(Senate - May 15, 2014)

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[Pages S3047-S3055]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I move to proceed to Calendar No. 92, S. 
162, the Franken Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction 
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will report the motion.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       Motion to proceed to Calendar No. 92, S. 162, a bill to 
     reauthorize and improve the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment 
     and Crime Reduction Act of 2004.


  Mr. REID. Mr. President, following my remarks and those of the 
Republican leader, the time until 11:15 a.m. will be equally divided 
and controlled between the two leaders or their designees. At 11:15 
a.m. there will be a series of rollcall votes in relation to several 
nominations. Following those votes, the Senate will recess until 1:45 
p.m. to allow for the caucus meetings we are having today. At 1:45 p.m. 
there will be another series of rollcall votes in relation to 
nominations as well as a cloture vote on the Wyden substitute amendment 
to the tax extenders legislation. The filing deadline for first-degree 
amendments to the substitute and the bill is 1 p.m. and the filing 
deadline for second-degree amendments to the substitute is 3 p.m. 

                            Campaign Finance

  Mr. President, a memo from the Koch-funded political organization 
Americans for Prosperity found its way into the national press last 
week. The memo details Americans for Prosperity's plan to spend at 
least $125 million--and more if necessary--ensuring the Koch brothers' 
hand-picked candidates win elections this November. This memo was sent 
to a select group--the ultrarich, the megarich. That is who got it. The 
memo was entitled ``Confidential Investor Update.''
  How fitting for the Koch brothers' hostile takeover of the American 
electoral system to call something ``investor update''--investor 
update. You see, these billionaires are dumping unseemly amounts of 
money into a shadowy political organization. Their donation is an 
investment in an America rigged to benefit themselves at the expense of 
the middle class.
  The Kochs' political expenditures are investments--investments--
similar to any other that is listed in their financial portfolios, and 
they absolutely expect monetary returns on their investments in buying 
America. That is what this is all about.
  The Kochs' bid for a hostile takeover of American democracy is 
calculated to make themselves even richer. Yet the Kochs and their 
Republican followers in Congress continue to assert that these hundreds 
of millions of dollars are free speech.
  For evidence of that look no further than the Republican leader, who 
has flatout said: ``In our society, spending is speech.''
  Let me pose a question to everyone, including my friend the 
Republican leader. If this unprecedented spending is free speech, where 
does that leave our middle-class constituents, the poor? It leaves them 
out in the cold. How could everyday working American families afford to 
make their voices heard if money equals free speech? Should voters 
mortgage their homes if

[[Page S3048]]

they are worried about climate change? If they are concerned about 
their children's education, should they max out all their credit cards 
making political contributions?
  Is our involvement in government completely dependent on financial 
resources? The answer should be a resounding no, but the shadowy Koch 
brothers and all their different organizations, in attempting to buy 
America--if they succeed--the answer to that question is yes. 
Involvement in government, according to them, would be on how much 
money they spent.
  There should be no million-dollar entry fee for participation in our 
democracy. As retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens noted 
very recently--he did this before a Senate panel just a couple weeks 
ago--``money is not speech.'' He went on to say:

       Speech is only one of the activities that are financed by 
     campaign contributions and expenditures. Those financial 
     activities should not receive the same constitutional 
     protection as speech itself. After all, campaign funds were 
     used to finance the Watergate burglaries--actions that 
     clearly were not protected by the First Amendment.

  At its core the Constitution of our great country is the great 
equalizer. The Constitution gives all Americans, regardless of race, 
background or financial status, the same freedoms and rights. The U.S. 
Constitution levels the playing field--but not so calculated by the 
Koch brothers. According to them, lots of money is their name and it is 
their game.
  The playing field of campaign finance is skewed in favor of interest 
groups and corporations. The more money there is, the more skewed it 
becomes. Justice Stevens rightly labeled these massive campaign 
contributors as ``non-voters.''
  Elections in the United States should be decided by voters--Americans 
who have a constitutional, fundamental right to elect their 
representatives. Yet more and more we see Koch Industries and Americans 
for Prosperity--one of their shadowy front groups--dictating the 
results of primaries and elections across the country. Behind these 
nonvoting organizations are massively wealthy men, hoping for a big 
monetary return on their political donations. When the candidates they 
bankroll get into office, the winners inevitably begin to legislate 
their sponsors' business plans--less regulation and less oversight for 
  Remember, the Koch brothers' dad was one of the inventors of many 
other strange organizations. It is hard to believe that one of these 
men ran for Vice President in 1980 as a Libertarian, and the views he 
pronounced at that time were so radical--doing away with Social 
Security, no taxes whatsoever, no power to enforce the laws, doing away 
with all environmental regulations. They have now become part of the 
main stream of the Republican Party. That should frighten everyone. 
Their dad was one of the beginners of the John Birch Society. Think 
about that.
  Let me be very plain for all to hear: No one should be able to pump 
unlimited funds into political campaigns, whether they are a Democrat, 
a Republican or an Independent. As one political observer noted, we 
currently have a campaign finance system in place which compels each 
party to pick which billionaires they like best. What a shame. That is 
exactly why the system needs to change.
  There is absolutely no question the Koch brothers are in a category 
of their own, in both degree and kind. No one else is pumping money 
into shadowy campaign organizations and campaigns like they are. There 
is not even a close second. They are doing this to promote issues that 
make themselves even richer. One hundred million dollars is not enough 
for the Koch brothers. No other individuals are recreating the role of 
a national political party. That is what they are doing. They are 
recreating the Republican Party.
  I say why not level the playing field for everyone? Let's get this 
money out of our political system. Let's undo the damage done by the 
Citizens United decision. We should do it now. The Supreme Court has 
equated money with speech, so the more money, the more speech you get, 
and the more influence in our democracy. What kind of a system is that? 
It is wrong.
  Every American should have the same ability to influence our 
political system: One American, one vote. That is what the Constitution 
guarantees. The Constitution does not give corporations a vote, and the 
Constitution does not give dollar bills a vote.
  From what I have heard recently, my Republican colleagues seem to 
have a different view. Republicans seem to think billionaires, 
corporations, and special interests should be allowed to drown out the 
voices of all Americans. That is wrong and it should end.
  I oppose the notion that a big bank account should give billionaires, 
corporations or special interest groups a greater place in government 
than American voters. That is why I support the constitutional 
amendment proposed by two Democratic Senators, Senators Tom Udall of 
New Mexico and Michael Bennet of Colorado. Their amendment curbs 
unlimited campaign spending. This amendment grants Congress the 
authority to regulate and limit the raising and spending of money for 
Federal political campaigns. That is not a bad idea.
  Senators Udall and Bennet's amendment reins in the massive spending 
of super PACs, which have grown so much since the Citizens United 
decision. It also provides States with the authority to institute 
campaign spending limits at the State level. I know in the State of 
Montana that was in effect for decade after decade after decade. The 
courts knocked that out because of the Citizens United opinion. It is 
such a shame.
  The proposed amendment makes our Nation's campaigns fairer and allows 
candidates to represent their voting constituents instead of big-
spending special interest groups.
  Here is something else that Justice Stevens said:

       Unlimited campaign expenditures impair the process of 
     democratic self-government. They create a risk that 
     successful candidates will pay more attention to the 
     interests of non-voters who provided them with money than to 
     the interests of the voters who elected them.

  ``That risk is unacceptable,'' Justice Stevens said.
  So it is unacceptable that the recent Supreme Court decisions have 
taken away power from the American voter; instead, giving it to a 
select few megabillionaires.
  Soon Chairman Leahy and the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a 
hearing on Senators Udall and Bennet's constitutional amendment. The 
Senate will vote on that legislation.
  I urge my colleagues to support this constitutional amendment, to 
rally behind our democracy. I understand we Senate Democrats are 
proposing something that is no small thing. Amending our Constitution 
is not something any of us should take lightly, but the flood of 
special interest money into our American democracy is one of the most 
glaring threats our system of government has ever faced.
  Let's keep our elections from becoming speculative ventures for the 
wealthy and put a stop to the hostile takeover of our democratic system 
by a couple of billionaire oil barons.
  It is time we revive our constituents' faith in our electoral system 
and let them know their voices are being heard because the American 
people clearly deserve a fair shot.


  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Republican leader is 

                             VA Health Care

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, our All-Volunteer military relies upon 
several critical factors to recruit young Americans who are 
sufficiently well educated, physically and mentally qualified, and 
adequately motivated to wear the uniform. Our recruits expect to be 
well led, well trained, adequately compensated, effectively challenged, 
and fairly treated. Critically, they also expected to receive the 
health care promised to them while they were on Active Duty or as 
  Later this morning Secretary Shinseki will testify on stories that 
emerged several weeks ago about administrators at the VA hospital in 
Phoenix falsifying medical records to conceal delays in providing care 
to veterans. In the wake of these reports similar stories from Wyoming, 
North Carolina, Missouri, and Texas have come to light about employees 
using similar tactics to conceal backlogs in medical care. The 
questions awaiting the Secretary will be tough, but this is his job. 
The American people are demanding and deserve answers to these 

[[Page S3049]]

  To his credit, Secretary Shinseki has ordered an inspector general 
review of the Phoenix VA health care system. It would not surprise me 
in the least if additional inspector general reviews end up being 
required at other VA hospitals.
  One thing I will be listening for today is whether Secretary Shinseki 
states a belief that the VA is, in fact, facing a systemic crisis 
because just this morning the Wall Street Journal reported that his 
Department has made ``minimal progress at best'' on a host of problems 
identified in 2012 by the nonpartisan Government Accountability 
Office--``minimal progress at best.'' That is how a nonpartisan GAO 
official described it.
  Many letters have come into my office on this issue. Kentuckians are 
really concerned. Let me read what one Kentuckian had to say:

       As a veteran, I have read the recent revelations of events 
     in Phoenix with horror. These [Americans] . . . sacrificed 
     for their country . . . In return, we owed them competent 
     care and treatment as a person, and not an obstacle to a 
     ``good evaluation.'' In order to regain the trust of our 
     veterans, it is vital that we hold those responsible 
     accountable . . .

  This Kentucky veteran could not be more right.
  Last year I called the Obama administration's veterans backlog a 
``national disgrace.'' I have also made several appeals to the 
Secretary. I know, of course, I was not the only one. Yet the initial 
reports of the shocking situation in Phoenix indicate that things have 
only gotten worse. With similar stories now filtering in from other 
parts of the country, it is getting harder to believe this is not more 
of a sort of systemic, administration-wide crisis. The Veterans' 
Administration needs to get to the bottom of how widespread the problem 
has become.
  My concern is that the Obama administration will treat this scandal 
the way it does all the others--like a political crisis to get past 
rather than a serious problem to be solved. We know the President 
appointed a member of his staff yesterday to look into it. That is a 
start, but if the President is truly serious, he needs to treat these 
stories at least as seriously as he did the ObamaCare Web site fiasco 
when he pledged his complete attention and the full force of his 
administration to do whatever needed to be done. That was on the Web 
site fiasco when he let it be known that his people would not rest 
until a solution was worked out. Incredibly, so far the President has 
made no such pledge when it comes to the treatment of our veterans. The 
President needs to understand that our veterans deserve at least as 
much attention as a Web site--at least as much attention as a Web site. 
In fact, they deserve a heck of a lot more.
  This is a really big deal. It is our job as Senators to get to the 
bottom of it. We need to ask the tough questions. We need to uncover 
the truth. Any misconduct found at VA hospitals should be met with 
swift punishment.
  Administration officials need to be held accountable because 
America's ill and wounded veterans have already paid a price. They have 
already paid a price. They have a right to expect that our country will 
be there when they need help. If we break faith with them, we are 
breaking faith with the recruiters who made commitments to the next 
generation of American military leaders. All of those people have made 
commitments. The recruiters, the military leaders have all made 
commitments. As one of my colleagues put it, American veterans ought to 
be first in line--first in line--for the best care, not pushed to the 
back of the line for what they are getting.
  So our joint mission, whether we are Democrats or Republicans, should 
be to get to the bottom of the Obama administration's veteran crisis 
swiftly and fix it. It means holding officials accountable. It means 
getting serious about solutions, such as Senator Rubio's bill that 
would make it easier to remove high-level VA employees for performance 
failures. I am proud to cosponsor that legislation. I know some of my 
colleagues will have other good ideas in the coming days and weeks too. 
The point is, that is where our focus needs to be. We owe it to every 
veteran who has served.

               50th Anniversary of the Bourbon Resolution

  Mr. President, I wish to pay tribute to the spirit of Kentucky 
literally. This month marks the 50th anniversary since the U.S. 
Congress passed S. Con. Res. 19, which recognized bourbon whiskey as a 
distinctive product of the United States and unlike any other type of 
distilled spirit, whether foreign or domestic.
  On May 4, 1964, Congress declared that bourbon whiskey had achieved 
recognition and acceptance throughout the world as a distinctive 
product of the United States and expressed a sense of Congress that the 
United States should prohibit the importation of any other whiskey 
purporting to call itself bourbon. This resolution helped to promote 
the thriving bourbon distillery industry that we can be thankful is 
located in the United States today.
  Kentucky is, of course, the birthplace of bourbon. The drink itself 
is named for Bourbon County, KY. Bourbon County, KY, is in the heart of 
the Bluegrass State, where the product first emerged. Kentucky produces 
95 percent of the world's bourbon supply, and Kentucky's iconic bourbon 
brands ship more than 30 million gallons of the spirit to 126 
countries, making bourbon the largest export category among all U.S. 
distilled spirits.
  Not only is Kentucky the overwhelming producer of the world's 
bourbon, bourbon gives much back to Kentucky. It is a vital part of our 
State's tourism and economy. The industry generates close to 9,000 jobs 
and contributed almost $2 billion to Kentucky's economy in 2010. 
Production of bourbon in Kentucky has increased by more than 120 
percent since 1999. Not to go unnoticed, the bourbon industry has taken 
an active role in promoting the responsible and moderate use of its 
product by everyone.
  S. Con. Res. 19 was originally introduced 50 years ago by Kentucky 
Senator Thruston Morton, and a companion measure was introduced in the 
House by Representative John C. Watts. They recognized that just as 
Scotch whisky is a distinctive product of Scotland, Canadian whiskey a 
distinctive product of Canada, and cognac a distinctive product of the 
Cognac region of France, all with official government recognition, 
bourbon deserved the distinction that comes with official recognition 
as well. However, the International Federation of Manufacturing 
Industries and Wholesale Trades in Wines, Spirits, and Liqueurs could 
only enforce the protection of the bourbon appellation if Congress 
passed a resolution declaring such. Therefore, on May 4, 1964, Congress 
adopted the original bourbon resolution.
  Fifty years later, I rise to introduce, along with my friend and 
colleague Senator Paul, a new Senate resolution to recognize the 50th 
anniversary of this original declaration of independence for bourbon.
  Kentucky is celebrating this 50th anniversary in appropriate fashion 
through various exhibits, events, and tastings. Perhaps the most 
exciting of these events is the display of the original bourbon 
resolution, which has been released from the National Archives and 
Records Administration in Washington. For the first time since its 
adoption, it is to be exhibited in Louisville at the Frazier History 
Museum. I was proud to be able to work with my friend and fellow 
Kentucky Representative Andy Barr to assist in bringing the original 
resolution to Kentucky. I thank the Kentucky Distillers Association and 
the Frazier History Museum for their efforts to honor the anniversary 
of the bourbon resolution. I am also proud today to follow in the 
footsteps of Kentucky leaders from the past in honoring and recognizing 
the original bourbon resolution with this 50th anniversary resolution.
  Bourbon production in Kentucky has grown strong and thrived over the 
last half century, and I am sure it will continue to do the same for 
the next 50 years. I thank and congratulate all the hard-working 
Kentuckians who contributed to building our State's vibrant bourbon 
  I urge my Senate colleagues to support this resolution and look 
forward to its swift adoption.

 Recognizing the 50th Anniversary of the Congressional Declaration of 
                            Bourbon Whiskey

  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the 
consideration of S. Res. 446, submitted earlier today.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will report the 
resolution by title.

[[Page S3050]]

  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       A resolution (S. Res. 446), recognizing the 50th 
     anniversary of the Congressional declaration of bourbon 
     whiskey as a distinctive product of the United States.

  There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the 
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
resolution be agreed, the preamble be agreed to, and that the motions 
to reconsider be laid upon the table, with no intervening action or 
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 
  The resolution (S. Res. 446) was agreed to.
  The preamble was agreed to.
  (The resolution, with its preamble, is printed in today's Record 
under ``Submitted Resolutions.'')
  Mr. McCONNELL. I yield the floor.

                       Reservation of Leader Time

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the 
leadership time is reserved.

                           Order of Business

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the time 
until 11:15 a.m. will be equally divided between the two leaders or 
their designees.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Iowa.

                             Tax Extenders

  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I am glad the Senate is finally getting 
serious about passing tax extenders this year. Congress has put off the 
extension of the expired tax provisions until the last minute all too 
frequently. In 2012 provisions remained expired for an entire year 
before finally being extended in January of 2013. Similarly, the 
previous extension of the expired provisions did not occur until the 
middle of December. Such late action by Congress results in 
complications come filing season for taxpayers, particularly for people 
who hire tax preparers; tax forms are not ready and as a result refunds 
are delayed. So we owe it to our constituents to see to it that these 
added complications are not a factor this year. Tax season is 
unpleasant enough without our adding to it by failing to do our job in 
a timely fashion.
  Already, by allowing these tax provisions to expire for more than 5 
months, we have created a lot of headaches and uncertainty for 
individuals and businesses. The current expiration causes headaches for 
teachers purchasing school supplies, college students paying for higher 
education, and seniors making charitable donations from their IRAs. 
Those are only 3 of some 53 provisions we are considering extending. 
These should have been extended 4 months ago.
  Furthermore, it creates uncertainty for businesses, which harms 
investment and business growth. The enhanced expensing rules under 
section 179 are of particular importance to small businesses and 
farmers. I regularly hear from my constituents who are putting off 
purchasing a new truck or tractor for their business operation because 
they do not know the fate of that provision. This is bad for economic 
growth, and it obviously has something to do with us having a high 
unemployment rate and jobs not being created.
  The lapse of renewable energy incentives has already created a lot of 
uncertainty and slow growth in the renewable industry. This serves only 
to hamper the strides made toward a viable self-sustainable renewable 
energy and fuel sector.
  I am aware that some of my colleagues have expressed extreme 
opposition to some of the provisions in the package. I would like to 
specifically respond to claims that some of my colleagues have made 
about wind energy and the wind production tax credit.
  I am sympathetic to the argument that the Tax Code has gotten too 
cluttered with too many special interest provisions. That is the reason 
many of us for a long period of time have been clamoring for tax 
reform. But just because we haven't cleaned up the Tax Code in a 
comprehensive way doesn't mean we should pull the rug out from under 
domestic renewable energy producers. Doing so would cost jobs, harm our 
economy, harm the environment, and even enhance problems for national 
  I am glad to defend the wind production tax credit and wind energy. 
Wind energy provides more than 4 percent of U.S. electricity, supports 
80,000 American jobs, spurred $105 billion in private investment in the 
United States just since 2005, and that source of energy displaces more 
expensive and more polluting sources of energy, lowering electricity 
prices for consumers.
  More than 70 percent of U.S. wind turbine value is now produced right 
here in the United States, compared to just 25 percent prior to 2005. 
More than 550 industrial facilities across 44 States manufacture for 
the wind energy industry. The wind industry today supports 80,000 
American jobs. The tax incentive has spurred $105 billion in private 
investment in the United States since 2005.
  Opponents of the renewable energy provisions want to have this debate 
in a vacuum. They disregard the many incentives and subsidies that 
exist for other sources of energy and are permanent law, but they don't 
seem to talk about those much.
  For example, the 100-year-old oil and gas industry continues to 
benefit from tax preferences that benefit only their industry. These 
are not general business tax provisions, as we are led to believe, no 
different from what other industries have. These are specific to the 
oil and gas business, the same way a wind energy tax credit is specific 
to wind. I will give a few examples of these tax provisions: expensing 
for intangible drilling costs, deductions for tertiary injectants, 
percentage depletion for oil wells, and special amortization for 
geological costs. These four tax preferences for this single industry 
result in the loss of more than $4 billion annually in tax revenue.
  Nuclear energy would be another example--in fact, a very great 
example. The first nuclear powerplant came online in the United States 
in 1958--56 years ago. Nuclear receives special tax treatment for 
interest from decommissioning trust funds. Congress created a 
production tax credit for this mature industry in 2005, and that 
production tax credit is going to be available until 2020. Nuclear also 
benefits from the Price-Anderson Federal liability insurance 
provisions. Congress provided that as a temporary measure in 1958, but 
it is still here and it was renewed, as I said, through 2025. Nuclear 
energy has also received $74 billion in Federal research and 
development dollars since 1950.
  Are these crony capitalist handouts? I haven't heard it from the same 
colleagues who talk about wind energy. Is it time to end market 
distortion for nuclear power? I haven't heard my colleagues talk about 
  A Cato study found that ``in truth, nuclear power has never made 
economic sense and exists purely as a creature of government.''
  There is also no truth to the claim that wind energy is somehow 
undercutting baseload power. Baseload nuclear and coal energy are being 
harmed by cheap natural gas, transmission congestion, and stagnant 
electricity demand.
  The chairman and CEO of NextEra Energy James Robo addressed this 
issue in an op-ed recently. NextEra operates significant wind 
generation but also a large nuclear operation. He stated:

       We do not merely advocate for an ``all-of-the-above'' 
     energy strategy--we live it. And from our perspective, 
     nuclear plants in competitive markets are not challenged by 
     wind energy but by low natural gas prices caused by the shale 
     gas revolution.
       Blaming the wind industry for the challenges in the 
     merchant nuclear business may be politically expedient, but 
     it will not help any company or technology operate more 
     successfully in a low natural gas price environment.

  Wind energy and its incentives are not to blame for the market 
conditions affecting the economics of nuclear energy.
  So I would ask my colleagues a very simple question: Why is repealing 
a subsidy for oil and gas or nuclear energy a tax increase on energy 
producers and consumers, while repealing an incentive for alternative 
or renewable energy is not? It is not intellectually honest.
  I authored the wind energy incentive in 1992. We know there is no 
justification for it to go on forever. It was never meant to, and it 
shouldn't. I am happy to discuss a responsible multiyear phaseout of 
the wind tax

[[Page S3051]]

credit. In 2012 the wind industry was the only industry to put forward 
a phaseout plan. But any phaseout must be done in the context of 
comprehensive tax reform where all energy tax provisions are on the 
table at the same time. It should be done responsibly over a few years 
to provide certainty and ensure a viable industry.
  Thank God Chairman Wyden has expressed his determination that this 
will be the last tax extenders bill prior to comprehensive tax reform. 
I share Senator Wyden's sentiment in favor of putting an end to the 
annual kabuki dance that is what we call tax extenders, the bill before 
the Senate we are going to be voting on shortly. Good tax policy 
requires certainty that can only come from long-term predictable tax 
policy. Businesses need certainty in the Tax Code so that they can plan 
and invest accordingly. Moreover, taxpayers deserve to know that the 
Tax Code is not just being used for another way to dole out funds to 
politically favored groups. However, the only sound way to reach this 
goal is through comprehensive tax reform, and Senator Wyden, as 
chairman of the Finance Committee, can make that happen, and he said he 
is going to.
  I agree that there are provisions in extenders that ultimately should 
be left on the cutting-room floor, but it is in a tax reform 
environment where we should consider the relative merits of individual 
  Targeting certain provisions for elimination now makes little sense 
for those of us who want to reduce tax rates as much as possible. Tax 
reform provides an opportunity to use a realistic baseline that will 
allow the revenue generated from cutting back provisions to be used to 
pay for reductions in individual and corporate tax rates.
  I look forward to working with my colleagues in the future to enact 
that tax reform and put an end to the headaches and uncertainty created 
by the regular expiration of the tax provisions we are considering 
right now on the Senate floor. Right now our focus must be on extending 
current expired or expiring provisions that will end up giving us room 
in the baseline--the baseline CBO always talks about--to work toward 
that goal of tax reform.
  It is my hope that we can move quickly to reach a bipartisan 
agreement in the Senate and come to a timely agreement with the House. 
Taxpayers should not have to wait until December or January for us to 
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Virginia.
  Mr. KAINE. I thank the Chair.
  (The remarks of Mr. Kaine pertaining to the introduction of S. 2341 
are located in today's Record under ``Statements on Introduced Bills 
and Joint Resolutions.'')
  Mr. KAINE. I thank the Chair. I yield the floor.
  Mr. COATS. Mr. President, what is the current status of the floor?
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senate is in divided time until 
  Mr. COATS. I ask to be recognized for part of that time.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Indiana is 

                          Majority Leadership

  Mr. COATS. Mr. President, citizens of Indiana sent me to Washington 
to be their voice. As I travel across the State and listen--whether at 
coffee shops or factories, small businesses, local schools or people on 
the street--I hear a lot of good advice about what they think we ought 
to be doing. There are regulations and taxes and policies being imposed 
on their businesses and their personal lives. They would like to see 
some changes, some reforms.
  Many of their ideas are very sensible because what we do affects 
their livelihoods. That is what the Senate is all about. That is why we 
have a Congress. That is why we have representatives--so we can 
represent the voices of the people who sent us--but right now 
Republicans, as we are in the minority, are being shut out of our 
ability to represent their voices.
  The tradition of the Senate since its inception has been a place 
described as ``the world's greatest deliberative body.'' A place where 
we can take time to deliberate ideas, reforms, to be able to offer 
amendments to legislation brought forward, to talk to our colleagues 
and encourage bipartisan support, work to achieve a majority so the 
ideas we bring can be passed into law--coordinated with the House and 
sent to the President to sign and become law.
  A strange thing has happened under the current leadership of our 
majority leader; that is, he has found a way to procedurally gag us 
from representing the voice of the people of our States. In the last 10 
months, Republicans have been offered a vote on the substitute policy 
measure or amendment to a policy measure only nine times.
  I had the great privilege of serving in the Senate at a previous time 
in my life. I had committed to term limits. So after my two terms were 
fulfilled, I honored those term limits and stepped down. I was out for 
12 years. I was asked to come back at a time when many thought our 
country was going in the wrong direction, and they wanted a voice to 
stand for their interests and feelings about what our country ought to 
be and the kind of policies we ought to have enacted. I had the great 
fortune of being sent back to serve this Senate, only to find, to my 
shock and amazement, that under the procedures used by the majority 
leader, this is no longer the greatest deliberative body. It has turned 
into the least deliberative body because we haven't been able to 
deliberate anything.
  I have served under Republican and Democratic majority leaders: 
Senator Mitchell, a Democratic majority leader; Senator Daschle, a 
Democratic majority leader; Trent Lott and Bob Dole, Republican 
majority leaders. Whether Republican or Democratic, they honored the 
traditions of the Senate. They honored what the Senate was designed to 
  No one was more eloquent in allowing the minority to play a role, to 
offer amendments to bills, to debate those bills, and to vote--
sometimes we won, sometimes we lost, but we at least had an opportunity 
for our voices to be heard and for our colleagues to cast their yea or 
to cast their nay on what we were offering. No one was a greater 
defender of those minority rights than then-majority leader Robert Byrd 
from West Virginia.
  Robert Byrd is lionized here in terms of his long service and 
remembered most for the fact that he was so faithful to the 
Constitution of the United States and so faithful to the traditions of 
the Senate, the rules of the Senate, and the procedures of the Senate. 
Whether one was a Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, no 
one was a greater defender of the traditions of the Senate allowing 
full and open debate than Robert Byrd.
  I had many disagreements with Robert Byrd but great respect for his 
respect for this institution. We don't see that today. There is no 
Robert Byrd here. There is no one standing on the other side saying: 
Wait a minute. This is not what we are here for.
  The procedures the majority leader has undertaken affect Democrats as 
well as Republicans. I know many of my friends across the aisle--some 
of them are cosponsors of some of the legislation proposals and 
amendment proposals I have made--they are not allowed to offer their 
amendments either. We are frozen out by someone who has taken a 
dictatorial position, saying: It is my way or the highway.
  We see that foreign policy enacted now coming out of Russia with 
Vladimir Putin, but that is not what the United States is about. That 
is not what the Senate of the United States is about. We are a 
democratic institution. A democratic institution means voices of the 
people can be heard.
  The voices of the people I represent are not being heard because I 
can come down here and talk about my amendments, but I am not allowed 
the opportunity to have full debate and a vote on those amendments. The 
same is true for my 44 colleagues on the Republican side.
  It is unprecedented. It has never happened before. It is dictatorial. 
Even the news media are scratching their heads, saying: We have never 
seen this before. It is a tragedy that this is the case.
  Here we are coming up to yet another major piece of legislation, the 
so-called tax extenders. These are provisions within the Tax Code that 
allow certain exemptions or credits or special provisions--for 
instance, research and development. There is a deduction allowed, bonus 
depreciation for businesses, any number of things that we are going to 
be talking about that need to be legislated because they expire at the 
end of

[[Page S3052]]

this year. Normally we would have open debate from those of us who 
support some of those, from those of us who oppose some of those, and 
what changes might be made. In the end, that debate turns to a vote, 
and the vote determines where the Senate stands.
  I know some of the things I would be proposing may not be passed by 
the Senate, but I would like to put it to the test. I would like to 
have my colleagues have an opportunity to not only hear what they were 
but to vote on them, let their yea be yea and nay be nay.
  That is a Biblical injunction that goes back to the beginning of 
time: Let your yes be a yes and your no be a no. But don't use 
procedural devices to prevent us from going to yes or going to no.
  I will mention three provisions I would like to see incorporated in, 
debated, and voted on in this legislation coming before us.
  We will find out shortly, but we are told that once again the 
majority leader will come down and say: I am not allowing Republicans 
to offer any amendments, even if they are sensible, even if they are 
reasonable, even if they are relevant.
  That is a repetitive process which has been undertaken, and it is 
tragic, it is unfortunate, and it is not the Senate. We all ought to be 
ashamed that this is the procedure we are operating under.
  I want to help Indiana charities. There are a number of small 
charities--individuals or small groups of individuals with a big heart 
trying to do the right thing and reach out and provide support. As the 
Federal Government budget is ever shrinking because of our debt and 
deficit and runaway entitlement spending, much less for other spending 
that we have control over, these charities have found themselves 
somewhat in a bind. Some of them are small. They don't have the 
backroom, the accountants, the lawyers, and so forth and so on to read 
through all the regulations. Many of them have lost their nonprofit 
status for a very simple reason that can be easily corrected.
  There are certain procedures which require certain amounts of 
information to be provided to the Internal Revenue Service. If it is 
not provided, the Internal Revenue Service has the authority to close 
down those charities. Many of them have not realized that this certain 
amount of information needs to be provided on an annual basis. All of a 
sudden they get a notice in the mail that their 501(c)(3) or tax-exempt 
status has been revoked. Then they call my office and ask: What is 
going on here?
  The IRS says you didn't comply with all the regulations.
  What regulations?
  These people are not making a profit. They are trying to provide 
social services and needed help to the low-income, poverty, people in 
need. They don't have the expertise, they don't have the time, they 
don't have the understanding of what it takes to comply with all of the 
thousands and thousands of pages of regulations.
  All I am asking with this amendment--and it seems something everybody 
would agree to and we could do by unanimous consent--is that the IRS 
notify these people with a special notification basically saying: This 
is what you haven't complied with. You have a certain amount of time to 
do this or we will have to take away your tax-exempt status.
  Some of these things are no-brainers. Can we ask the IRS to simply 
send a notice if they are going to terminate a 501(c)(3) because they 
didn't fulfill a particular regulation? Can we give them notice so they 
then can take it to their tax accountant or take whatever actions it 
needs in order to meet the test and not lose that status? Losing that 
status means they are out of business. They are not able to receive 
contributions that are tax deductible. Many of them will lose that.
  The ObamaCare bill incorporates a provision that increases the 
threshold over which someone can deduct medical expenses. Currently, it 
is 7.5 percent of total adjusted gross income. The ObamaCare health 
care law, unbeknownst to many, raised that level from 7.5 percent to 10 
percent. I am simply wanting to offer an amendment that would go back 
to the status quo or go back to the current law and keep it at 7.5 
percent. I believe that could gather and garner bipartisan support. I 
would like to put that for a vote.
  Third is a medical device tax repeal which I have been talking about 
ad nauseam for 3 years. One of the most egregious things in the 
ObamaCare act was the taxing of gross sales in an industry that is 
dynamic, provides high-paying jobs, and is leading edge in terms of 
innovation and creativity, and providing much needed help for those who 
have health conditions that can be addressed through certain medical 
devices. I know we have bipartisan support for the passage of this 
provision and this repeal because in our nonbinding budget vote--the 
chance when we did have the vote--34 Democrats joined 45 Republicans 
for a total of 79 out of 100. That is a majority that overrides a veto, 
and that is a majority of bipartisan--near consensus--as to how we 
ought to move forward. Yet once again we have been denied despite every 
effort over a period of years by the majority leader from having a 
binding vote on that. Clearly someone is afraid that this is going to 
pass. Therefore on a decision solely made by the majority leader, 
perhaps encouraged by the President, we are not even allowed an 
opportunity to take that vote. So the voice of the people--whether it 
is Indiana or the voice of the people from this country--is being 
gagged, and there is a big gag put on everything that we are trying to 
do here.

  I got pretty worked up about this yesterday. I guess I have calmed 
down a little bit today, maybe going from total frustration yesterday 
to pleading with some sense of reason that the procedures here could be 
changed so that we at least have the opportunity to state our case and 
to take a vote. That is all we are asking for on this--these tax 
extender provisions coming before us. We are willing to address and 
offer a limited number of totally relevant amendments. Give us the 
chance to make our case. Take the vote and let the yea be yea and the 
nay be nay on it and see who prevails on it. Yet the word is that the 
majority leader once again is going to deny us this opportunity. It is 
more than tragic because it turns this institution which was venerated 
for being a deliberative body into a nondeliberative body. None of us 
ever thought we would see this happen.
  As I said, had Robert Byrd been here or had George Mitchell been here 
or had a number of other people been here, they never would have 
allowed this. This is not what the Senate has been traditionally, and 
it is something today that none of us recognize and it is just a shame. 
I am not exactly sure how we should best go forward now that the 
majority leader is apparently going to stifle our efforts. There are 
very important provisions here that need to be addressed because they 
expire at the end of the year.
  I see my colleague Senator Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, with whom I 
have worked on comprehensive tax reform. These provisions today are 
essential to our moving to where we really need to go, and that is full 
comprehensive reform--lowering our corporate tax rate, lowering our 
individual tax rates, and making our Tax Code simpler and more fair and 
more growth oriented. Those are the provisions of the Wyden-Coats bill. 
We have to move with that; we have to deal with this first. But we need 
to deal with this in a way that doesn't leave a lot of rancor and a lot 
of frustration on our side that we haven't had an opportunity to have a 
voice in the matter.
  So once again, I am pleading with the Senate majority leader and my 
colleagues on other side of the aisle that we work to find a way to 
turn the Senate back into the Senate. What are we afraid of?
  Mr. President, with that I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.

                             Tax Extenders

  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, in beginning my remarks on these extenders, 
I want my colleague from Indiana to know that in the Finance Committee 
we have done everything we could--all 24 of us--to avoid the rancor and 
polarization that has so often accompanied the big economic debates, 
and we passed the bill out of the Finance Committee overwhelmingly on a 
bipartisan basis.
  Today the Senate is going to have the opportunity to vote against a 

[[Page S3053]]

tax increase--actually, a bunch of big tax increases--that would slam 
our fragile economy hard and would punish innovators, punish our small 
businesses, punish homeowners who are underwater with their mortgages, 
punish returning veterans looking for jobs, and punish students and 
classroom teachers.
  Colleagues, who here thinks it makes sense to tax innovation? That is 
what will happen if the tax extender bill fails to pass today. Who here 
thinks it makes sense to tax millions of hard-working homeowners who 
are underwater on their mortgages and were lucky enough to get a break 
from their lender? That is what will happen if the tax extender bill 
fails to pass today. Who here thinks it makes sense to make it more 
difficult for our employers to hire veterans? Colleagues, that is what 
will happen if the tax extender bill fails to pass today. And who here 
thinks it makes sense to sock college students already drowning in debt 
with even higher tuition bills? Once again, colleagues, that is what 
happens if the tax extender bill fails to pass today.
  I am very much aware that this bill is not exactly what every Senator 
wants. Little secret: It is not my first choice either.
  For years I have had the honor to work with my colleague from Indiana 
on comprehensive tax reform. We were joined by our former colleague 
Senator Gregg. Senator Begich has done good work. That has long been my 
first choice. When Chairman Baucus went to China, I realized it 
wouldn't be possible in the few months that remain in this session to 
enact comprehensive reform, and the Senate shouldn't hit our economy 
once again with immediate--I say, immediate--tax hikes as work goes 
forward on the broader reforms that Senator Coats and I feel so 
strongly about.
  Senator Hatch and all the members of the Finance Committee worked 
cooperatively and helped produce a bipartisan tax extender bill. This 
is essentially the first piece of legislation on my watch as chair of 
the committee. The process was totally open. Every member of the 
Finance Committee had the opportunity to weigh in and offer proposals.
  I want to just briefly describe some of the extraordinary 
bipartisanship that went into the bill that we will have an opportunity 
to vote on today. Senators Schumer and Roberts built on the good work 
of another bipartisan duo, Senator Moran and Senator Coons, and 
improved the research and development credit to make it available to 
those startups out there in garages who have a dream. The research and 
development credit is essentially the premiere part of this legislation 
because we saw a need for those innovation-driven jobs. We have four 
Senators--two of them Democrats, two of them Republicans--in effect 
coming together to improve significantly the research and development 
credit to ensure that it was available to even more of the startups--
even more of those innovators--the ones just getting out of the gate. 
We know a lot of our big businesses started that way--the Microsofts, 
the Intels, and others.
  Next Senator Cardin and Senator Portman added important provisions to 
help the long-term unemployed. We all understand that the nature of 
those who are unemployed has changed significantly in recent years. We 
have many more who are long-term unemployed Americans and we had two 
Senators--by the way, two Senators who started working in a bipartisan 
way when they were House members. I remember their good work on the 
Ways and Means Committee. They came up with a very promising approach 
to help the long-term unemployed. Senators Hatch, Grassley, and 
Roberts--three Republicans--joined a whole host of Democrats in 
supporting conservation, which I know the distinguished Senator from 
Montana knows a great deal about. Senator Baucus had a long interest in 
it. What this measure does--again on a bipartisan basis--is protect 
open spaces and outdoor recreation businesses.
  On the charity front, I heard my good friend from Indiana speak on 
this, and he has done wonderful work standing up for our charities. He 
and I and Senator Thune feel so strongly about making sure charities 
get a fair shake in tax policy. I would say to my good friend, I am 
very pleased that there is a provision in what we will vote on today 
that would allow retirees who choose to use some of their IRA savings 
and give those IRA savings to charity. This legislation today would 
give a break to those retirees. In effect, as my friend and I have 
talked about, it is the IRA rollover concept to help our charities. 
That too is in this legislation and has long had bipartisan support.
  I could go even further, but I will simply wrap up by saying that 
today the Senate has a chance to push back hard against big tax 
increases--tax increases that I have indicated punish everyone from 
innovators to classroom teachers and would hit our small businesses 
hard when the economy is so fragile. The Senate would have the 
opportunity today to push back against those immediate--immediate--tax 
increases, as well as future tax increases and to support the 
bipartisan work of the 24 members of this body who serve on the Finance 
  So I hope that my colleagues will see that even though this bill is 
not everything each Senator wants--and it is very fitting that my good 
friend from Indiana is on the floor because he knows that I strongly 
prefer the idea of comprehensive reform--it became clear to me that it 
wouldn't be possible to do that in the few short months before the end 
of the year. So the question was, are we going to stop immediate tax 
hikes, which I hope the Senate will vote today to do, or are we just 
going to say we will sit by and watch Americans get hurt and in effect 
have a lot of Americans say, if the Senate can't do this, how are they 
possibly going to go on to the comprehensive tax reform that I and 
others would like to accomplish.
  So I hope my colleagues will vote today to advance this bill, vote 
for cloture, vote to break the gridlock, vote to prevent a massive tax 
increase, and show that when a committee like the Senate Finance 
Committee comes together with almost a quarter of the Senate on an 
overwhelming basis, it can set an example for the Senate. I am so 
appreciative of Senator Hatch who has consistently met me half way. I, 
in effect, parachuted into this job as the new chair of the Finance 
Committee--when certainly I didn't expect it--and was fortunate to be 
received with the graciousness of Senator Hatch. This is essentially 
the first bill on my watch. We had an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, 
and I hope my colleagues later this afternoon will vote to advance it.
  With that Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  Mr. COATS. Mr. President, I ask through the Chair, if the Senator 
from Oregon would be willing to enter into a dialogue with me.
  I have a couple of questions, but I also want to respond to the 
efforts he has made in a bipartisan way so we were able to move forward 
with this comprehensive reform.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Booker). The Chair recognizes the Senator 
from Indiana.
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. COATS. First of all, it has been a delight to work with the 
Senator from Oregon. Comprehensive tax reform is not easy, and it has 
not happened in 25 years. This is not what we are talking about today. 
But we are setting the stage for that, and I think that is important.
  I agree with the Senator from Oregon when he spoke about the 
bipartisan product that came out of committee. It has been negotiated, 
and Members of the committee had an opportunity to make adjustments and 
get their provisions looked at and voted on. Some provisions were voted 
down and some were voted up. Now it has moved to the Senate floor, and 
there are those of us who don't serve on that committee that have some 
suggestions as to how we think we can make the bill even better.
  I laid out three provisions that I am interested in. One addition I 
have for the bill is a very simple piece of legislation that would give 
notice to charities that are being terminated from their 501(c)3 tax 
exempt status so they have a chance to rectify the error or problem. I 
feel that is very sensible and totally relevant. Yet I am prohibited--
unless the majority leader comes forward and allows us to offer 
amendments--from offering that specific provision.
  We all know there are many good things in here we support. There are

[[Page S3054]]

some provisions we might agree on and other provisions we don't 
support, but all we are asking for is the opportunity to enter into the 
procedure that the Senator and I have both enjoyed in the past so we 
can debate some of this on the floor.
  Could the Senator give me an indication as to whether or not they 
have shut down the process of any additions, modifications or reforms 
to this bill that we can have a vote on?
  I know the Senator knows this, but I have to say that obviously 
people are not going to get these higher taxes imposed on them tomorrow 
if we don't pass this today. These provisions will expire at the end of 
the year. The House is on a different path in terms of dealing with 
these issues. We are going to have to reconcile the differences.
  The real issue doesn't take effect--I mean the concern doesn't take 
effect until the end of the year. So that gives us plenty of time to 
debate and talk about reforms as well as some constructive additions 
that I have mentioned.
  I ask my friend from Oregon this. Would he be willing to encourage 
the majority leader to offer us that opportunity to make some 
relevant--and hopefully constructive--adjustments, even a limited 
amount, to the legislation so we feel we at least had the opportunity 
to represent the voices of the people we represent here in Washington?
  Mr. WYDEN. First, I want to be clear on a couple of points. This idea 
that there really are not any immediate consequences--I know my friend 
from Indiana spends a lot of time talking to businesses, as I do, and 
these businesses are up in arms about the fact that the Senate cannot 
deal with this because it doesn't give them the certainty and 
predictability they need to go out and make those orders and hire those 
workers. As my friend knows, so many of those businesses make quarterly 
payments--April, June, et cetera.
  I want my colleagues to understand that the idea that maybe this is 
going to get worked out at another time is not in anyone's best 
  When you are home for this recess, walking down Main Street and 
talking to people who are going to pay those higher taxes and are not 
able to make those investments and hire those workers and make those 
decisions now, they are not going to be happy that the Senate said: Oh, 
we will see if maybe it will work out some other time or retroactive or 
something like that. They are making quarterly payments and decisions 
right now.
  Second, the Senator from Indiana knows--because of our work--how much 
I want to do comprehensive reform. One of the reasons that Senator 
Hatch and I made the judgment together that we were going to focus on 
extenders is because these are provisions that have essentially already 
expired. I didn't get a chance to hear all of my friend's presentation, 
but I know, for example, that he cares a great deal about the medical 
device tax. I joined him in voting to repeal the medical device tax 
when we had a vote earlier. I think it has real implications, as I know 
my friend does, for innovation and for jobs.
  It is not an extender. It is not in line with the framework that 
Senator Hatch and I agreed on a bipartisan basis to do now. We said: We 
are going to do extenders now. To tell you the truth, if we can get 
through the extenders, starting with a favorable vote today, it will 
give us even more time to do what my friend from Indiana is talking 
about both in terms of comprehensive reform and looking at other 
  If, however, we can't deal with the extenders, the message is going 
to go out far and wide: How are they going to address comprehensive tax 
reform on the Senate floor when they couldn't even pass this 
legislation which got such overwhelming support in the Senate Finance 
  So I renew my pledge to work very closely with my colleague from 
Indiana and repeat that the idea that somehow everything is going to 
turn out fine down the road, I just don't buy that. In a fragile 
economy when businesses can't plan and don't have the certainty of 
knowing what the rules are going to be and when they are going to kick 
in, that affects business decisions today in a negative way. When 
people are making those quarterly payments, you better believe there 
are going to be small businesses, and others, very unhappy if we see a 
tax increase, which is what will happen today.
  I have to apologize to my colleague from Indiana because I have to be 
somewhere else and I am late, but I will just close by saying that I 
know the sincerity of my colleague. That is why I mentioned that 
charitable provision that allows for the IRA rollover into charity. No 
one has done more good work advocating for charities during my time in 
public service than the distinguished Senator from Indiana. I simply 
wanted him to know that at least we were making a beginning in this 
legislation, and I am committed to working with him in the days ahead.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana.
  Mr. COATS. Mr. President, I appreciate the accolades from my partner 
in dealing with comprehensive tax reform. I appreciate and understand 
where he is trying to come from. It is true that some of the amendments 
that have been proposed don't directly apply to the extenders, but they 
do apply to taxes, and they are sensible. If the majority leader would 
agree, we can limit it to those that directly apply to the extenders.
  Look, everyone knows that even if the majority leader prevents us 
from having amendments, we are going to finish this bill by the end of 
next week--before the recess period. We are not talking about: Do it 
today or it is a ``done forever'' situation. This is going to be 
resolved in the Senate within the next several business days, probably 
moving into next week.
  All we are really asking for is the opportunity to make some 
improvements to this. There are some Members who say: I can't vote for 
this bill because this piece that the committee has agreed to is so 
egregious, and it overwhelms all the good that I see in it. Others will 
simply say: Well, OK, sometimes you have to take the less good--perfect 
being the enemy of the good--because it is the only way we can get to a 
bipartisan position. So, yes, I will lean forward even though I object 
to this particular provision. But at least they can say: I had the 
opportunity to make the point to my colleagues as to why certain 
provisions are in there. I can ask: Why is something that is this 
egregious? This doesn't fit the model of what we are looking for in 
terms of growth and innovation and sensible tax policy. Let's put that 
to a vote.
  In the end we will still have a bill that will either have it in or 
out, but we will have had the opportunity to debate it with our 
colleagues, and not just simply carte blanche say: Here is what we 
decided in committee. By doing that, nobody else will have an 
opportunity to have their input in a way that they think will make it 
  Let's put these issues up for a vote. Let's debate it on both sides 
so we can ask: How did it get in there? Why did it get in there? What 
good does it do? If they can't make the case, they lose the vote. If 
they make the case, they win the vote.
  Isn't that what we are here for? Aren't we here to make our case and 
put it to a vote so the American people can look at it and say: At 
least I know how my Senator voted on this particular issue which is 
very important to me.
  When we go home, we can either defend our vote successfully or we 
don't. If we don't, and enough people think we are on the wrong track, 
they have the opportunity to go to the polls and send somebody else in 
place of us.
  What are my colleagues afraid of? Are they afraid of taking any kind 
of vote that someone back home might not think is the right thing to 
  We were sent here to exercise our best judgment, to represent the 
people who sent us here, to stand up for their interests, and then to 
take the consequence at the next election--yea or nay. Either they will 
send us back or they will find someone else to stand here.
  The gag rule imposed by the majority leader--not my friend from 
Oregon--simply says: You are in the minority. You didn't win the 
election; therefore, you have no rights.
  Despite what the Senate has done for over 200 years, and despite what 
other Democratic leaders have honored in terms of the rights of the 
Senate, the

[[Page S3055]]

majority leader is saying: I am shutting all of that off. You have no 
rights. You can't offer any amendments. You can't offer any 
improvements to this bill.
  We were taught from the beginning--in terms of how laws are made--
that it is a process, and the process is that everybody gets their 
input and then we decide what we want to support. If you can cobble 
together a majority for supporting your issue, you end up winning.
  All of this will be determined here in the next week. A vote today in 
protest of our inability to be gagged and shut down by the majority 
leader doesn't mean we are opposed to good provisions that my colleague 
from Oregon has said have bipartisan and nearly unanimous consent.
  The vote today is about whether we are going to have the opportunity 
to say and do anything to make this a better bill and allow us an 
opportunity to have our input. I listed three items here that I think 
directly relates to taxes. If the parliamentarian determines that those 
are not relevant to the particular bill, I will accept that even if I 
think they are relevant. My colleagues will also accept that. We are 
tailoring items we think will go directly to what the issue of the day 
is; yet we are not offered the opportunity to do anything about it.
  I cannot understand why my Democratic colleagues can't see the 
injustice and unfairness of that. If they were in the minority, they 
would be standing where I am and basically making the same point. How 
can Republicans conceivably say: I have been elected here, but I have 
no way of representing the voice of the people who sent me here. I have 
no way of offering a means of improving this bill or taking on 
something that I find totally egregious, but I am willing to accept how 
the vote turns out. I am not necessarily trying to stop the bill from 
going forward, but I am trying to make it better.
  I think if the shoe was on the other foot, my colleagues would simply 
say: That is not the way the Senate is supposed to work. That is not 
why I came here. I came here to be a participant. I didn't come here to 
be told by the majority leader that I have no right to offer a relevant 
amendment to legislation that is before us. It is a total neuterization 
of the minority rights in a body that was conceived by our Founders--
and a tradition that has been held for more than 200 years--to be a 
deliberative body. Deliberative doesn't mean the majority leader walks 
over from his office and says: You have no right to offer an amendment. 
We are taking that right away from you. Deliberative means we stand and 
talk to each other as we just did. It is pretty rare for two of us to 
be on the same page on comprehensive tax reform and probably on the 
extenders, but the two of us have the chance to go back and forth with 
each other.

  I know the time has run out and it is time to call for a vote.
  No one should mistake a vote against this as a vote against tax 
extenders. It could be a protest. I am not sure where we will end up, 
but it could be a protest vote on the basis of the fact that we want to 
have our rights honored. We want to be able to participate. We want to 
be able to go home and say: I had a chance to take your voice to the 
Senate and debate it. It was voted on. It either passed or it didn't 
pass, but I gave it everything I had. I don't want to go home and say: 
I didn't have a chance to even raise my voice on behalf of your voice 
and achieve any kind of debate, deliberation or vote on this amendment. 
That is not why we are sent here. My Democratic colleagues need to 
understand that continuing to support what the majority leader is doing 
impacts their rights and their people's rights as much as it does ours.
  With that I know the time has expired and I yield the floor.

                             Cloture Motion

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, there is 2 minutes 
of debate equally divided before the cloture vote.
  Mr. TESTER. I ask unanimous consent to yield back all time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. COATS. We yield back time as well.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, pursuant to rule 
XXII, the Chair lays before the Senate the pending cloture motion, 
which the clerk will state.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

                             Cloture Motion

       We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the 
     provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, 
     hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of 
     Rosemary Marquez, of Arizona, to be United States District 
     Judge for the District of Arizona.
         Harry Reid, Patrick J. Leahy, Robert Menendez, 
           Christopher Murphy, Elizabeth Warren, Christopher A. 
           Coons, Angus S. King, Jr., Richard Blumenthal, Jeff 
           Merkley, Cory A. Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Dianne 
           Feinstein, Richard J. Durbin, Tom Udall, Sheldon 
           Whitehouse, Charles E. Schumer, Edward J. Markey.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. By unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum 
call has been waived.
  The question is, Is it the sense of the Senate that debate on the 
nomination of Rosemary Marquez, of Arizona, to be United States 
District Judge for the District of Arizona, shall be brought to a 
  The yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Michigan (Mr. Levin), 
the Senator from West Virginia (Mr. Manchin), the Senator from West 
Virginia (Mr. Rockefeller), and the Senator from Vermont (Mr. Sanders) 
are necessarily absent.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the 
Senator from Arkansas (Mr. Boozman), the Senator from North Carolina 
(Mr. Burr), and the Senator from Nebraska (Mr. Johanns).
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The yeas and nays resulted--yeas 58, nays 35, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 150 Ex.]


     Johnson (SD)
     Udall (CO)
     Udall (NM)


     Johnson (WI)

                             NOT VOTING--7

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. On this vote the yeas are 58, the nays are 35. 
The motion is agreed to.