December 9, 2016 - Issue: Vol. 162, No. 178 — Daily Edition114th Congress (2015 - 2016) - 2nd Session
STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS; Congressional Record Vol. 162, No. 178
(Senate - December 09, 2016)
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[Pages S7033-S7035] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS 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 grandchildren. 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 grandkids. 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, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ``Budgetary Accuracy in Scoring Interest Costs Act of 2016''. SEC. 2. CBO AND JCT ESTIMATES TO INCLUDE DEBT SERVICING COSTS. (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 Code.''. (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 society. 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, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ``Wildland Firefighter Retirement and Disability Compensation Benefits Act of 2016''. SEC. 2. CIVIL SERVICE RETENTION RIGHTS. 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 procedures; ``(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 disabled.''. SEC. 3. COMPUTATION OF PAY. (a) In General.--Section 8114 of title 5, United States Code, is amended by striking subsection (e) and inserting the following: ``(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. ____________________