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March 31, 2011

House Markup - H.R. 1232: Eliminating Abortion Tax Benefits

H.R. 1232: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to eliminate certain tax benefits relating to abortion

Room 1100
Longworth House Office Building
Thursday, March 31, 2011 at 2:00 P.M.

This new legislation addresses the abortion-related tax issues raised in H.R. 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” by amending the Tax Code and will be marked-up with the expectation that it will replace the existing tax policies contained in H.R. 3 when H.R. 3 is considered by the House.

H.R. 1232 specifically makes the following pro-life changes to the tax code:
  • Disallows premium tax credits – also known as “exchange subsidies” – created by the 2010 health care law for subsidizing the premiums of health insurance plans offered in the government-run exchanges that offer abortion coverage.
  • Disallows small business tax credits, also created by the 2010 health care law, for a subset of small businesses purchasing, for employees, health insurance plans that offer abortion coverage.
  • Ends the policy of providing tax-preferred status for abortion through Archer Medical Savings Accounts, Health Savings Accounts, and Health Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs).
  • Disallows abortions to be included as an itemized deduction for medical expenses exceeding 7.5% (10% after 2012) of adjusted gross income.

House Votes - H.R. 471: Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act

H.Res. 186: Providing for consideration of H.R. 471

On Ordering the Previous Question
Passed by 55 votes: 237-182, 13 not voting

On Passage
Passed by 57 votes: 235-178, 19 not voting



H.R. 471: Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act
To reauthorize the DC opportunity scholarship program, and for other purposes.

Amendments

H.Amdt. 209 by Del. Norton [D-DC]
An amendment printed in House Report 112-45 to redirect the religious and other private school voucher funding to District of Columbia public schools and District of Columbia public charter schools.
Failed by 53 votes: 185-237, 10 not voting


On Motion to Recommit with Instructions
Failed by 54 votes: 185-238, 9 not voting

On Passage
Passed by 30 votes: 225-195, 12 not voting


Legislation Background

House passes D.C. school voucher bill
The House signed off Wednesday on reviving a school voucher program for low-income students in the District of Columbia. The House voted 225-195 Wednesday afternoon to allocate $20 million to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships Program, which stopped accepting new students in 2009. The bill will open the program to new applicants.

Houses Passes School Voucher Bill
The measure, which faces a tough battle in the Senate, is aimed at helping school children in the District of Columbia.

President Carter's Recent Visit to Cuba

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The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Nunnelee). Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 5, 2011, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Diaz-Balart) is recognized for 30 minutes.

Mr. DIAZ-BALART. I appreciate the recognition.

Mr. Speaker, on March 28, former President Jimmy Carter arrived on a trip to Cuba at the invitation of the Cuban dictatorship. He arrived there, and originally in his agenda that was made public he had no meetings with any of the internal opposition leaders, no meetings with any of the civil society leaders, no meetings with anybody other than the regime.

I know that he met with the dictator who's been oppressing and torturing and savaging that population without obviously having free elections for over 52 years, for over half a century. He called the dictator, Mr. Castro, his dear friend.

Mr. Speaker, right before former President Carter arrived at that enslaved island, the regime went about arresting and detaining a rather large number of people, people who they wanted to make sure didn't make trouble. Now, remember, that making trouble in that totalitarian regime, Mr. Speaker, is speaking out, asking for freedom, just getting together and organizing and asking for some basic human rights. So they started systematically detaining and arresting and harassing people so that former President Carter wouldn't have to see, wouldn't have to be bothered with the inconvenience of people actually speaking out and asking for freedom and asking for democracy.

[Time: 20:00]

A group of people, Mr. Speaker, actually went in front of the old capitol building. A capitol building, by the way, that doesn't look very dissimilar to this Capitol building, where at one time, debates in the democratic society used to take place, where people argued and debated in a peaceful fashion about their future, about their agreements and disagreements.

So a group of people decided to demonstrate in front of that building, which is actually very emblematic as to what they were talking about, and basically just to say, We want freedom. We want democracy. We want the ability to speak out and determine our future. But for that they were again harassed, and for that they were arrested.

Eriberto Liranza was reportedly beaten by state security rather harshly. Several were detained at the protests in Havana, including activist Eriberto Liranza Romero, the president of the Cuban Youth for Democracy movement, and Boris Rodriguez Jimenez, a member of that same organization.

Mr. Speaker, one of the heroes that I greatly admired is a man named Jorge Luis Garcia Perez. Everybody knows him as ``Antunez,'' by one name. He mentions, and he said, This action, this action of just demonstrating is a demand for the freedom of the political prisoners; and in response, a moral slap in the face for the campaign's undertaking by the regime to divide the opposition. He went on to say, Mr. Speaker, ``We are true to our motto: The streets belong to the people.''

But, you see, unfortunately in Cuba, just standing out, walking together, like the Ladies in White do, and when they just demonstrate peacefully together, they walk together as a symbol of just speaking out because their relatives, their husbands and fathers and sisters and daughters and brothers and sons, et cetera, are in prison. Just for doing that, they get savagely beaten by that regime.

While President Carter was there, did he insist on free elections for the Cuban people? No. Did he insist on meeting with and speaking about and talking about those who are suffering in the dungeons, the political prisoners? No, Mr. Speaker, he did not. And as I mentioned at the beginning, sir, he really didn't even have it on an agenda to even meet with anybody, other than the regime, until I guess he was a little bit embarrassed by some of the reports and eventually decided to allow some people to try to meet with him.

So did he speak out about the savagery of the regime? Did he speak out about the lack of elections? Did he demand free elections for the enslaved people? Did he demand for an end to the apartheid system? Did he demand that that regime turn over the multiple, the many fugitives from American law who are harbored by that terrorist regime 90 miles away from the United States? No, Mr. Speaker, he did nothing of that sort.

But let me tell you what he did do. He spoke of and he complained about the sanctions that the United States Government has to try to show solidarity with the Cuban people, to have leverage with that regime once Castro is no longer in the picture, which I think is sooner than people expect. He complained about the attitude and the policies of the United States Government but not about the policies of that thug, that dictatorship 90 miles away. He didn't complain about what they do, what that dictatorship does to its own people.

Did he complain about the mass arrests of those heroes who wanted to speak out and who decided to use that opportunity in front of the capitol building to just ask for freedom? No, he didn't do that, Mr. Speaker, but he did complain about U.S. policy.

He went a step further. He went on to demand the release in the United States of five convicted criminals, five people who were convicted in the United States, in a country where we have due process, we have all the rights and all the rights that are provided to a defendant, five people who were convicted of espionage and one who was also convicted of conspiracy to commit murder. So former President Carter did ask that those convicted in a court of law, with all the due process that we have in this country, for espionage and for conspiracy to commit murder, he did ask and demand their release. But he did not ask or demand the release of the hundreds and hundreds of political prisoners who are rotting in prison while he was there.

So it's a sad day, Mr. Speaker. It's a sad day, I think, for humanity.

I know a lot of people who are listening are probably not surprised. I recall that when the Cuban dictator was gravely ill, it was reported that former President Carter wrote him a nice little letter, a nice note, hoping that he would recover and that he would recover his health. And now, again, former President Carter called him his dear friend, hoping that he would recover.

This is a regime who had asked on multiple occasions for the then-Soviet Union to strike the United States with

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nuclear weapons, to do a first strike on the United States with nuclear weapons, and yet former President Jimmy Carter was hoping that he would recover. This is a regime that is a state sponsor of terrorism 90 miles away from the United States, and yet former President Jimmy Carter sent him a note that he would hope that he would fully recover. This is a regime who our GIs died in Grenada, the island of Grenada, liberating that island and died at the hands of the troops that the Cuban regime had sent there, and yet former President Jimmy Carter was hoping and writing that that dictatorship would fully recover. This is a dictatorship that harbors U.S. fugitives, that harbors terrorists, that is on a list of states that sponsor terrorism, one of just four on that list, and yes, former President Jimmy Carter was hoping that he would fully recover.

Well, unfortunately, the dictator has somewhat recovered. And what has he been doing? Well, more of the same. He still harbors the terrorists. He still harbors the fugitives, and he still is creating all sorts of havoc around the hemisphere. But he also, in addition to that, continues to enslave his people, to oppress his people, to torture his people. And we've seen example

after example of that with, again, the last arrests that I just spoke of.

Mr. Speaker, a couple of weeks ago a group of us here in Congress spoke to another one of my heroes, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet. Oscar Elias Biscet is a brilliant young Afro-Cuban physician. He founded the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights in 1997, and that was founded just to promote the study and defense of human rights and to denounce human rights violations inside of Cuba and wherever else they may take place. Now, for denouncing the double standards and discrimination against the Cuban people, the discrimination that the Cuban health care system has for the Cuban people, he was forbidden from practicing medicine. Again, he is an M.D.

In November of 1999, Dr. Biscet was imprisoned for 3 years just for organizing a peaceful pro-democracy protest. He was released in 2002. By the way, again, he was no longer allowed to practice medicine. But he was released in 2002. So what he did was he organized seminars on just the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I snicker because, you know, that's something that every day people talk about. I mean, my colleague on the other side of the aisle just spent quite a large part of his time talking about the evolution of the Constitution, et cetera, and human rights. Well, Dr. Biscet, when he was released in 2002, he talked about the Declaration of Human Rights.

[Time: 20:10]

So he was arrested once again in December of 2002 for attending seminars and for organizing some of those seminars.

On April 7, 2002, Dr. Biscet was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He has been incarcerated in multiple prisons around the island in multiple gulags and has suffered greatly in his incarceration.

On November 5, 2007, President Bush recognized Dr. Biscet by presenting him, in absentia of course, he was not allowed to visit with him, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and stating that Dr. Biscet is a champion in the fight against tyranny and oppression. Despite being persecuted and imprisoned for his beliefs, he continues to advocate for a free Cuba in which the rights of all people are respected.

I said, Mr. Speaker, that a group of us, Chris Smith from the State of New Jersey, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairperson of the International Relations Committee, and I, spoke to Dr. Biscet by telephone. And, obviously, the first thing was we asked him about his health. And he has suffered greatly in prison.

I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that he has not, however, given up his efforts. He said, You know, I am recuperating so I can continue the struggle for freedom.

We asked him about, well, what was his opinion about the policy, the United States policy? By the way, the same policy that former President Jimmy Carter now has just criticized. He said, there are some that claim that if we just opened up trade and we just opened up and we got rid of the sanctions that freedom would come to the Cuban people.

He was emphatic. He was so emphatic. He said, no, no, no, no, no. He said, tyrants are always looking at ways to get more money. Tyrants are always looking at ways of getting more revenue. But he further stated, the only thing that would do--and I'm paraphrasing what he said--but he was very emphatic and very clear. The only thing that would do, he said, would be to strengthen the dictatorship. It wouldn't help the Cuban people. It would strengthen the dictatorship.

Did former President Jimmy Carter meet with Dr. Biscet, the recipient of the Medal of Freedom? No, he did not. He did not because he probably would have not liked to have heard what Dr. Biscet would have had to say. He would have not liked to have heard about the oppression and the lack of human rights and the lack of dignity that those who suffer in Castro's gulags have to suffer, while former President Jimmy Carter calls the dictator in Havana his good friend.

There are other such incredible heroes that are on the island, Mr. Speaker. I mentioned Dr. Biscet, but I also want to mention Antunez, as I mentioned before. Antunez served almost two decades in prison. He received incredible tortures, beatings, multiple beatings, while he was there; and, yet, when released, his attitude has been what? His attitude has been one of great dignity, of great courage, of standing up and he continues to demand elections, continues to demand freedom.

And he also would tell you, if he could be speaking here today, that we have to stay firm and we have to hold steadfast and show solidarity with the Cuban people, not with the regime, not with those that former President Carter calls his good friends, not with those that former President Carter says that they should continue to prosper, when they were ill, hoping that they would do well and fully recover. No, we have to hold firm and stand with the Cuban people.

Mr. Speaker, I'm so convinced, so convinced that the Cuban people will be free, despite the apologists, despite those that go out of their way to try to make the regime look good, try to make the regime look like they're this wonderful, charitable regime because every once in a while they may free a political prisoner as a token gesture.

Despite that, the Cuban people continue to stand firm. Their heroes are still there; the Mandelas and the Havels of Cuba are on the island. They're speaking out. Most of them, many of them have been in prison. Many of them have been tortured and beaten, but their spirit remains strong, Mr. Speaker. They continue to speak out.

And despite individuals like, unfortunately, former President Jimmy Carter, who looks for every excuse and every opportunity to criticize the policies of the United States and yet refused to criticize the savagery of that dictatorship, despite that, I'm absolutely convinced that the Cuban people will be free because of the heroes like Dr. Biscet and Antunez and many more.

So I am not discouraged. I am not discouraged when I see these gestures of solidarity with the dictatorship. I am not discouraged when people go down to Havana and, you know, might have a mojito and relax and go to the beaches and tour the hotels where the Cubans are not allowed to go unless they're accompanied by foreigners. I'm not discouraged because ultimately truth always reigns, because ultimately the rights of individuals always surface. Ultimately, those that sacrifice and that work hard and the heroes who, by the way, are the future leaders of a free Cuba, those heroes who are in the dungeons or who are in and out of the dungeons, they don't give up. And they're not discouraged, and they're not quieted, and they will not be intimidated.

So, Mr. Speaker, despite this, what some would call a slap in the face to the cause of human rights and democracy in Cuba, I will tell you further than that, the cause of human rights and human dignity around the planet, despite that that former President Jimmy Carter has just attempted to do, I'm not discouraged. On the contrary, I am as encouraged as ever.

I think I might end by reading a letter, if I actually have it here. No, I

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don't think I have it. I do want to mention, though, that one of our colleagues in the Senate, a Democrat, Democrat from New Jersey, Senator Menendez, wrote a letter to former President Jimmy Carter where he expressed, and I will be submitting that for the Record, Mr. Speaker, where he expressed what Jimmy Carter, what former President Jimmy Carter should be talking about. And he expressed how it was rather incredible that the former President would not demand the freedom of the Cuban people and would criticize the policies of the United States.

And as Senator Menendez says in that letter, the issue is not what the policy of the United States is with the Cuban regime. The issue is the policies of the regime and the oppression of the regime with its own people. And once again, Senator Menendez, Democrat from New Jersey, is right on.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I just want to again say that we do not forget the heroes in the island. We do not forget those who are struggling and working and speaking out and suffering the consequences for their actions in the island. We do not forget them. We admire them. We support them. We are humbled by their courage. We are humbled by their love for freedom and what they are willing to sacrifice for that freedom, and we know that sooner than I think some may believe and clearly sooner than some would like, they too will be free. They too will be able to discuss the issues in public. They too will be able to make the determination as to the future of their country.

I am encouraged and humbled by their leadership, despite sometimes the sadness of what we have to listen to by those who still continue to call Fidel Castro their good friend.

March 29, 2011.
Hon. Jimmy Carter,
The Carter Center, One Copenhill,
Freedom Parkway, Atlanta, GA.

DEAR PRESIDENT CARTER: I am writing to express my grave concern about your visit to Cuba this week to discuss improving U.S.-Cuba relations.

Your visit suggests that the improvement of relations between the United States and Cuba is contingent upon some action by the United States, rather than acknowledging that it is Cuba's intolerant and tyrannical actions that continue to define the future of U.S.-Cuba relations. While you are visiting with President Castro and other Cuban officials to learn about new economic policies and the upcoming party Congress, the regime's thugs are in the streets harassing and arresting scores of political dissidents who dared to hope that you would hear their pleas and argue on their behalf for the adoption of political reforms. The fate of American Alan Gross, a USAID contractor who sought to assist the island's Jewish community, also hangs in the balance while you meet with the political elite that are directing the crackdown on Cuba's peaceful civil society activists. On Sunday, the regime detained activists Adriano Castañeda Meneses, Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera and Jorge Luis García Pérez Antúnez and on Monday, Liranza Romero, president of the Cuban Youth for Democracy Movement and Boris Rodríguez Jiménez were arrested when they attempted to stand in front of the Capitol with signs reading ``Freedom without Forced Exile for Cuba's Political Prisoners'' and ``The Streets belong to the Cuban People.''

I urge you to address with President Castro the aspirations of Cuba's civil society to live in a democratic state whose laws are derived and implemented by their democratically elected representatives and are based on the core principles of respect for human and civil rights, including the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

As we witness unprecedented movements for democratic change in the Middle East, I appeal to you to recognize that same heartfelt desire amongst the Cuban people and to urge the regime to fulfill the democratic aspirations of the Cuban people.

Sincerely,
SENATOR ROBERT MENENDEZ.

(House of Representatives - March 30, 2011)

U.S. Helping Brazil Drill for Oil

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(Mr. POE of Texas asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute.)

Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, gasoline has reached nearly $4 a gallon, and 60 percent of the American people want the administration to open up offshore drilling. Yet the administration ignores the will of the people, remaining defiant in their war on domestic energy. They continue to block access to American natural resources, refusing to issue timely drilling permits, despite a Federal court order to do so.

However, the President has announced that the U.S. is going to help somebody drill for oil. We're going to send money, billions of dollars, to Brazil and their state-owned oil company. They will use American money to drill off their coast, and then we will buy the oil back from Brazil. Isn't that lovely?

It's mind-boggling and infuriating that instead of developing our own domestic energy supply and creating jobs in America for Americans, the administration wants to become more dependent on foreign oil. Instead of propping up foreign energy companies, we need to allow American workers to drill in American water. It is wrong for the administration to prevent the development of our own natural resources while promoting the drilling off the shores of other countries.

And that's just the way it is.

(House of Representatives - March 30, 2011)

Fiscal and Public Health Safety and Sanity Prevailing

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(Mr. COURTNEY asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. COURTNEY. Madam Speaker, a few hours ago, fiscal and public health safety and sanity prevailed when the Food and Drug Administration clarified an order on February 3 approving the drug Makena, which is an injectable medication for women at risk of preterm birth, one of the biggest health care challenges that our country faces. There are a half million premature births in this country. They cost the health care system $29 billion. They are the leading cause of infant mortality.

This new medication which the FDA approved on February 3 is promising, but it costs $1,500 per injection, $30,000 per pregnancy. At the same time, OB-GYNs in this country have been prescribing a compound alternative that costs only $20 per treatment per medication. And yet the order on February 3 indicated that there would only be exclusive treatments under the $1,500 medication.

The order this morning clarifies that there will be no exclusivity, that OB-GYNs will continue to be able to prescribe the cheaper alternative, but FDA retains its power to still require exclusivity.

For the sake of taxpayers and patients, Congress must keep a close eye on the FDA to not take away this option to OB-GYNs all across America.

Washington Doesn't Understand California's Water Problems

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(Mr. COSTA asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. COSTA. Madam Speaker, California's Governor will soon declare an end to the drought that devastated the San Joaquin Valley. Our cities are flooding and our rivers are raging and the snowpack in the Sierras is deeper than it has been in any 15-year period. It is clear that the drought is over. Somehow, though, Washington has not gotten the news.

With unemployment still in double digits in seven counties in the valley and unemployment continuing to be very problematic, the folks in Washington think that communities can recover from the Great Recession with just over half the water our farmers need. They don't understand the valley. They don't understand us.

Do you hear me, Commerce Department? Do you hear me, Secretary Locke? Water is the lifeblood of the San Joaquin Valley. It puts food on our table. It sustains our economy, and it creates good jobs. That is why I am introducing legislation that will allow the needed flexibility for California's water policy.

As we work to find short-term and long-term solutions to California's broken water system, passing commonsense legislation will bring over half a million acre-feet of water to valley farmers and farm communities. It is time to put aside our political differences. It is time to reach a compromise, and it is time to end this regulatory drought.

(House of Representatives - March 30, 2011)

Support More Diversity in the United States Capitol

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(Mr. COHEN asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute.)

Mr. COHEN. Madam Speaker, this week I plan to introduce a bill that will allow States to submit three statues for display in the United States Capitol.

This bill seeks to include more diversity among the honored in our Capitol by increasing that number of statues to include more notable women, minorities, and other ethnic groups that have contributed significantly to our history.

Currently, there are 100 statues on display given by the States, and only 16 are women or minority groups. Ten are women with three Native-Americans; three statues are Native-American males, two are Hispanic, and one is a Pacific Islander. Although there have been many noteworthy African Americans and Asian Americans in our history, no State has submitted a statue honoring one of them. This disparity must be rectified.

If you walked through the Capitol and looked at the statues, you would think all the heroes and leaders were granite white men. This bill is to express that equal representation of all Americans is essential in our historical perspectives and the educational value that the Capitol offers its thousands of visitors.

I urge my colleagues to look at the bill, to support it, and to have more diverse representation among the statuary in the United States Capitol.

Immigration

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(Mr. BACA asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute.)

Mr. BACA. Madam Speaker, America's broken immigration system continues to wreak havoc in communities across the country.

Real families with real children live in fear that someone they love may be torn away from them. No child deserves to grow up without the love of their parents. We must bring an end to the separation of families. We must all remember that immigrants are not our enemies. They are our neighbors, our classmates, our fellow churchgoers. They are part of the American fabric.

Over the coming month, I look forward to working with CHC and advocates across the Nation to speak on the human impact of our broken immigration system.

Immigration is not just a Latino issue. It is an American issue that impacts all of us. Let's work together to stop this hateful rhetoric and pass real immigration reform.

(House of Representatives - March 30, 2011)

Japan

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(Mrs. DAVIS of California asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute.)

Mrs. DAVIS of California. Madam Speaker, in the past few weeks we have seen the devastating images of the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

As someone who lived in Japan, it is hard to believe entire towns and cities in this beautiful country have been destroyed, and I am heartsick for the more than 9,800 lives that have been lost. I can only imagine the grief and shock felt by the families and friends of the victims, and my heart goes out to them.

I am grateful that San Diego's own USS Reagan departed for Japan on March 11 to help with relief efforts. With the more than 17,500 people still missing and more than 245,000 people in evacuation centers, daunting challenges lie ahead.

Madam Speaker, I urge this body to stand in solidarity with the Japanese people and reassure our ally that America is ready and committed to giving our partner the support needed to cope with this horrible disaster.

(House of Representatives - March 30, 2011)

The Truth About the Debate Over Defunding Planned Parenthood

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The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Pence) for 5 minutes.

Mr. PENCE. Mr. Speaker, abortion on demand is an American tragedy, but public funding for abortion and abortion providers is an American disgrace. Fortunately, we have never been closer to denying public funding to abortion providers in America than we are today.

On February 18, 2011, with bipartisan support, the House of Representatives

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passed H.R. 1, which included the Pence amendment ending taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in America. Despite efforts to suggest otherwise, the Pence amendment does not reduce funding for cancer screening or eliminate one dime of funding for other important health services to women. If the Pence amendment becomes law, thousands of women's health centers, clinics and hospitals would still provide assistance to low-income families and women. The Pence amendment would simply deny all Federal funding to Planned Parenthood of America.

Over the past several weeks, Planned Parenthood has used its vast resources to launch slick Madison Avenue television ads portraying the Nation's largest abortion provider as an altruistic organization that provides health care services to the poor with only an incidental interest in the abortion industry. The truth is far afield from the image. The truth is that a major source of Planned Parenthood's clinic income comes from the abortion business.

Despite attempts by advocates for the abortion industry and ideologues on the left to portray efforts to defund Planned Parenthood as some kind of a ``war on women,'' the issue here is big business, and that business is abortion. This legislative battle over the Pence amendment is about Big Abortion versus American taxpayers and American women specifically.

As Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood director, recently said, ``Planned Parenthood's mission, on paper, is to give quality and affordable health care and to protect women's rights. But in reality,'' she said, ``their mission is to increase their abortion numbers and in turn increase their revenue.''

There is no doubt that Planned Parenthood's focus is on making Big Abortion even bigger. In 2009, the group made only 977 adoption referrals and cared for 7,021 prenatal clients, but performed an unprecedented 332,278 abortions. In fact, in 2009, a pregnant woman entering a Planned Parenthood clinic was 42 times more likely to have an abortion than to receive either prenatal care or to be referred to an adoption service.

According to their most recent annual report, the organization raked in $1.1 billion in total revenue. Of that amount, $363.2 million came from taxpayers in the form of government grants and contracts. This is about big business, and that business is abortion.

And for all the talk about how poor women would be harmed if taxpayers stopped subsidizing Big Abortion, it is telling to see how they have been spending their money. According to a June 2008 story in The Wall Street Journal, Planned Parenthood was flush with cash and using its profits to rebrand itself to appeal to more affluent American women. Their rebranding effort was designed to build their business by increasingly targeting wealthy consumers to complement their existing targeting of poor and minority women.

While taxpayers underwrite their operations, Planned Parenthood is building large luxury health centers in shopping centers and malls designed by marketing experts with touches like hardwood floors, muted lighting, large waiting rooms and the like.

And Big Abortion routinely puts profits over women's health and safety. When women testify on behalf of improved safety standards at abortion clinics, Planned Parenthood opposes it and fights them every step of the way. And despite the fact that 88 percent of Americans favor informed consent laws that provide information about the risks and alternatives to abortions for women, Planned Parenthood opposes these efforts and works to keep women in the dark in jurisdictions across the country.

The reality is abortion on demand is an American tragedy, but public funding of abortion providers is an American disgrace. The time has come to deny any and all funding to Planned Parenthood of America and this week, as House Republicans reaffirm our commitment to H.R. 1, to reaffirm our commitment to make a down payment on fiscal responsibility and reform. Let us also seize this moment to reaffirm our commitment to defend the broad mainstream values of the American people in the way we spend the people's money.

I urge continued support by my colleagues on both sides of the aisle of the Pence amendment denying public funding to Planned Parenthood of America.

(House of Representatives - March 30, 2011)

America's Rising Energy Prices

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The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Walberg) for 5 minutes.

Mr. WALBERG. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to talk about a topic that affects every American, rising energy prices. I've spoken on this floor about it before, and I will continue to do so until we increase our energy production here in America, and our dependence on the political earthquake zones of this world is depleted.

While President Obama was traveling in South America, I returned home to my district last week, and I heard from my constituents loud and clear: Gas prices are too high. We need to do something about it. That's why I found it so outrageous and appalling when I heard our President last week offering assistance and encouraging energy production, not here in America, but in Brazil.

No, that's not the right direction. We need to encourage energy production right here at home, not Brazil. We need to develop our offshore energy resources so that jobs can be created here in America, not Brazil. And we need to encourage energy independence so that we return to more reasonable energy costs, not in Brazil, but right here in America.

Mr. Speaker, the time is now to confront this issue and encourage energy exploration and production right here at home. The time is now to create our independence from foreign energy sources and secure our present and future as good stewards of our God-given resources and the blessings of liberty.

(House of Representatives - March 30, 2011)

Getting Out of Afghanistan

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The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Jones) for 5 minutes.

Mr. JONES. Mr. Speaker, a couple of weeks ago, we had the opportunity to vote to bring our troops home from Afghanistan. It was Mr. Kucinich's resolution that many of us hoped that my party would have joined. We only had eight Republicans vote to bring our troops home this year from Afghanistan.

Mr. Speaker, what is so ironic, we sit on this floor and we debate cutting the budget, doing this and that, and yet we are supporting a corrupt leader named Karzai in Afghanistan.

In fact, I want to share with the people that a former Marine general is my confidential adviser. I don't have permission to use his name. I could, I guess, but I don't have his permission. This is what he said in a recent email to me:

``What do we say to the mother and father, the wife, of the last soldier or marine killed to support a corrupt government and corrupt leader in a war that can't be won?''

Let me share with you, Mr. Speaker, a couple of comments from the leader of Afghanistan, President Karzai, on March 12, 2011, in The New York Times:

``I request that NATO and America should stop these operations on our soil,'' he said. ``This war is not on our soil. If this war is against terror, then this war is not here'' because there is no terrorism here on our soil.

Karzai further stated, on December 8, 2010, in a meeting with Petraeus and Eikenberry, that he now has three main enemies: the Taliban, the United States, and the international community. He said, ``If I had to choose sides today, I'd choose the Taliban.''

This is the leader of a country where our young men and women are going and getting killed and losing their legs and their arms. It makes no sense, Mr. Speaker.

According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll on March 15 of this year, 73 percent of Americans no longer think the war in Afghanistan is worth fighting. Mr. Speaker, 73 percent of the American people say the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting.

I was very disappointed when Secretary Gates recently spoke to the Armed Services Committee, which I serve on, and I would like to read his quote because we are going to be there until about 2014 or 2015 unless this Congress demands that we start bringing our troops home. This is his quote:

``That is why we believe that, beginning in fiscal year 2015, the U.S. can, with minimal risk, begin reducing Army active duty end strength by 27,000 and the Marine Corps by somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000. These projections assume that the number of troops in Afghanistan would be significantly reduced by the end of 2014, in accordance with the President's strategy.''

Mr. Speaker, we are going to be there until 2014 or maybe even 2015.

I also would like to show this poster. This was in the Greensboro, North Carolina, paper called the News & Record on February 27, 2011. There's a flag-draped coffin coming off a plane, Mr. Speaker, and the paper in Mr. Howard Coble's district said, ``Get out.'' Get out of Afghanistan before it's too late. And it's a black hole with no end to it.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to read from a letter from a marine down in my district, Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina. He served 31 years and retired as a colonel in the United States Marine Corps.

``I urge you to make contact with all of the current and newly elected men and women to Congress and ask them to end this war and bring our young men and women home. If any of my comments will assist in this effort, you are welcome to use them and my name,'' Dennis G. Adams, Lieutenant Colonel, Retired, United States Marine Corps.

Mr. Speaker, before I close, yesterday, with Congresswoman Sue Myrick, I went to Walter Reed Hospital to visit the young soldiers and marines who have lost their legs, their arms. Two of them that we saw, Mr. Speaker, have no body parts below their waist. No body parts below their waist. And here we are supporting a corrupt leader of a nation that, quite frankly, will never be a nation. It is a country.

[Time: 10:30]

It is not a nation. It never will have a national government. Why are we wasting $7 billion a month in Afghanistan, and our young men and women are coming back with broken bodies?

Mr. Speaker, it is time to get out of Afghanistan. I close by asking God to please bless our men and women in uniform. I ask God to please bless the families of our men and women in uniform. I ask God, in his loving arms, to hold the families who've given a child dying for freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I ask God to bless the House and Senate that we will do what is right in the eyes of God. And I will ask God to please bless the President, that he will do what is right in the eyes of God.

And I will say three times, God, please, God, please, God, please continue to bless America.

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(House of Representatives - March 30, 2011)

Libya: There Should Have Been a Vote

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The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. Kaptur) for 5 minutes.

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, a little over a week ago, the executive branch launched U.S. military force against yet another Middle Eastern country. This time it is oil-rich Libya. U.S. naval and air forces attacked Libyan military installations across that country, wiping out air defenses, intelligence systems, tanks, and also apparently is now targeting that nation's ground forces.

Under what policy is the executive branch operating without a vote of Congress in expending millions of defense dollars and State dollars on offensive action taken inside a nation that did nothing provocative toward the United States. In fact, last year, Libya was even a recipient of U.S. foreign aid. The President's justification for this action was that it was not an act of war but, rather, a humanitarian mission to prevent a catastrophe that would have resulted from Libya's military forces under the command of Libyan President Muammar Qadhafi from taking the civilian center of Benghazi.

Our President says he did not act alone, as French, British, Canadian, and other Western NATO members participated in these attacks. The President informed Congress that future operations will be handled by NATO. Well, who exactly decided all of this? Not Congress. If this is not an act of war, as F-16s fly over and bomb and U.S. naval forces shell, what is it?

The President has further said he authorized this military action to enforce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973; yet on that resolution, many nations who normally are U.S. allies abstained from the vote, such as India, Brazil, and Germany.

The President said he sought the permission of the Arab League before taking action. But in fact it was 3 days into the bombing when the press reported the Arab League said it had ``no objection'' to the bombing. So where in these operations have been the Arab League's planes and soldiers? And I might ask, where is the African Union's engagement? Why are they silent?

It appears the administration consulted key allies from oil-dependent Europe, like the French, who dropped the first bombs, and the British. But the President didn't bother to ask Congress. We live in very strange and dangerous times. The administration says it made a couple of phone calls to Members of Congress serving in the leadership. Well, who exactly were they? And then the administration set up an after-the-fact briefing for Members of Congress in the Capitol Visitor Center. None of these gestures meet the spirit or letter of the law under our Constitution relating to military engagement abroad.

Yes, protest movements seem to be springing up across Africa and the Middle East, and we witness some Libyan rebels--though we really don't know exactly who they are or who is funding them--take to the streets to demand reform and an end to the Qadhafi government's grip on power. But we also see troops very loyal to the Qadhafi regime who are fighting to maintain that regime.

So why is America taking a military role in an internal civil conflict without a vote of Congress on behalf of the American people whose sons and daughters are engaged in these operations? Should we not be clear and vote

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on whom it is we are supporting, for how long, and through what legal means?

I and the entire world watched with horror the news reports of Qadhafi's troops attacking civilians, including shutting off food, water, and fuel, shelling cities and towns, and targeting innocent people for killing. Those responsible for these crimes must face justice for what they have done. But please tell me, where across that region do we not have dictators in charge of nations? Is America to intervene everywhere there is an uprising?

Libya is certainly not the only African country facing a humanitarian crisis. We have all but ignored the situation in Côte d'Ivoire which has already displaced approximately 500,000 people, with triple the population of Libya. The crisis in Côte d'Ivoire would dwarf the violence in Libya. Would the President's logic extend there? Or what about the Congo? Or Sudan? Is it America's new 21st century Monroe Doctrine to now intervene militarily under the guise of humanitarian aid wherever a President chooses?

The crisis in Libya was several weeks old when the President chose to take action. Surely there was time to seek congressional approval. I am highly concerned that this military intervention took the familiar pattern of launching attacks just when Congress left town to go back to our districts for a week, thus silencing our voices in Congress even more as this floor was shut down. How premeditated and how irresponsible I believe the current course of events to be.

I have sent an official letter to the Obama administration asking under what U.S. legal authority U.S. forces have been engaging in Libya. As a member of the Defense Subcommittee, I fully expect a matter of this nature would have been brought up before us. It never was.

Moreover, what have the operations cost to date? And from which accounts are funds being taken? The Department of Defense claims it cannot create a civil works employment program to employ our returning U.S. Iraqi and Afghani veterans when they come home here, yet it finds money for this excursion.

Mr. Speaker, there should have been a vote on the use of force outside our borders, not a notice after the fact. Anyone who is following the news has seen the reports of protest and unrest in multiple nations. Mr. Speaker, on the operations in Libya, there should have been a vote here.

  • [Begin Insert]

Does this Administration, like the last one, believe that it has the authority to take military action wherever it chooses in the Middle East? Could the President's same rationale extend to Yemen? Or Lebanon? What about Syria? How would the Administration respond to a similar situation in Iran? Or Pakistan? The list goes on.

The simultaneous commitment of U.S. military force in multiple countries is a serious matter. And the Administration needs to be rebuked for its failure to appropriately engage Congress.

Not only is Congress a co-equal branch. Congress and Congress alone has the Constitutional authority to commit the Republic in such matters. F-16's, Harpoon missiles, Apache helicopters, are all weapons of war not humanitarian assistance. And who exactly are the rebels we are favoring in this Libya incursion, and where is their funding and weapons coming from? Which interests do they represent? Mr. Speaker, on the operations in Libya, there should have been a vote here.

  • [End Insert]

Birthday Wishes

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Mr. REID. Mr. President, happy birthday.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Thank you.

(Senate - March 30, 2011)

Energy Subsidies

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Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, often I come to the Senate floor to talk about alternative energy. Most of the time it is about biofuels. Sometimes it is about wind, because I am the author of the wind energy tax credit. Sometimes it is to speak about it. Hardly ever do I come to the floor to talk about it in regard to the attempt to amend a certain bill on the floor. I come for that purpose now, and I come to express my strong opposition to amendment No. 220 filed at the desk by Senator Coburn.

I don't find any fault with the issue Senator Coburn raises, only when it is raised. I sense from some of his arguments and press releases that it is raised to bring up the issue of energy and what energy should be subsidized or not subsidized, or whether any energy ought to be subsidized, and also maybe to point out some things that are wrong with the Tax Code. I can't find any fault with any of those motives. I only find fault, let's say, in the sense that it is being brought up to show that there are some things wrong with the Tax Code and the Tax Code ought to be reformed.

Yes, if anybody said the Tax Code was a perfect piece of work, you might think: Well, you have been in Washington too long or you don't exercise good judgment or you are not in the real world. So I think it is perfectly legitimate to bring up issues about the Tax Code, but in the sense of reform of the Tax Code, not as an isolated amendment to some other bill, for the simple reason that if you do that, with the complexity of our Tax Code--reforming it in that way--every Senator attempting to do that would be growing a long gray beard for the years it would take to do it piecemeal. Hopefully, we can get it done sometime in the context of tax reform and tax simplification, or flat tax or fair tax, and also with the corporation tax.

As to the motive for bringing up subsidies for energy, it is a perfectly legitimate subject to bring up, but it ought to be brought up in the context of a national energy policy. I believe Senator Coburn is like me. He feels if you are going to have a growing economy, you have to have a growth in the use of energy, except for possible conservation. If you are going to do more for more people, you are going to have to have an increase in the use of energy. So it is in that vein that I state my opposition to the Coburn amendment.

Senator Coburn's amendment would raise the tax on domestic energy production by repealing an incentive for the use of homegrown renewable ethanol. I am astonished, given our current situation, that there are some who would prefer less domestic energy production. With conflicts in the Middle East and crude oil over $100 a barrel, we should be on the same side.

I have always considered myself on the same side as Senator Coburn on energy issues. We should all be on the side of more domestically produced energy, and that would be nuclear, it could be alternative energy, and it

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would be drill here and drill now. The tremendous cost of America's dependence on foreign oil has never been more clear than when you have the conflicts and the revolutions going on in oil-producing regions of the world--now in the Middle East and northern Africa.

So we have this threat, and in light of that threat, we should have an energy policy that says ``all of the above.'' You don't pick and choose. I support drilling here and drilling now. I support renewable energy. I support conservation, both what might be mandated by public policy as well as personal conservation. I think people who know me know I have a reputation for conservation for several reasons--maybe energy conservation, but also it leaves more money in your pocket. I also support nuclear energy. So I believe it is very counterproductive for Senators from big oil country to single out energy that comes from American agriculture--renewable energy, homegrown energy, not imported. I didn't pick this fight. I support energy from all sources. I support traditional oil and gas, and more of it, from here. I held 21 meetings in 20 different counties Monday through Thursday during the last recess, and there wasn't a single person at one of them who didn't say: How come we aren't making more use of our own energy? They didn't say: We import $730 million a day of oil, but I told them, and it emphasized their point.

Why ship $730 million every day overseas to parts of the world where they use the money to train terrorists to kill us? And, of course, American taxpayers--American taxpayers--with tax incentives have been supporting oil and gas for over 100 years. So the attack on homegrown energy is remarkable, isn't it? We shouldn't be fighting each other over domestic energy sources. We should be fighting OPEC and foreign dictators and oil sheiks who hold our economy hostage. You see it right now, because of the anxiety about what is going on in Libya, and raising the price of gasoline 75 or 80 cents.

The author of the amendment has argued that the production of clean homegrown ethanol is fiscally irresponsible. It is important to remember that the incentive exists to help producers of ethanol to compete with the oil industry or, as you so often hear in this town, we have to have a level playing field. Remember that the oil industry has been well supported by the Federal Treasury for more than a century. Oil was discovered in 1859. I don't know how many years later it was that there were tax incentives for the production of oil, but it has been a long time.

President Obama, in his budget request for 2012, has advocated repealing a dozen or so subsidies to big oil. He has argued that a century-old industry no longer needs tax breaks. With oil prices at $100 a barrel, and record profits being made, some could certainly question why this industry needs any taxpayer subsidy at all. President Obama's proposal would repeal $44 billion in oil and gas subsidies over a 10-year period of time.

I wish to remind my colleagues of a debate we had last summer on an amendment offered by the distinguished Senator from Vermont, Senator Sanders. The amendment he offered would have, among other things, repealed about $35 billion of tax subsidies enjoyed by the oil and gas industry. Opponents of the Sanders amendment argued that repealing the oil and gas subsidies would reduce domestic energy production and drive up our dependence on foreign oil. Well, we don't want to do that, do we? Opponents also argued it would cost U.S. jobs. We also argued it would increase prices at the pump for consumers--something you don't want to do when you are in a recession. I tend to agree with these arguments in regard to the help that the Federal Treasury gives to oil companies. All of my Republican colleagues, and more than one-third of the Democrats, did as well. But a repeal of the ethanol tax incentive is a tax increase as well that will surely be passed on to the American consumer--no different for ethanol in your gas tank than gasoline in your gas tank. If you take subsidies off of oil, it raises the price of gasoline. If you take the incentives off of ethanol, it raises the price of ethanol.

I know that removing incentives for oil and gas will have the same impact as removing incentives for ethanol. We will get less domestically produced ethanol, it will cost U.S. jobs, it will increase our dependence upon foreign oil, and it will increase the price at the pump for the American consumer. We are already dependent upon foreign sources for more than 60 percent of our oil needs. Why do my colleagues at this time want to increase our foreign energy dependence when we can produce it right here at home--clean burning, environmentally good?

I wish to ask my colleagues who voted against repealing oil and gas subsidies but who support repealing incentives for renewable fuels why they have this inconsistency? Where are the amendments from fiscal conservatives and deficit hawks to repeal the oil and gas subsidies? The fact is it is intellectually inconsistent to say that increasing taxes on ethanol is justified but that it is irresponsible to do the very same thing on oil and gas production. If tax incentives lead to more domestic energy production and good-paying jobs, why are only incentives for oil and gas so important in accomplishing that goal?

It is even more ridiculous to claim that the 30-year-old ethanol industry is mature and, thus, no longer needs the support of the taxpayers, while the century-old oil industry still receives $35 billion in taxpayer support. Regardless, I don't believe we should be raising taxes on any type of energy production or on any individual, particularly during a weak economy.

The Senator from Oklahoma insists that because renewable fuel is required to be used, then somehow it doesn't need an incentive. But with oil prices at $100 a barrel, oil companies are doing everything they can to extract more oil from the ground. There isn't a mandate to use oil, but it has a 100-year monopoly on our transportation infrastructure, so essentially it is a mandate.

When there is little competition to oil, and it is enormously profitable--and we will see those reports next week--wouldn't the sponsor argue that the necessary incentives exist to produce it without additional taxpayer support, if we wanted to be consistent? Oil essentially does have a mandate, as I just said. The economics of oil production are clearly in favor of the producer, not the consumer. Why do they need taxpayer support?

It is also important to understand the hidden cost of our dependence upon foreign oil. We had a peer-reviewed paper published in 2010 concluding that--and let me say parenthetically, before I quote, the leeway is somewhere between $27 billion and $130 billion:

$27 to $138 billion is spent annually by the U.S. military for protection of Middle Eastern maritime oil transit routes and oil infrastructure, with an average of $84 billion a year.

This is $84 billion in American Treasury spent on the defense of shipping lanes to quench our thirst for foreign oil.

It is not reflected in the price at the pump. It is a hidden cost and the hidden cost is paid by the very same people who support the military, our Navy, the American taxpayers.

Milton Copulos, an adviser to President Ronald Reagan and a veteran of the Heritage Foundation, testified before Congress in 2006 on this very issue. He testified that the hidden cost of imported oil is equivalent to adding $8.35 to the price of a gallon of gasoline from the Persian Gulf. There is no hidden U.S. military cost attributed to homegrown ethanol.

Do you understand that? You don't have to have the Navy of the United States keeping shipping lanes open for the ethanol that you burn in your car. No subsidy of $8.35 a gallon for ethanol such as there is for oil, according to the Heritage Foundation.

Let's have a debate on ethanol, but let's debate it in the context of a comprehensive energy plan. This debate should include the subsidies for all energy production. We do not pick out one versus others. What is unique about the subsidy for ethanol? We also have subsidies for grain and for biodiesel. When is that going to come up? We had a subsidy for wind energy--I know it because I got that legislated 18 years ago--and a subsidy for solar, subsidy for biomass, subsidy for geothermal, subsidy for nuclear energy. Why just ethanol at this point?

But I said at the beginning, talking about energy subsidies--oil, alternative

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energy, nuclear energy, conservation--is legitimate. But don't pick one out. What are we going to do about all the rest of them? Are we going to take a subsidy a day? Take wind tomorrow? Take solar the next day? There is a context in which to do this. We all say we need a national energy policy. These subsidies have to be discussed in the context of a national energy policy. Nearly every type of energy gets some market-distorting subsidy from the Federal Government. We can say that is not right. But do we want alternative energy or don't we want alternative energy? Do we want renewable energy or don't we want renewable energy? Do you think we would have an ethanol industry today if there had not been a tax incentive a long time ago? No.

What about all the people who say we should not be using corn or grain, a food product, for fuel, we ought to be eating it? They say we ought to use corn stover, wood chips, switchgrass, other things that have cellulose in them and get our ethanol from that. I agree 100 percent. But how in the heck do we think we would ever get to producing ethanol out of corn stover and wood chips and switchgrass, et cetera, if we had not had 30 years of engineering to make ethanol out of grain--which we did not do very efficiently 30 years ago but now we do much more efficiently today. We have to have the first generation for the second generation.

I say an honest energy policy and debate should include ethanol. It should include subsidies for oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydropower, wind, solar, biomass. How do you think we would ever get hydropower in the West if the taxpayers had not paid for the Hoover Dam? It is hypocritical to put our economic and national security at risk by targeting ethanol while disregarding the subsidies for all other energy sources.

Do you know the debate about alternative energy is a debate about our national security because, for this country, the No. 1 responsibility of the Federal Government is our national defense and just think how weak our national defense is when we have to depend upon oil coming from the volatile Middle East, where there is revolution going on right now. Wouldn't it be better for it to be domestic crude? Why do you suppose the Defense Department, and even our whole aviation industry right now, is putting some money into research to develop alternative energies, including the stuff we call renewable and even things we do not know much about yet? Ethanol from algae is an example. Because our military leaders know we should not be dependent on it.

Just think of the retired generals and admirals out here speaking everyday of why we need alternative energy and speaking very highly of ethanol. I say it is hypocritical because it has something to do with our national security and we do take an oath to uphold that Constitution and the national security is our No. 1 responsibility. We know State governments and local governments cannot protect us from foreign intervention, people who want to kill us. Only the Federal Government is qualified and has the power to do it, the constitutional power--but also to bring the resources together to get the job done.

Repealing the ethanol tax incentive will raise taxes on producers, blenders, and ultimately consumers of renewable fuel. This amendment is a gas tax increase of over 5 cents a gallon at the pump. I don't see the logic of arguing for a gas tax increase when we have so many Americans unemployed and underemployed, struggling just to barely make it from day to day. I know we all agree we cannot and should not allow job-killing tax hikes during this time of economic recession and, more important, that recession is going to stay as long as there is some economic uncertainty. Debates such as this--should we be importing more oil--lend themselves to that uncertainty. Unfortunately, those Members who have called for ending the ethanol incentive have directly contradicted this pledge of not having tax hikes because a lapse in the credit will raise taxes, will cost over 100,000 U.S. jobs at a time of near 9 percent unemployment and increase our dependence upon foreign oil.

There is a taxpayer watchdog group called Americans for Tax Reform. They consider repeal of this incentive to be a great big tax increase. Americans for Tax Reform states: ``Repealing the ethanol credit is a corporate income tax increase.''

I agree. Now is not the time to impose a gas tax hike on the American people. Now is not the time to send pink slips to ethanol-related jobs. Ethanol currently accounts for 10 percent of our transportation fuel. A study concluded that the ethanol industry contributed $8.4 billion to the Federal Treasury in 2009, $3.4 billion more than the ethanol incentive. Today, the industry supports 400,000 jobs. That is why I support a homegrown renewable fuels industry.

I conclude by asking my colleagues: If we allowed the tax incentives to lapse, from where would we import an additional 10 percent of our oil? Because there is a policy in this Congress, don't drill in the United States, import it. The President was in Brazil, last week I believe it was, saying: President of Brazil, you ought to drill off the shore of Brazil because we want to import oil from you. At the very same time we are slow at issuing permits so we can drill our own oil off our own shores, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico.

Where are we going to go? Are we going to go to the Middle Eastern oil sheiks? Send even more billions of dollars over there to give them money to train terrorists to kill us or do we want to get it from Hugo Chavez, who every day is saying something about how he hates America? He is taking the side of Qadhafi right this very day, against the revolutionaries of that country, the very people we are trying to help bring a better life to and stop genocide. I don't think we want to go to the Middle East for 10 percent more of our energy in our cars or to Hugo Chavez. I prefer, instead, that we support our renewable fuel producers based right here at home, rather than send our workers a pink slip. I would prefer to decrease our dependence on Hugo Chavez, not increase that dependence on him, and I certainly do not support raising the tax on gasoline during this weak economy.

Let me say something I said at the beginning and then I am going to yield the floor; that is, there is a context to talk about this. There is nothing illegitimate about anybody bringing up any tax incentive anytime they want to or any law that is on the books because they ought to be reviewed from time to time. But when it comes to energy policy at a time of $4 gas, at a time of anxiety about what is going on in Libya, at a time when we all know that people in this country want a national energy policy, it ought to be talked about in the context of energy legislation. We should talk about subsidy as a generic subject, not just picking out ethanol or any other one, just like some people here would like to pick out the subsidy for oil and end it--such as the President has suggested in his budget. We want to do it in the context of a national energy policy and a subsidy that is a subsidy to oil, to all renewable energies--and there are a dozen of them, I bet--to conservation, and to nuclear energy.

Let's emphasize nuclear energy. When we are talking about a subsidy, do we think we would have a single nuclear plant in the United States if 60 years ago the Federal Government, this Congress, hadn't passed the Price-Anderson Act to set up Federal support for it, indirect or direct, whatever it was. It took that to get it going. We had to reinstitute that in 2005 or we still wouldn't be considering any nuclear plants.

We do it in the context of a national energy policy. We do it in the context of subsidies on all sorts of energy, not just one of them. If we are doing it for tax reform purposes, then it has to be done in the context of overall tax reform because, as I said, we start on this little tax incentive today and that little tax incentive tomorrow and that little tax incentive the next day and we will be here until as long as Methuselah lived, in order to get it all done.

I hope there will be some consideration of this in a generic way, not in the specific way of this amendment. That is why I do not support the amendment at this time, but I want people to know I do not abhor the idea of talking about the ethanol tax credit or any other tax credit, except I want to talk about energy tax credits all together.

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I yield the floor.

(Senate - March 30, 2011)

U.S. Energy Production

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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, since President Obama took office, the price

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of a gallon of gasoline at the pump has risen 96 percent--96 percent, from $1.83 to now $3.60, with absolutely no end in sight. Meanwhile, and not coincidentally, the President has virtually shut down the Gulf of Mexico, he has canceled numerous energy lease sales, he has refused to act on stalled onshore permits, he has dramatically increased environmental regulations, and he has begun regulating CO

2 by administrative fiat. All of that has helped get us to where we are.

Today, President Obama went to Georgetown University, and at least he has begun focusing on and addressing the energy situation. I guess I give him points for that. He went to Georgetown today and delivered a speech which he called a Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future. But, like a lot of Presidential speeches, this is great-sounding rah-rah, nice title but pretty disappointing, from my point of view, on substance.

First of all, let's talk about the whole premise of the speech, a Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future. I was hopeful, on hearing about the plan for this speech, that we would be seeing an unveiling of a real energy policy, including moving in the right direction in terms of domestic production, utilizing our domestic energy resources. Unfortunately, this is more of the same. In fact, the President admits freely that this is absolutely more of the same. He says:

Today, my administration is releasing a Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future that outlines the comprehensive national energy policy we have pushed since the day I took office.

So this is simply a restatement of the last years of policy, in my opinion, clearly failed, clearly counterproductive policy that has helped get us to $3.60 at the pump and climbing.

When you look even more at the substance of the speech, it is more disappointing. The whole speech is about 51 paragraphs. Of those 51 paragraphs, I looked to see how many are about tapping our domestic traditional energy resources. Well, 6 paragraphs of 51--just a little over 10 percent. Four paragraphs were about domestic oil production, and two were about domestic natural gas production. And even those two were mostly about possibly increasing regulation on the production of natural gas from shale, making it more difficult, not accessing more of our domestic energy resources.

What is the picture on domestic oil production, those four paragraphs? Well, the President says:

To keep reducing that reliance on imports, my administration is encouraging offshore oil exploration and production.

Really? That is a news headline to my constituents in the gulf coast because every day we live a far different reality. We live the reality of an administration that has moved in the opposite direction, making domestic oil and gas production far more difficult, not easier.

Since the tragedy of the BP disaster, we have only had 7 deepwater exploratory permits issued--7 issued--compared to a comparable period before the disaster of 68, so about 10 percent. That is encouraging offshore oil and gas exploration and production? I don't think so. Since that disaster, the working rotary rigs in the gulf have fallen dramatically, from about 55 to 25. It has been cut by more than half. That is encouraging offshore oil exploration and production? I don't think so.

We need to change the policy that is virtually shutting down the gulf and stopping domestic energy production. Seven deepwater exploratory permits is not adequate. Seven, as I said, is roughly 10 percent of the rate that existed before. Of course we need to make changes, and we have. Of course we need to learn the lessons of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, and we have. But, again, seven is roughly 10 percent of the previous rate.

We need to do far better, and if we are going to really encourage that domestic production, what about production in Alaska's Beaufort Sea? EPA is sitting on those permits, not issuing those permits. As a result, Shell Oil announced that it is abandoning efforts to produce anything there. Is that what the President is talking about, encouraging oil exploration and production?

What about the lease sales he canceled? President Obama canceled the western lease sale that was scheduled. He canceled that in May of 2010. If you are serious, are you going to reverse that decision? Also, in May of 2010, the President canceled the planned Virginia lease sale. Unfortunately, in this speech, he did not reverse that policy. He is continuing that cancellation.

What about the cancellation of offshore tracts in Alaska's Cook Inlet? The President canceled that in March of this year, this month. Unfortunately, in this speech, he did not reverse that policy.

Withdrawn leases. The President's Department of the Interior has withdrawn 77 lease sales in Utah that were planned. They withdrew those in 2009. No reversal on that policy. Is that encouraging oil exploration and production?

So time and again the President has actually worked in the opposite direction--shutting down domestic production, making it more difficult, not, as he said in his speech today, ``encouraging oil exploration and production.''

We need a new energy policy, not a restated policy, not the same-old same-old from the last 2 years. We need a policy that does many things, including harnessing and accessing our enormous abundance of energy resources in this country.

You know, we Americans are not used to thinking of ourselves as energy-rich, but we are. And nonpartisan, nonbiased sources such as the Congressional Research Service say we are the most energy-rich country in the world bar none. The only country coming close to us is Russia in terms of our vast array and amount of domestic energy resources. We are out of the habit of thinking of ourselves that way for a simple reason: The Congress and this President in particular have taken 95 percent of those abundant resources and put them off limits under Federal law. No other energy-rich country does anything like that. We continue to do it even with the price at the pump rising so dramatically.

We need to stop that. We need to access our own richness, our own resources to take care of ourselves. And that is a big part of the energy plan we need, which, unfortunately, was not part of the President's Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future unveiled today, restated today, at Georgetown.

Many colleagues will join me tomorrow in introducing a bill that lays out that new energy vision to unlock the enormous potential we have here at home. The bill is called 3-D: The Domestic Jobs, Domestic Energy and Deficit Reduction Act of 2011. I am honored to be joined by between 20 and 30 colleagues--the list is still growing--who will formally introduce that act tomorrow. This is legislation aimed at our domestic energy resources, unshackling that potential, letting us get access to that enormous potential for domestic energy and, with it, great U.S. jobs, jobs right here in this country, and deficit reduction. So many of the primary challenges we face find their nexus in energy. Again, energy independence, self-reliance we need now more than ever, particularly with the unrest in the Middle East.

Secondly, jobs. We say we are trying to do everything we can to come out of this tough recession, but we are not, because the U.S. energy sector has the potential for enormous job growth. Again, we have taken a large percentage of those resources, 95 percent, and put it off limits.

With deficit reduction, along with producing more domestic energy, would come tremendous revenue to the Federal Government. After the personal income tax, this is the top source of Federal revenue--royalties on domestic energy production--second only to the personal income tax. Again, why don't we solve all of these problems--energy independence, U.S. jobs, and deficit reduction--by fully and aggressively developing our U.S. domestic energy sector?

Specifically, the 3-D bill would do six primary things. First, it mandates Outer Continental Shelf lease sales, directing the Interior Department to conduct a lease sale in each Outer Continental Shelf planning area for which there is a commercial interest. It would also consider the 2010-2015 planning area complete.

Secondly, it would open ANWR to energy production. This is a vast source of potential energy production, job creation, and deficit reduction, again, that we have put off limits through congressional and Presidential action.

Third, it would require action on stalled onshore permits, things such as

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the leases that Interior withdrew in 2009 in Utah, things such as EPA inaction, actually withdrawing a CWA permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine in West Virginia, the State Department sitting on the permit issue in terms of the Keystone XL pipeline project, the EPA not issuing permits for Shell Oil operations in offshore Alaska. It would direct action in all of those areas.

Fourth, it would properly limit timeframes for environmental and judicial review. It would not change any of those review standards. It would only change the law so that those reviews could not go on ad infinitum. It would streamline the process and properly and reasonably limit those timeframes.

Fifth, it would block regulation of CO

2 by administrative fiat. We will have a vote soon on that issue. I am hopeful it will be a majority vote in favor of this opinion to block that regulation by administrative fiat that I espouse. This is also included in the 3-D bill.

Sixth, we would actually create an alternative energy trust fund from 25 percent of the new revenue produced from ANWR. It would capture 25 percent of that brandnew revenue for alternative energy development, research, and production. That would be positive as well.

This is the sort of domestic energy focus we need. This is the movement toward real energy security as well as job creation and deficit reduction that I would have hoped the President would have at least hinted at at Georgetown today. But he did not. His speech was the same old same old, explicitly restating what he has been doing for the last 2 years.

I urge all colleagues to join in this effort and to join in similar efforts. Americans face tough times. It is not being made any easier by the price at the pump going up. Again, since President Obama took office, that price has risen 96 percent, from $1.83 per gallon to $3.60 per gallon, and there is no end in sight. We need to access our own resources. We need to put Americans to work. We need to reduce our deficit with that extra new revenue. We can do it all by accessing U.S. domestic energy resources more fully, not putting 95 percent of those resources off limits, off the table by either Presidential fiat or congressional action.

I urge all of my colleagues to join us in this effort, to join similar efforts to give Americans real relief at the pump, to increase our energy independence, to lower the deficit, and to produce good American jobs.

I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

(Senate - March 30, 2011)


Blueprint Secure Energy Future

Health Care

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Mr. BARRASSO. I come to the floor as a physician who practiced medicine in Wyoming for a quarter of a century as an orthopaedic surgeon, taking care of families across the State, and to present a physician's second opinion on what has happened with the health care law people are dealing with. As Nancy Pelosi said 1 year ago: ``First we have to pass it before you get to find out what's in it.''

The American people are finding out what is in it and, frankly, they are not happy with it. They don't like it, they don't want to live with it, and they don't want to live under it.

One year ago, when we started this discussion, what we heard and what I believed as a physician was that what people are looking for is the care they need, from a doctor they want, at a cost they can afford.

This 2,700-page bill that is costing trillions of dollars doesn't deliver that at all. To me, it is a bill that makes it harder to create jobs. It increases the cost of care, eliminates choice, raises taxes, is locking 16 million Americans into a broken Medicaid system, and is taking $500 billion from our seniors--not to help take care of Medicare and solve that problem but to start a whole new government entitlement program.

I was visiting with one of my colleagues, Dr. Kris Keggi, an orthopedic surgeon whom I trained under in my residency program. Just the impact on

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seniors alone who need hip and knee replacements--we know when we take that kind of money away from Medicare, it doesn't make it easier for seniors to get the care they need.

Two courts have ruled--one in Virginia and one in Florida--that this health care law and the mandate that everybody in the country must buy or obtain government-approved health insurance is unconstitutional. The States are at an impasse in knowing what to do. How do they react? What will the Supreme Court decide? What kind of resources must the States commit?

That is why I am delighted to be joined on the floor by Senator Hutchison from Texas. I think she has the right answer. She has introduced, as an amendment to the bill we are discussing on the floor, the Save our States Act. It is an amendment to suspend implementing these health care reform measures until the lawsuits have been settled and we actually get a clear understanding.

I believe this law is unconstitutional. I ask my colleague--and I note there are quite a few Senators who have cosponsored this legislation--if she would perhaps share, as part of a second opinion, her thoughts on what the States have to live under now and what rights and opportunities the States should have.

Mrs. HUTCHISON. Mr. President, I certainly appreciate what Dr./Senator Barrasso, from Wyoming, does for us on a regular basis. As one of the few physicians in our body--he is one of the two--he tells us the things that are happening in this health care reform bill that are hurting our health care system, hurting the quality of health care in our country, at a time when we need to assure senior citizens that Medicare cuts will not take effect. We certainly want our small businesses to hire people rather than stop at 50 because then they are going to start getting fined for not giving the government-prescribed health care that is in the health care reform act that was passed last year.

What I am doing in my amendment, as one of those pending in the bill before us, is saying: Stop. We have now had two Federal courts--one from Virginia, one from Florida--that have said this law is unconstitutional. Yet the administration is continuing to implement the law, even though it has certainly now been called into question.

I am most affected by the number of States that are having to do the same thing. Most of our State legislatures are in session right now. Every one of them--actually, I think approximately 44 States out of 50--has a budget shortfall. Yet our States are having to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to implement a law that may be declared unconstitutional.

Some States have said we are not going to implement it. But if they say that, then they are going to be in jeopardy when they are not prepared, if the law is constitutional, and they will be paying late fees and fines for not implementing during this kind of time when we are in limbo. Some States are saying we are going to implement, but we have a budget shortfall and we would like not to be required to implement a law that may be void and we are spending millions of dollars when we need that money for education or Medicaid, frankly.

My amendment says we will stop any further implementation of this law until we know the final opinion has been rendered by the Supreme Court of the United States regarding whether the law is valid. That is it. It is simple and clear. We will let every State know they have a level playing field, that they do not have to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars now being spent on implementation, unless we know the Supreme Court has said the law is valid.

I have 36 cosponsors of my amendment, including the Senator from Wyoming, who is one of our two physicians in the Senate. I think we will have a large support because I am getting letters from organizations.

I got a letter from a group that has been formed to say we need to start over on this health care reform bill. These are people who represent the employers of America that want to be able to give their employees the health care coverage they can afford right now. It may not be the government-prescribed health care, but many are trying to do it.

The groups that have signed this letter supporting my amendment to say stop implementation now are: The Associated Builders and Contractors, the Associated General Contractors, the Electrical Contractors, the Foodservice Distributors Association, the International Franchises Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, the National Retail Federation, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Independent Women's Voice, and the 60 Plus Association.

Those are the groups that are saying let's stop the upheaval this has caused in our country and wait and see what the Supreme Court says before we have the outlays of millions of dollars.

Most certainly, small businesses are not increasing employment because they are so concerned about the implications of the health care reform bill. Let me give the Senator from Wyoming an example from my home State of Texas, in Corpus Christi. A small business there has 34 employees. The cheapest option they have for their health insurance renewal is 44 percent more than their insurance just last year. They have just days to decide whether they can continue to offer their employees health insurance. This is in anticipation of the health care reform bill going into effect and causing these employers to have to meet these new mandates.

The insurance companies are already ratcheting up their insurance premiums in anticipation of this law. This is one of the key reasons we need to stop the implementation, until we know if this law is valid, so our businesses will have the freedom to provide affordable health care coverage to their employees.

I thank the Senator from Wyoming for coming in with his second opinion because we know he has unique experience in working with our health care system. I wish to make sure we don't do what the physicians' motto is--which is do no harm--when we haven't thought it through and don't have all the ramifications. First, do no harm. That is their motto. It is simple and clear.

I think we need to stop implementing this bill until the Supreme Court has ruled on its constitutionality.

Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, to follow up on that, I am so pleased to be an original cosponsor of the Save our States Act.

States are very concerned. As I heard my colleague from Texas say, 44 States are in the red right now. When we hear the complaints from Governors of both parties--they are all having to live under this law--they have great concerns. Some States, as my colleague notes, have actually applied for waivers so they don't have to live under the constraints of the law. The State of Maine has been given a waiver, 2 1/2 million Americans have been given waivers by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Many of those are union workers who actually supported the law. When they found out what the law was going to cost--as in the example the Senator has given from Corpus Christi--they said: We can't live under this.

To be forced to put out this expense and pay for it at a time of huge financial challenges for our States, it seems that the Save our States Act is a rational, logical, commonsense way to deal with this.

I will be home in Wyoming this weekend, very likely at a health fair, visiting with people from the communities. Health care fairs are ways to get low-cost health screenings. We know early prevention and early detection of problems are ways to keep down the cost of health care. Those are measures that work. We need to repeal and replace this health care law with things that are commonsense solutions that work. Of course, we can make it legal to allow people to buy insurance across State lines, give people individual incentives to stay healthy, allow people who buy individual health insurance to get the same tax breaks as big companies, and deal with the lawsuit abuse doctors will tell us impacts the way they practice and raises the cost of care.

There are so many things we need to do. That is why I come to the floor again with a doctor's second opinion on the health care law, saying it is time

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to repeal and replace this health care law and replace it with something that works for the American people. This law we have passed and is now on the books is one I believe is unconstitutional and one that the Save our States Act will help our States deal with. This is a way that I think will help the health care of Americans who are struggling at this time to deal with the onerous requirements they see coming at them under the President's new health care law.

With that, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

(Senate - March 30, 2011)

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