covering what they called ``loan 
modifications and forgiveness of deficiency judgments.'' So what does 
that mean? Well, it turns out the servicers could rack up those credits 
by forgiving mere fractions of large unpaid loans. So, for example, if 
a servicer wrote down $15,000 of a $500,000 unpaid loan balance, that 
servicer doesn't just get a $15,000 credit for the amount they wrote 
down, they get a credit for the whole $500,000--the full value of the 
loan. That method of calculating credits--buried in the fine print--
could end up cutting by more than half the overall value of the $8.5 
billion settlement.
  Another way to hide the ball is to omit an upfront determination and 
disclosure of whether the settlement will be tax deductible. Several 
years ago, the Justice Department announced a $385 million settlement 
with Fresenius Medical Care for allegedly defrauding Medicare and other 
health programs for years. When the agreement was originally announced, 
the Justice Department touted the sticker price as the agency's largest 
civil recovery to date in a health care fraud case. But the DOJ didn't 
say a word about the tax treatment. The agency's failure to even 
consider that issue was a very costly mistake. By the time the company 
finished claiming all of its tax deductions from the settlement, it 
ended up paying $100 million less than originally advertised. In other 
words, the taxpayers picked up more than a quarter of the tab.
  It takes a lot of digging around to uncover these unflattering 
details, but at least it was possible to do so in these cases because 
of public information about these two agreements. For settlements that 
are kept confidential, the public is completely in the dark.
  Just last year, Wells Fargo agreed to pay the Federal Housing Finance 
Agency $335 million for allegedly fraudulent sales of mortgage-backed 
securities to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That is about 6 percent of 
what JPMorgan paid in a public settlement with FHFA to address very 
similar claims. So in what ways did the actions of Wells Fargo differ 
from those of JPMorgan? We will never know, because the JPMorgan 
settlement is public, but the much smaller Wells Fargo settlement is 
  The American people deserve better. Government enforcement agencies 
work for us, not for the companies they regulate. Agencies should not 
be able to cut bad deals and then hide behind their embarrassing 
details. The public deserves to know what is going on.
  The Truth in Settlements Act requires transparency. It requires 
agencies making public statements about their settlements to include 
explanations of how companies get credits and whether the wrongdoers 
will be eligible for tax breaks for their settlement payments. The bill 
also requires agencies to post text and basic information about their 
settlements online. And while the legislation permits confidential 
settlements, it requires agencies to disclose how frequently they are 
invoking confidentiality and to explain their reasons for doing so.
  If we expect government agencies to hold companies accountable for 
breaking the law, then we, the public, must be able to hold agencies 
accountable for enforcing the law. We can't do that if we are kept in 
the dark. The Truth in Settlements Act shines a light on these agency 
decisions, and it gives the American people a chance to hold

[[Page S116]]

agencies accountable for fairly and effectively enforcing our laws. I 
urge my colleagues to join us in supporting this bill.
  Thank you, Mr. President. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                       Congratulating Greg Maddux

  Mr. REID. Mr. President, the Republican leader and I don't agree on 
everything, but we do agree on some. There is one thing no one can 
dispute we agree on, and that is our love of baseball. We both love 
baseball season. It gives us an opportunity, when we go home after 
working here, to turn on the TV and watch a few innings of a baseball 
  For some people, baseball is a very slow, boring opportunity to watch 
people moving slowly, but Senator McConnell and I love it. We talk 
about baseball. We love the Nationals. He and I have great affection 
for the Nationals because of Bryce Harper, a Las Vegas athlete.
  The reason I mention that is because today, Nevada's greatest 
baseball hero--in fact, one of the greatest baseball heroes not of 
Nevada but of all time--was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
  Greg Maddux is an extremely nice man--a man of humility. I have gone 
out to dinner with him and his lovely wife a few times. I know his 
brother well, who was also a professional baseball player, and he would 
be the first to say when he was playing baseball and today about how 
average he was: I am not a great athlete. But he is one of the best of 
all time.
  He started his career with the Chicago Cubs and went on to win 355 
professional Major League Baseball games and four consecutive Cy Young 
awards. Today he received almost 98 percent of all votes cast--the 
second highest tally in the history of Hall of Fame voting.
  So I congratulate this good man on the honor he received so 
deservedly--I repeat, a man of humility; a man who had probably the 
greatest control in the history of baseball of being able to throw a 
ball to the spot he wanted. He is not a big man. That is an 
understatement. He is not a big man, but he was precise in where he 
could throw that baseball.
  I have such fond memories of Greg Maddux. The last election was kind 
of a hard election for me. So I called Greg. I called him on his cell 
phone. I said: Greg, I want you to be a Republican for Reid. Would you 
do that?
  He said: I will do that.
  I said: What are you doing?
  He said: I am playing golf.
  I said: Can you break 80?
  And he said: If you leave me alone, I can break 70.
  Greg Maddux is a fine man. I have great affection for him and his 
family. I am sure this is one thing that Senator McConnell and I agree 
  This afternoon, the Republican leader came to the floor to complain 
about the minority's ability to offer amendments, in particular, to 
offer amendments on the 3-month extension of the legislation now before 
this body. It is interesting that during the Republican leader's 
remarks there wasn't a word uttered about jobs, about unemployment 
compensation, or the economy--not a word.
  So it is very clear what went on here today with my Republican 
colleagues. Remember, the Republican leader came and Republican 
Senators came and sat here with him. It is impossible for my Republican 
colleagues to explain to the American people their callous opposition 
to the plight of the 1.3 million Americans. About 20,000 of them live 
in Nevada.
  Two very fine Senators on a bipartisan basis have this legislation 
before this body: Jack Reed of Rhode Island--and Rhode Island is tied, 
as we speak, with Nevada for the highest unemployment rate in the 
country--and the other Senator is my friend, the Republican Senator 
from Nevada, the junior Senator from Nevada Dean Heller. It is an 
important move they made on behalf of their States and the American 
  Republicans, though, do not want to talk about the problems facing 
the middle class, as evidenced by what went on this afternoon. They do 
not want to talk--these Republicans--about the solutions to falling 
wages and job shortages.
  In America today, the rich are getting richer and the poor are 
getting poorer and the middle class is being squeezed. During the last 
30 years, the top 1 percent's wealth and income has increased by triple 
numbers--triple. But what has happened to the middle class during that 
same 30 years? Their wages have gone down 10 percent--tripling to going 
down 10 percent.
  So they do not want to talk about this, and that is why they plan to 
vote against an extension of these emergency unemployment insurance 
benefits. The vast majority of them voted to not even let us get on the 
bill and have a debate, but a few stepped forward and said: No, we 
should have a debate on this, and a debate we are having.
  My Republican colleagues are looking for a distraction, a diversion, 
a phony process argument to steal attention away from their 
unconscionable stand on the issues that matter most to the middle 
  This issue of unemployment insurance was not developed by some 
political science professor from Harvard or Yale or Stanford. It is 
something to help people who are in desperate shape.
  I repeat, they are looking for a distraction, a process argument to 
steal attention away from their unconscionable stand on the issues that 
matter most to the middle class. You have to give them credit, they are 
doing their best to divert attention away from this issue. This is 
opposition--and it is coldhearted--to extending unemployment benefits. 
It is a very tough position to defend, especially when Republicans 
around America support what Heller and Reed of Rhode Island are trying 
to do. Democrats support it, Independents, but Republicans in Congress 
do not and they have said so.
  The Republicans' complaint that the majority never allows the 
minority to offer amendments is false. It is not true. It is another 
  During my tenure as majority leader--there has been volumes of stuff 
written about the obstruction we have had with my Republican colleagues 
during the last 5 years with the Obama administration. Think of the 
obstruction that took place when Barack Obama decided to run for 
  That was a little interesting because the Republican leader said his 
No. 1 goal as a Senator and the leader of the Republicans was to make 
sure he was not reelected. He fell real short on that because he was 
reelected overwhelmingly. So during that period of time: obstruction, 
obstruction, obstruction, obstruction, and after he was reelected it 
  During my tenure as majority leader, the Senate has voted on minority 
amendments at a higher rate than it did during either of my Republican 
predecessors--and the largest rate of minority amendments probably in 
the history of the Senate. But let's just talk about Republican Leader 
Frist and Republican Leader Trent Lott--both friends of mine. I still 
am in touch with them all the time. They are people I will always 
admire and have great respect for.
  Since I have been leader, 7 out of 10 amendments on which the Senate 
has voted have been Republican amendments. Under Senator Frist's 
leadership, certainly there were not that many, I will tell you that, 
that were offered by the minority. Under Senator Lott's leadership, 
only 54 percent of the amendments considered by the Senate were offered 
by the minority.
  During my leadership of the 111th Congress, minority amendments 
represented a greater share of all amendment votes than during any 
single Congress during either Leader Frist's or Leader Lott's tenure. 
  In fact, often the minority is prevented from offering amendments. 
Why? Their own Senators will not allow amendments. How many times has 
the Presiding Officer and others come to this floor and wanted to offer 
an amendment--objection on the other side because they want to offer an 
amendment that has nothing to do with anything we are debating on the 
floor at a given time.
  Last year just a handful of Republican Senators held up any 
legislation. The best example was the legislation

[[Page S117]]

we tried to do dealing with energy efficiency. Energy efficiency. We 
could not get it done because of Republican obstruction.
  Often a particular Republican will prevent any Senator from offering 
an amendment unless he gets a vote on what he wants voted on first--a 
little unusual.
  So let's not revise history. Let's talk about history as I know it 
and as the books report how we should know it, what the facts are in 
the Congressional Record.
  We know how under my friend the Republican leader's leadership there 
has been obstruction in the way of the filibusters. Filibuster is not 
some right that was placed in the Constitution. It is a privilege that 
was granted under the Senate rules, and that has been abused big time.
  Their obstruction has continued to be unprecedented over the last 5 
years. Half of all filibusters waged in the history of the country--
that is 230-plus years--half of them have been waged against President 
Obama's nominations--half of them in 5 years compared to 230 years.
  Last year Republicans mounted the first ever filibuster of a 
Secretary of Defense--by the way, a former Republican Senator. They 
even filibustered him.
  I understand Republicans do not want to talk about how we can create 
jobs, how we can boost the economy or any of the other issues that 
matter most to the middle class. I understand that Republicans are 
struggling to explain turning their backs on 1.3 million unemployed 
Americans. But I do wish they would stop trying to justify their 
opposition to helping Americans in need with false claims and 
distortions of the truth.

  Finally, as I leave the floor, I prefer not to pay for this emergency 
situation where we have long-term unemployed. This is an emergency, and 
it should be considered accordingly and should not be paid for in the 
normal course around here.
  We believe in reducing the debt. In the Senate Chamber with me now is 
someone whom I had the pleasure of appointing to the Bowles-Simpson 
Commission, the senior Senator from the State of Illinois, the 
assistant majority leader. He worked hard. We have not followed Bowles-
Simpson as a bible, but it certainly has been a guide we have followed. 
While we could have done better, we have done pretty good. We are 
approaching having reduced the debt by some $3 trillion right now as we 
speak. We could reduce it another $1 trillion if we could get 
comprehensive immigration reform done.
  The goal of Bowles-Simpson was $4 trillion. So when I say this is 
something that has not been paid for ordinarily in the past, that is 
true, but that does not take away from the fact that we all are going 
to continue to work on this side of the aisle to reduce the debt.
  But I do hear that some of my Republican colleagues want to pay for 
this. I disagree with them, but that is what they want to do. So far 
all we have heard from Republicans' pay-fors is this: take a big whack 
out of ObamaCare. There are 9 million people--approaching 10 million 
now--who benefit from ObamaCare. So they want to damage every one of 
those 9-plus million people. Or they have another one: go after 
children--children--with the child tax credit. Those are their two pay-
fors at this point--a little scary, I would think.
  So I am waiting, we are waiting for Republican suggestions on how to 
pay for a full-year extension of unemployment insurance. Let's hear 
from them how they want to pay for it. They say they want to pay for 
it. Let's hear what they want to do.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I wish to thank the majority leader for 
his comments, and I will be very brief because I know the Senator from 
Iowa has a statement he wants to make.
  Let me just say that the statement made on the floor earlier this 
afternoon by the Republican leader never once addressed the issue 
pending before the Senate. Pending before the Senate is an emergency 
unemployment insurance bill that will provide benefits to 1.3 million 
Americans who are out of work and for 8 days now have been receiving no 
assistance whatsoever. Imagine the struggles they are facing.
  That is why we called this bill first when we returned from our 
holiday recess. We consider it a priority. We were heartened yesterday 
when six Republicans joined us to move this bill forward. It gave us 
hope that we were going to do something to get this done in a timely 
way to help a lot of deserving people all across the United States.
  We hoped today, when the Republican leader from Kentucky came to the 
floor, that he would address the urgency and necessity of this bill. He 
did not. As Senator Reid has said, he wanted to talk about the Senate 
  The Senate rules are important, make no mistake. But they are 
certainly not as important as providing essential benefits, essential 
relief and help to 1.3 million unemployed Americans--people who are 
trying to pay their utility bills, avoid eviction, put gas in the car, 
and go out and find a job. That is a higher priority, and I had hoped 
the Republican leader would address it. Instead, he wants to talk about 
the rules.
  What the Senator from Nevada, our majority leader, has said is a 
matter of record. It is still amazing to consider this: Nearly half of 
all the filibusters waged on nominations in the history of the United 
States of America have been waged under the leadership of Republican 
Senator McConnell during the Obama Presidency--nearly half. In the 
history of the United States, 168 nominees have been filibustered; 82 
occurred under the leadership of the Republican Senator from Kentucky 
during the Obama administration.
  In the history of the United States, 23 district court nominees have 
been filibustered--in our entire history. Twenty have been filibustered 
under the leadership of the Republican Senator from Kentucky during the 
Obama administration--20 out of 23. Nearly half of all the nominations 
that have been filibustered: under this Senate Republican leadership. 
Is there any wonder why the rules needed to be changed?
  We look at the wait time of those who finally get out of committee 
and sit on the calendar waiting indefinitely. It breaks my heart to 
think of the fine women and men who are willing to offer their lives in 
public service, go through extensive background checks, make the 
necessary personal sacrifices, and languish on our calendar for no 
earthly reason.
  In the end many of them have been approved with overwhelming votes, 
and yet they have been subjected to these incessant Republican 
filibusters. The case involving our colleague, Congressman Mel Watt of 
North Carolina, is one of the most egregious. It is the first time, I 
believe, since 1843 that a sitting Member of Congress has faced a 
filibuster in the Senate when appointed to a Presidential nomination. 
Finally, we broke that after the rules change. I was heartened to see 
that Congressman Watt was sworn in yesterday to this position dealing 
with America's housing challenges.
  But that was an example of an outrageous filibuster against a 
colleague, a fellow Member of Congress, a Member of the House of 
Representatives. The coup de grace, of course, was the DC Circuit Court 
of Appeals, where we offered three well-qualified nominees to fill 
obvious vacancies on that Court, and they were stopped by the 
Republican filibusters, one after the other without any complaint about 
their qualifications, well qualified for this position to serve on the 
DC Circuit Court.
  It was not until Senator Reid lead us in changing the Senate rules 
that we finally found this necessary relief. It is time for us to 
return to the issue at hand. Pending before the Senate is emergency 
unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans. As important as a 
rules debate may be to some in this Chamber, there is nothing more 
important than to deal with this in a timely way. I hope the 
Republicans will take the advice of the leader that he gave at the end 
of his remarks, produce for us their pay-for, if that is the course 
that they want to follow, for us to pay for those unemployment benefits 
for the coming year. We are waiting for their response. In the 
meantime, I hope that some will come forward and join us in what has 
traditionally been a bipartisan effort to help those in America seeking 
  I yield the floor.

[[Page S118]]

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa.
  Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, first I want to thank our leader and our 
assistant leader for their great leadership and for their eloquence 
here on the floor today and for correctly stating what the issue is. It 
is not rules; it is justice. I am going to speak about that myself.
  Mr. President, 50 years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson came 
before Congress and spoke these bold words: ``This administration 
today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in 
  Lyndon Johnson, as we all know, was born and raised in stark poverty 
in the Texas hill country, coming of age during the Great Depression. 
From hard personal experience, he understood how poor schools, empty 
stomachs, and bad health make a mockery of America's promise of equal 
opportunity for all.
  When President Johnson delivered that historic State of the Union 
address, our Nation was enjoying unprecedented post-war prosperity. We 
had become, in John Kenneth Galbraith's famous words, the ``affluent 
society.'' However, in the midst of this Nation of prosperity and 
plenty, there was also ``the other America'' as author Michael 
Harrington told us.
  Fully one-fifth of our population was trapped in poverty. Across 
Appalachia, in urban ghettos, in large swaths of rural America, 
millions of American children were being raised in shacks and slums, 
going to bed hungry, attending grossly substandard schools. Worse, 
experts described this poverty as ``intractable.'' Experts warned that 
despite the Nation's overall prosperity, poverty was growing more 
widespread, because as one study put it, the poor were ``not part of 
the economic structure.''
  A report then by the President's Council of Economic Advisors 
asserted that, ``future economic growth alone will provide relatively 
few escapes from poverty.'' Economic growth alone, they said, will not 
solve the issue of poverty. Of course, I must add, it is very much the 
same today. Economic growth alone will provide few escapes from poverty 
for people today if 95 percent of income gains are going to the top 1 
percent, and if the rewards of productivity gains go to shareholders 
and not to the workers.
  So it was in this context that President Johnson--keep if mind, less 
than 2 months after he assumed the office after the terrible 
assassination of President Kennedy. It was in this context that he 
summoned the Nation so that the unconditional war on poverty could be 
  For LBJ, this was both an economic challenge and a profound moral 
challenge. It was about doing justice. In his speech to Congress he 

       Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of 
     poverty but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper, in our 
     failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop 
     their own capacities and a lack of education and training and 
     a lack of medical care and housing, and a lack of decent 
     communities in which to live and bring up their children.

  President Johnson continued:

       Our chief weapons will be better schools and better health 
     and better homes and better training and better job 
     opportunities to help more Americans, especially young 
     Americans, to escape from squalor and misery and unemployment 
     rolls, where other citizens help to carry them.

  In the months that followed this State of the Union address, 
President Johnson proposed specific programs to attack poverty and 
inequality. He articulated his broader vision for what he called a 
Great Society. There is no better place to appreciate the boldness and 
accomplishment of this era than at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library 
and Museum in Austin, TX.
  My favorite part is a room--I have been there several times--
commemorating the Great Society with plaques and signing pens all along 
the wall, listing the incredible array of legislation that President 
Johnson had passed into law. Listen to these: The great Civil Rights 
Act, the Voting Rights Act, Job Corps, VISTA, Upward Bound, the Food 
Stamp Program, legal services for the poor, the Community Action 
Program, community health centers, Head Start, the Elementary and 
Secondary Education Act, the Higher Education Act, Medicare, Medicaid, 
the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, Public 
Broadcasting, the National Mass Transportation Act, the Cigarette 
Labeling Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Wilderness Act.

  It takes your breath away, to think about all that was done. These 
Great Society programs have defined the modern United States of America 
as a compassionate, inclusive society, a genuine opportunity society 
where everyone can contribute their talents and abilities.
  Last month, on December 4, in his landmark speech on inequality, 
President Obama noted that these and other initiatives have helped to 
reduce the poverty rate by 40 percent since the 1960s--have helped 
reduce the poverty rate by 40 percent since the 1960s. President Obama 
said: ``These endeavors didn't just make us a better country, they 
reaffirmed that we are a great country.''
  However, on this 50th anniversary of President Johnson's great 
address to Congress, I must acknowledge that there are some who 
profoundly disagree with this assessment on the war on poverty and the 
Great Society. They insist it was a great failure. Indeed, I have heard 
this claim from many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle 
since I first came to Congress in 1975. This supposed ``failure'' of 
the war on poverty, this failure of the Great Society, has indeed 
become almost an article of faith and dogma among conservatives. It is 
truly the triumph of belief over reality.
  As President Reagan said on May 9, 1983, ``The great expansion of 
government programs that took place under the aegis of the Great 
Society coincided with an end to economic progress for America's poor 
  Wow. That is quite an assertion by President Reagan. So allow me, on 
this 50th anniversary, to take a few minutes to point out many of the 
``failures'' of the war on poverty and the Great Society. Perhaps a 
good place to start is by pointing out the ``failure'' of Medicare. At 
the bill signing ceremony for the Social Security Amendments Act on 
July 30 of 1965, President Johnson enrolled former President Harry 
Truman as the first Medicare beneficiary and presented him with the 
first Medicare card.
  These days we talk about life after 65 as the golden years. I tell 
you, life after 65 used to be the nightmare years, with tens of 
millions of Americans unable to afford even basic medical care, 
condemned to live out their senior years in the misery of untreated or 
poorly treated illnesses.
  In 1959 the poverty rate among older Americans was 35 percent. Since 
the Great Society programs started, the poverty rate among seniors has 
fallen by nearly two-thirds. What a failure. What a failure. Medicare 
is especially personal to me. I remember my father, who was then in his 
late 70s, and never had access to any regular health care in his life. 
My father only had a sixth-grade education, worked in coal mines most 
of his life, and suffered from what they then called ``coal-miners 
lung.'' They always called it ``coal-miners lung.''
  He would get sick all the time. If it were not for the compassion and 
the generosity of the Sisters of Mercy who would take care of him when 
he got sick and nurse him back to health, I do not know what would have 
happened to him. But I can remember, coming home from the military on 
military leave in late 1965, and my father had his Medicare card.
  For the first time in his life, for the first time in his life--and 
now he was approaching almost 80 years of age--he could go see a doctor 
without paying. Without taking charity. It gave him the dignity and the 
security of knowing that he could see a doctor if he needed to.
  The Great Society also gave birth to community health centers, as 
long as I am talking about health care. Community health centers 
provided essential medical care to the poor. The first two community 
health centers were opened in 1964, one in Boston, MA, and one in rural 
  This model of providing basic health services to the uninsured and 
underserved was an enormous success. Listen to this. From that modest 
beginning of two in 1964, community health centers have expanded to 
include more than 1,200 community health centers in more than 9,000 
locations serving more than 22 million patients annually. What a 
failure. What a failure.

[[Page S119]]

  I guess another failure of the Great Society was the Elementary and 
Secondary Education Act. We call it ESEA. Since Brown versus Board of 
Education, the decision of the Supreme Court in the mid 1950s, 
Americans acknowledged that we had two school systems, one for the 
middle class and the well off and a grossly inferior one for the poor.
  ESEA said that all children, regardless of their background and their 
circumstances at birth, can learn, and the Federal Government will 
provide resources to help create equity--equity among our schools.
  Educating children of poverty will always be challenging. We still 
have large achievement gaps that still persist. But Title I assistance 
to America's neediest schools has made a dramatic difference for the 
good of millions of low-income children.
  If it has been such a great failure, I would ask any Senator who 
wants to repeal Title I and defund it, please step forward. Speak up 
here on the Senate floor.
  Will any Senator who wants to do away with title I and defund it 
please step forward and speak up? I doubt there will be any takers.
  What about the failure of the Higher Education Act? In 1965, it was 
rare for young people from disadvantaged and low-income backgrounds to 
go to college. So President Johnson and Congress passed the Higher 
Education Act, creating need-based grants and loans with reduced 
interest rates.
  Today, Pell grants, created in the later version of the Higher 
Education Act, help more than 9 million low-income students gain access 
to higher education. The Higher Education Act has swung open the doors 
to college for countless Americans, creating new opportunities and 
access to the American dream.
  Again, I suppose some see this as another failure, another government 
handout that prevents people from standing on their own two feet. 
Decide for yourself if vastly expanding access to higher education 
constitutes a failure.
  But before we do, talk to a lower income student, striving to become 
a doctor, the first in her family to go to college, thanks to the TRIO 
Programs, Upward Bound, thanks to Pell grants, thanks to low-interest 
college loans. Ask her if she feels as though she is an undeserving 
taker, unwilling to stand on her own two feet.
  In August of 1964, again only a few months after declaring the war on 
poverty, Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Food Stamp Act. Prior to 
that act, hunger and malnutrition were shockingly widespread in 
America, particularly in our rural areas and urban ghettos. Today we 
still have millions of food-insecure people in America, but thanks to 
the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the new name for the 
food stamp program, abject hunger in America is rare. Tens of millions 
of Americans, more than half of them children, are ensured a basic 
nutritional minimum.
  Is this another failure, food stamps? Apparently many Members of this 
body think so. In June of 2012, 33 Republican Senators voted to block 
grant the food stamp program and slash the funding by over $300 billion 
over 10 years.
  I ask Senators who voted for those cuts, have you ever talked to a 
first grader who is finally able to concentrate in class because she 
had a breakfast paid for by food stamps? Has anyone asked her whether 
she would prefer to tough it out without a meal to start the day?
  In 1965, Lyndon Johnson's Office of Economic Opportunity created 269 
local Legal Services offices across the country, providing legal 
assistance to low-income Americans. This later evolved into the Legal 
Services Corporation.
  As a proud former Legal Aid lawyer myself, I know firsthand what a 
difference this can make in so many circumstances for a struggling 
family facing foreclosure, a battered woman trying to leave an abusive 
marriage, a senior citizen victimized by a financial scam. I know that 
without access to an attorney the poor are often powerless against the 
injustices they suffer.
  Is the dedicated work of Legal Aid attorneys a failure? I vigorously 
disagree. The American Bar Association vigorously disagrees. It 
strongly supports Legal Services.
  Every Federal judge and Supreme Court Justice, in their oath of 
office, swears to ``administer justice without respect to persons, and 
do equal right to the poor and to the rich''--to do equal right to the 
poor and to the rich. It is Legal Services, and Legal Services lawyers, 
who helped to translate that ideal into a reality for poor people in 
courtrooms all over America.
  Our frontline soldiers in the war on poverty are the dedicated 
professionals and volunteers in Community Action Agencies, another 
Great Society program. These are funded by the Federal Community 
Services Block Grant. In 2012, these locally driven agencies served 
nearly 19 million low-income Americans, including more than 5 million 
children, more than 2 million people with disabilities, and 2.5 million 
seniors served by community action agencies.
  These agencies equip people with skills to return to work. They 
provide food, clothing, other emergency assistance. They administer 
Head Start Programs, other preschool programs, and do a lot more.
  People can decide if the Community Action Program, Community Action 
Agency, and Community Services Block Grant have been a failure. But 
before they do, drop in on a Community Action Agency in your State. See 
for yourself the amazing work they do in relieving poverty and helping 
people to escape.
  Speak to members of a local Community Action Agency board and people 
will find that they are local business people, bankers, lawyers, as 
well as people who receive the services. They will tell you how these 
agencies do so much with so little, performing indispensable services 
in their communities. Talk to them.
  I can spend hours citing some other Great Society initiatives, but 
let me mention just one more: the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  Prior to that act, African Americans faced open, legalized 
discrimination and segregation. We had our own American version of 
apartheid. In many parts of our country, including in Washington, DC, 
African Americans could not eat at the same lunch counter with Whites. 
They could not use the same bathrooms, the same swimming pools, the 
same water fountains. They literally were consigned to the back of the 

  Because of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, those Jim Crow laws and 
practices were ended in the United States of America. It became illegal 
to discriminate based on race, color, religion, gender, or national 
origin. Some apparently call that a failure--one of the Great Society's 
many ``failures.''
  You may decide for yourself whether America is better off today, 
whether we are better as a society, stronger as a nation, because we 
did away with segregation. You decide.
  President Reagan, in his State of the Union Address in 1988, said 
that the Great Society ``declared war on poverty, and poverty won.'' It 
was one of President Reagan's catchy one-liners. But with all due 
respect to President Reagan, it simply is not historically accurate, 
not even close. From the time President Johnson took office in 1963, 
until 1970, as the full impact of the Great Society programs began to 
be felt, the number of Americans living below the poverty line dropped 
from 22.2 percent to 12.6 percent--almost cut it in half. The poverty 
rate for African Americans fell from 55 percent in 1960 to 27 percent 
in 1968. The poverty rate among the elderly, as I said earlier, fell by 
over two-thirds.
  The great shame is that this progress, this war on poverty of the 
Great Society, was cut short. The war on poverty gave way to the war in 
Vietnam. Then it gave way in retrenchment later on in later 
administrations, which cared less about giving a hand up to the poor 
than about giving handouts to the rich in the form of giant tax breaks 
and other advantages. What was started as a percolate-up economy under 
the Great Society became a trickle-down economic society under later 
  On this 50th anniversary of President Johnson's great address to 
Congress, let me state unequivocally and factually--historically 
factually--the Great Society has been a historic success.
  However, I must note that 50 years later our Nation confronts a new 
set of economic challenges, societal challenges, challenges that are 
every bit as

[[Page S120]]

dangerous to our democracy, every bit as daunting and intractable as 
those confronted by President Johnson and the Congresses of his time.
  Our economy is still struggling to recover from the great recession. 
The sluggish recovery has left us with chronic unemployment and a 
middle class in crisis. Social mobility, the ability to work your way 
up the economic ladder, is now lower in the United States than in 
Europe. For the vast majority of American workers, incomes have been 
stagnant for decades, but the rich have grown fabulously richer. Think 
about this: Since the official end of the great recession in 2009, 95 
percent of income gains in the United States have gone to the 
wealthiest 1 percent in the last 5 years--95 percent of income gains 
have gone to the wealthiest 1 percent.
  Unlike President Johnson's day, today it is not only the poor who are 
at risk, our great middle class is endangered. Millions of formerly 
middle-class Americans have lost their jobs, their homes, their 
savings, their hopes for a decent retirement. For too many of our 
citizens, the American dream has become hopelessly out of reach. This 
is the crisis. This is the challenge of our day.
  Are we rising to meet this challenge as previous generations of 
Americans have done? No, I am afraid we are not. Inside the Washington 
bubble, too many of our political leaders have persuaded themselves 
that the biggest issue of the day is the budget deficit. Ignoring 
chronic unemployment and a struggling economy, this 113th Congress and 
the previous Congress pursued policies of relentless austerity, 
slashing budgets, defunding research and investment, destroying jobs, 
and even refusing to extend Federal unemployment benefits for long-term 
jobless, 1.3 million of whom lost their last lifeline of support only 3 
days after Christmas.
  I am disturbed by the apparent shift of attitude by many elected 
leaders toward the ordinary people who do the hard day-in and day-out 
work that makes our country strong. I said it before, and I say it 
again. We are seeing an attitude of harshness. We used to agree that if 
someone worked hard and played by the rules, they should be able to 
earn enough to support their families, keep a roof over their heads, 
put some money away for a rainy day, and have a secure environment. We 
used to agree that if someone loses their job through no fault of their 
own--especially at a time of chronic unemployment--they should have 
some support when they are looking for new work. We used to agree on 
both sides of the aisle that no child in this country should go to bed 
hungry at night. But in recent years these fundamental principles, 
values, and agreements have come under attack in our public 
discourse. For instance, recently on a Sunday talk show, the junior 
Senator from Kentucky said it would be a ``disservice''--a 
``disservice''--to the long-term jobless to extend Federal unemployment 
insurance. I have his exact words right here. Senator Paul said:

       When you allow people to be on unemployment insurance for 
     99 weeks, you're causing them to become part of this 
     perpetual unemployed group in our economy. And while it seems 
     good, it actually does a disservice to the people you're 
     trying to help.

  When there are three people looking for every job; when in some 
areas, some States, unemployment is even worse than that, you would cut 
off their long-term unemployment insurance? Where are they going to get 
a job? Maybe what the Senator doesn't understand is that before you can 
even get unemployment benefits, you have to be actively looking for 
work. A disservice?
  I guess our new attitude is, tough luck. You are on your own. If you 
struggle, even if you face insurmountable challenges, well, it is your 
own fault. Tough luck. You are on your own. If you are a kid born into 
poverty or a single parent working for minimum wage, struggling to pay 
the bills and put food on the table, tough luck. You are on your own. 
If you are a 55-year-old worker who lost her job due to outsourcing or 
technological change, tough luck. You are on your own. If you are a 
person with a significant disability struggling to find work and 
independence and dignity, tough luck. You are on your own.
  Mr. President, there is a harshness among too many in powerful 
positions toward those Americans who have tough lives, who are ill-
educated or marginally employed or who have lost their jobs through no 
fault of their own--a harshness among too many people in powerful 
positions toward these Americans. President Johnson would rebuke this 
harshness and this callousness, as he said in remarks 3 months after 
his war-on-poverty speech. Listen to what President Johnson said:

       God will judge his children not by their prayers and their 
     pretensions, but by their mercy to the poor and their 
     understanding of the weak. I tremble for our people if at the 
     time of our greatest prosperity we turn our back on the moral 
     obligations of our deepest faith.

  That was President Johnson.
  So today, 50 years later, I remind my colleagues that we are still a 
nation of great prosperity. We are the wealthiest Nation in the world. 
We are the wealthiest Nation ever in the history of the world. Our 
problem is this prosperity and wealth is concentrated at the very top. 
The workers who have created it are not getting their fair share. So on 
this 50th anniversary of President Johnson's war-on-poverty address, I 
cannot agree with those who say the budget deficit is our No. 1 
priority. I am concerned about far more urgent and compelling deficits: 
the deficit of jobs and opportunity, the deficit of research and 
investment, the deficit of early education for all our children, the 
deficit of basic human understanding and empathy for those in the 
shadows of life.
  I am also concerned about the deficit of imagination today in 
Washington. I am concerned by our failure to confront today's economic 
challenges with the boldness and the vision that earlier generations of 
Americans summoned in times of national challenge. Indeed, our 
Republican friends reject the very possibility that the Federal 
Government can act to spur economic growth and create good middle-class 
jobs. This is their ideological position, and they are sticking to it. 
But this flies in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary 
across our Nation's history.
  One can go back to President Lincoln, who insisted that every 
American has a ``right to rise.'' To that end, he created the land-
grant college system, provided for the transcontinental railroad, and 
established the Department of Agriculture with the mission of helping 
farmers boost their production and income and raise their standard of 
  President Teddy Roosevelt fought for safe workplaces, the 8-hour 
workday, and busting up the trusts that were strangling opportunity for 
ordinary Americans.
  Think of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who put to work millions of 
unemployed Americans, including my father, in the Works Project 
Administration, building roads and dams and bridges and schools, many 
of which still exist today. Franklin Roosevelt created Social Security 
to end the scourge of poverty in old age.
  Think of President Eisenhower, who championed investment in our 
infrastructure, beginning with the Interstate Highway System, which has 
expanded commerce and opportunity for nearly six decades now.
  As we are doing today, let's pay tribute to one of our greatest 
Presidents, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and the enormous achievements of his 
war on poverty and the Great Society.
  Mr. President, I have not come to the floor today just to look back 
fondly and nostalgically or to try to correct the record about the 
achievements of the Great Society. I am here at the beginning of this 
legislative year to urge my colleagues to look with fresh eyes at the 
urgent economic and societal challenges confronting the American people 
today. We need to think more broadly and with more ambitious vision 
about how we in Congress can come together to create a greater society, 
an America of greater opportunity, greater economic mobility, greater 
fairness. We need to create what I call a new America.
  Let's dare to imagine a new America where every child has access to 
quality early learning.
  Let's dare to imagine public investments to create a truly 21st-
century infrastructure, modernizing our roads, our bridges, ports, and 
canals, building high-speed rail systems from Maine to Miami and 
Seattle to San Diego--a new infrastructure for a new America.
  Let's dare to imagine retrofitting all of our buildings to make them 

[[Page S121]]

efficient, making wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewables the 
main sources of our energy--yes, a renewable energy basis for a new 
  Let's dare to imagine doubling our investment in the National 
Institutes of Health, making possible a real war on cancer and 
Alzheimer's and other devastating diseases. Think of that--a cancer-
free, Alzheimer's-free new America.
  Let's dare to imagine a true health care system where wellness and 
prevention and public health are the first priority, keeping people 
healthy in the first place in this new America.
  Let's dare to imagine a new retirement system where every worker 
builds a private pension that can't be touched until they retire and a 
stronger Social Security System--solvent, secure--with increased 
benefits for the next 50 years. Think of it--a secure retirement for 
every citizen in this new America.
  These are the big challenges we in Congress should be addressing.
  I know that by all means there are issues demanding our immediate 
attention--again, beginning with the need to extend Federal 
unemployment insurance for the long-term jobless. We will be voting on 
that motion to proceed within the hour. As I said earlier, some 1.3 
million Americans were cut off just a couple of weeks ago. Another 3.6 
million Americans will be cut off over the course of 2014. These 
benefits are not much, but they make a critical difference for those 
with no other lifeline. So this is an immediate concern and must be our 
immediate priority in these initial days of this session.

  In addition, the Senate will soon take up my bill to raise the 
minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and to link it to future cost-of-living 
increases. Get this: Since the minimum wage peaked in 1968 as part of 
the Great Society, it has lost one-third of its buying power. So if you 
were making the minimum wage in 1968 compared to what you are making 
today, you could have bought one-third more than you can buy today.
  Over the decades, the minimum wage has become a poverty wage. Think 
about that. People go to work every day. They work hard, sometimes at 
two jobs, and they are still below the poverty line. No person in 
America who puts in a full day's work ought to have an income below the 
poverty line.
  These two are the immediate moral and economic issues we need to 
address. Yes, I say moral and economic issues. Today we do confront 
huge economic challenges. As Americans, we pride ourselves on our 
robust free-market system. Some say the unfettered free marketplace 
will solve all our problems. Just let it go. They glorify the ideas of 
Ayn Rand and academic theorists who say that greed is good, extremes of 
inequality are necessary, and poverty is deserved, which reminds me of 
the words of the philosopher Bertrand Russell nearly a century ago. He 

       The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest 
     exercises in moral philosophy--that is, the search for a 
     superior moral justification for selfishness.

  I remind my colleagues that it is precisely the unrestrained, often 
run-amok free marketplace that has created so many of the problems we 
face today. Financial and real estate bubbles. Who suffered because of 
that? Ordinary Americans. Chronic unemployment. Who is suffering? 
Ordinary Americans. Stagnant wages. Who is suffering? Ordinary 
Americans. Gaping income inequality. Who is suffering? Not the few at 
the top. Disappearing pensions. Who is suffering? Ordinary working 
Americans. On and on.
  Like a busy highway system, our free marketplace only really works 
for all when all the players obey essential rules of the road--rules 
put in place by government to avoid crashes and bubbles, to rein in 
wasteful and dishonest money manipulators, and, yes, to provide for 
social and economic justice. And there are some things--big national 
undertakings--that the private sector simply is not capable of doing.
  At critical junctures going back to the beginning of our Republic, 
Congresses and Presidents have acted decisively to spur economic 
growth, foster innovation, and help create jobs. No question, that is 
where we are falling short today.
  Members of Congress and elected officials across America can learn 
from the successes of the war on poverty and the Great Society. We need 
a new generation of leaders with Lyndon Johnson's passionate commitment 
to improving education, expanding opportunity, and fighting inequality 
and discrimination. As I said, we need to come together to create a 
greater society, a new America. We need to act with boldness and 
  The war on poverty and the Great Society initiatives have defined the 
modern United States of America as a compassionate, inclusive society, 
a genuine opportunity society where everyone can contribute their 
talents and abilities. We see the Great Society all around us today--in 
cleaner air and cleaner water, young people from poor backgrounds 
attending college, seniors and poor people who have access to decent 
medical care, and people of color exercising their right to vote and to 
live in the neighborhoods of their choice.
  We see the great society in Head Start Programs, quality public 
schools, vocational education programs, college grants and loans, all 
those rungs on the ladder of opportunity which put the American dream 
in reach of every citizen, even those from humble, hardscrabble 
backgrounds like Lyndon Johnson himself.
  We might notice I said a ladder of opportunity. I didn't say an 
escalator. I think a lot of times my conservative friends say we just 
want to give everything to everybody, give everybody a free ride. I 
always talk about the ladder of opportunity. I don't talk about an 
escalator. An escalator is a free ride. With a ladder you still have to 
assert energy and initiative to get up. But there is one thing 
necessary: The rungs have to be there on that ladder, many of them put 
there by government and society acting together, things like affordable 
child care programs, early learning, quality of public schools, Pell 
grants, job training, and on and on. They provide those rungs on that 
ladder, and sometimes people fall off the ladder through no fault of 
their own. They lose their job, they become disabled or they contract a 
terrible illness. In those cases, it is the moral duty of government 
and society working collectively to provide a hand back up. Things 
like, yes, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, job training, 
and many others.
  Up until 1990, we looked around America and we saw that no matter how 
hard they tried, they could never climb that ladder of opportunity. 
These were Americans with disabilities. So in 1990 we passed the 
Americans with Disabilities Act. Again, we built a ramp of opportunity. 
We didn't build a moving walkway; that is a free ride. I have often 
pointed out, not one dime in the Americans with Disabilities Act goes 
to a person with disabilities. What we did is we broke down the 
barriers. We built the ramps to accessible buses and trains, provided 
accessible workplaces, widened doors in accessible bathrooms. We broke 
down the barriers so people with disabilities could exert their own 
energy and initiative to get up that ramp.
  Like every great leader in our Nation's history, Lyndon Baines 
Johnson brought us a giant step closer to achieving our highest ideals 
as a people. He fought passionately for social and economic justice for 
all Americans. He fought to put the American dream within reach of 
every citizen, and he saw this as a moral imperative. That is why I 
consider him one of our greatest Presidents. This is the legacy we 
salute today. This is the lesson we should learn as we move forward in 
this country. As we move from this 50th anniversary of President 
Johnson's great address to Congress, it is this spirit of ambitious 
public purpose that we should strive to emulate in the legislative year 
ahead and the legislative years to come.
  Fifty years ago today, Lyndon Johnson spoke to our deepest moral 
underpinnings. He didn't just couch it in terms of an economic 
solution. It was justice. It was making sure the American dream really 
was alive for all. We can't in our time become small-minded, looking 
upon just what is good for today or what are the economics of things. 
We have to think about it in terms of what our commitment is for moral, 
economic, and social justice for all Americans. That was the lesson of 
President Lyndon Johnson. That is

[[Page S122]]

what we should take from this 50th anniversary.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Brown). The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, when the history books are written about 
those who fought hardest against poverty, who stood up for those with 
no voice, with very little power and an increasingly unfair economy, 
LBJ and his war on poverty will be a few chapters in that book. Senator 
Tom Harkin will occupy a pretty big place in that story as well. I 
salute him for spending the time to talk about this long fight on 
poverty this country has waged, and still needs to wage, and salute the 
role he has played. It is an inspiration to many of us who have sought 
to try to stand in his shoes and in his place.
  I wish to talk about the same subject, because over the holidays I 
had the chance to spend a day in New Haven, CT, with a 40-year-old 
homeless man who up until last spring had been employed for the better 
part of the last 20 years. But as has happened to millions of Americans 
over the last several years, this man--who I will call for today's 
purposes Nick--lost his job.
  Nick has had it tough his whole life. His father was a drug addict 
who got Nick addicted to crack when he was 13 years old. He was born 
into a cycle of drug use and violence and poverty that is far too 
prevalent in places like New Haven and Bridgeport and cities across 
this country. But despite the odds stacked against him, Nick graduated 
from high school, he built a career for himself around sales. Now, 
after 20 years of working and 40 years of fighting the odds, Nick for 
the first time in his life is homeless.
  So I spent the day with Nick, seeking shelter from the cold, using 
the public library to apply for jobs, attending meetings that have 
helped keep him clean and sober. Aside from receiving the support he 
needs for his health issues, Nick spent most of that day just looking 
for work. He wants to work. He desperately wants to get back on the 
job, and he is hopeful that one day he will find work soon. But he is 
caught right now in this vicious downward spiral of homelessness. He 
can't find a job without a home. He fills out dozens of job 
applications, but with his address being a homeless shelter, he doesn't 
compete very well with other applicants. But of course, as Nick tells 
it, how can he get a home without a job? He is caught, he is stuck, 
like millions of other Americans.
  One of the things that keeps Nick from starving, other than the food 
and the shelter he gets from Columbus House and the local soup kitchen, 
is the $100 he used to get--until last week--in unemployment insurance. 
Without that measly $100 a week, things get pretty dire, right now as 
we speak, for Nick.
  The fact is while unemployment benefits make homelessness a little 
more manageable for a guy like Nick, these emergency funds are often 
the only thing standing between a family where their primary 
breadwinner is out of work and a life on the streets. It is during a 
long stretch of unemployment where these meager benefits become the 
only way a family can continue to pay the mortgage or the only way a 
young guy can continue to keep up with the rent.
  If we don't restore unemployment benefits now, tens of thousands more 
people will be living on the street. That is not hyperbole. That is 
reality. Then they will be captured in that same catch-22 of 
homelessness: No job without a home. No home without a job.
  Like Nick, there are 28 million Americans who have needed emergency 
unemployment compensation since 2008. These Americans aren't some 
distant, unfamiliar group of people. They are our friends. They are our 
neighbors. They are people who have worked their entire lives and want 
to get back to work again.

  I recently sat down with about a half dozen long-term unemployed 
individuals in Bridgeport, CT, and we see the pain and agony on their 
faces as they recount their daily hours-long quest to find work, 
applying to hundreds of jobs, making dozens of phone calls, and coming 
up empty. There is something almost dehumanizing about that effort to 
seek work, to prove your worth, and to come up empty time after time 
  One guy I met, Ronny, sat behind a desk his entire career. He worked 
his entire life in a white-collar job, and he said he would take any 
job. He would sweep floors. He would do anything just to get back to 
work. He is not lazy. He is not gaming the system. He is just one of 
millions who would rather do any job at all than be unemployed.
  Our colleagues on the other side of the aisle say they are opposed to 
extending unemployment benefits because they want to get back to normal 
with regard to unemployment insurance. But that reasoning totally 
ignores the reality of this recession. Unlike the recessions in 1982 
and 1991 and 2001, the unemployment rate has not fallen after the end 
of the recession with respect to people who are long-term unemployed. 
The rate of those unemployed for more than 26 weeks is at the highest 
today than it has been in 60 years. There are now three unemployed 
workers for every one job opening, compared to two or fewer workers per 
job opening in the wake of previous recessions. This just isn't a 
normal recession. There are more people out of work for longer periods 
of time than at any time in most of our lives.
  If you were in the top 10 percent of earners prior to this recession, 
things are pretty much back to normal. In 2012, the top 10 percent of 
earners took home about half of all income in the United States. Those 
people have recovered. During that time corporate profits were also at 
an all-time high. For those people and for those entities, things are 
back to normal. Maybe that is why some Republicans think it is right to 
bring unemployment insurance back to prerecession norms. But it is not.
  One of the hallmarks of this abnormal recession is the number of 
people who become unemployed and stay unemployed. Forty-three percent 
of the unemployed people in Connecticut are long-term unemployed, don't 
have a job, and have been out of a job for months and years.
  Rebecca, who lives in Connecticut, emailed my office and she said:

       I am 34 years old. For the first time since I was 16, I am 
     unemployed. I am an attorney, and I apply to 20-40 jobs per 

  Another woman wrote to my office:

       My husband has been out of work for 52 weeks. He spent 30+ 
     years in the banking industry. His last position was as a 
     regional director of retirement services.

  Frank from Meriden, CT, writes:

       I have worked all my life--43 years. I was laid off in 2009 
     and again in 2013. In both instances, I dedicated my 
     unemployed time searching to secure a job. I'd prefer to work 
     as long as I am capable and with your assistance in extending 
     the EUC program, I may at least have a fighting chance of 
     securing employment. Please afford me the opportunity to 
     continue the employment search without the added burden of 
     discontinued benefits.

  But we shouldn't only extend benefits because it is the right thing 
to do. It is also the economically smart thing to do. The Congressional 
Budget Office tells us that 200,000 jobs are going to be lost this year 
if we don't restore emergency unemployment benefits. In the week since 
unemployment benefits lapsed, $400 million has been drained from 
States' economies.
  You see, when we give people support during their time of need when 
they are out of work, they spend that money--and they spend it quickly. 
Extending unemployment benefits offers the best bang for the buck we 
can offer our economy. Every dollar we put into UI returns as much as 
$1.90 to the economy. CBO says that extending unemployment benefits 
through 2014 will boost the GDP of this Nation by 0.2 percent. One 
action of this Congress can boost GDP by 0.2 percent.
  No matter what we do, it is still going to be a long road back for 
those who have been unemployed for 1 year or more, who are going to 
face discrimination based on their age or based simply on the fact that 
they have been unemployed for a long period of time.
  Just giving them benefits does not magically put them back to work. 
But the most remarkable thing that you find when you talk to these 
individuals is that while they are frustrated, their spirit is not 
broken. Every time somebody sheds a tear to me, recounting their ordeal 
of unemployment, their story always ends with a hopefulness that 
employment is just around the corner.

[[Page S123]]

  Nick is that kind of guy too. He knows that things are going to get 
better for him. But as we walked around New Haven in the cold for 10 
hours last week, and we talked virtually the entire time, he wondered 
whether anybody down here truly cared about the dehumanizing existence 
of being without a job and being without a home. He wondered why 
Congress would turn its back on him and the millions of others who have 
been clobbered by the worst recession in our lifetime.
  I have kept in touch with Nick in the days since I spent the day with 
him. Just yesterday he sent me an email. He said:

       I am sitting right now in the Department of Labor office, 
     updating my resume. Chris, I have not had any luck yet with 
     employment but I will keep trudging, just as I am doing in 
     pretty much every aspect of my life. I know it will get 
     better as I continue to strengthen my faith and stay on a 
     straight and narrow path. As long as I continue to do those 
     two things the sky is the limit for me, Chris.

  Nick believes that things are going to get better for him. Millions 
of other Americans who have been out of work for 50, 100 weeks, still 
believe that salvation is around the corner. All they ask is that we 
extend some modicum of support to them so they can make that winnowing 
dream a reality.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont is recognized.
  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, hopefully later this evening or tomorrow 
there will be a very important vote regarding the extension of long-
term unemployment benefits. What that vote is about is to make it very 
clear which side we are on. Are we prepared to stand with over 1 
million workers and their children and say, no, we are not going to 
turn our back on you, we are not going to leave you literally out in 
the cold, worrying how you are going to heat your home or pay your rent 
or put gas in your car or, as fellow Americans, we are going to stand 
with you and make sure you at least have some income through extended 
unemployment benefits coming in to your family.
  I think, as we all know, the good news is that unemployment has gone 
down in recent years. When President Bush left office we were 
hemorrhaging over 700,000 jobs a month--clearly unsustainable, clearly 
a tragedy for our Nation. Today, while the economy is nowhere near 
where it needs to be, where we want it to be, the fact is we are 
growing several hundred thousand jobs a month. That is the good news. 
The bad news is that real unemployment is close to 13 percent, if we 
count those people who have given up looking for work and those people 
who are working part time when they want to work full time.
  The even worse news is that long-term unemployment today is almost 
the highest it has ever been on record. Today it takes about 37 weeks 
for the average unemployed American to find a job. Today, 37 percent of 
unemployed Americans have been out of work for more than 6 months. 
Today, there are three job applicants for every one job opening. The 
reality is there are simply not enough jobs for the 11 million 
Americans who actively seek work.
  If we do not extend unemployment benefits now for these 1.3 million 
Americans, the situation will only become worse. By the end of the 
year, we will be looking at close to 5 million Americans whose benefits 
will have been exhausted.
  I understand some of my Republican friends are saying, yes, we are 
prepared to extend these unemployment benefits, but we need an offset. 
Let me suggest to some of my Republican friends that if that is their 
position--and I should point out that under President Bush, when long-
term unemployment was not as serious a problem as it is today, under 
President Bush, time and time again, extended unemployment benefits 
were seen as an emergency and were passed without offsets. But if my 
Republican friends believe they desperately need an offset now that 
Barack Obama is President, let me suggest a few of the areas they may 
want to explore.
  We are losing about $100 billion every single year because corporate 
America is putting its money into tax havens in the Cayman islands, 
Bermuda, and elsewhere. If we need an offset, what about telling the 
one out of four corporations in this country that today pays nothing in 
Federal taxes that we are going to end their loopholes. Are we prepared 
to demand that corporate America start paying its fair share of taxes 
so long-term unemployed Americans can afford to have food on their 
table or heat in their homes?
  Many of my Republican colleagues believe we should repeal completely 
the estate tax, a tax which only applies to the top 3 percent of the 
wealthiest people in America. We are talking about families such as the 
Walton family who are worth $100 billion. If some of my Republican 
friends think the Walton family, the wealthiest family in America, 
needs another tax break while working Americans who are desperately 
searching for work should not get any help at all, I suggest to my 
Republican colleagues they are way out of touch with the values of 
America and the values that make this a great country.
  I think there are some people who believe the folks who are long-term 
unemployed right now just do not want to work. That is grossly unfair 
and grossly untrue. Let me give a few examples. In Hagerstown, MD, 
3,600 of our fellow citizens recently applied to work at a dairy farm 
to process milk and ice cream. This dairy farm will be hiring 36 
people. Yet 3,600 people applied for those 36 jobs. Do those people 
want to work? They sure do.
  Last October, Walmart received over 11,000 job applications for 
stores they are opening in Washington DC. As we all know, Walmart is 
not the highest paying employer in America. Yet they received 11,000 
applications in the DC area at a time when they will be only hiring 
1,800 workers.
  That type of scenario is true in many parts of this country. An 
employer puts an ad in the paper, makes it known the company needs 
workers, and they are seeing 10 times as many workers applying for 
limited jobs.
  The last point I wish to make is not only is this a moral issue, the 
issue of not turning our backs on people, some of whom who have worked 
for their entire lives, at this moment when they and their families 
have so much need--that is the moral issue--but there is an economic 
component as well. If a long-term unemployed worker does not get the 
average $300 check he or she would otherwise get, what kind of money 
does that person have to spend locally? What the economists tell us is 
that when we dry up that source of spending in communities all over 
this country, when people do not have the money to buy the goods and 
services they desperately need, that in itself, that lack of spending, 
will result in several hundred thousand jobs being lost in the overall 
economy. So not extending unemployment not only hurts the individual, 
it hurts our overall economy, and the economists also tell us that not 
extending long-term unemployment benefits will reduce our GDP by about 
.2 percent.
  We have a moral issue. We have an economic issue. If my Republican 
colleagues want offsets, there are more than enough offsets available 
if they are prepared to ask some of the wealthiest people in this 
country and some of the largest corporations in America to start paying 
their fair share of taxes. But the bottom line is that in an economy 
which today is still hurting very deeply, we cannot punish people who 
are severely in need.
  I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent the order for the 
quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sanders). Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, President Johnson 50 years ago, as Senator 
Harkin was talking about, declared a war on poverty down the hall in 
the House of Representatives in his State of the Union Message. A 
little later he visited Athens, OH, in the heart of Appalachia, and he 

       I came out here today to see you because we can't always 
     see poverty from the Capital in Washington. But you can see 
     it when you get out and ride the rivers and the range, the 
     mountains and the hills.

  When President Lincoln was in office, even though his staff said stay 
in the office, win the war, free the slaves, preserve the Union, 
President Lincoln

[[Page S124]]

would say, no, I need to get out and take my ``public opinion baths''--
I need to see the people and talk to them and understand their 
  Pope Francis recently exhorted his parish priests to go smell like 
the flock, obviously using the allegory of the sheep in the Old 
Testament and New Testament, but also saying to his parish priests: 
Understand how people live, talk to them about their issues and their 
problems and their lives and live among them as much as you can, 
something perhaps none of us in this body--I know the Presiding Officer 
from Vermont possibly does more townhalls and meetings with people than 
anybody in the Senate. All of us need to do that more to understand 
  But as we debate the extension of unemployment benefits, $500 a week 
is the average benefit; 52,00 people in my State were cut off from 
benefits at the end of the year, tens of thousands more will lose their 
benefits if we don't act. It is not just what this means to parents so 
they can feed their families and continue to look for work. But as the 
Presiding Officer knows, they need to continue to look for work in 
order to get this $300 a week on average. We also know it helps the 

  One hundred years ago this week, Henry Ford made an announcement that 
stunned the country. He said: Everybody in my auto plant is going to 
receive $5 a day. Whether it was the young man sweeping the floor or 
the autoworker, they were all going to receive $5 a day.
  Whether it was done out of generosity or not, what Henry Ford knew 
was putting money in workers' pockets--just the same as when you put 
money in people's pockets for unemployment benefits, which is the 
insurance they paid into--the money that they get will help grow the 
economy. It will help people be able to do things they would not 
otherwise be able to do. That is the importance of the extension of 
unemployment benefits, and that is the importance of passing minimum 
wage legislation, which Senator Harkin also spoke about.
  The fair minimum wage would raise the minimum wage 90 cents upon the 
signature of the President, 90 cents a year later, and 90 cents a year 
after that. At the same time it would raise the subminimum wage for 
those people who work in diners, push wheelchairs in airports, and for 
valets in restaurants. Those workers often make less than the minimum 
wage. The subminimum wage--the tipped wage--is only $2.13 an hour. It 
hasn't been raised since 1991.
  The Harkin, Sanders, Brown--and others who are part of this 
legislation on the minimum wage bill--legislation will increase the 
tipped minimum wage over time up to 70 percent of the real minimum 
  I will close with a letter from Karen in Columbus. She said:

       I had to come out of medical retirement because I couldn't 
     make ends meet.
       I have now worked at a department store for four years and 
     still don't make $9.00 an hour. My salary goes entirely 
     towards rent and utilities.
       My water bill just went up $8.00--

  For those of us in this Chamber, if the water bill goes up $8, you 
deal with it. It is not that big of a deal. She is not even making $9 
an hour. The increase in her water bill is 1 hour of pay at this 
department store.

       My water bill just went up $8.00--as it goes up every 
     year--just like the electric, food, and gas.
       Heaven forbid my car would break down or I would fall 
     victim to a serious illness.

  I hope that our colleagues are getting their public opinion baths. I 
hope our colleagues are out among people listening to these stories.
  I close, again with a quote from President Johnson's speech in 
Athens, OH, which was 50 years ago this year.

       Poverty hides its face behind a mask of affluence. But I 
     call upon you to help me get out there and unmask it, take 
     that mask off of that face of affluence and let the world see 
     what we have, and let the world do something about it.

  We have an opportunity today to do something about unemployment 
insurance and help people get back on their feet. We have an 
opportunity in the months ahead to raise the minimum wage. To restore 
it to something close to what it was back in 1968 in real buying power, 
that should be our obligation, our duty, and our mission in the months