Norton's 20-year career as an attorney had been defined by
strong opposition to the laws protecting federal lands, public
resources, and wildlife. As a protegee of President Reagan's
controversial Interior Secretary James Watt, both at the con-
servative Mountain States Legal Foundation and later in the
Reagan Interior Department, Norton echoed her mentor's
policies and consistently sided with extractive industries in
legal and policy disputes.
On confirmation of Gale Norton,
- Dodd voted YEA, along with every Republican, Akaka, Baucus, Bingaman, Breaux, Byrd, Cantwell, Carnahan, Carper, Conrad, Daschle, Feinstein, Graham, Hollings, Inouye, Johnson, Kohl, Landrieu, Lincoln, Miller, Murray, Bill Nelson, Ben Nelson and Reid
- Edwards, Clinton and Biden voted NAY along with 21 other Democrats
2. Confirmation of John Ashcroft.
Leadership Council on Civil Rights:
When President George W. Bush nominated former Sen. John Ashcroft (R-Mo.) for the position of U.S. attorney general, LCCR questioned Ashcroft’s ability to enforce the very laws he had opposed throughout his career. As a senator, Ashcroft built a track record of opposition to civil rights, particularly on the issues of hate crimes and affirmative action, which underscored his lack of commitment to the rights of women and minorities and to equality for all.
LCCR opposed Ashcroft’s nomination because of his extreme record of opposition to civil rights
On confirmation of John Ashcroft
- Dodd voted YEA, along with every Republican, Breaux, Byrd, Conrad, Dorgan, Feingold, Miller and Ben Nelson
- Biden, Clinton and Edwards voted NAY
3. Paul Wellstone's amendment to the Bankruptcy Act to prohibit means-testing of those whose bankruptcies were caused by medical debt.
The reason I introduce this amendment--and other Senators also are interested in the same kind of amendment--is, in the vast majority of cases, the people who file for bankruptcy do it because of desperate financial circumstances and do it because they are overburdened by debt. Specifically, we know that nearly half of all debtors report that high medical costs force them into bankruptcy. This is an especially serious problem for the elderly. Just think about prescription drug costs and the increased medical bills one has as they become older.
A medical crisis is a double whammy for a family. First, there are the high costs associated with the treatment of a serious health problem, costs that may not be covered by insurance. Certainly, for some 40 million people in the country who have no health insurance whatsoever, it can put them under. And please remember, anyone who has spent one second in any coffee shop back in their States knows that the health care crisis is not just people with no health insurance at all. It is also people who are underinsured. They have some coverage, but it is by no means comprehensive.
And even if it isn't the person who draws the income, a parent, if I am working and my child is very ill, you know what--many of us know this now--or if your parent is very ill, then you may need to be caring for that elderly parent. This means a loss of income. It means more debt and more of an inability to pay back the debt.
Are the people in our country--the families in Minnesota --who were overwhelmed with medical debt or sidelined with an illness and therefore they can't work, are they deadbeats? This bill assumes they are. For example, it would force them into credit counseling before they could file for bankruptcy, as if a serious illness or disability is something that can be counseled away. Colleagues, that is not what it is about.
- Senator Clinton and Dodd voted YEA along with 33 other Democrats
- Senator Edwards and Biden voted NAY along with Bingaman, Breaux, Byrd, Carnahan, Carper, Cleland, Conrad, Feinstein, Johnson, Kohl, Miller, Ben Nelson, Reid, Torricelli and every Republican.
4. Pat Leahy's amendments to ensure that small businesses would have priority over big businesses when it came to getting funds from those being means-tested for bankruptcy.
The bankruptcy bill today puts the multibillion-dollar credit card companies ahead of the hard-working small business people from Utah, Alabama, Nevada, Kentucky, or Vermont in collecting outstanding debt from those who file for bankruptcy. My amendment corrects that injustice by giving small business creditors a priority over larger businesses when it comes to distribution of the bankruptcy estate. The amendment provides a small business creditor has priority over the larger for-profit business creditor.
My amendment does not affect the bill's provision giving top priority in bankruptcy distribution to child support and alimony payments, but we should be helping small businesses navigate through the often complex and confusing bankruptcy process. Small businesses cannot afford the high-priced bankruptcy lawyers corporate giants can afford. Small business.
On the motion to table the Leahy amendment,
- Biden voted YEA, along with every Republican, Bayh, Bingaman, Carper, Johnson, Lieberman, Miller, Ben Nelson and Torricelli
- Dodd, Clinton and Edwards voted NAY along with 38 other Democrats
- Fitzgerald voted PRESENT due to conflict of interest
5. Senator Kerry offered an amendment to exempt small businesses from means-testing.
It is with that concern I come to the floor today with deep concern about a particular provision within the bankruptcy bill that, in my judgment, runs counter to the policies we have been putting in place in the last years as we tried to have low-documentation loans, lift the regulatory burden on small businesses, lift the paperwork burden on small businesses, and, indeed, expand the capacity for entrepreneurship and for growth.
There is no evidence at all that small business bankruptcies are a problem which somehow warrant the rather extraordinary increase in regulatory oversight this bill seeks to impose on those businesses.
I am offering an amendment that would strike the small business subtitle of the Bankruptcy Reform Act and include in its place a study of the causes of small business bankruptcy and how Federal law regarding small business bankruptcy can be made more effective and more efficient.
On the motion to table the Kerry amendment
- Biden voted YEA, along with every Republican, Bayh, Bingaman, Breaux, Carper, Cleland, Miller, Ben Nelson and Reid
- Dodd, Clinton and Edwards voted NAY along with 38 other Democrats
- Fitzgerald voted PRESENT due to conflict of interest
6. Feinstein amendment to limit the extension of credit by credit card companies to those under 21 to $2,500
Contrary to what you may hear from the opposition to this amendment, this amendment is not about the right of an 18-year-old to get a credit card. I have no problem with that. The concern is the unlimited credit that the youngster can place on that card.
Like any other adult who seeks credit, a minor who has independent means to repay debts is entitled to credit based on his ability to pay. A minor with adequate resources, or with a parental cosigner, can get a credit limit under this amendment of $5,000, $10,000, or $20,000.
I just want to say that this amendment places the $2,500 debt limit on each credit card--not the combination of credit cards, but each credit card. We think it is fair, and we think it is responsible.
During a recent ``60 Minutes II'' interview, sources in the credit card industry stated that even if a student's application for credit indicates no source of income, the student still gets approved for credit. The credit card company assumes that the student has other means to pay because they buy books, clothes, CDs, or that a parent is going to bail them out.
So without this amendment, credit card companies can continue to lend reckless amounts of money to college students that any reasonable inquiry into the student's financial status would indicate the student could not afford. Then, when a student can't pay his or her debt, the lender can pressure the parent to assume the liability or use the full power of the bankruptcy court to recover the amount it is owed.
I ironically had the opposite problem at Yearly Kos, where I had the money to pay for the hotel room, but not the credit limit (I ended up paying in cash, dumping the company and having my parents co-sign for a higher limit, which I haven't gotten close to yet; posting this reminded me to sent them a payment for my Thanksgiving train tickets home).
Anyway, on the motion to table the Feinstein amendment,
- Biden voted YEA, along with every Republican, Bayh, Carper, Cleland, Dorgan, Johnson, Kohl, Miller and Ben Nelson
- Dodd, Clinton and Edwards voted NAY along with 39 other Democrats
- Fitzgerald voted PRESENT due to conflict of interest
- Inhofe and Inouye did not vote.
7. Kennedy amendment to remove the cap on retirement savings that can be protected from bankrutpcy.
Mr. President, this bankruptcy bill includes a provision that would undermine existing pension law by allowing creditors to claim workers' retirement savings in bankruptcy.
One of the greatest domestic policy challenges facing Congress is the challenge of ensuring that elderly Americans do not live in poverty. After a lifetime of hard work, senior citizens deserve a secure and comfortable retirement.
Clearly, we need to do more to improve the private pension system. Nearly half of all working Americans--some 73 million men and women--do not have pension coverage. The lack of pension security is a critical issue. It is a women's issue, because only 39 percent of working women are covered by a pension plan. It is a civil rights issue, because only 26 percent of Hispanic workers and 38 percent of African-American workers have pension coverage.
So it is imperative that Congress do all it can to expand pension coverage and encourage retirement savings. We must work to improve our retirement savings system--not move backward. The provision in the bankruptcy bill that would cap the amount of retirement savings held in individual retirement accounts that can be exempted from a debtor's bankruptcy estate is a step backward.
Federal pension laws are intended to protect workers by guaranteeing that their retirement savings will be there when they retire. The entire pension community--worker groups, employers, mutual fund companies, and other pension service providers--are united in opposition to a cap on retirement savings for three reasons: one, it is unnecessary, two, it is unworkable, and three, it would discourage savings and portability.
First, a cap on IRA savings is unnecessary because Federal tax law already imposes strict limits on IRA contributions. The cap is aimed at preventing wealthy individuals from trying to stuff assets into their IRAs before declaring bankruptcy. But because IRA contributions are limited to only $2,000 per year, wealthy individuals cannot stuff assets into an IRA before filing bankruptcy as a way to avoid paying debts. At the rate of $2,000 per year, it would take about 40 years to accumulate retirement savings of $1 million.
Second, the cap is unworkable. It will be extremely difficult--if not impossible in many cases--to administer. There are thousands of IRA accounts with balances in excess of $1 million due to rollovers from 401(k) plans and other retirement vehicles. Under the current bill, those rollover amounts (and the earnings on them) would not be available to creditors. However, a bankruptcy court will need to sort through those accounts to determine how much of the account came from direct IRA contributions and how much came from rollovers.
The court will also be forced to calculate how much of the earnings in the account should be attributed to the IRA contributions and how much should be attributed to the rollovers amounts. That will be a time consuming administrative burden with no benefit to creditors.
Third, the cap will discourage retirement savings and portability. Using retirement savings in IRAs to satisfy personal debts is unprecedented, and collides head-on with efforts by Congress to encourage individuals to save for retirement. Already, more than 60 percent of workers who change jobs take their retirement savings and spend the money rather than rolling the money into another retirement vehicle.
On the motion to table the Kennedy amendment,
- Biden voted YEA, along with every Republican, Bayh, Bingaman, Carnahan, Carper, Cleland, Conrad, Dorgan, Johnson, Kohl, Miller, Bill Nelson, Ben Nelson, Harry Reid, Stabenow and Torricelli
- Dodd, Clinton and Edwards voted NAY along with 30 other Democrats, Bond, Hatch, Jeffords and Specter
- Fitzgerald voted PRESENT due to conflict of interest
- Inouye did not vote.
8. Ron Wyden offered an amendment to require that debts to public power agencies be paid back unless the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says that the rates were unfair.
As all of our colleagues know, during the California energy crisis a number of regions of this country have tried to assist. In the Pacific Northwest we believe we have been more than a good neighbor. Bonneville Power and other governmental agencies up and down the west coast have repeatedly shifted power to California to help out at critical times.
Various California public officials have thanked profusely the Bonneville Power Administration and others for helping California avoid blackouts, help that was a real hardship for many in the Pacific Northwest because we have had a tough year, a low-water year. A variety of concerns were very much on the mind of those whom Senator SMITH and I represent.
To give an idea of how appreciative California public officials have been, I will read a letter Senator Feinstein wrote to Bonneville Power Administration recently.
DEAR MR. WRIGHT: I am writing to express my gratitude to Bonneville Power Administration for selling power to California yesterday.
Yesterday my State nearly had an energy catastrophe. In a meeting at my office yesterday to discuss California's energy situation with Governor Davis, Secretary Richardson from the Department of Energy, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Hoecker, calls came into my office that within the hour, a rolling blackout could hit California and that the California Independent System Operator (ISO) would not be able to purchase the power necessary to ``keep the lights on.''
Twelve energy generators, marketers and utilities, mostly located outside of California, contacted the California ISO yesterday and indicated their reluctance to sell electricity into California without letters of credit from California's investor owned utilities, who they feared would not be able to pay for this power because of their economic circumstances.
I am very grateful for BPA's cooperation! THANK YOU!
Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, thank-you letters are certainly appreciated, but Bonneville Power still is in a position where they need to be repaid. As of now, Bonneville Power is owed more than $120 million by California, and various other public entities such as the Western Area Power Administration and various municipal utilities up and down the west coast are also owed funds. The fact is that they do not have shareholders as do the big, private California utilities. The people we are speaking for in this amendment do not have any stockholders to absorb the costs if they are not paid what they are owed. The public entities that would get a fair shake under this amendment would have to pass the costs on directly to the consumers if they were not in fact repaid.
Our amendment makes nondischargeable in bankruptcy any debts under the Department of Energy emergency orders or otherwise owed for electric power sent by Federal, State, or local governmental agencies. This means these debts would have to be paid in full unless there was a determination by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that the rates charged in California for electric power were unjust and unreasonable.
I want to make it very clear, because we have seen a lot of letters passed around, exactly what Senator SMITH and I are saying in this bipartisan amendment. All we are saying in this amendment is that if you are in a chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding, you have to have a plan to pay the public back when the public has assisted you in these emergency situations.
Let me repeat that. There is no preference given to anybody--nobody--in this amendment. But it does say that instead of stiffing the people of the Pacific Northwest and some other public entities such as in the Western Power Administration that serves Montana and other areas, you have to have a plan in order to pay those folks back.
On the motion to table the Wyden amendment
- Clinton, Dodd and Edwards voted YEA, along with most Republicans, Akaka, Bayh, Bingaman, Breaux, Carper, Conrad, Daschle, Dorgan, Feingold, Feinstein, Graham, Johnson, Kerry, Kohl, Landrieu, Lincoln, Leahy, Mikulski, Ben Nelson, Jack Reed, Harry Reid, Rockefeller, Sarbanes and Schumer
- Biden voted NAY along with 19 other Democrats, 9 Republicans from Western states, and Rick Santorum
- Fitzgerald voted PRESENT due to conflict of interest
- Corzine and Torricelli did not vote.
9. Senator Durbin's substitute amendment to the Bankruptcy Act of 2001.
Let me review a few of the major differences between the bills and point out why I believe the bill I offer as a substitute is a much more balanced approach, a decision made by 96 of my colleagues and myself when we last voted on this.
The Durbin amendment uses a means test that requires every debtor, regardless of income, who files for chapter 7 bankruptcy to be scrutinize by the U.S. Trustee to determine whether the filing is abusive. We want to stop abusive filings and those who would exploit the bankruptcy court. The bill creates a presumption that a case is abusive if the debtor, the person who owes the debt, is able to pay a fixed percentage of unsecured nonpriority claims or a fixed dollar amount.
...these filers were hopelessly insolvent. They owed more money on debt than they had in collateral and their total income for the entire year. They don't even come close to meeting the standards where they would go through the scrutiny of this bill.
My amendment gives the courts discretion to dismiss or convert a chapter 7 bankruptcy case if the debtor can fund a chapter 13 repayment plan. What it means in simple language is this: If the court takes a look at the person in bankruptcy court and says, ``You can pay back a substantial part of this debt, we are not going to let you off the hook entirely,'' the Durbin amendment says: Yes, the court can reach that decision. And that is an appropriate decision. Everybody should try in good faith to pay their bills.
We have heard a lot about the democratization of credit. On the one hand, it is a good thing; credit should be broadly available. The marketplace should work in a way so everyone who needs credit has access. But the pendulum has swung too far in the wrong direction. According to BAI Global, a market research firm in Tarrytown, NY, in 1999 Americans received 3 billion mailings advertising credit cards. That is more than three times the 900 million mailings in 1992, and those are only the ones that go through the mail. We know there are Internet solicitations and television and radio solicitations and magazine solicitations as well.
Let me tell you a little bit about the college students. At American University here in Washington, DC, every time a student purchases something from the bookstore at American U, he or she gets this bag. At the bottom of this bag are four--not one, but four--credit card solicitations for these students every time they go into the bookstore.
Another college has a phone-in system for registering for class. That sounds pretty convenient. I can remember standing in long lines when I had to register.
But when the students come in, the first thing they hear from the university is a credit card solicitation. There is no avoiding it. If they want to register for class, the first thing they have to find out is whether they need a credit card. That is the most important question.
When I go to a University of Illinois football game, they wave a T-shirt at me: Do you want a free T-shirt? Sure. Well, all you have to do is sign up for a credit card.
Students are signing up. The dean of students tells us the No. 1 reason kids leave school--not because of academic failure--is because they are in over their heads when it comes to credit cards.
That sort of thing is absolutely indefensible. When you consider the fact the median family income for chapter 7 bankruptcy filers has been declining, it tells us that more and more people of limited means are taking out too many credit cards and getting in too far.
This bill that is being offered by the credit industry says several things:
First, if you get in over your head and want to file for bankruptcy, it is going to be tough.
Think about this for a minute.
This is a credit card statement that came to one of the people in my office. As you can see, it is pretty familiar to you. It has a second page with all of the things we read so carefully each month to figure out what the terms of the credit card are.
The concern I have is this whole question of the minimum monthly payment. I said to the credit card companies: When it comes to the minimum monthly payments on these monthly statements, could you be so kind as to say to the people who are being billed, if they make the minimum monthly payment and they don't increase their balance, how many months it will take for them to pay off the balance and how much will they have paid in principal and interest.
I don't think that is an outrageous idea.
This is an example of what it might look like. This says, if you make the minimum monthly payment, it will take you 8
months to pay off your current balance, and the total cost to you will be approximately $9,407 instead of the remainder of $5,435.
Do you know what the credit card companies told me when I suggested they put this information on the monthly statement? ``Impossible.'' It is impossible for us to calculate if they made the minimum monthly payment how long it would take them to pay the principal and interest.
You know better and I know better. The technology and the computers are such that they can provide this in an instant. But they do not want people to know this. Make the minimum monthly payment, and things are going to be just fine. When you get in too far, why don't you ``consolidate your debt'' and get another credit card, and pretty soon you are in over your head.
Pretty soon, if this bankruptcy bill passes, they will find when they walk into bankruptcy court they will be stuck with these debts. They cannot get away from them.
This is the greatest boon to the credit industry that has ever been passed by the Senate. And we are about to do it today, if we don't adopt the Durbin amendment.
On adoption of the Durbin amendment
- Biden voted YEA, along with every Republican, Baucus, Bayh, Bingaman, Breaux, Carnahan, Carper, Cleland, Graham, Johnson,Lieberman, Miller, Ben Nelson, Stabenow and Torricelli
- Dodd, Clinton and Edwards voted NAY along with 32 other Democrats
- Fitzgerald voted PRESENT due to conflict of interest
- Inouye did not vote.
10. Motion to invoke cloture on the Bankruptcy Act of 2001
Paul Wellstone had this to say about the act (he was the leading Senate crusader against the attempts to pass Bankruptcy Acts of 2001 and before; I'll be quoting him a lot).
First of all, I think this piece of legislation is--I know it sounds strong. I hate to say it because I like my colleague from Utah so much. It has nothing to do with a dislike or a like. It has to do with policy issue. I think it will have a very harsh effect on a whole lot of people and a whole lot of families who are not able to file chapter 7, for whom the bankruptcy law has been a major safety net--not just low-income families but middle-income families as well.
- Senator Edwards and Biden voted YEA, along with every Republican, Akaka, Baucus, Bayh, Bingaman, Breaux, Byrd, Cantwell, Carnahan, Carper, Cleland, Conrad, Daschle, Dorgan, Feinstein, Graham, Hollings, Inouye, Johnson, Kohl, Lieberman, Lincoln, Mikulski, Miller, Ben Nelson, Harry Reid, Rockefeller, Stabenow, and Torricelli.
- Senator Clinton and Dodd voted NAY, along with Boxer, Corzine, Dayton, Durbin, Feingold, Harkin, Kennedy, Kerry, Landrieu, Leahy, Levin, Bill Nelson, Reed, Sarbanes, Schumer, Wellstone and Wyden.
11. Paul Wellstone amendment "To change the relevant time period in determining current monthly income."
Mr. President, amendment No. 70 would fix the means test so it only looks at present and future income, not an average of the past 6 months. This is a really important amendment and I am interested in a vote. The means test in the bill determines a debtor's ability to pay a certain threshold amount of debt by averaging the debtor's last 6 months of income. This may be a very poor snapshot of a debtor's circumstances, especially if the debtor's income has gone down shortly before the filing due to a job loss or disability. This will have the effect of inappropriately forcing some debtors into chapter 13 repayment plans which they will never be able to complete.
This means test is unfair. It does not really look at the debtor's current income in determining ability to repay debt. It is abusive to workers who file shortly after losing well-paying jobs, particularly given the current weakness in the manufacturing sector of our economy.
- Senator Clinton and Dodd voted YEA, along with Akaka, Boxer, Carnahan, Corzine, Dayton, Durbin, Feingold, Feinstein, Harkin, Inouye, Kennedy, Kerry, Leavhy, Levin, Murray, Bill Nelson, Rockefeller, Sarbanes and Wellstone.
- Senator Edwards and Biden voted NAY.
12. Wellstone amendment to strike the 5-year waiting period for a new Chapter 13 filing.
Amendment No. 71 strikes the 5-year waiting period for a new chapter 13 filing. When people file a chapter 13 case, by definition they are paying all they can afford. There is no disagreement about that on the floor. That is supposed to be the reason this bill puts more people into chapter 13. So why does this bill prevent debtors from filing another chapter 13 case for 5 years, even if those debtors have fulfilled all their obligations in bankruptcy? This change simply adds insult to injury. It is particularly harmful, I maintain, to elderly individuals who might file a chapter 13 case to save their homes. Under this bill, an elderly person might file a chapter 13 case because of medical bills or because a spouse dies, successfully complete chapter 13 and save the home.
But if they have another illness in the next 5 years or they become disabled or lose their income, they will not be able to file for chapter 13. That is ridiculous. That is ridiculous. Again, I point to the harshness of this legislation. Under this bill, chapter 13 filers are not supposed to be abusers. They are supposed to be the good guys.
On adoption of the Wellstone amendment
- Senator Clinton, Edwards and Dodd voted YEA, along with most Democrats and the soon-to-be-independent Jim Jeffords
- Senator Biden voted NAY.
13. Bankruptcy Act of 2001.
Read above for how terrible it was.
On passage of the Bankruptcy Act of 2001,
- Senator Clinton, Biden and Edwards voted YEA, along with 80 other Senators
- Senator Dodd voted NAY, along with Brownback, Corzine, Dayton, Durbin, Feingold, Harkin, Hutchison, Kennedy, Kerry, Bill Nelson, Jack Reed, Rockefeller, Sarbanes and Wellstone
14. Millionaire's Amendment
This amendment by Pete Domenici increases the limit on individual contributions (from $2,300 today to something like $10,000) if one's opponent self-finances more than a certain amount (the contribution limit rises after a certain amount of self-financing, and continues rising as self-financing increases to about $10,000)
- Senator Clinton voted YEA, along with most Republicans, Max Baucus, Barbara Boxer, John Breaux, Carnahan, Cleland, Conrad, Corzine, Durbin, Feingold, Feinstein, Harkin, Hollings, Kerry, Kohl, Landrieu, Levin, Miller, Bill Nelson, Ben Nelson, Sarbanes, Schumer and Torricelli
- Senator Edwards, Biden and Dodd voted NAY along with the rest of the Democrats and three multi-millionaire Republicans (Fred Thompson, Chuck Hagel, and Peter Fitzgerald)
15. Gordon Smith's amendment to prohibit certain campaign contributions while Congress is in session.
Here's what Senator Feingold had to say about this amendment:
Mr. President, it is not pleasant to oppose this amendment.
As has been said by other speakers, this amendment is overly broad in its attempt to prohibit congressional candidates from accepting contributions while the Congress is in session from all the following individuals or entities. It is not just registered lobbyists, as some thought when the amendment was first described. It is much more than that. It is registered lobbyists that are affected, PACs, senior executives, officers, or owners of any organization that employed or retained a registered lobbyist during a calendar year preceding the contribution.
I am afraid this amendment also gives a huge advantage to wealthy incumbents or any incumbents who have a substantial war chest.
Finally, as the Senator from Tennessee has focused on, there is a serious question of the constitutionality of this amendment.
On the motion to table:
- Senator Clinton, Biden and Dodd voted YEA.
- Senator Edwards voted NAY, along with Senator Wyden and the following Republicans: Brownback, Bunning, Burns, Campbell, Collins, Domenici, Ensign, Gregg, Helms, Hutchinson, Hutchison, Inhofe, Lugar, McConnell, Murkowski, Santorum, Sessions, Bob Smith, Gordon Smith, Snowe, Stevens, Thurmond, Warner.
16. Senator Hollings constitutional amendment to overturn Buckley v. Valeo (the money = speech case).
`SECTION 1. Congress shall have power to set reasonable limits on the amount of contributions that may be accepted by, and the amount of expenditures that may be made by, in support of, or in opposition to, a candidate for nomination for election to, or for election to, Federal office.
`SECTION 2. A State shall have power to set reasonable limits on the amount of contributions that may be accepted by, and the amount of expenditures that may be made by, in support of, or in opposition to, a candidate for nomination for election to, or for election to, State or local office.
`SECTION 3. Congress shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation.'.
On the Hollings constitutional amendment,
- Senator Clinton, Biden and Dodd voted YEA, along with a majority of Democrats, Thad Cochran, John McCain, Arlen Specter and Ted Stevens.
- Senator Edwards voted NAY, along with most Republicans Republican, Dan Akaka, Jon Corzine, Russ Feingold, Tim Johnson, Ted Kennedy, Herb Kohl, Pat Leahy, Bill Nelson, Ben Nelson, Bob Torricelli, and Paul Wellstone.
17. Paul Wellstone's amendment regarding eliminating the 527 group loophole for TV ads (this is amazing foresight considering it came 3 years before the Swift Boaters and such)
It has to do with the treatment of sham ads. The purpose of this amendment is simple: It is to ensure that the sham issue ads run by interest groups fall under the same rules and prohibition that the McCain-Feingold legislation rightly imposes on corporations and union shame ads.
I make this appeal to my colleagues: This was in the Shays-Meehan bill. This was in the original McCain-Feingold bill. I know people have had to negotiate and make different political compromises, but from the point of view of policy, what good will it do if we have a prohibition of raising soft money on political parties and a prohibition when it comes to unions and corporations, but then other interest groups and organizations will be able to, using soft money, put ads on television? The money will just shift.
My argument is twofold: No. 1, I do not think it is fair to labor and corporations to say there is a prohibition on raising soft money for these sham issue ads and then not applying that standard to every other kind of group or organization, whether they are left, right, or center.
No. 2, I think we are going to have a proliferation of new stealth groups and organizations, all operating within this loophole, so that soft money will shift from the parties to these sham ads.
There is this huge loophole and all those ads will go into the TV ads.
I say to my colleagues, I would rather point my finger at an opponent or another political party and say, look, your ads are not fair. I might say they are scummy or poisonous. Instead, we will have a proliferation of these stealth sham ads. This is a huge loophole in this bill.
In the original McCain-Feingold, the same rules and prohibitions that apply to corporations and unions apply to all the other interest groups. That is the way it should be. It is not fair to corporations and unions. We know it is a loophole. We know we will be back in a couple years dealing with this problem, and there will be plenty of lawyers who will figure out how to create the organizations and put the money into the sham issue ads.
Senator Clinton voted YEA, Senator Edwards voted NAY (party line was not held on this vote).
Senator Edwards had the folowing to say on this amendment.
I agree with Senator Wellstone, that what he is trying to do makes a great deal of sense in terms of basic equity and fairness. The problem is that 501(c)(4) corporations, at which his amendment is aimed, have not been treated the same by the U.S. Supreme Court as unions and for-profit corporations.
What has been done with Snowe-Jeffords is a very careful effort to make sure the constitutional requirements of Buckley v. Valeo have been met. In fact, they have been met. It is not vague; it establishes a very clear bright-line test so we don't have a vagueness constitutional problem. We also don't have a problem of substantial overbreadth because all of the empirical evidence shows 99 percent of ads that meet the test are, in fact, election campaign ads and constitute electioneering.
Snowe-Jeffords has been very carefully crafted. It is narrow. It specifically meets the requirements of Buckley v. Valeo, the constitutional requirement.
The problem with what Senator Wellstone is attempting to do is there is a U.S. Supreme Court case, the FEC v. The Massachusetts Citizens for Life, that is directly on point, saying that these 501(c)(4)s have a limited constitutional right to engage in electioneering to do campaign ads. There are some limits, but unfortunately if you lump them in with unions and for-profit corporations, you create a very serious constitutional problem because the U.S. Supreme Court has already specifically addressed that issue.
So the reason Senator Feingold and Senator McCain are opposing this amendment is the same reason that I oppose this amendment: It raises very serious constitutional problems. The U.S. Supreme Court, in fact, in 1984 specifically ruled on this question.
Note: Having done further research, John Edwards was incorrect about the Wellstone amendment being unconstitutional.
The law does however, provide an exception for nonprofit corporations, so that they may fund electioneering communications from their general treasuries. The Court upheld both the Snowe-Jeffords Provision and the Wellstone Amendment, ensuring that only nonprofit corporations fulfilling certain requirements (MCFL requirements]) would be permitted to freely sponsor those advertisements. These organizations are still subject to certain disclosure requirements and are prohibited from receiving funds from corporations or labor unions.
On adoption of the Wellstone amendment,
- Clinton and Biden voted YEA
- Dodd and Edwards voted NAY
18. Senator Kerry's amendment regarding public financing of Senate campaigns via matching funds up to $200 (to encourage small donors like most of us by doubling our contribution power) if a Senator agreed to spend no more than 1 million dollars plus an additonal 50 cents for every voter in the state (voluntary and therefore constitutional).
- Senator Clinton, Biden and Dodd voted YEA along with 27 other Democrats.
- Senator Edwards voted NAY.
19. Fred Thompson's amendment to double the limit on individual contributions from $1,000 to $2,000.
U.S. PIRG opposed the amendment, and had the following to say:
During the Senate debate on campaign finance reform, Sen. Thompson (R-TN) offered an amendment to the McCain-Feingold bill that increased the current limit on contributions to candidates running for federal office from $1,000 to $2,000. This only further increases the amounts that candidates can raise from wealthy donors and gives special interests even more influence in determining who runs for office and who wins elections.
On adoption of the Thompson amendment,
- Clinton, Dodd and Edwards voted YEA along with 83 other Senators.
- Biden voted NAY, along with Baucus, Boxer, Conrad, Dorgan, Harkin, Hollings, Johnson, Kerry, Miller, Murray, Reed, Sarbanes, Stabenow, Wellstone and Wyden
20. Senator Harkin's amendment to ensure fair elections by having 2:1 public financing if someone spends more than the specified limit (i.e for every $1 raised over the limit, the opponent would get $2) (see Harkin's remarks below).
The formula is very simple. It is $1 million plus 50 cents times the number of voting-age residents in the State. Every Senator has on his or her desk the chart that shows how much you would be limited in your own State. With that limitation, there is a low of $1.2 million in Wyoming to $12 million in California. My own State of Iowa would be limited to $2.1 million for a Senate campaign. I say to the occupant of the Chair, in Virginia the limit would be $3.6 million. I don't know how much the Senator spent this last campaign, but I know for myself in Iowa, $2.1 million runs a good grassroots campaign as long as your opponent does not spend any more than that. I bet the same is true in Virginia at $3.7 million.
The amendment also says if you have a primary, you can spend 67 percent of your general election limits. If you have a runoff, you can spend 20 percent of the general election limit.
I'd like to stress that this is a voluntary limit. Why would anyone abide by the limit? You abide by the limit because the amendment says if one candidate goes over the voluntary limits by $10,000, then the other person who abided by the limits will begin to get a public financing of 2-1. For every $1 someone would go over the limit, you get $2.
- Senator Clinton, Biden and Dodd voted YEA along with 29 other Democrats
- Senator Edwards voted NAY along with every Republican, Baucus, Breaux, Carnahan, Cleland, Feinstein, Johnson, Kerry, Kohl, Landrieu, Lincoln, Mikulski, Miller, Ben Nelson, Rockefeller, Schumer and Wyden
21. Jeff Bingaman offered an amendment to curb attack ads.
Mr. President, turning to the amendment I have offered, it is a relatively simple amendment. It proposes to accomplish a central goal, and that is to provide candidates for Federal office who are confronted with sham negative issue ads the opportunity to respond to those ads.
The amendment states that if a broadcast station, whether it is a television station or radio station, permits any person or group to broadcast material opposing or attacking a legally qualified candidate for Federal office, then that station, within a reasonable period of time, must provide, at no charge to the candidate who has been attacked, an equal opportunity to respond to those attacks.
This requirement would apply in this same period that is discussed in the legislation pending before us in the so-called Snowe-Jeffords language; that is, 60 days prior to a general election, 30 days prior to a primary election. It is in those two periods of time that the requirements apply.
On the motion to table this amendment:
- Senator Edwards voted YEA along with 21 other Democrats and every Republican
- Senator Clinton, Biden and Dodd voted NAY
22. Senator Jack Reed's amendment to strengthen FEC enforcement
My amendment would specifically strengthen the Federal Election Commission, which is the organization that is charged with enforcing all the laws we have been discussing for the last 2 weeks. Observers have called the FEC ``beleaguered,'' a ``toothless watchdog,'' a ``dithering nanny,'' and a ``lapdog,'' indicating that the state of the FEC is rather moribund because they don't have the resources necessary or some of the tools necessary to do the job of effectively enforcing our campaign finance laws.
All of this effort over these several weeks and several years will amount to very little if we don't give the FEC the resources and tools to effectively enforce our campaign finance laws. If we are serious about reform, we need to be serious about giving the FEC these resources.
- Senator Edwards, Biden and Dodd voted YEA along with 38 other Democrats.
- Senator Clinton voted NAY, along with every Republican, Baucus, Boxer, Feinstein, Ben Nelson, and Bob Torricelli
23. Hollings amendment to provide a quick stimulus to the American people to try to get the economy rolling again.
Mr. President, my appeal now is to all Democratic Senators, all Republican Senators--to the Senate as a body--to heed the distinguished majority leader's admonition to us last evening when he exclaimed: We are fiddling while Rome burns. What we should be doing is taking up a stimulus measure to get the economy moving, not, if you please, worrying about what is going to happen over the 10-year period--not for the elections next year, or education, or housing, or Patients' Bill of Rights, or health care, or any of these other things.
Distinguished members of the Concord Coalition, including the former Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary Rubin, and former Senators Warren Rudman and Sam Nunn, recently wrote an editorial to The Washington Post, ``On Taxes, One Step At A Time,'' saying what we really need:
We believe an immediate fiscal stimulus can be provided independently of the proposed 10-year tax cut.
That is exactly what my amendment is cut out to do. The previous amendment, the Durbin amendment, involves the tax cut. This has nothing to do with the tax cut. It responds to what Rubin and others have been saying, that is, to at least try to get 1 percent of a $10 trillion economy, around $85 billion or $95 billion, to extend to the greatest number of Americans--namely, the 95 million taxpayers and the 25 million payroll workers, some 120 million Americans--a $500 rebate, Senator Domenici, or $1,000.
You ask me where the money is? This is the most money we can utilize for stimulus without touching the Medicare and Social Security trust funds. I would have put in even more, if it was available. The $60 billion the distinguished Senator from New Mexico has in his bill was called, by Steve Forbes, ``an hors d'oeuvre.'' I call it half a haircut. I do not know whether the $85 billion in this particular measure is going to do the trick. I hope so. But we have the best authorities from all walks of economic life, and from the market itself, in agreement.
MIT professor Lester Thurow:
If President Bush were really interested in using taxes to stop the plunge in the economy, he would drop his 10-year tax cut and first go for a large 1-year temporary tax cut, a stimulus package that could be extended for another year if needed.
That is exactly what I have done. I am not involved in the budget arguments so as to divorce it from the politics of tax cuts; rather, get a true stimulus package.
Robert Kuttner, whose column appears in the Boston Globe: First, the tax cut should be smaller, quicker, and directed to people who need it.
The best idea proposed by Harvard's Richard Freeman and the Economic Policy Institute is a one-time dividend of $500 for every woman, man, and child. That would inject a lot of stimulus into the economy right now. The Treasury could send out the checks within a month.
We are all complaining about Alan Greenspan, but we have to do our part here. If you want to accept responsibility for the recession, just vote against this amendment, because this is not involved in the politics, tax, or the budget debate. This is involved in what everyone says--Republicans and Democrats, economists and market experts--that we need right now.
Since it sounds like Bob Kuttner (co-founder of The American Prospect along with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and Paul Starr, who among other things, is a family friend) supports this, I can't really rate it as non-progressive, but it's not clearly progressive either.
On adoption of the Hollings amendment,
- Clinton, Biden and Edwards voted YEA along with 91 other Senators.
- Dodd voted NAY along with Carper, Corzine, Feingold, Graham and Bill Nelson.
24. The initial Senate vote on passage of George W. Bush's proposed budget guidelines (with the tax cuts). The Alliance for Retired Americans [progressive pro-senior citizens group] had the following to say:
The budget resolution was the first step toward the $1.3 trillion tax cut legislation, which was heavily weighted to the wealthiest Americans and corporations. The tax cuts outlined in the budget resolution effectively use up the Social Security and Medicare surpluses and cap vital domestic programs for retirees and older Americans.
On passage of the budget resolution,
- Senator Edwards voted YEA along with every Republican, Baucus, Bayh, Breaux, Carnahan, Carper, Cleland, Feinstein, Johnson, Kohl, Landrieu, Lincoln, Zell Miller, Ben Nelson, and Toricelli
- Senator Clinton, Biden and Dodd voted NAY
25. Senator Tim Hutchinson(R-AR)'s amendment "To liberalize the tax-exempt financing rules for public school construction." (no Democrat explains what's in it, and I don't trust Republicans to provide explanations, so I'll have to leave the explanation at that).
- Senator Edwards, Biden and Dodd voted YEA
- Senator Clinton voted NAY, along with Baucus, Byrd, Chafee, Conrad, Durbin, Feingold, Grassley, Hollings, Inouye, Jeffords, Johnson, Kyl, McCain, Mikulski, and Snowe
26. Dayton amendment to fully fund special education.
This amendment would bring the Federal share of funding for special education up to its long-promised 40 percent level in 2 years.
...schools are blamed, teachers are blamed, and even students are blamed. Yet the failure is ours. The failure is our unwillingness to provide the funding necessary to allow schools to succeed, teachers to succeed, and students to succeed.
Without my amendment, we are saying: Yes, we recognize our responsibility. We intend to finally keep our promise, but we need 6 more years to do so. That is too much procrastination.
The recently passed budget resolution said that Congress can afford huge tax cuts for the very wealthiest Americans.
However, we cannot afford to keep our promises to the schoolchildren of America, especially those who have the greatest needs.
That is just plain wrong.
On adoption of the Dayton amendment,
- Clinton, Edwards and Dodd voted YEA along with 31 other Democrats
- Biden voted NAY
27. Senator Bob Graham's amendment to the Tax-cut bill which would decrease only the lower marginal rates, and leave the higher marginal rates in effect.
So we build upon a concept that is in the President's budget or the President's tax bill, and that is the addition of a 10-percent rate. But we alter the President's proposal in two critical regards. First, his 10-percent rate doesn't go fully into effect until the year 2006. Ours is fully in effect as of January 2001.
Second, his 10-percent rate covers the first $6,000 of taxable income for a single person; $12,000 for a married couple. We would increase those numbers to $9,500 for a single American, and $19,000 for a family.
- Senator Clinton, Biden and Dodd voted YEA along with 34 other Democrats.
- Senator Edwards voted NAY along with every Republican, Baucus, Bayh, Breaux, Carnahan, Carper, Cleland, Durbin, Feinstein, Harkin, Kohl, Landrieu, Lincoln, Zell Miller and Ben Nelson.
28. Senator Graham's amendment "To provide a reduction in State estate tax revenues in proportion to the reduction in Federal estate tax revenues"
The estate tax is a shared source of income. The States get approximately 20 percent of the estate tax which is collected at the Federal level; 80 percent stays in the National Treasury. What President Bush had suggested was that there be an equal phase-out of the State share and of the Federal share. That is not what is in the bill before us tonight, unfortunately.
What we have before us tonight is a bill which would say that beginning January 1, 2002, just a little more than 7 months from now, the State share would be cut in half. Then it says that there will be gradual further reductions and then January 1, 2005, the State share would be zero.
- Senator Clinton, Biden and Dodd, 35 Democrats and Craig Thomas voted YEA.
- Senator Edwards voted NAY along with every other Republican, Baucus, Bayh, Breaux, Carnahan, Cleland, Feingold, Landrieu, Lincoln, Zell Miller, Ben Nelson, and Wyden.
29. Senator Dodd's amendment "To limit the reduction in the 39.6% rate to 38% and to replace the estate tax repeal with increases in the unified credit and the family-owned business exclusion so that the savings may be used for Federal debt reduction and improvements to the Nation's nontransportation infrastructure." (This was one of many Democratic amendments to make the tax cuts smaller).
- Senator Clinton, Dodd, Biden, 34 Democrats, Chafee and Jeffords voted YEA.
- Senator Edwards voted NAY along with every other Republican, Baucus, Bayh, Breaux, Carnahan, Cleland, Landrieu, Lincoln, Zell Miller, Bill Nelson, Ben Nelson, Torricelli and Wyden.
30. Senator Feingold's motion to recommit the tax cut bill to the Finance Committee with instructions to
spread the estate tax relief in this bill more broadly. My motion would instruct the Finance Committee to strike all the estate tax rate reductions in the bill and use the savings to expand the amounts of the estate tax unified credit exemption amounts. Thus under my motion, more relatively smaller estates would be exempted from taxation altogether. I have been told that elimination of the rate reductions would allow the unified credit exemption to increase to $5 million, or $10 million a couple.
- Senator Clinton, Biden, Dodd and 28 other Democrats voted YEA.
- Senator Edwards voted NAY along with every Republican, Baucus, Bayh, Breaux, Carper, Cleland, Feinstein, Johnson, Kerry, Landrieu, Leahy, Lincoln, Mikulski, Zell Miller, Bill Nelson, Ben Nelson, Schumer, Torricelli, and Wyden.
31. Senator Lincoln's amendment to the tax-cut bill to eliminate provisions allowing tax-free withdrawals from Education Savings Accounts to pay for private and religious school tuition
The NEA supported this amendment, and said the following:
NEA supported an amendment by Senator Lincoln (D-AR) to the Senate tax bill (S. 896) to eliminate provisions allowing tax-free withdrawals from Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) for private and religious school tuition. The amendment would have created a level playing field by permitting use of ESA funds for services, such as tutoring and computers, that are available to all students.
On adoption of the Lincoln amendment,
- Clinton, Dodd and Edwards voted YEA along with 36 other Dems, Chafee and Jeffords.
- Biden voted NAY
32. Corzine motion to recommit the tax-cut legislation to the Finance committee with the following instructions: "an amendment that eliminates income tax reductions for taxpayers with annual incomes greater than $500,000 and reserves all resulting savings to provide a tax credit to help families afford the costs of long-term health care."
As my colleagues just heard, this motion would commit the bill to the Finance Committee and direct it to report back promptly with an amendment that eliminates an income tax for those earning more than $500,000 a year, and use those savings to establish a tax credit to help families afford the cost of long-term care.
Before I explain the need for my motion, let me first commend Senators GRASSLEY and GRAHAM of Florida, who have provided true leadership on a critical issue for seniors across America, the issue of long-term care.
This motion does not require adoption of their specific approach, though I am proud to support their bill which would provide a $3,000 tax credit for long-term care expenses.
Now is the time to address America's long-term health care needs, before we approve one of the largest, and I believe one of the most inequitable, tax cuts that we could bring before the country, a tax cut that would undermine the largest surplus ever and prevent us from meeting critical health care needs, particularly for our seniors.
Over 12 million seniors and disabled Americans need long-term care, and as many as twice that number may need it as the population ages, as the baby boomers retire. Families who are primary caregivers pay a tremendous price for this care. I believe no one should have to go bankrupt or stress their budgets to afford long-term care and no family should bear the burden alone.
Long-term care should not be just a privilege for the wealthy. A tax credit, as I propose, would provide much needed relief to the families who provide long-term care for their loved ones. It is to ensure a better and fairer use of the surplus than a rate cut targeted for the very wealthiest Americans.
This is not about class warfare. This is about providing relief for our elderly and for the overburdened families who care for them.
I hope my colleagues will agree that we should not provide a windfall for those earning more than $ 1/2 million a year while ignoring the very real needs of so many families and the loved ones for whom they struggle.
On the motion to waive the Congressional Budget Act with respect to Corzine's motion to recommit
- Clinton, Dodd and Edwards voted YEA, along with 40 other Democrats
- Biden voted NAY, along with every Republican, Baucus, Bingaman, Breaux, Carper, Miller and Ben Nelson
Confirmation of Viet D. Dinh to be Assistant Attorney General
Hillary Clinton cast a lone protest vote against him because of his involvement in the Arkansas Project.
34. Confirmation of Michael Chertoff to be an Assistant Attorney General.
Senator Clinton cast a lone protest vote against him because of his involvement in the Arkansas Project
35. Senator Wellstone's amendment to the No Child Left Behind Act to prevent it from being an unfunded mandate.
This was so important what Senator Dodd did, so important what Senator Collins did, so important that 79 Senators voted for it, but really what makes a difference is if we go on record and make it crystal clear that unless we live up to what we already voted for and provide the money--this would be $24 billion plus in the year 2005--then in Rhode Island or Minnesota or other States, schools can say: You didn't provide the money you said you were going to provide. You didn't provide the resources you said you were going to provide. We choose not to do the testing.
- Senator Clinton voted YEA along with 20 other Democrats,
- Senator Edwards voted NAY.
36. Hollings amendment to permit states to waive the testing requirements.
Mr. President, following the debate here for the last 7 weeks, one would think the public school system of this Nation is in terrible, terrible disrepair. In fact, you'd think it should be closed down, a good bit of it. That is the thrust of the so-called testing approach given here, whereby for $7 billion over a 7-year period, all who have not done so will do so immediately. In other words, third to eighth grade pupils will be tested and then found inadequate and the trustees found unresponsive. Thereby, what we have is a closing down of the public school system.
So we are going to show them from Washington. It is all out of whole cloth. The fact is, at the Federal level, we only provide some 7 cents of every education dollar. So we are not closing down the schools. And we ought to understand, at the outset, the public school system is one of the geniuses of the Founding Fathers.
The reason I start in this vein, to make these quotes, is because I have observed the 20-year effort to close down public schools: put in tuition tax credits, put in vouchers, put in charter schools--anything but give to the public schools and the pupils of America what they need.
Thank heavens for the wonderful Senator from Minnesota, Senator PAUL WELLSTONE. I had not been in on the early parts of this 7-week debate. But watching his zeal, his brilliance, and the way he has approached this particular problem, he has really been an education to all of us in the Senate.
Then we hear Senator after Senator saying curriculum, and the other one is class size. The other one is better teacher pay. The other one is more reading after school, and on down the list of particular needs. But this Washington, one-size-fits-all, unfunded mandate says do as we say do, and go through our $7 billion exercise in futility. And come up with what? Let's assume it works. Let's assume that 30 or 40 schools in my State are closed. You can't go from one county to the other. You can't just waltz from Allendale over to Hampton. You would have to change the laws in South Carolina. We act like we know what is going on. We are the ones who do not know what is going on. We are the ones who ought to be tested. Come on.
Then, of all things, as the distinguished Senator from Minnesota has been going over and over again, we have given them the test without giving them the course.
Sure, I believe in testing. We all believe in testing. But give them the course, and test them on the course. But if you give them the women, infants, and children nutritional program, they would come into this world with strong minds. If you do not give them Head Start, which is only 30 percent covered right now, they aren't prepared to learn when they enter school. If you do not give them Title I for the disadvantaged--which we only fund at 33 percent of its authorized level--they haven't had the course. If you do not give them a prepared teacher, they don't receive quality instruction. I have had tutors go into some of the schools, and say they were rather embarrassed because the teacher spoke English poorly.
So the student hasn't had the course. But in Washington, we know what to do. We are going to mandate as much as $7 billion in standardized tests before they have had the course. Can't we spend $7 billion giving them the course, giving them good teachers, giving them the small classrooms, curriculum, remedial reading and math, afterschool programs, and give them a good building?
On adoption of the Hollings amenmdent,
- Dodd voted YEA along with Akaka, Boxer, Cantwell, Corzine, Daschle, Dayton, Durbin, Feingold, Harkin, Hollings, Inouye, Leahy, Levin, Murray, Ben Nelson, Jack Reed, Harry Reid, Sarbanes, Stevens and Wellstone.
- Clinton, Biden and Edwards voted NAY
37. Kennedy/Harkin amendment as alternative to the Sessions amendment on discipline in schools to not treat disabled kids as harshly.
Harkin on the problems with the Sessions amendment:
Mr. President, I looked at this amendment, and all I can say is here we go again. How many times do we have to go down this road of saying that the disciplinary problems in our schools are because of kids with disabilities, and if we only can get ahold of those kids with disabilities and do something about them, then we can straighten out the discipline problem in our schools?
We have been down this road many times before. Fortunately, this body has recognized the importance of IDEA's protections in the past, and I hope we will do so again.
We as a nation decided sometime ago that segregation was wrong. I am not talking about segregation of races. We decided that a long time ago. That was wrong. I am talking about the segregation of people with disabilities from our society. We as a country said it was wrong to take kids from their families and send them halfway across the State to some alternative setting, when they could have had a decent, adequate education right in their own community, in their own school district, in their own neighborhood, if they were just given some appropriate support.
The reason I feel so deeply about this is that it is very personal to me. My brother was sent away halfway across the State from our small hometown when he was a kid because he was deaf. He was put in an institution to get his education--segregated from society, from his family, from his friends, from the town in which he grew up.
Do we want to turn the clock back? Do we want to go back to those days when we took those kids out of that setting and put them in a separate setting and said: No, you can't be in a classroom with other kids.
I do not mean to overblow this amendment, but that is exactly what this amendment will do. This amendment, in section 2(A), says:
A child with a disability who is removed from the child's regular educational placement under paragraph (1) shall receive a free appropriate public education which may be provided in an alternative education setting if the behavior that led to the child's removal is a manifestation of the child's disability as determined under subparagraphs--
And so on.
What that says is that a child with disabilities can be removed. Yes; schools must continue to give him a free appropriate public education--but in an alternative education setting. I read that to mean a segregated setting, someplace across town, someplace where they segregate kids with disabilities.
Under current law, you have to provide a free appropriate public education but before you remove a child you have to consider certain factors, including whether the behavior was a result of their disability. This would turn the clock back to days when schools could segregate.
You say: What if that kid acted up and harmed someone? Don't you want him removed, put in a setting where they cannot harm someone? Yes, I want safety in the classroom, too, but think about this before you vote on this. This is an example I will tell you that occurs every single day in classrooms all over America with kids with disabilities.
I will use a young deaf kid again because I am so familiar with that. A young deaf kid is in a classroom. They are using a TV monitor to show some educational programs. The classroom teacher inadvertently or advertently did not provide for captioning or the school did not provide for the captioning. The student who is deaf cannot understand what is going on.
This may go on for a couple of days until finally the kid who is deaf starts acting up. He may reach over and hit the kid next to him, may grab the kid next to him, may throw something. So a school takes that kid out of the classroom.
Under the Sessions amendment, there is no inquiry as to whether or not the kid was provided the adequate appropriate supportive services. Instead, this deaf child could be segregated based on the fact that the school failed to provide appropriate services.
Under present law, there would be a due process hearing as to why that kid acted up. They might bring in a counselor and a deaf interpreter. Maybe the kid will say: I am mad because I can't understand what is going on.
The Sessions amendment says: We don't care; get him out of here.
It seems to be cost is no objection when they want to segregate kids and put them in an institution. We don't care what it costs. But in order to provide the kind of supportive services they may need in an integrated classroom, why, well, that costs too much money.
It does not cost too much money. It can cost more to segregate those kids than to provide the services they need to help them.
I know people get disturbed. They hear about all the discipline problems in our classrooms, and I am not saying there are not discipline problems. But I have sat in this Senate Chamber, and I have heard Senator after Senator in the past talk about the gun incidents at Columbine, San Diego, Pennsylvania--and then they talk about discipline, and it always comes down to kids with disabilities.
I challenge them or anybody else to show me one of those violent instances where a child under an IEP, an Individualized Education Program, a kid with a disability was involved.
Why is it when we have shootings, we have guns, and we have things that happen in the schools, the first thing that comes on the floor of the Senate is to beat up on the kids with disabilities? The discipline amendments don't go after kids without disabilities; they always go after kids with disabilities. I ask: Why? Why? They are the most vulnerable in our society.
The Sessions amendment says to parents with kids with disabilities, tough luck, you are out of the picture. We will take those kids and kick them out and segregate them and you don't have anything to say about it.
Why are we picking on the kids with disabilities? Honest to God, I just don't understand this.
IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, allows schools to remove those kids. A GAO report released in January concluded that special education students who are involved in serious misconduct are being disciplined in generally a similar manner to regular education students based on information that principals reported to us in our review of the limited extant research. That means IDEA is not limiting a school's ability to discipline children with disabilities.
Again, what does the Sessions amendment do? I repeat, under the guise of discipline, it allows us to resegregate these kids, to turn back the clock. The second thing it does is allow schools to cease services to these kids. Section C allows the children not only to be taken out but to cease services.
A kid with a disability needs services, needs support; a kid can be not only segregated but have services cease. That is adding insult to injury. What are you going to do, throw them out on the street? Think about a kid with a serious disability, who is already frustrated by their disability. And now you will stop the services and throw them out on the street? Talk about a timebomb waiting to happen.
The one thing we have always mandated under discipline procedures for kids with disabilities is you have to keep the services going to these kids. Nobody is going to throw them out on the streets. But the Sessions amendment allows services to cease.
The Sessions amendment also creates a program that allows parents to take money from the public schools to go into private schools. Under the amendment, the local educational agency could wash its hands of responsibility for that child. Again, the Federal dollars end up in private schools without any accountability as to how those dollars get spent. The local educational agency washes its hands.
We have been down this road before. If I had a dollar for every iteration of this amendment we have had on this floor in 20 years, I would be a rich man. They always say, ``We will tweak it here and tweak it there,'' but it always comes down to the same two or three things: segregate them out, cut out the services, and let them go out on the streets. It always comes down to that.
I have had my say. I will continue to speak out on this as long as I am on this Senate floor. I don't mean tonight; I mean as long as I am in the Senate. These families with kids with disabilities, a lot of times families are at their wit's end. A lot of times the parents are working. A lot of times it is a single parent. They are working hard, have a kid with a disability who requires a lot of attention, a lot of care, a lot of love, and the last thing they need is to get kicked in the teeth by the Senate. The last thing they need is to have to go out and try to find a lawyer to fight it in court.
I thank the Chair's indulgence, but this is an issue I care very deeply about. There are ways of addressing this issue. This is not the way to do it. Don't go after the most vulnerable kids when it cannot be proven. You cannot show me the data. That is all I ask. Show me the data where it is kids with disabilities who are causing these problems. Show me the data and make me a believer. I have lived with this too long. I have worked on this issue too long. The data is not there. If you can show it to me, I will change my mind.
Harkin on the solutions provided by the amendment:
Mr. President, again I want to make it clear what my amendment does. It basically takes the Sessions amendment, leaves most of it the way it is, but it just says, No. 1, you cannot segregate; you cannot segregate these kids--unless you follow the law. Under the present law, you can segregate kids if they are violent. But before you segregate you have to follow certain processes and procedures.
The second thing my amendment says is you cannot cease services; you cannot stop the services to these kids even if they have been removed from the classroom.
Finally, it deletes the last section that would allow local school districts to hand over federal dollars, without any accountability on how those dollars are being spent.
I think it is a reasonable and a logical approach to this problem, as I have said many times before. I do not mind people who want to have better discipline in the classrooms. I sent two kids through public schools. Yes, I want discipline in the classrooms. I want a well-structured classroom just as the Presiding Officer does for his kids and grandkids, I am sure. But this is not the way to do it. This is not the way to do it.
The way to do it is to do it under the procedures and processes that will ensure the kids with disabilities have the services and the support they need so they will not be segregated ever again in our society.
On adoption of the Kennedy/Harkin amendment,
- Biden and Dodd voted YEA, along with 30 other Democrats, Chafee, Collins, Snowe and Specter
- Clinton and Edwards voted NAY, along with most Republicans, Baucus, Bayh, Bingaman, Breaux, Conrad, Dorgan, Durbin, Feinstein, Graham, Johnson, Landrieu, Lieberman, Lincoln, Miller, Bill Nelson, Schumer and Wyden
38. Bond amendment to the Patient's Bill of Rights Act to let the Secretary of Health and Human Services take the right to sue HMOs away if the GAO finds that it has increased the number of uninsured individuals by more than a million.
Although nearly everybody in the Senate voted for it, the only Democrat to say anything about it was Senator Boxer:
An annual review, as required by the amendment, would be a good thing. It would give us insight into what is working and what may not be.
However, this amendment goes beyond an annual review. If the number of uninsured individuals increases by more than 1 million, the Bond amendment gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to take away a person's right to sue an HMO.
One unelected individual should not have the unilateral power to take away every American's right to hold an HMO accountable for its bad decisions. I am very supportive of efforts to increase the number of people with insurance. I think we need to address that issue. But this amendment does not do that. The problem of the uninsured will not be solved by allowing a single unelected government official to let HMOs off the hook for their actions.
So this was probably a bad amendment, although clearly not too bad.
On adoption of the Bond amendment,
- Clinton, Dodd and Edwards voted YEA, along with 91 other Senators
- Biden voted NAY, along with Boxer, Corzine, Hollings, Voinovich and Wellstone
39. Conrad amendment to establish an off-budget lockbox to protect the Social Security and Medicare trust funds:
So I believe the proper policy here is to give protection to both the Social Security trust fund and the Medicare trust fund, not just the Social Security trust fund, because the truth is Medicare is headed for insolvency even sooner than Social Security.
I believe we ought to save the Social Security surplus and save the Medicare surplus; we ought to provide protection to both. It is critically important that we do so.
The amendment I have offered in the second degree to the amendment of the Senator from Ohio protects the Social Security surpluses in each and every year, takes the Medicare Part A trust fund surplus off budget, just as we have done with Social Security, and gives Medicare, the same protections as Social Security and contains strong enforcement for both. This is an amendment that received 60 votes on the floor of the Senate last year. Sixty Members voted for protecting both Social Security and Medicare. I hope we will do that again.
On the motion to waive the Congressional Budget Act with respect to the Conrad amendment,
- Biden voted YEA, along with 38 Democrats, Tim Hutchinson, Smith and Specter.
- Dodd voted NAY, along with Breaux, Byrd, Feinstein, Inouye, Jeffords, Kohl, Murray and Jack Reed
- Clinton and Edwards did not vote.
40. Feingold amendment to fund HIV/AIDS/malaria programs by cutting funding for the V-22 Osprey Program.
Over the last 2 decades, HIV/AIDS has infected 60 million people, killed more than 20 million people, slashed life expectancies, and has left millions of orphans in its wake. We now know to a certainty the national security reality of the AIDS pandemic. But even after 20 years of research, development, and testing, we still don't know if the V-22 Osprey will work.
This amendment would not endanger the integrity of the Osprey production line, nor would it affect money that has been obligated as of April 2001.
But serious questions and concerns continue to cloud the Osprey program. Thirty Marines have died in Osprey crashes since 1991. Unanswered questions remain regarding the validity of maintenance records and the safety and viability of this aircraft.
The final report of the blue ribbon panel appointed by former Secretary of Defense William Cohen to review the program recommended a ``phased approach'' to proceeding with the Osprey program. The blue ribbon panel concluded that the Osprey ``is not ready for operational use.''
I agree with that conclusion. I also concur with the panel's recommendation that procurement should be reduced to the minimum necessary to maintain the production line until the myriad design and safety problems are addressed and further testing is done to ensure that this aircraft is safe. My amendment does just that.
My amendment would rescind an additional $594 million intended for the Osprey from the Navy's aircraft procurement account. It leaves enough funding in place to maintain the integrity of the production line, and it does not affect the funding that the Navy has obligated for this program as of April 2001.
My amendment would scale back funding on a troubled program that plainly needs a thorough review. And it would increase our response to the world's greatest urgent threat to human life, the AIDS pandemic.
AIDS is a security issue, but it is also unquestionably a moral one. Our response is a measure of our humanity. We are not civilized, we are not just, and we cannot lay claim to common decency, if we simply accept millions of deaths and dismiss them as simply the problem of another continent.
Sadly, we are living in a time of plague. We have an obligation to fight it. History will judge us all.
Peace Action supported the Feingold amendment.
On the motion to table the Feingold amendment
- Clinton, Dodd and Edwards voted YEA, along with 76 other Senators.
- Biden voted NAY, along with Baucus, Boxer, Cantwell, Corzine, Dayton, DeWine, Durbin, Feingold, Feinstein, Jeffords, Kerry, Kohl, Leahy, Murray, Smith, Stabenow, Torricelli, Wellstone and Wyden
41. Motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the House Bankruptcy Act (this act had basically the same problems as the Senate act (see above).
On the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to consideration of the Bankruptcy Act
- Biden, Clinton and Edwards voted YEA
- Dodd voted NAY along with Boxer, Brownback, Corzine, Dayton, Durbin, Feingold, Harkin, Kay Hutchison and Wellstone.
- Fitzgerald voted PRESENT due to conflict of interest
42. Senator Bill Nelson's amendment Purpose: To prohibit the use of funds to execute a final lease agreement for oil and gas development in the area of the Gulf of Mexico known as "Lease Sale 181"." (i.e. prohibit the drilling in that area of the Gulf of Mexico)
The League of Conservation Voters supported this amendment:
On the motion to table:
- Senator Clinton voted YEA along with every Republican, Akaka, Baucus, Breaux, Cantwell, Carper, Clinton, Conrad, Dorgan, Feinstein, Johnson, Landrieu, Lincoln, Miller, Murray, Ben Nelson, Chuck Schumer, and Torricelli.
- Senator Edwards, Biden and Dodd voted NAY.
43. Motion to invoke cloture on the Leahy Bankruptcy Bill substitute. Again, same arguments against it, but I feel the need to quote Wellstone again.
We need to understand that bankruptcy is something most families do not think they will ever need. They do not think they will ever need to file for bankruptcy. But it is really a safety net, not just for low-income families but for middle-income families as well.
Fifty percent of the people who file for bankruptcy in our country today do it because of a medical bill. You have a
double whammy. It is not just the situation where you have the expense of the medical bills but also it may be that, because of the illness or injury, you yourself are not able to work so you are hit both ways, or it might be your child's medical bill, but also you may not be able to bring in the income because you are not able to go to work because you need to be at home taking care of your child. That is 50 percent of the people. We are not talking about deadbeats.
Frankly, most of the rest of the cases can be explained--it should not surprise anybody--by loss of job or divorce. These are the major explanatory variables why people file for bankruptcy, file for chapter 7. The irony of it--and I tried to make this argument last week as well--is that for a long time my colleagues were facing a problem that did not exist; that is to say, they were talking about all the abuse and all the ways in which people were gaming the system in American bankruptcy, but they came out with a record that said that is 3 percent of the debt. So let's come out with legislation that deals with the 3 percent, but let's not have legislation where people who find themselves in terrible economic circumstances no longer are able to rebuild their lives, all because of a small number of people who abuse the system.
Moreover, actually the bankruptcies were going down. So quite to the contrary of the claim we had this rash of bankruptcies and people no longer felt any stigma or shame and people were no longer responsible, none of it really held up very well if you closely examined the arguments.
On the motion to invoke cloture on the Leahy substitute amendment,
- Biden, Clinton and Edwards voted YEA
- Dodd voted NAY along with Boxer, Brownback, Corzine, Dayton, Durbin, Feingold, Harkin, Kay Hutchison and Wellstone.
- Fitzgerald voted PRESENT due to conflict of interest
44. Passage of the Bankruptcy Act with the Leahy substitute.
Again, read through Wellstone's statements to see why it was a bad, bad bill.
On passage of the Bankruptcy Act
- Biden, Clinton and Edwards voted YEA
- Dodd voted NAY along with Boxer, Brownback, Corzine, Dayton, Durbin, Feingold, Harkin, Kay Hutchison and Wellstone.
- Fitzgerald voted PRESENT due to conflict of interest
45. Senator Richard Lugar's amendment to the Agricultural Assistance Bill.
Here's what Kent Conrad had to say about the amendment.
Finally, he said, clearly this legislation, precisely what we are going to be voting on in the Senate, cuts supplemental help to farmers by $1 billion from last year to this year. We are cutting at the time we see a desperate situation in farm country all across America. It does not make sense. It is not what we should do. We ought to reject the amendment by the Senator from Indiana.
The League of Conservation Voters opposed the Lugar amendment,
On the motion to table:
- Senator Clinton, Biden and Dodd addition to every Democrat except Senator Edwards as well as Senator Snowe, voted YEA
- Senator Edwards voted NAY.
46. Wellstone's amendment to increase appropriations for veteran's medical care by $650,000,000.
I thank both the Senator from Maryland and the Senator from Missouri for their fine work on this bill and their fine work on behalf of veterans. I know, and they know, there is not nearly enough funding in medical or housing needs. I propose this amendment to bump up the funding.
I admit to every Senator in the Senate that I was completely naive about this when I was elected. I never thought a large part of my work would end up being veterans work. I didn't think that would be what I would be doing. This all came about because our office is fortunate to have great people: Josh Syrjamaki and Mike Siebenaler are heroes in the veterans community. They come through for people. The better we do for an individual person, the more the word gets around, and other people come for help.
We helped a Vietnam vet. His daughter wrote me a poem about her dad. She said, my dad was fine, and one day he took a shower, he came out of the shower, and he had a complete mental breakdown, posttraumatic stress breakdown. It was a plea for help.
I will not use names because I don't know if families approve. I think Tim Gilmore's family would not mind. Tim was struggling with Agent Orange and still not getting the compensation he needed. If he did not get it and he passed away before receiving it, the family would not get benefits. He was not thinking about himself any longer--he knew he would die--but he didn't know whether his family would get any help.
When helping people such as these, with good people in your office--and I have the best--more and more people come for help. It turns out this has been a lot of the work we do. People fall between the cracks.
Quite frankly, this appropriations bill is way under what we should provide. I will add it up in a moment with concrete numbers. The medical inflation alone, counted at 4 percent a year, gets close to $1 billion. Look at the commitment we made to treat veterans with hepatitis C. Look at the Millennium Program and the commitment we are supposed to be making to an ever-aging veterans community and the kind of help we will give them, or we say we will give them, and look at the whole scandal of the number of homeless veterans. I venture to say probably a third of adult men who are homeless in this country are veterans, many of them Vietnam veterans, many of them struggling with mental health issues, with substance abuse issues. Look at the commitment we are supposed to be making toward expanding mental health services, and look at the long delays it takes for people to get the care they are supposed to receive from our VA medical system because we do not have the systems in place or we do not have enough of the personnel, and then look at the crisis in nursing. This is no way to say thank you to veterans.
This amendment has the support of the Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the VFW; the American Legion supports this amendment. A lot of the American service organizations support this amendment for good reason.
On the motion to waive the CBA on the Wellstone amendment,
- Dodd voted YEA, along with Bingaman, Boxer, Carnahan, Cleland, Collins, Dayton, Durbin, Grassley, Harkin, Hutchinson, Jeffords, Johnson, Kennedy, Landrieu, McCain, Bill Nelson, Harry Reid, Rockefeller, Bob Smith, Snowe, Specter, Stabenow, Warner and Wellstone
- Clinton, Biden and Edwards voted NAY
47. Kyl' s amendment to "specify the manner of allocation of funds made available for grants for the construction of wastewater and water treatment facilities and groundwater protection infrastructure."
This seems to be another one of those "Who can get the most funding for their state" amendments, so I'm not ranking it. It also sounds like this was being done outside the scope of Jim Jeffords' Committee, and so there was kind of a power struggle too.
On the motion to table the Kyl amendment:
- Clinton, Dodd and Edwards voted YEA
- Biden voted NAY
48. Senator Schumer's amendment to reinstate Buyback America
I rise to introduce an amendment to restore a valuable initiative to reduce gun violence in the Nation's public housing authorities. The amendment sets aside $15 million of the $300 million that we allocate to the public housing drug elimination program for BuyBack America, a gun buyback program to eradicate violence in our Nation's public housing authorities. BuyBack America was introduced by the Department of HUD in November, 1999. In the first year alone, it helped local police departments in 80 cities take 20,000 guns off our streets. Guns were bought back for around $50. The guns were taken in and then destroyed.
On the motion to table:
- Senator Edwards voted YEA along with Russ Feingold, Jim Jeffords, Pat Leahy, every Democratic Senator from a state Gore lost fair and square except Daschle, Hollings and Landrieu, and nearly every Republican
- Senator Clinton, Biden and Dodd voted NAY along with the rest of the Democrats and Peter Fitzgerald
49. Bob Smith and Tom Harkin's amendment to ensure a day in court for American POWs who were used as slave labor in World War II.
On March 11, 1942, Gen. Douglas MacArthur reluctantly left behind thousands of American troops in the Philippines. Arriving in Melbourne, Australia, he pledged, of course, those famous words: ``I shall return.''
General MacArthur did return. He liberated the Philippines and rolled back the forces of imperial Japan. Sadly, MacArthur was too late for the hundreds who had died in the infamous Bataan Death March. In that 3-day forced march, American troops were denied food and water, beaten and bayoneted if they fell to the ground. As many as 700 Americans lost their lives in those 3 days.
It also was too late for the thousands who lost their lives on the so-called hell ships that transported surviving POWs to Japan and Japanese-occupied territories. Packed into cargo holds, American POWs struggled for air, as temperatures reached 125 degrees. Almost 4,000 American servicemen would lose their lives just on these journeys in these cargo ships.
Those who survived Bataan and the hell ships would find little rest as Japanese POWs. For more than 3 years, they would serve as slave labor for private Japanese companies, the same companies whose names we revere today and whose products we buy daily, weekly, and monthly in the United States: Matsui, Mitsubishi, Nippon, and others.
Throughout the war, Americans worked in the mines of these companies, their factories, their shipyards, their steel mills. They labored every day for 10 hours or more a day in dangerous working conditions. Some of those who went into the mines were sent into the mines because it was too dangerous for Japanese to work in them. So they sent the American POWs into the coal mines to dig the coal. They were beaten on a regular basis.
Although she could not attend the meeting I held, Margaret Baker of Oelwin, IA, wrote me a letter in June about her late husband Charles Baker. Charles Baker, who was an Army private, survived the Bataan Death March before he was sent to work in the mines in Japan for 3 years. He died at age 54 in 1973. In her letter she wrote:
He suffered many injuries and hunger on the Death March during his imprisonment. We feel that his early death was caused by the suffering that he endured while working long hours in the mines, without food, rest and clothing.
I speak for this amendment and support it on behalf of these veterans and their families. These men and 700 of their fellow prisoners of war and their families are now seeking long delayed justice. They have gone to court to ask for compensation from the Japanese companies that used them as slave laborers during the war.
They deserve their day in court. Yet as the Senator from New Hampshire has pointed out, our own State Department has come down on the side of the Japanese companies, not our POWs. The State Department has taken the view that the peace treaty signed in 1951 prohibits reparations from private Japanese companies for survivors such as Frank Cardamon or Gene Henderson. In fact, State Department officials have submitted statements to the Court in support of the view of the Japanese companies. I do not think that is right. I do not think it is fair. That is why I am a cosponsor of Senator SMITH's amendment that would stop the State Department and the Department of Justice from using taxpayer dollars to defend the interests of these Japanese companies.
These men courageously served our country. They endured unspeakable, wretched conditions as slave laborers for these Japanese companies. MacArthur was forced to leave them behind in 1942. In 2001, let us not leave them behind one more time. Let us give them their day in court.
On the motion to table the Smith amendment
- Dodd and Biden voted YEA along with a mixture of Senators [see the roll call]
- Clinton voted NAY along with a mixture of Senators
- Edwards announced NAY, but was unable to make the vote
50. Bunning amendment to strike the base closures round provision from the Defense bill.
Senator Jack Reed:
Mr. President, I rise to support the language in this legislation that would authorize another round of base closings. I do so, as we all do, knowing full well there are perhaps facilities in my home State that might be considered. I am confident and hopeful that, because of their critical role, they will continue to be vital parts of the Department of Defense. But every Senator is a bit nervous when we authorize a round of base closings.
Simply stated, we have too many facilities. We have a cold-war base structure. We have a post-cold-war Department of Defense. We have to reconcile the two.
I associate myself with the comments of the Senator from Arizona. The bottom line here, the effect that is most obvious from too many bases, is the deteriorating quality of life of the troops who serve in our Armed Forces.
I spent 12 years in the U.S. Army, from 1967 to 1979. There were facilities back then, in the 1970s, which the Army desired to close. Some are still open. There were facilities back then that were inadequate or barely adequate. They remain on the books of the Army.
Base closure is just common sense. When you have the demands of training, operational readiness, integrating new equipment, and then family housing, troop housing, and community facilities on Army posts and Navy bases or an Air Force base, something has to give. What typically gives are those quality-of-life items: The community center, the child care center, the library, family housing, and troop housing.
That is multiplied and amplified when you have just too many bases.
When you go away from those major division posts, such as Fort Bragg, Fort Campbell, and other posts around the country and go out to other posts that do not have quite that high of a priority, the crisis is even more severe. It is then manifested, as Senator McCain indicated, in retention problems and in recruiting problems. It is manifested in quality of life which is not commensurate with the sacrifices these young men and women make for their country and will make even more dramatically in the days ahead.
The DOD estimates that we are maintaining 23-percent excess capacity of infrastructure. That is obvious because after the end of the cold war we reduced our force structure 36 percent.
There are those arguing based upon the tragic and horrific events of September 11 that we need to keep these bases open. Some of those bases were built at the beginning of the First World War. But substantially the infrastructure was built in the Second World War when we were fighting huge national armies in two theaters. We were drafting hundreds of thousands of men. We were training them. We were preparing to conduct operations with armies and corps.
The operation we face going forward will involve our military forces but most likely special operations troops--specially tailored brigades of Army and Marines. We will not be engaged, mercifully, thankfully in a tank-to-tank army battle with hundreds of thousands of troops on each side. We don't have that force structure today. But we have that infrastructure today.
If we want to be efficient and effective, we have to reconcile our infrastructure with our force structure. We are not going to fight World War II again--I hope. We are not going to fight the cold war again--I hope. But we have serious threats before us. Those threats require a faster, leaner military. Part of that efficient, leaner military is allowing the services to make judicial judgments about what real estate they need.
This was basically a vote of pork vs. military effectiveness, and the ADA and Peace Action both opposed the Bunning amendment.
Ideology wasn't really much of a factor in this vote (32 Dems yea, 19 NAY; 21 Republicans YEA, 28 NAY). State was probably the biggest factor, with 38 state delegations voting the same way, including 11 of the 13 states with one Republican Senator and one Democratic Senator)
On the motion to table the Bunning amendment,
- Dodd and Biden voted YEA, along with 32 Democrats and 21 Republicans
- Clinton and Edwards voted NAY, along with 21 Democrats and 28 Republicans.
51. Feingold amendment to the Patriot Act to "modify the provisions relating to access to business records under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978."
Mr. President, this amendment has to do with section 215 in the bill. It allows the Government, under FISA, to compel businesses to turn over records to assist in an investigation of terrorism or espionage. The provision makes two significant changes from current law. Under current law, the FBI can seek records from only a limited set of businesses--from public accommodations, such as hotels and motels, car rental companies, storage facilities, and travel records, such as those from airlines.
Current law also requires the FBI to demonstrate to the FISA court that the records pertain to an agent of a foreign power. The FBI cannot go on a fishing expedition of records of citizens of this country who might have had incidental contact with a target of an investigation. But under section 215 of this bill, all business records can be compelled to be produced, including those containing sensitive personal information such as medical records from hospitals or doctors, or educational records, or records of what books someone has taken out of the library.
This is an enormous expansion of authority, compounded by the elimination of the requirement that the records have to pertain to an agent of a foreign power. Under this provision, the Government can apparently go on a fishing expedition and collect information on anyone--perhaps someone who has worked with, or lived next door to, or has been seen in the company of, or went to school with, or whose phone number was called by the target of an investigation.
My amendment does not completely strike the provision. There are elements of it that I think have legitimacy. First, my amendment maintains the requirement that the records pertain to a target alleged to be an agent of a foreign power. This provides some protection for American citizens who might otherwise become the subject of investigations for having some innocent contact with a suspected terrorist.
Second, while the amendment maintains the expansion of the FISA authority to all business records, it also requires the FBI to comply with State and Federal laws that contain a higher standard for the disclosure of certain private information. The amendment makes it clear that existing Federal and State statutory protections for the privacy of certain information are not diminished or superseded by section 215.
There are certain categories of records, such as medical records or educational records, that Congress and State legislatures have deemed worthy of a higher level of privacy protection.
On the motion to table the Feingold amendment,
- Clinton, Biden and Edwards voted YEA along with nearly every other Senator
- Dodd voted NAY, along with Cantwell, Corzine, Dayton, Harkin, Levin and Wellstone
52. Senator Graham's amendment on Project Colombia. Here's what Paul Wellstone had to say about the amendment.
First of all, the Senator from Florida is about as committed to this region of the world, and to the country of Colombia, as anybody in the Senate. I understand that. This is just a respectful difference of opinion we have.
The two members of the Colombian Congress my colleague spoke about were killed by paramilitaries, the AUC, not by the FARC or ELN, the guerrillas. Although I agree that the FARC and ELN are terrorist organizations and should be listed as such, so is the AUC, which is now listed as a terrorist organization. I will go into this in a moment because I think it is an important point.
There are reasons we do not want to put an additional $71 million into this package without much more accountability when it comes to human rights and who is committing the violence.
I also want to point out that of the money we are talking about, the $71 million, a lot of that money in this package goes to disaster relief, goes to refugees, goes to combating HIV/AIDS, goes to public health, goes to education. I think we are probably a lot better off in a foreign operations bill with these priorities than we are putting an additional $71 million into this package.
I also have, which I think is very relevant to this debate, an EFE News, Spain piece, the headline of which is ``Colombian Paramilitaries Kidnap 70 Farmers to Pick Coca Leaves.''
The truth is, the FARC and ELN, these are not Robin Hood organizations; they are into narcotrafficking up to their eyeballs. But so is the AUC and the paramilitary.
The problem is this effort, Plan Colombia, has been all too one-sided. If it was truly counternarcotics, we would see just as much effort by the Government and by the military focused on the AUC and their involvement in drug trafficking as we see vis-a-vis ELN and FARC. But we don't see that.
Peace Action opposed this amendment.
On the motion to waive the Graham amendment,
- Senator Clinton, Biden and Dodd voted YEA along with 26 other Senators (mostly Western Republicans as well as both Democrats from CT and both Democrats from the 3 most heavily Latino East Coast states [NJ, NY, FL]).
- Senator Edwards voted NAY.
53. Ben Nelson's amendment to weaken Tom Harkin's amendment regarding food safety to the Agriculture Bill.
Public Citizen opposed the amendment, and said the following.
Harkin's amendment would have strengthened the Department of Agriculture's ability to enforce standards to reduce dangerous bacteria and viruses in meat and poultry. Tabling the Nelson amendment would have cleared the way for a vote on the Harkin amendment.
On the motion to table the Nelson amendment
- Clinton, Dodd and Edwards voted YEA, along with most Democrats, Chafee, Grassley, Specter and Fitzgerald
- Biden voted NAY along with most Republicans, Bayh, Breaux, Carper, Cleland, Landrieu, Lincoln, Miller, Ben Nelson and Stabenow
54. Landrieu amendment to distribute education funds more equitably
Clarification: This vote was basically a "get my state its 'fair share'" (i.e. get my state as much federal funding as I possibly can) vote. It changed the funding levels as decided in committee to go down in several states and up in other states (Louisiana, for instance, got a 5% increase). New York got a 2% decrease, one of the biggest decreases. Senator Clinton voted NAY, along with Schumer, both Senators from CA, MO, KS, AZ, AK, and VA [all of which had significant decreases], as well as Jesse Helms, Don Nickles, Strom Thurmond, Tim Hutchinson, and Peter Fitzgerald. Oddly, even though North Carolina got a 1% decrease, Senator Edwards voted YEA. Biden and Dodd also voted YEA.
55. Appropriations bill for Treasury, Executive office of the President, and other independent agencies
- Senator Clinton, Dodd and Biden voted YEA
- Senator Edwards voted NAY, along with Allard, Baucus, Bayh, Brownback, Bunning, Collins, Ensign, Feingold, Helms, Hutchinson, Roberts, Bob Smith, Gordon Smith and Olympia Snowe
56. Mike Enzi's amendment doesn't have a clear progressive position (it's about the Internet and sales taxes), so I'm going to quote Senator Dorgan and Senator Boxer, who were on opposite sides of this debate (Senator Dorgan has been a strong fighter for net neutrality; Boxer's overall progressive credentials are very nearly as good as Wellstone's)
We have two problems. One of the problems is that more and more sales in this country now are being conducted by remote sellers--Internet, catalog, and so on
They compete against a remote seller who makes a sale but does not charge the tax, even though a tax is owed on the transaction.
The tax is owed on a transaction with the remote seller, but it is never paid because it is a use tax and people don't file millions and millions of use tax returns. The result is State and local governments are losing a substantial amount of money--$13 billion it is estimated this year; by the year 2006, $45 billion, most of which goes to support local schools. So State and local governments are rightly concerned about funding for their schools.
The second problem is a problem for remote sellers. A remote seller says: I don't want to have to collect a tax and submit it to 5,000 or 7,000 jurisdictions. That is a fair point. They should not have to do that. That is burdensome and too complicated. So we say solve both problems.
Require State and local governments to make dramatic simplifications in their tax systems. ... If the Congress approves that, then allow them to require remote sellers to collect the tax that is already owed on the transaction, solving both problems and dramatically simplifying compliance for the remote sellers. And we will not approve it if it does not do that.
Second, at the same time, collect a tax that is already owed and make it much simpler for those who owe that tax to comply with current law.
I have read this amendment over and over. It has changed mightily during the last month or so. But it is very clear to me that if this amendment were to become law--by the way, the House would never allow it to become law. But let's say it could become law. I think it would wreak havoc on Internet commerce. Let me tell you why.
Look at page 3 of the amendment. Look at section 3, and look at paragraph A. There is a 1, which clearly states that Internet service providers could be forced to go back retroactively to 1998 and remit Internet access taxes to the States.
Second, Senator Enzi's amendment would not prohibit new taxes on Internet access and, although it would keep the moratorium on ``discriminatory and multiple'' taxes, it may not prevent ``new'' taxes on electronic commerce.
Finally, I want to state that these are statements made by my friend and colleague from Oregon, RON WYDEN, in a far more articulate way than I. I am trying to underscore what he said.
If you look at page 4, you see that the Enzi proposal would allow taxes on Internet content. It is very clear that the moratorium on Internet access taxes would no longer apply to Internet content.
In my view, this is a very dangerous kind of amendment because if it does become law it will wreak havoc on business on the Internet, and not only business, but just the right to get on the Web and read content and to be able to do that without extra charges. This is not the time for that.
On the motion to table, Senator Biden, Dodd and Edwards voted YEA, Senator Clinton voted NAY (a very mixed vote, see link)
57. Helms amendment "to protect United States military personnel and other elected appointed officials of the United States Government against criminal prosecution by an international criminal court to which the United States is not a party."
Mr. President, I rise today in opposition to the amendment. In my view, the International Criminal Court, as established under the Rome statute of 1998, represents a unique opportunity to bring justice to the international community and to help in the fight against future war crimes, genocide, and other crimes against humanity. That is an important mission.
The Rome statute is the result of 5 years of negotiations by more than 100 countries. The United States was an active leader in these negotiations. Frankly, after years of support for the process, leading to the Court's formation, it is unwise to turn our backs on it now. If properly implemented, the ICC would go a long way toward preventing catastrophes such as those we recently witnessed in Bosnia, East Timor, and Rwanda. The ICC is not going to prevent all future human rights violations but it can deter those who would commit genocide, punish those who do, and offer justice instead of revenge and contribute to a process of peace and reconciliation.
Now, there are Senators who have asserted today that the International Criminal Court is part of the United Nations. It is a common mistake. For the record, the Court will be independent from the United Nations and governed and funded by its own assembly of state parties. Jurisdiction, judicial decisionmaking, and legal authority will be given only to this independent Court, not to the United Nations.
What is more, some of my colleagues in the Senate have opposed the Rome statute because they fear that the ICC will expose American service men and women abroad to frivolous prosecution. But American negotiators, led by Ambassador David Scheffer, have achieved remarkable progress during the treaty negotiations to effectively address these concerns. Any prosecution before the ICC would take place only if the domestic judicial system were unwilling or unwilling to make a good-faith inquiry into allegations of war crimes. I cannot emphasize this point strongly enough.
This amendment would restrict the role of the United States in future peacekeeping missions unless the United Nations exempts U.S. troops from the Court. It would also prohibit U.S. aid and input into the Court and block U.S. aid to allies unless they agree to shield American troops on their soil from ICC prosecution.
The timing of this amendment could not be worse. As the world unites to combat terrorism, we should be active partners in encouraging an end to impunity for human rights violators, not skeptical detractors. We need a place where perpetrators of human rights abuses are held accountable. In passing the Helms amendment, I fear we will be sending a horrible message to the international community. It is as if we cannot even be involved in the negotiations, sitting down at the table and helping to shape what could be such an important institution.
The Court will be established whether we like it or not. The authority of the future Court derives from the 120 votes garnered in Rome, the signatures subsequently of 137 nations and ratifications of 47 states. All members of NATO, the European Union and most in Latin America have signed or ratified. Recently the United Kingdom and Switzerland became the 42nd and 43rd countries to ratify, and Hungary became the 47th nation to do so.
Given these realities, we should oppose this amendment, hastening instead to assure the Court is a good one, inculcating the American values of democracy, rules of law, and an end to impunity. The United States should remain engaged while protecting American citizens and military people from politicized prosecution by the International Criminal Court or by any other foreign tribunal.
If America turns its back on the negotiations, and the Helms amendment would make it impossible for us to be involved in the negotiations, this opportunity to secure international justice will be lost. Only through engagement, which this amendment makes impossible, can the United States live up to the truly inescapable promise of ``never again.''
Peace Action opposed the Helms amendment.
On the adoption of the Helms amendment
- Clinton and Edwards voted YEA along with 77 Senators
- Biden and Dodd voted NAY along with Akaka, Bingaman, Boxer, Byrd, Cantwell, Chafee, Daschle, Dayton, Feingold, Inouye, Kennedy, Leahy, Levin, Murray, Jack Reed, Sarbanes, Specter, Voinovich and Wellstone
58. Whether or not Russ Feingold's amendment prohibiting cost-of-living increases for Senators was germane to the Defense Appropriations bill.
Clarification:There's no question that it was not germane to the bill, but it's also certain that no Senator was concerning themselves with whether or not it was germane when they cast their vote on it.
- Senator Edwards voted YEA
- Senator Clinton, Biden and Dodd voted NAY (mixed vote, see link)
59. Gregg amendment to "phase out the sugar program and use any resulting savings to improve nutrition assistance."
On the motion to table the Gregg amendment.
This is unclear, although NAY would probably be the more progressive vote, I'm not certain and there's nothing in the Record that clears it up.
- Senator Clinton, Edwards and Dodd voted YEA along with most Senators
- Biden voted NAY, along with Corzine, Feingold, Feinstein, Kennedy, Kohl, Reed, Sarbanes, Schumer and 20 Republicans.
60. Senator Johnson's amendment to prevent Big Packing from increasing their stranglehold on the meatpacking industry by prohibiting them from owning livestock.
Mr. President, let me address specifically what our amendment does; First, it bans large meatpackers from owning slaughter cattle, hogs, and lambs for more than 14 days prior to the time in which these livestock are slaughtered. Second, it exempts producer-owned cooperatives engaged in slaughter and meatpacking. Therefore, many of the innovative, start-up projects operating and being formed to give producers greater bargaining power in the market will not be affected by our amendment.
That's the substance of our amendment. Here is why we need our amendment. Our amendment would take on a growing problem in livestock marketing--that of packer ownership of livestock and captive supplies of livestock that allow packers to manipulate cash prices paid to producers. This amendment would strengthen the 80 year-old Packers and Stockyards Act, to make it unlawful for a packer to own, feed, or control livestock intended for slaughter.
Our amendment also addresses a glaring deficiency in the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921, because it has failed to prevent packers from squeezing independent producers out of the market.
Here are a few cases in point where current law--written 80 some years ago--has failed to promote competition in livestock markets. The poultry industry has been almost entirely vertically integrated for many years, and the pork industry is becoming more so. The hog industry especially has been consolidating rapidly in recent years. At the packer level, the 4 largest firms' share of hog slaughter reached 56 percent in 1999, compared with 40 percent in 1990. In 1997, 64 percent of all hogs were marketed through some form of forward sales arrangement between producers and packers, and approximately 10 percent of all market hogs involved entire or partial packer ownership.
- Senator Clinton, Dodd and Biden voted YEA along with most Democrats, Chafee, Collins, Grassley, Hagel, Burns and both Republicans from WY and ID.
- Senator Edwards voted NAY along with the rest of the Republicans, Bayh, Corzine, Durbin, Lincoln, Zell Miller, Chuck Schumer, Stabenow, and Torricelli.
61. McCain amendmnet to specify the market name for catfish.
The situation leading to this amendment is ludicrous enough to quote McCain on:
During consideration of the Senate version of the Agriculture appropriations bill for fiscal year 2002, it was late at night and I voiced concern about the managers' decision to clear a package of 35 amendments just before the final passage of the bill. I said: Has anyone seen these amendments? It was late in the evening. There was dead silence in the Senate. It was late in the evening so, unfortunately, I agreed for this so-called managers' amendment to be passed by voice vote, remembering that managers' amendments are technical in nature; they are to clean up paperwork or clerical errors.
Well, in this package of 35 amendments, 15 were earmarked to members of the Appropriations Committee--several million dollars. I have forgotten exactly how much. And this is a so-called catfish amendment. My good friend from Mississippi will say the issue was discussed before. If it was, why didn't we have a vote on it? Why didn't we have the amendment up and have a vote on it as we do regular amendments? The reason is because the Senator from Massachusetts, the Senator from Texas, I, and many others--and I believe we are going to find that a majority of the Senate--would have rejected such a thing.
As it turns out, I had good reason to be concerned. Included was an amendment banning the FDA from using any funds to process imports of fish or fish products labeled as catfish, unless the fish have a certain Latin family name. In fact, of the 2,500 species of catfish on Earth, this amendment allows the FDA to process only a certain type raised in North America--specifically, those that grow in six Southern States. The program's effect is to restrict all catfish imports into our country by requiring they be labeled as something other than catfish, an underhanded way for catfish producers to shut out the competition. With a clever trick of Latin phraseology and without even a ceremonial nod to the vast body of trade laws and practices we rigorously observe, this damaging amendment, slipped into the managers' package and ultimately signed into law as part of an appropriations bill--an appropriations bill--literally bans Federal officials from processing any and all catfish imports labeled as they are--catfish.
It is going to be ludicrous around here and entertaining because we are going to talk about what is and what is not a catfish. Over there, we may see one with an American flag on it, which would be an interesting species. When is a catfish other than a catfish.
On this chart is a giant catfish with a name I can't pronounce. Here is a yellowtail catfish. I didn't do well in Latin. Here is another one, a basa catfish--yes, the culprit. Here is the channel catfish. They are all catfish. There are 2,500 of them. I don't have pictures of all of them. Now there is only going to be one recognized as a catfish in America, which are those which are raised in America--born and raised in America. These are interesting pictures. We will have a lot of pictures back and forth. I think we will see more pictures of catfish than any time in the history of the Senate of the United States of America.
As you can see, these are common catfish characteristics: Single dorsal fin and adipose fin, strong spines in the dorsal and pectoral fins, whisker-like sensory barbels on the upper and lower jaws, all part of the order of Siluriformes. We are going to only call catfish the kind that are raised in the southeastern part of the United States.
Proponents of this ban used the insidious technique of granting ownership of the term ``catfish'' to only North American catfish growers--as if Southern agribusinesses have exclusive rights to the name of a fish that is farmed around the world, from Brazil to Thailand. According to the FDA and the American Fisheries Society, the Pangasius species of catfish imported from Vietnam and other countries are ``freshwater catfishes of Africa and southern Asia.'' In addition, current FDA regulations prohibit these products from being labeled simply as ``catfish''. Under existing regulations, a qualifier such as ``basa,'' or ``striped'' must accompany the term ``catfish'' so that consumers are able to make an informed choice about what they are eating.
These fish were indeed catfish, until Congress, with little review and no debate, determined them not to be. No other animal or plant name has been defined in statute this way.
All other acceptable market names for fish are determined by the FDA in cooperation with the National Marine Fisheries Service after review of scientific literature and market practices
As far as I can tell from the Congressional record, both sides on this issue are idiots. I'm saddened that the Senate spent 14 pages arguing on this amendment, less than they did on the Feingold amendment to the Patriot Act.
However, there's no clear progressive side from what I can tell.
On the motion to table the McCain amendment,
- Edwards and Clinton voted YEA
- Dodd and Biden voted NAY
62. The Hutchinson substitute amendment for the farm bill (it seems based on Senator Dorgan and Harkin's statements below that the Republicans were filibustering the Democratic farm bill to try to get their bad one passed instead; Dorgan are Harkin were freakin' pissed about this).
Dorgan:This does not wash--to stall for 2 months, to filibuster for 2 weeks, then walk around here pretending you are out of breath from running so far. Every step of the way, we had people on that side of the aisle trying to prevent us from writing a farm bill, and now they are coming to the floor saying: We are trying to move it along.
This is a sure way to try to move it along--filibustering through two cloture votes. We will see at 1:15 if they give us help to move it along.
Harkin: The time for games is over. The fact is, the White House itself has said we should not have a farm bill this year. The ranking member of the Agriculture Committee, Senator Lugar, has said that. The Secretary of Agriculture has said that. The entire Republican hierarchy downtown and here have said time and time again we should not have a farm bill this year. Since this amendment is different from that of the House, it would still require a conference.
Again I say, Mr. President, now is the time to pass a good bill. If we get cloture today and we can close this bill down, we can conference our bill in the next 2 days and we can go into conference with a good bill, not with an amendment that is less than what the House has.
I urge defeat of the Hutchinson amendment.
I move to table the Hutchinson amendment and ask for the yeas and nays.
On the motion to table:
- Senator Clinton, Biden and Dodd voted YEA along with nearly every Democrat, every northeastern Republican except for Santorum, Hagel, Lugar, McCain, Gordon Smith and George Voinovich.
- Senator Edwards voted NAY along with Blanche Lincoln and most Republicans
63. On the sine die adjournment of Congress
- Senator Edwards, Biden and Dodd voted YEA, along with most Democrats, Bennett, Bunning, Chafee, Cochran, Fitzgerald, Gramm, Hagel, McCain, Shelby and Stevens.
- Senator Clinton voted NAY along with every other Republican, Bayh, Conrad, Dayton and Schumer.