(Senate - December 09, 2016)

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[Pages S7033-S7035]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


      By Mr. DAINES (for himself, Mr. Perdue, and Mr. Lee):
  S. 3539. A bill to amend the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 to 
provide that any estimate prepared by the Congressional Budget Office 
or the Joint Committee on Taxation shall include costs relating to 
servicing the public debt; to the Committee on the Budget.
  Mr. DAINES. Mr. President, I am introducing a bill that will reveal 
to the public the true cost of legislative proposals by requiring that 
interest expense be included in all budgetary estimates.
  This bill will finally allow the American people to understand the 
true cost of the irresponsible spending that is going on here by 
Congress, and it will force Congress to deal with the reality of our 
debt so that we can make the decisions that need to be made going 
forward, knowing the true impact they will have on our children and our 
  Let me give an example. The current interest the taxpayer pays today 
on the national debt is approximately $248 billion per year. Now, when 
interest rates go up, this number will significantly increase. In fact, 
the Congressional Budget Office projects that by

[[Page S7034]]

the year 2026, the amount of interest we will pay on our national debt 
will exceed $700 billion per year.
  In 1974, the Congressional Budget Act established two organizations 
as official budgetary scorekeepers. They are the referees used to 
calculate cost estimates for a legislative proposal. When a Member of 
Congress puts forward a bill, they put forward an estimate on what it 
would cost. In this way, the system already recognizes that the public 
deserves to know not only how much the bill will cost but, 
additionally, how much interest will cost on additional debt as a 
result of the bill proposal. However, it probably surprises a lot of 
folks that the law does not currently require these scorekeepers, these 
umpires, these referees to account for the interest cost on those 
estimates. Can you imagine?
  Imagine a family around the dinner table, thinking about purchasing a 
car or perhaps a new home but not considering the cost of the interest 
on that very loan used to buy that car or that new home. Run the 
amortization table sometime on a 30-year conventional loan for a new 
home. Depending on the rate and the terms of the loan, the interest the 
consumer will pay can actually exceed the cost of the home itself. Yet 
this is what the Federal Government does with its legislative budgetary 
estimates, and it is wrong. That is not the way ordinary folks do it, 
and that is not the way we should be doing it here.
  At the end of the day, whether Congress properly accounts for its 
budgeted costs or not, the American people are going to have to pick up 
the dime. The way we are calculating budgetary costs now actually 
deflates the true cost. So it is painting a rosier picture for the 
public than what actually exists.
  If I were to go back home, chat with a Montanan, and tell them that 
Congress allows gimmicks that really shield how much it spends, they 
would be furious--and they should be furious. Government spending is 
bloated and far exceeds any commonsense approach that a Montana family 
would use for their own household. It is time Congress had a true 
account of the debt burden it is leaving for our kids and our 
  That is why I am introducing the Budgetary Accuracy in Scoring Costs 
Act--the acronym is the BASIC Act--which will require budget 
scorekeepers to include the cost of interest on a legislative proposal. 
This bill will allow the American public to better understand the true 
costs of irresponsible fiscal spending in Congress and will force this 
body to face the important decisions it has before it.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be 
printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be 
printed in the Record, as follows:

                                S. 3539

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``Budgetary Accuracy in 
     Scoring Interest Costs Act of 2016''.


       (a) In General.--Title IV of the Congressional Budget and 
     Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (2 U.S.C. 651 et seq.) is 
     amended by inserting after section 402 the following:

              ``estimates to include debt servicing costs

       ``Sec. 403. Any estimate prepared by the Congressional 
     Budget Office under section 402, and any estimate prepared by 
     the Joint Committee on Taxation, shall include, to the extent 
     practicable, the costs (if any) of servicing the debt subject 
     to limit under section 3101 of title 31, United States 
       (b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of contents of such Act 
     is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 
     402 the following:

``403. Estimates to include debt servicing costs.''.
      By Mr. GRAHAM (for himself, Mr. Durbin, Ms. Murkowski, Mrs. 
        Feinstein, Mr. Flake, and Mr. Schumer):
  S. 3542. A bill to provide provisional protected presence to 
qualified individuals who came to the United States as children; to the 
Committee on the Judiciary.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, 6 years ago, I joined with Senator Dick 
Lugar in a bipartisan request of President Obama to do something to 
protect the DREAMers--those young kids brought to America as babies and 
infants and toddlers and teenagers who were undocumented, living in 
America, and had no place other than America to call home. We wanted 
these DREAMers to have a chance, not to be deported--a chance to go to 
school, a chance to work, a chance to prove themselves and to become 
part of the future of America.
  President Obama created the DACA Program by Executive order, and 
despite the political controversy of that decision on the other side of 
the aisle, the fact is it was a lifeline for up to 800,000 who have now 
come forward. They paid their filing fee of several hundred dollars, 
they have gone through a criminal background check to make sure there 
is nothing in their background to disqualify them from staying in the 
United States, and they have been given a temporary approval to stay 
here without fear of deportation and to work. So they have gone on to 
colleges and medical schools and law schools. They have taken important 
jobs. They have volunteered to serve in our military. They are proving 
that they want to be part of America's future.
  Now, if that Executive order, DACA, is eliminated, what happens to 
them? That has been a concern and a fear, not just on this side of the 
aisle but on the other side as well.
  I am happy to report that Senator Lindsey Graham has stepped forward. 
We are working together on a measure we call the BRIDGE Act, which we 
are going to introduce today. This is an effort by Senator Graham and 
myself to have a bipartisan answer to the question about what happens 
to these 800,000 and others like them while we debate the future of 
immigration. I think what we are taking is a reasonable step forward. 
As Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House said the other day, there is no 
need to disrupt their lives. President-Elect Donald Trump said recently 
in Time Magazine:

       We're going to work out something that's going to make 
     people happy and proud.

  Speaking of the DREAMers, President-Elect Trump said:

       They got brought here at a very young age, they've worked 
     here, they've gone to school here. Some were good students. 
     Some have wonderful jobs. And they're in never-never land 
     because they don't know what's going to happen.

  So Senator Graham and I are proposing this legislation today, and we 
invite Members to join us in supporting it. It is simple. It would 
provide protection from deportation and legal authority to continue 
working and studying to the people who are eligible for DACA.
  The BRIDGE Act has a new term--not DACA--but ``provisional protected 
presence.'' If you have DACA now, you would receive provisional 
protected status until your DACA expires, and you can apply for an 
extension. If you don't have DACA protection now but you are eligible, 
you can also apply for this provisional protected presence.
  Applicants would be required to pay a reasonable fee, be subject to 
criminal background checks, and meet the same eligibility criteria that 
currently applied to DACA. This legal status would be good for 3 years. 
DACA is only good for 2 years but is renewable. The status we are 
creating would be good for 3 years after the BRIDGE Act becomes law.
  I believe this legislation will attract broad support from both sides 
of the aisle. But let me be clear. The BRIDGE Act that we are 
introducing today is no substitute for broader legislation to fix our 
broken immigration system. This bill should not be tied to other 
unrelated measures. Let's take care of these young people who are in 
doubt about tomorrow before we debate the larger and equally important 
question about immigration reform, which has so many facets.
  Senator Graham and I were two Members of the bipartisan Gang of 8, 
Republicans and Democrats who authored comprehensive immigration reform 
legislation that passed the Senate. We both believe that Congress must 
consider legislation to deal with all aspects of the immigration law. 
In particular, I strongly believe personally--personally, I believe--
that we need a path to citizenship not just for DREAMers but for their 
parents and other undocumented immigrants who are living in the shadows 
but, by every

[[Page S7035]]

measure, should be given a chance to prove themselves in America.
  We need to pass the BRIDGE Act quickly to ensure that DREAMers who 
came forward to register for DACA do not lose critical work permits.
  There are 28 medical students at the Loyola University Stritch School 
of Medicine in Chicago. They are DACA-eligible. They competed 
nationally. They weren't given any specific slots. They were accepted 
to medical school. If they lose their work permit, they have to drop 
out of medical soon, and they can't do their clinical work, which is 
important to medical education. So let's not lose them and others who 
can serve our country in the future.
  Over the years, I have come to the floor to tell stories about these 
DREAMers, and I would like to tell one today about Javier Cuan-
Martinez. He came at the age of 4 from Mexico with his parents. He was 
4 years old. He went to elementary school in Texas. He moved to 
Temecula, CA. He was an excellent student involved in many activities. 
He was a member of the National Honor Society, and he was named 
Riverside County's Student of the Month. He received an award from the 
College Board's National Hispanic Recognition Program, given to only 
5,000 of the 250,000 Hispanic students who took the test. He was a 
member of the Math Club and a drum major in the school's marching band. 
He volunteered in his town's soup kitchen for the homeless and received 
the President's Volunteer Service Award.
  He didn't even know he was undocumented until he was applying for 
college and he learned that he was ineligible for any Federal financial 
assistance to go to school.
  Thanks to his academic achievements, this young man was accepted at 
Harvard University. He is now a sophomore majoring in computer science, 
a member of the Harvard Computer Society and Harvard's marching band. 
Thanks to DACA, he is supporting himself by working as a web developer.
  He sent me a letter, and here is what he said:

       DACA doesn't give me an advantage; rather, it gives me the 
     opportunity to create my own future on the same grounds as 
     any other student. I would like to be judged upon my 
     qualities as a person rather than what papers I happen to 
     have in my hand. I hope to be a computer programmer and begin 
     earning my own living as a contributing member of America's 

  Consider this. Every year, the United States of America imports guest 
workers to do computer programming on H-1B visas. So does it make any 
sense to deport this young man who could fill one of those important 
jobs, who was educated and raised in the United States and wants to 
stay and be a part of our future?
  Javier and other DREAMers have so much to give America. But if DACA 
is eliminated, he will lose his legal status and be deported back to 
Mexico--a country he barely knows and left when he was 4 years old. 
Will America be stronger if we deport him? I don't think so.
  The answer is obvious. I hope President-Elect Trump will understand 
this and will continue the DACA Program or encourage the passage of the 
BRIDGE Program, as we move forward. If he decides to end DACA, the 
President-elect can then turn to Congress and ask us to do our part by 
passing the BRIDGE Act.
      By Mr. DAINES:
  S. 3544. A bill to amend title 5, United States Code, to ensure that 
certain firefighters retain retirement benefits while injured or 
disabled, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Homeland Security 
and Governmental Affairs.
  Mr. DAINES. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of 
the bill be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be 
printed in the Record, as follows:

                                S. 3544

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``Wildland Firefighter 
     Retirement and Disability Compensation Benefits Act of 


       Section 8151 of title 5, United States Code, is amended by 
     striking subsection (b) and inserting the following:
       ``(b) Regulations.--
       ``(1) Definitions.--In this subsection--
       ``(A) the term `covered employee' means an employee who--
       ``(i) held a position with the Forest Service or the 
     Department of the Interior as a wildland firefighter; and
       ``(ii) sustained an injury while in the performance of 
     duty, as determined by the Director of the Office of 
     Personnel Management, that prevents the employee from 
     performing the physical duties of a firefighter;
       ``(B) `equivalent position' includes a position for a 
     covered employee that allows the covered employee to--
       ``(i) receive the same retirement benefits under subchapter 
     III of chapter 83 or chapter 84 that the covered employee 
     would receive in the former position had the covered employee 
     not been injured or disabled; and
       ``(ii) does not require the covered employee to complete 
     any more years of service that the covered employee would be 
     required to complete to receive the benefits described in 
     clause (i) had the covered employee not been injured or 
     disabled; and
       ``(C) the term `firefighter' has the meaning given the term 
     in section 8331.
       ``(2) Regulations.--Under regulations issued by the Office 
     of Personnel Management--
       ``(A) the department or agency which was the last employer 
     shall immediately and unconditionally accord the employee, if 
     the injury or disability has been overcome within 1 year 
     after the date of commencement of compensation or from the 
     time compensable disability recurs if the recurrence begins 
     after the injured employee resumes regular full-time 
     employment with the United States, the right to resume the 
     former or an equivalent position of the employee, as well as 
     all other attendant rights which the employee would have had, 
     or acquired, in the former position of the employee had the 
     employee not been injured or disabled, including the rights 
     to tenure, promotion, and safeguards in reductions-in-force 
       ``(B) the department or agency which was the last employer 
     shall, if the injury or disability is overcome within a 
     period of more than 1 year after the date of commencement of 
     compensation, make all reasonable efforts to place, and 
     accord priority to placing, the employee in the former or 
     equivalent position of the employee within such department or 
     agency, or within any other department or agency; and
       ``(C) a covered employee who was injured during the 20-year 
     period ending on the date of enactment of the Wildland 
     Firefighter Retirement and Disability Compensation Benefits 
     Act of 2016 may not receive the same retirement benefits 
     described in paragraph (1)(B)(ii) unless the covered employee 
     first makes a payment to the Forest Service or the Department 
     of the Interior, as applicable, equal to the amount that 
     would have been deducted from pay under section 8334 or 8442, 
     as applicable, had the covered employee not been injured or 


       (a) In General.--Section 8114 of title 5, United States 
     Code, is amended by striking subsection (e) and inserting the 
       ``(e) Overtime.--
       ``(1) Definitions.--In this subsection, the term `covered 
     overtime pay' means pay received by an employee who holds a 
     position with the Forest Service or the Department of the 
     Interior as a wildland firefighter while engaged in wildland 
     fire suppression activity.
       ``(2) Overtime.--The value of subsistence and quarters, and 
     of any other form of remuneration in kind for services if its 
     value can be estimated in money, and covered overtime pay and 
     premium pay under section 5545(c)(1) of this title are 
     included as part of the pay, but account is not taken of--
       ``(A) overtime pay;
       ``(B) additional pay or allowance authorized outside the 
     United States because of differential in cost of living or 
     other special circumstances; or
       ``(C) bonus or premium pay for extraordinary service 
     including bonus or pay for particularly hazardous service in 
     time of war.''.
       (b) Effective Date.--The amendment made by subsection (a) 
     shall take effect on October 1, 2016.