[Congressional Record Volume 153, Number 116 (Thursday, July 19, 2007)]
[Pages S9534-S9574]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                   COLLEGE COST REDUCTION ACT OF 2007

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the 
Senate will resume consideration of H.R. 2669, which the clerk will 
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (H.R. 2669) to provide for reconciliation pursuant 
     to section 601 of the concurrent resolution on the budget for 
     fiscal year 2008.


       Kennedy amendment No. 2327, in the nature of a substitute.
       Murkowski amendment No. 2329 (to amendment No. 2327), to 
     increase the amount appropriated for the college access 
     partnership grant program.
       Kennedy amendment No. 2330 (to amendment No. 2327), to 
     amend the amounts appropriated for Promise grants for fiscal 
     year 2014 through 2017.

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I yield myself such time as I might use.
  We continue the debate and discussion on the legislation that has 
been reported out of our Education Committee, which has strong 
bipartisan support. This legislation is being considered under a time 
limit, but certainly there is sufficient time to debate any of the 
kinds of issues or questions dealing with education this morning. We 
will have the two votes, as the leader has pointed out, at noontime. 
Senator Enzi and I are both here ready to discuss, debate, and work 
with any of our colleagues on this legislation. But we are very strong 
believers in this legislation.
  This is the largest assistance to middle-income and working families 
that we have had since the end of World War II and the GI Bill. This is 
very substantial help and assistance. I think all of us, when we go 
home to our States, hear from families who talk about the increased 
cost of school, the increased cost of tuition, and the increased cost 
and burden associated with going to college.
  We are also very much aware of the necessity of providing additional 
educational opportunities that are so essential for families, so 
essential for communities, so essential for States, countries, and the 
United States in a world economy.
  Education is the equivalent, effectively, of hope and opportunity for 
the young people of this country. We are making a strong downpayment to 
help and assist the sons and daughters of working families.
  My State of Massachusetts is blessed with many fine schools and 
colleges. About 80 percent of all those who go on to college get some 
kind of help and assistance over the course of their time they are in 
college, whether they go to one of our community colleges, one of our 
fine public colleges, or one of our fine private colleges.
  So when we say we are providing help and assistance, through 
scholarships or through Pell grants, we are making a difference in the 
opportunities for our fellow citizens.
  Our future depends on education. The future of our economy depends 
upon having educational opportunities. We are building on excellent 
legislation that was completed in the Congress earlier this year.
  The COMPETE Act came through our committee, with the great leadership 
of Senator Bingaman and Senator Alexander. Our bipartisan effort gave 
additional focus and attention to enhancing the opportunities for young 
students to study math, science, engineering, and other areas that are 
particular needs for our country in the future.
  This legislation builds upon that legislation in a very important way 
in terms of opportunity. That is what we wish to talk about briefly 
again this morning. By enhancing educational opportunities, we are 
going to strengthen our economy, we are going to be more effective in 
dealing with globalization, we are going to be more effective in terms 
of our national security because we are going to have better trained, 
better equipped personnel and better technology for those who serve in 
our military forces.
  We also will equip the next generation with the ability to ensure 
that our democratic institutions at the local, State, and Federal 
levels work more effectively.
  So education is the key. We are proud of this legislation and the 
difference it will make.
  This legislation will provide a historic increase in the need-based 
grant aid. That is the enhanced help and assistance in the Pell 
  We will have better repayment options that cap a borrower's monthly 
payment at 15 percent of their discretionary income. That means all 
those who are going to be out there working are never going to pay more 
than 15 percent of their discretionary income on their student loans. 
That is particularly important in terms of what we call the public-
sector jobs, where there is an enormous need in this country--enormous 
need. Our society needs more teachers, more emergency management and 
law enforcement professionals, more public health doctors and nurses, 
more social workers, more librarians, more public interest lawyers, and 
more early childhood teachers.
  This bill also offers loan forgiveness program for borrowers in 
public service jobs: After they work as a schoolteacher for 10 years, 
paying no more than 15 percent of their discretionary income during 
that time, all their debt--all their debt--will be forgiven.
  These are the key elements of this legislation. We want to show what 
how we have tried to ensure that educational opportunity will be 
available to all of our fellow citizens here in America--including 
middle income and particularly the low income families. We know from 
experience the challenges that are out there.

  This chart gives an idea about the increases in tuition at public and 
private colleges. There have been enormous increases in tuition. We 
have tried to address that with our increase in Pell grant funds.
  I want to take a few moments this morning, though, to talk about the 
focus we have given to the Pell program. Over 5 million Americans--5 
million Americans--all across this country participate in the Pell 
program. With the commitment we had back in 1965 when we passed the 
Higher Education Act, we wanted to make education available to all 
Americans--all Americans and we understood that those who had 
particular financial needs were from working families. We developed 
this under the leadership of Senator Pell of Rhode Island, our leader 
and then-chairman of the Education Committee. His name will be 
associated with this program for as long as it exists, along with other 
very worthwhile programs, including the National Endowment for the 
Humanities programs, the National Endowment for the Arts, and others.
  This chart shows the help and assistance in the Pell area. The 
program targets families who are generally making $50,000 or less. 
Individuals with moderate income still can gain some benefit, but they 
are not the target.
  Let's look at this chart here. What does it show us? It shows that 
too few low-income students are prepared to attend college. This shows 
low income, moderate income, middle income, and high income. You see 
that those who are completing high school in the higher numbers, they 
are dependent on income. You see the higher income students are 
prepared to attend college,

[[Page S9535]]

and 47 percent of the lower income students are projected to be 
college-qualified high school students in 2004. I know these statistics 
are from 2000 and 2004, but we know the result is still the same. These 
are the figures as a result of publications last year. This shows we 
can have well-qualified, low-income students, but only 47 percent of 
them are going to be college qualified, to be able to go on to college.
  Once these students graduate from high school, we see what happens. 
Only 20 percent of them are going to be able to earn a bachelor's 
degree. Why is it 20 percent? The reason it is 20 percent is because 
of, by and large, the financial burden. So we have the lower income, 
moderate income, middle income, and high income. If we are going to be 
one country with one history and one destiny, one Nation, we have to 
have at least the opportunity in the areas of education; which is so 
basic. I think we need it in health care and other areas of public 
policy as well, but education is key. If we are starting off with a 
model where income largely determines who will be able to get the 
education and who will not, we have a divided Nation. If we say we want 
to give equal opportunity to the citizens of this Nation, we cannot 
have this kind of disparity.
  What have we done now with the proposal? We have said, for those 
individuals who would be eligible, as I mentioned on those first two 
charts, we have increased the Pell grant. This will directly help those 
individuals who are going to be unable to complete their education 
because of the funding levels. The Higher Education Access Act will 
build on what we started by increasing the maximum Pell grant to $5,100 
next year--a $790 increase--and to $5,400 in 2011. We know that Pell 
grants have opened the door of opportunity for countless young students 
over the years. It is imperative for Federal and State legislatures to 
continue offering financial aid programs to colleges and universities 
across the county in order to even the playing field for the 
underserved and disadvantaged. It is an important targeting of 
resources to those children who are the neediest and need the greatest 
help, but also individuals who have competency and are able to gain 
admission to these schools and colleges. They have ability, but they 
don't have the financial ability. This is targeted to try and help and 
assist them.
  Now, what else are we doing for those individuals? We are going to 
have the loan forgiveness provisions. How does that work? You have an 
individual, for example, who has gotten into the grant program and then 
they borrow some money to complete their education. That individual 
wants to go on and be a schoolteacher. The annual salary in my State of 
Massachusetts for a teacher is $35,241. The average loan debt is 
$18,169. That is about the national average, and it has doubled in the 
last decade.
  So we say we are targeting these resources. Of the $18 billion we 
have taken from the lenders, we have close to $1 billion, that will go 
for deficit reduction, and we have taken the other $17 billion, a major 
portion of which will be used to help and assist those students who are 
individuals of ability, but who lack the financial help and assistance 
to go on to fine schools and colleges. We are giving them the bulk of 
the resources to help and assist them to go to the schools and the 
  Then we say--when they graduate, they are going to have a rather 
sizable debt. These individuals want to give something back to the 
community, and we find out they want to be a schoolteacher. So if they 
are $18,000 in debt, how are they going to be able to pay that off?
  We say they are going to be starting in what is a public sector area. 
This is a schoolteacher in this case. They are $18,000 in debt. When we 
put the cap on the amounts they are going to have to repay of their 
debt, it is going to save them $732 a year from what they would 
otherwise have paid--$732 a year--if they go into public service. That 
is the amount, because of the 15-percent cap that we put on their 
annual salary. That is a big chunk of change; $732 is a big chunk of 
change for students just out of college.

  Then we say if they did this for 10 years, if they teach for 10 
years, then we forgive the remainder of their debt, which is over 
$8,000. That debt will be forgiven. We reduce their annual yearly 
payment by $700 and forgive their debt by $8,000. These are individuals 
who are going into a profession where there is an enormous need. We 
need to have tens of thousands of teachers within the next decade.
  Now this is the chart for a teacher. I can give an example of another 
public service provider, and I will do that in a minute or two. But 
this is illustrative of what this legislation does. It is heavy in 
terms of the targeting, in terms of the Pell programs, and in terms of 
the loan forgiveness. We also have the provisions, as was brought out 
during the debate and the discussion, to permit these younger people to 
earn more when they are in various work-study programs, or working even 
as they are going to the universities. It used to be if they earned too 
much, they would lose their need-based aid because they no longer 
qualified. We give greater flexibility, which will encourage younger 
people to earn something in addition, that will maybe help them buy 
more books or help them buy computers. We increase the eligibility for 
auto-zero from $20,000 to $30,000. It doesn't sound like a great deal, 
but there will be further opportunities for those who are in working 
families to be able to participate in this Pell program.
  I use this example of a student who will be a public defender. I will 
put up the list of all of the examples. I am using the example a 
teacher, but the bill forgives the direct loan graduates of their debt 
who work for 10 years in any form of public service, including 
emergency management, public safety, public law enforcement and 
government, education, early education, and childcare. The need we have 
now is for teachers. This bill incentivizes people to pursue jobs in 
early childhood education, among others. That is a key element. If you 
read the great book ``From Neurons To Neighborhoods'' by Jack Shonkoff 
from my State of Massachusetts, it brings together all of the National 
Academy of Sciences evaluations for the support of children in the 
earliest months of their lives, let alone the earliest years, and how 
that helps stimulate the synapses in the child's brain, helps develop 
the sense of confidence, the sense of inquisitiveness, the sense of 
capacity for learning, for early childhood education. We have expanded 
those opportunities in another piece of legislation Senator Enzi and I 
worked on; the reauthorization of the Head Start Program.
  The work of public servants is so important. We have public 
education, early childhood education, childcare, and all the public 
services working with the disabled and the elderly. We know the 
increasing requirements so many of our parents have, in terms of being 
able to live independently and to live with dignity. So this bill will 
encourage those who want to work with the disabled and the elderly, or 
in public interest legal services as prosecutors of the public defense. 
We want our judicial system to work and to work fairly for people, to 
give them the kinds of protections but also give them the kinds of 
defense. Public school libraries, library sciences, and other public 
school-based service providers. Also, teaching full time at tribal 
colleges or universities.
  We find, as I am sure other Members do, when you go to the fine 
schools and colleges across this country--I find it in my State of 
Massachusetts--the amount of volunteerism that is out there among the 
young people. Many of them go, in my State, into the City Year program, 
one of the great programs of volunteerism we have had. The program has 
spread in this country and around the world in many respects. They go 
into public service programs to help and assist and volunteer at the 
schools and colleges in the communities. We have a wonderful small 
college, Stonehill College, and one of their defining aspects as a 
college is to help young people start nonprofit agencies. They give 
them help and assistance in how to start nonprofit groups. They, for 
example, started eight nonprofit groups to try and relieve the problems 
of hunger in southeastern Massachusetts.
  Young people want to get involved. Young people want to make a 
difference in people's lives. Young people

[[Page S9536]]

want to provide service. This legislation will do more to give them the 
opportunity when we have areas of critical need than anything we have 
done in recent times. This is an area that says, look: You want to work 
and work in the public--you want to give something back to your 
community, local community, or State, if you want to do that, we are 
going to give you help and assistance. We are going to recognize it, 
and we are going to make it manageable for you to do it. We have the 
constant illustrations, particularly in medical schools, where the 
great majority of young medical students in their first year want to 
become general practitioners--the overwhelming majority. Then by the 
second year or the third year, that group is down to a handful. Why? 
Primarily because of student debt. They know when they get out of 
medical school, they too often are making decisions about their areas 
of specialty based on the profession that is going to permit them to 
pay off that student debt, rather than be able to go into a 
neighborhood health center and to provide help to those who need it.
  So we have made this as wide as we could in terms of trying to 
respond to that sense that is out there in our schools and colleges, in 
all parts of our country, urban areas and rural areas, to say: Look, if 
you want to give something back, we are going to make it possible. We 
are going to give you a greater opportunity for you to go to college, 
particularly if you are from working families and low-income. We are 
going to give you a better opportunity to do that. With the amendment 
of our friend from Alaska, Senator Murkowski, it is going to help and 
assist States to take many of the younger people who need help and try 
to give them focus and get them on the pathway to school and colleges. 
We are going to give that encouragement and help the States.
  Many States have established these kinds of nonprofit agencies that 
do a superb job. We have some in my own State of Massachusetts. They do 
a breathtaking job in encouraging people to do it. And then we have, in 
our authorization, the extraordinary work of Senators Enzi and Jack 
Reed to simplify the student loan application and permit people who 
don't have a lot of student advisers and extra help to be able to use a 
more simplified form so they can understand what it is to be able to 
begin to make the application for school and college. We give greater 
assistance there.
  This is all part of the efforts we have been making in our committee 
in terms of early education. We are going to make the changes to No 
Child Left Behind, and we are going to try to tie in kindergarten 
programs. We are going to have a seamless web so that will work more 
effectively, and those who go to college are going to be able to have 
met the initial college requirements. We want to try to do that more 
effectively. All that for another time. But in this legislation, we 
have gone in this direction.
  Mr. President, this is just a brief survey of what I think are the 
compelling aspects. We decided initially that on higher education, we 
had to bring in lenders. We were not sure, going back over the years, 
how much incentives we could provide to the lenders to make sure the 
system would work. We found out they have made it work, and there are 
sufficient resources that we are going to continue to give to these 
lenders to make them profitable. But we can take the resources we have 
here and target those resources to the students who need it the most. 
We believe very deeply that educational opportunity is key to 
individuals' future and our country's future.
  If we are going to be one country, as I think all of us believe we 
should be, we do not want to have the kinds of divisions that are 
increasingly putting pressure on the young people of this country at 
the present time. This legislation is doing a very important job in 
trying to address that situation and, again, I thank all of our 
colleagues because we have been able to, as Senator Enzi realizes, on 
the committee, in the areas of education, we have been able to rise 
above the issues of partisanship. We have had wonderful chairmen, 
including Senator Stafford from Vermont, and we had Senator Pell from 
Rhode Island, and we had our colleague, Senator Gregg, and Senator Enzi 
has been chairman of those committees. We have areas where we have our 
differences, although I must say I think on our committee we try to 
find common ground in areas of difference.
  In the area of education, which is so important across the board, we 
have worked very closely together. I think this legislation represents 
a splendid opportunity to make a real difference for families in this 
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Wyoming is 
  Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Massachusetts for 
his outstanding job of explaining a number of the provisions that are 
in the bill before us today. This is the reconciliation bill, which has 
to deal with savings in the budget. We are hoping that anybody who has 
amendments to it will bring them down. It is a privileged motion, which 
means there will be a maximum of 20 hours of debate on it. We don't 
have to do the full 20 hours if there are not 20 hours' worth of 
amendments. So I hope people will bring the amendments down and get 
them debated and voted on. There is an essential piece that is not 
included in reconciliation because it doesn't deal with savings in the 
mandatory programs. It is actually most of higher education. We need to 
get to that part too. It should be done in conjunction with the 
reconciliation bill. For parliamentary reasons, it is difficult for 
that to happen. We were not able to get to it in the last 2 years. We 
need to get to it now.
  We talk about deficit reduction. This is not the first time we have 
done deficit reduction. During the last 2 years, we did a major deficit 
reduction. We took away subsidies from the lenders and put some of that 
into deficit reduction, and a good chunk of it went into help for 
students. I don't know whether we ought to use the term ``deficit 
reduction,'' though. For the most part, what we are doing is spending 
money, and we are spending money we don't have. So that is why the 
deficit reduction piece was put in as a piece of legislation, to allow 
us to actually grapple with trying to save the Federal Government 
  Of course, when it gets into the area of students, it is hard for us 
to have any constraint, particularly if it appears we are taking it 
away from students. We are adding to what the students get, just as we 
did in the last 2 years when we did deficit reduction. We gave parts to 
deficit reduction from the lenders, which decreased the amount of money 
we were spending that we didn't have, and we continued to increase some 
of the programs for students.

  That is what we are doing again here, but we are not doing much 
deficit reduction. There are people who are very concerned about that. 
We are making a substantial reduction again in lender subsidies. At 
some point--we don't know what that point is--lender subsidies will get 
to the point where lenders will not be interested in working with 
students because it takes employees to do that, it takes facilities to 
do that, and there is even risk in doing that. All of those have a 
cost. When the cost exceeds what they are able to take in, they will no 
longer be interested in it, and without the thousands of people in this 
Nation who are servicing these loans, as well as informing people how 
to get them and helping them to get them, there will be a lot of 
students who will not be able to get the help they need to have.
  So we need to be very careful in doing these things. One of the areas 
we have taken great care has been in instituting a pilot project, and 
that pilot project is to do, on a portion of the loans we have, set up 
an auction--to have people actually bid to see what the real dollar 
number is they would be willing to give up in the way of subsidies in 
order to have the business at those universities. That will give us a 
better indication of where the subsidy should be, and I am glad we are 
doing it in a pilot project way. When you move out into the area of 
doing something totally different than you did before, it is good to 
start fairly small, with maybe 10 percent of the loans, so if it isn't 
quite right, it will not destroy the whole college program. Also, it 
will give us an indication not only of the process we ought to be using 
to make it as fair as possible and make sure students are taken care of 
as well

[[Page S9537]]

as possible, but it will also give us an indication of things that 
ought to be done differently.
  So I am pleased that we are able to start on a small basis like that 
instead of a big basis because one of the things that happens when you 
do a change is that there is an estimate of how much revenue will be 
saved. There isn't anything really to base that estimate on, but there 
is an estimate of how much will be saved. What we are doing with this 
bill is we are spending the estimates of what could be saved. We are 
not spending what actually will be saved but the estimates of what will 
be saved. As everybody knows, estimates don't always come out the same 
in reality. Sometimes they come out bigger and sometimes less. 
Unfortunately, with the Federal Government, when we are talking about 
the amount of revenues that will be coming in, we are usually 
overestimating that, and on the spending side we are underestimating, 
which means we are spending more than we are taking in and compounding 
  In all of these programs, we have the sense of wanting to do generous 
things, but we also have a responsibility for making sure we can pay 
for our generosity. Our goal, of course, is to have as many students as 
possible have access to college. Money is one of the problems, but 
there are other problems too.
  I wish to speak about the importance of the legislation that is under 
consideration, but I wish to reiterate the importance of taking up the 
Higher Education Act reauthorization and, hopefully, doing that right 
after this reconciliation bill. That is why I encourage people to bring 
amendments down, so maybe we can yield back some time. There may be 
time today to cover the other part, which is a bigger part than 
reconciliation, and it is more important.
  The reconciliation bill provides for additional need-based grant aid, 
and that is a critical component of increasing access and 
affordability. Additionally, by increasing the income-protection 
allowance, we have increased the ability of working students to receive 
Pell grants. That change is particularly important and one I have been 
sensitive to. I worked during junior high and high school so that I 
could afford to go to college, and that all counted against me when I 
tried to apply for any kind of aid. I wasn't eligible for it.
  My daughter ran into a similar situation. We made sure all of our 
kids worked toward their education. She had saved some money, and we 
always gave them a little incentive: we would match anything they came 
up with, whether it was scholarships or money they earned and saved. So 
the first time she applied for any kind of assistance, scholarships, or 
anything need-based, they said: You know, you have this money in 
savings, you should have spent that on a car. A car doesn't count. So 
what are we teaching our kids? Don't save for college, spend your 
money. That is not right.
  We have tried to set it up so that working students have a great 
ability to receive Pell grants. This change is particularly important 
as the student population in our colleges become more and more 
nontraditional. However, it is not only important to ensure that more 
students enroll in college prepared to learn but that more students 
have the support they need to complete college with the knowledge and 
skills necessary to be successful. America's ability to compete in the 
global economy depends on increasing the number of students entering 
and completing college.
  Of the 75 percent of high school seniors who continue their studies, 
only 50 percent receive a degree in 5 years, and that is within 5 years 
of enrolling in college. Only 25 percent of them receive a bachelor's 
degree or higher.
  These numbers are even worse for students from low-income families. 
Among eighth graders in 1988, only 16 percent of them from low-income 
families attained a bachelor's degree by the year 2000. The fact is 
that over four times as many eighth graders from high-income families 
attain bachelor's degrees as their peers from low-income families. Pell 
grants are aimed at providing low- and middle-income undergraduate 
students with resources needed to enroll in college and persist through 
  America's competitiveness depends not only on the investment in 
scientific research and technology but the investment in human capital; 
that is, our students.
  Two years ago, Congress invested the savings it achieved through 
reconciliation in students by providing $9 billion in new spending for 
student benefits, including $4 billion in additional need-based grant 
aid through Academic Competitiveness grants and SMART grants. This 
grant aid is in addition to the basic Pell grant award for Pell-
eligible students.

  For first- and second-year undergraduates, the Academic 
Competitiveness grants are designed for Pell-eligible students who 
complete a rigorous high school curriculum. These grants are important 
because recent data shows that slightly less than one-third, 31 
percent, of public high school students are prepared for postsecondary 
education as demonstrated by the academic courses they pursued.
  Let me repeat that. These grants are important because recent data 
shows that slightly less than one-third of all public high school 
students are prepared for postsecondary education, and that is 
demonstrated by the academic courses they pursued.
  It is also demonstrated by the number of remedial courses they have 
to take when they get to college. That is something we hope to fix in 
No Child Left Behind, concentrating on the high school years so there 
isn't that wasted senior year of education and then there are the 
courses they have to take in college just to get up to the entry level.
  The Academic Competitiveness Grant Program not only provides 
additional need-based grant aid to low- and moderate-income students, 
but it encourages those students to take the rigorous high school 
courses that will enable them to enter college, not needing remedial 
education. Well-prepared and well-supported students are more likely to 
persist to degree completion, to succeed in obtaining needed knowledge 
and skills to compete in the 21st century global economy.
  National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent grants, that 
is SMART grants, are designed for third and fourth year undergraduates 
majoring in physical, life, or computer sciences, mathematics, 
technology, engineering, or a critical foreign language. These grants 
serve a dual purpose, and that is to provide needed grant aid and to 
encourage students to major in and enter a field where there is a 
national need.
  The reconciliation bill before us today provides for additional need-
based grant aid to students as well, through the creation of Promise 
grants. The provisions of the bill move us in the right direction. Low-
income students who are striving to attend college will know there is 
financial aid available to them to access college or career and 
technical education.
  What is missing from this debate? We have a pretty complete 
explanation of what is in the bill, but consideration of the rest of 
the Higher Education Act is essential. The bill before us today focuses 
on a very narrow slice of the Higher Education Act, one piece which is 
dependent on the other foundational programs that are not part of 
reconciliation. We are only seeing a fraction of the higher education 
picture by debating this bill separately from the larger higher 
education reauthorization package.
  I cannot emphasize enough how essential it is to cover the whole 
higher education package. By discussing only the reconciliation 
provisions affecting higher education, we are leaving behind financial 
aid application simplification. We have touted that a lot, and it needs 
to be simplified. Previously, in filling out an application for 
financial aid assistance, it was necessary to do both sides of this 
long form, using these many instructions. Mr. President, does that look 
formidable to you? It looks pretty formidable to me. As a result, a lot 
of people who could qualify for financial assistance have not qualified 
for financial assistance because they did not do the paperwork, and it 
is easy to understand why they did not do the paperwork. Who needs all 
  One of the things we have done is to simplify that form so it is both 
sides of one page. It is much easier to answer. The reason we are able 
to simplify it is

[[Page S9538]]

that the questions that are asked on it are the ones that are essential 
to being able to determine whether the student needs financial aid or 
not. So it is much more concise. This application gathers a lot of 
information. We couldn't find out who used the information. So if we 
don't know who uses it, why gather it? We have simplified that 
application which should increase the number of students who can fill 
it out. If we do not do the other higher education package, that will 
not be done.
  There are also student loan disclosure requirements and year-round 
Pell grants in the reauthorization bill. Right now a student is limited 
to a school year rather than year-round. A lot of the technical schools 
go year-round, which means there is a portion of the year they cannot 
cover with Pell grants.
  There are additional supports for nontraditional students. That is 
very important. As we are talking about a lifetime of employment, there 
are a lot of people training and retraining, and they are 
nontraditional students. They didn't just get out of high school. They 
are ready to go back and learn something additional. They are usually 
very motivated people because they understand the importance of what 
they don't have and what they desperately want.
  Graduate and international education would be covered in the other 
package; financial literacy and better borrower information; privacy 
protection; also improvements to the Academic Competitiveness grants 
and SMART grants. We always want to be improving those grants and 
encouraging the sciences, technology, engineering, math, and medical 
  There is also a college cost watch list, a little more information 
for everybody; and quality teacher preparation programs. We need to be 
encouraging teachers. We are going to lose a lot of them shortly 
through retirement with the baby boomers, and they need to be replaced. 
The basis of education is having quality teachers.

  We are, once again, faced with the possibility of only dealing with 
the mandatory spending programs and leaving comprehensive 
reauthorization of the Higher Education Act undone. I wish we could 
have combined the two. I guess we still could, but it is not going to 
happen because reconciliation gets special consideration with a 
limitation of 20 hours of debate.
  We are cutting the bottom line if we do not deal with the quality and 
substance of the important programs I mentioned. We have to have the 
whole package. The American success story of higher education is at 
risk of losing the very qualities that make it great--competition, 
innovation, and access for all.
  Our goal should be to promote innovation and new technologies to keep 
the cost of college down, to expand the availability of information to 
keep students and parents in a position where they can make more 
informed decisions, and improve financial literacy across the board so 
that students have a better understanding of how they can manage their 
loans and monthly payments. Schools and colleges have to do more to 
increase accountability and seek efficiencies that bring down the cost 
of postsecondary education. When we raise the Pell grant amounts, it 
doesn't help the students if the cost of college goes up an equal 
amount or greater.
  The complexity of the Federal student aid system has to be tackled. 
Right now filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid 
prevents many students, as I mentioned, from even considering college. 
That was never our intent. It is time to make that less complicated 
than filling out our tax forms, and for an accountant to say that is 
really something.
  Also, it is our responsibility to ensure that students and their 
families have the information they need to make informed decisions 
about the investment of time and money they are making to secure a 
college education. The cost of college has risen dramatically, and at 
the same time the need for a college education is greater than it has 
ever been before.
  America's students must have the tools they need to complete higher 
education and to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to become 
competitive in the 21st century economy. This can be accomplished, but 
it will take both the reconciliation and reauthorization bills together 
to reach that goal.
  I am again stating for the record that I hope the Senate Democratic 
leadership will provide us with an opportunity to have a full and open 
debate on all aspects of the Higher Education Act. Both pieces are 
essential to ensuring students have access to a quality education. It 
is no longer an option whether to pursue college or skills 
certification that is nationally recognized. Everyone needs to have all 
the tools to understand and shape their future. They need these 
options. It cannot happen with just the reconciliation part of the 
package. The money without the capability doesn't do it.
  I look forward to working with Chairman Kennedy and colleagues on my 
side of the aisle so we do not let this opportunity pass by once again.
  So far we have two amendments that have been submitted. I need to 
talk a little bit about those two amendments.
  One of them is the Murkowski amendment. We have this interesting 
process under reconciliation. It is supposed to be for deficit 
reduction, but any time there is deficit reduction, it leaves money 
hanging out there, and that money can be used in amendments in a number 
of different ways. It just works on our minds to know that there is 
money out there that could be spent. So we have a couple of amendments 
that will use up the money.
  There are a lot of people who would prefer we didn't use up the 
money, especially since we are talking about deficit reduction, which 
means we are spending more than what we have, so what we are spending 
is money we don't have. But we are going to take this estimate of 
excess revenue that we are saving and spend it under both amendments.
  The first amendment is a relatively small amount, $176 million over 
the next 2 years. It does some very important things. Not-for-profit 
lenders, particularly small ones, might not be able to participate in 
the auction pilots and, thus, they will lose funding. This will allow 
them an opportunity to still be able to participate in the college 
market and conduct outreach and do all the important things those 
nonprofits are already doing for students, that they lose out on the 
auction. When we are talking about money around here, $176 million is a 
micro-dot in the budget.
  The other amendment is the Promise Grant Program. It is to spend the 
outlying money. There is some money that comes in further down the 
road. It is actually pretty big money, $5.7 billion, and this spends a 
good portion of it.
  So the decision people will have to make is actually whether they 
want to save any money or whether they want to take some of the money 
we don't have and put it into some new programs.
  I wanted everybody to know what the situation is. From an accounting 
standpoint, I feel compelled to point that out.
  We do have an important bill before us. I hope we can make it through 
that bill today. I know we can because the rules require us to do that. 
If we can finish it a little earlier, perhaps we can get to that second 
package, the one that has good stuff in it, the one that has to be done 
in order to have a complete package.
  I reserve the remainder of my time and yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Who yields time?
  The Senator from Iowa.
  Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, the name of the bill before us today is 
the College Cost Reduction Act, as it has been called. But just as 
appropriately it might be called ``Restoring the American Dream Act'' 
because that is exactly what is at stake with this critically important 
  We all know that higher education is the key to success in today's 
global economy. It is the key to Americans' success as individuals, but 
it is also the key to America's success as a nation. But over the last 
6 years, the cost of college has skyrocketed 40 percent. Meanwhile, the 
buying power of Federal grant aid has fallen, and too many young 
students are being forced to turn to private loans with high interest 
  As a result, college has become a distant, unattainable dream for 
many Americans. For millions more who are

[[Page S9539]]

fortunate to attend college, they graduate with two things: a college 
diploma and a mountain of debt.
  With the bill before us today, we intend to reverse these negative 
trends. We intend to put a college education and a fair shot at the 
American dream back within the reach of every American, including those 
of modest means. We might think of this bill as restoring the ladder of 
opportunity for millions of Americans.
  This is a bipartisan bill with support on both sides of the aisle. I 
thank Senator Kennedy and Senator Enzi for their bipartisan leadership 
in getting this bill through committee and getting it to the Senate 
floor. At the same time, I take pride in the fact that college access 
for all was one of the six priorities we annunciated last fall.

  The crisis in college affordability has grown worse year after year. 
Year after year, Congress failed to act. Last year, we Democrats said 
to the American people: You give us the leadership reins and we will 
chart a new course. We, today, are making good on that promise.
  The bill before us will accomplish a number of things. Most 
importantly, it will increase the maximum Pell grant, and it will 
increase the income level at which students automatically benefit for 
the maximum Pell grant. It will encourage public service by providing 
some loan forgiveness for graduates who go into fields such as 
teaching, social work, nursing, and service as legal aid lawyers. The 
bill will give protection to borrowers by capping the monthly payments 
at 15 percent of discretionary income.
  This bill is a classic win-win-win. It is a win for the Government 
and for students and for taxpayers. For years, we have been concerned 
about the widespread abuses and excesses within the private student 
loan industry. What this bill does is cut excess subsidies to the 
private loan program by $18 billion and channel most of those savings 
into Pell grants.
  Earlier this year, in the fiscal year 2007 joint funding resolution, 
we were able to increase the maximum Pell grant by $260 to a total of 
$4,310. That was the first increase in Pell grants in 5 years, since 
the last time Democrats had the majority and I chaired the 
Appropriations Subcommittee for Education and Health Programs in 2001.
  Now, with the bill before us today, we are pleased to build on that 
progress by joining with Senator Kennedy and Senator Enzi to boost the 
maximum Pell grant to $5,100 next year and $5,400 by 2011.
  I also wish to salute Senator Kennedy for crafting this Senate bill 
in a way that is a big improvement over the House bill. The House bill 
cuts interest rates on all student loans. Well, that is very expensive, 
and it also provides benefits to many who don't need them, such as 
upper-income families. The Senate bill concentrates the savings on 
increasing grant aid to low-income students, while providing some loan 
forgiveness for graduates who enter teaching, nursing, and other 
important but relatively low-paying jobs.
  Bear in mind that before the increase earlier this year, the value of 
the Pell grants had been drastically eroded since 2001. I wonder if 
there are any colleges in America that charge the same amount for 
tuition as they did 6 years ago. I don't think so. In fact, high school 
guidance counselors tell me that, for the first time, they are seeing 
kids giving up their dream of college because they simply can't afford 
it, even with loans and grants.
  I recently received a letter from a constituent from Indianola, IA, 
county seat of my home county. She told me about her daughter who 
graduated from college last year. Let me quote from this mother's 

       We faithfully saved for our daughter's education every 
     month from the time I knew I was pregnant, even during a six-
     month period when my husband was unemployed. Since Rhiannon 
     needed to attend a specialized college, our savings for her 
     were not nearly high enough. Last year, Rhiannon's monthly 
     loan payment suddenly increased to around $700 a month. How 
     many families can afford to do this? How is this generation 
     of young adults ever to afford the American Dream to own a 
     home? This is not good for the future of our economy, for how 
     will these young people be able to have purchasing power or 
     be able to afford marriage and children? College educations 
     must remain a choice for all of our youth in order for our 
     Nation to compete in this global economy.

  This is not an exceptional case. We have all heard similar stories 
and received similar letters. Today, with the College Cost Reduction 
Act, we have an opportunity to address the crisis in college 
affordability in ways that will make a dramatic difference. As I said, 
the centerpiece in this bill is the significant increase in the maximum 
Pell grant and the expansion of Pell grant eligibility. Over the years, 
the Pell Grant Program has been enormously successful. This is 
America's largest need-based student grant program, and it has given 
millions of low-income students the opportunity to attend college, many 
of them the first in their families to do so.
  Over the years, the value of the Pell grant has eroded dramatically. 
Think about this: Two decades ago, the maximum Pell grant covered 51 
percent of the cost of tuition, fees, and room and board at a public 4-
year college--51 percent. By the 2004-2005 academic year, it covered 
only 35 percent of those costs, and it has fallen even more over the 
last couple of years.
  In my State of Iowa, two decades ago, the Pell grants covered 61 
percent of the average cost of a public 4-year college tuition, fees, 
and room and board--61 percent. Today, it covers about a third--about 
33 percent--of those same costs.
  Without adequate Federal grants, students have had to rely 
increasingly on student loans, many with very high interest rates. More 
students and their parents are taking out loans and borrowing larger 
and larger amounts. Today, more than 60 percent of undergraduates at 4-
year colleges take out loans, and the average student loan debt is more 
than $19,000. Indeed, Iowa students at 4-year colleges and universities 
graduate with an average of $22,727 in debt--the second highest rate in 
the country, I might add.
  Make no mistake, when students graduate from college with a mountain 
of debt, this has a major impact on their career choices. For many 
heavily indebted graduates, pursuing public service careers as 
teachers, social workers, legal aid attorneys or a host of others 
becomes out of the question. A recent study found that 23 percent of 
public college graduates and 38 percent of private college graduates 
would have an unmanageable level of student debt if they tried to live 
on the starting salary of a teacher.
  The burden of student debt also has a big impact on major life 
decisions. A student loan survey found the probability of owning a home 
decreases as the level of student debt increases. Well, that makes 
sense. In a survey, 30 percent of students said they delayed buying a 
car because of student loan debt, 21 percent said they delayed having 
children, and 14 percent said they delayed getting married.
  I know of one very talented member of my own staff who, even in his 
mid 30s, was burdened with tens of thousands of dollars of debt while 
attending law school. He then got married, he and his wife had a couple 
of children, and he felt increasingly burdened by the debt. He finally 
had no choice but to leave his relatively modest-paying Senate job for 
a more lucrative position in the private sector. He concluded this was 
the only way he would ever be able to pay off his college loan debt so 
he could then start saving for his own children's college education. I 
believe there are more and more young people like that--they want to do 
public service-type jobs, but with the amount of debt they have, they 
can't afford to do so.
  The College Cost Reduction Act is a sound bill. It is a good bill. 
What is more, it would not cost the taxpayers a dime. As I said, the 
bill saved $18 billion by cutting wasteful, excessive subsidies to 
private lenders, and of that amount $17 billion will be used to fund 
increases to Pell grants and the income-based loan repayment program, 
with the remaining $1 billion dedicated to deficit reduction.
  Predictably, the private lenders have mobilized a small army of 
lobbyists to argue that reductions in their subsidies would be 
devastating to their industry. Well, this simply is not true. The fact 
is that it is high time we eliminated the waste and gross excesses in 
Federal subsidies to some of these private lenders. Because of those 
subsidies, the student loan industry has reaped huge profits and become 
one of the most lucrative industries in America.

[[Page S9540]]

  Take Sallie Mae, for example, the Nation's largest student lender--
fantastically profitable, thanks to these overly generous subsidies 
over the past 30 years. The corporation now is moving forward with 
plans to sell itself. This corporation that has been loaning money to 
students now is going to go private, sell itself, with a windfall of 
some $25 billion. Together, Sallie Mae chairman Albert Lord and their 
CEO, Tim Fitzpatrick, have collected total compensation--get this, the 
two of them--of $367 million since 1999. Two people. And we are 
wondering why students have such high debts. In fact, as the Washington 
Post reported a short while ago, Mr. Lord, the Sallie Mae chairman, is 
currently building his own private golf course on 244 acres in suburban 
Maryland at a cost of up to $15 million. This is the head, folks, of 
Sallie Mae, the largest student loan industry in America.
  So we shouldn't shed any tears for the private loan companies and 
their executives. They are doing quite well. Quite frankly, they are 
going to continue to receive Federal subsidies. They are going to 
continue to make loans. They are going to continue to make profits. But 
maybe some of the future CEOs in this industry will have to forgo the 
luxury of having their own private golf course.
  The College Cost Reduction Act is one of the most important pieces of 
legislation we will consider this year. It will make college affordable 
for our young people, especially those of modest means. It will go a 
long way toward ensuring our young people are not overly burdened with 
student loan debt after they graduate so they can afford to pursue 
careers that not only benefit them but make the world a better place in 
which to live. It will put the American dream and that ladder of 
opportunity once again within the reach of every American.
  I urge my colleagues to support this long overdue and vitally 
important bill. Again, I wish to compliment Senator Kennedy for so many 
years of leadership on this issue, especially the issue of education 
and making sure that college is affordable to our lowest-income 
students. I thank him, I thank Senator Enzi for working together on 
this bipartisan bill, and, hopefully, before the day ends at not too 
late an hour, we can pass this bill and give more hope and opportunity 
to a lot of these young people I see sitting on the Senate floor and to 
so many other young people throughout America.
  Again, I thank Senator Kennedy for his outstanding leadership on this 
  Mr. KENNEDY. Will the Senator yield for a question?
  Mr. HARKIN. Yes, I will be glad to.
  Mr. KENNEDY. I thank the good Senator from Iowa for all his work on 
our education proposal. He has been a key member of our Committee on 
Education, and he has not only worked on it in terms of our committee 
but also as one of the important leaders on the Appropriations 
Committee to make sure that what we have authorized actually gets 
funded. I hope the young people in Iowa understand that, because we 
certainly understand it, and we are very appreciative of it.
  Quickly, though, the Senator has outlined in careful detail how we 
have put the greatest amount of the savings of $18 billion, $17 billion 
to provide relief for the students in the Pell grants. But I want to 
underline one other aspect of the program which says that if young 
people are going to volunteer in terms of public service, they will pay 
no more than 15 percent of their income in return. Therefore, they will 
save a good deal of the amount that otherwise they would have to save, 
and then they will get the loan forgiveness at the end of the day.
  I just list here the various areas of public service. His particular 
interest would be about halfway down, since the Senator from Iowa has 
also been our great leader dealing with the challenges of disabilities, 
and also with the elderly--public services for individuals who work 
with the disabled, also with the elderly, also with independent living 
issues as our population grows older.
  So we have public health and social work in public service agencies, 
education, early education, childcare, our legal system, public 
defenders and libraries--working, even in the tribal areas.
  As the Senator from Iowa found in his travels around Iowa in many of 
the schools and colleges, young people welcome the opportunity to be a 
part of giving something back to the local community, giving something 
as a teacher or helping the disabled. They are glad to do that. In too 
many instances, they can't afford to do it because they have too big a 
debt, but under this bill they will be able to do that, and at the end 
of the day, a grateful nation will say: If you do it for 10 years, your 
debt is forgiven.
  I ask if the Senator will not agree with me that this is really one 
of the important provisions in this legislation, one of the compelling 
provisions? We have tried to provide help and assistance to those in 
the Pell program, but we are also trying to incentivize and give 
opportunity to young people who want to give something back to their 
communities by showing a grateful nation will forgive their debt.
  Mr. HARKIN. I thank the Senator for pointing this out. I especially 
want to underline what the Senator said about the public services for 
individuals with disabilities and the elderly.
  Because of the Olmstead Supreme Court decision, because of what is 
happening now, as you know, we are moving more and more people out of 
institutional-based settings and into community-based settings. A lot 
of these people are going to need some help and personal assistance 
services to get going so they can earn money and pay taxes.
  I often tell the story of my nephew Kelly. Of course, he was injured 
in the military, so he has always had VA services. But he has a nurse 
who comes in. He is a paraplegic. He gets up in the morning, a nurse 
comes in, gets him ready for the day, he goes to work, comes in, and 
when he gets home at night, someone takes care of him. If it weren't 
for that, he wouldn't be working and paying taxes. That is, thankfully, 
because he is in the VA and they do that, but for anybody else who has 
a disability, they don't get that kind of service.
  More and more, we will be working with people, individuals with 
disabilities, in this sector. A lot of people want to do this. They 
cannot do this, I say to the Senator, with the mountain of debt they 
have. They just can't afford to do this work.
  The only thing I might disagree with the Senator on, he said this is 
one of the most important aspects. I think this is ``the'' most 
important aspect of the bill.
  I would say to the Senator, I started my life as a legal aid lawyer. 
So many low-income families need assistance, just legal assistance with 
debts, housing, divorces, family problems. They can't afford it. A lot 
of young people want to become a legal aid attorney. They may not stay 
there all their lives, but they would like to do this for a few years. 
It is public service. They get their feet wet right away in a lot of 
legal work.
  I always tell young people in law school: If you really want to 
figure out what legal work is all about, become a legal aid attorney 
out of law school. You will get the cases no one else wants. You will 
get the cases people have given up on. I tell you, that will make you a 
better lawyer than anything in your lifetime.
  A lot of young people want to do this. They cannot do it with the 
debt they have now.
  Mr. KENNEDY. If the Senator will just look at this chart. You 
mentioned about the public defender--annual salary, this will be a 
public defender in Indiana. Here is the average loan debt, probably as 
a public defender. The average is $19,000 but probably $51,000 if that 
person has gone to law school. We save them $2,800 a year in loan 
payments. If we do this for 10 years, I show the Senator from Iowa, if 
we do it for 10 years, their loan forgiveness is $33,000--$33,000 is 
  Mr. HARKIN. I hope the Senator doesn't mind if I hold one up for 
Iowa. This is a teacher in Iowa: average salary, $27,284; average loan 
debt, $27,727. Here are your monthly payments. Under this bill right 
now, the relief will be $1,344, and the amount forgiven, $16,057. This 
is going to be great for teachers, going into teaching in the State of 
Iowa. I can't speak for what it is like in Massachusetts, but in Iowa 
we are losing about upwards of a third to half of our teachers in the 
second or third year because they cannot afford to teach and pay back 
their loans.

[[Page S9541]]

  Again, I thank Senator Kennedy for his great leadership. As I said, 
this, to me, is the core of what we are trying to do with this bill. It 
is not only to help these students get the Pell grants to go to college 
but also so they can pursue their dreams and do the kind of work they 
want to do, not what they are forced to do because they have a mountain 
of debt.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Brown). The senior Senator from Wyoming is 
  Mr. ENZI. I yield such time as the two Senators need, until 11:40, 
which I think has been reserved for the leaders; is that correct?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. That request has not been granted at this 
  Mr. ENZI. OK. I yield them such time as they need to present their 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nebraska is recognized.

                Amendment No. 2337 to Amendment No. 2327

           (Purpose: To amend the special allowance payments)

  Mr. NELSON of Nebraska. Mr. President, I rise alongside my colleague 
and friend, Senator Burr from North Carolina, on an issue of great 
importance to America's middle class; that is, the affordability of 
higher education.
  I call up amendment No. 2337.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection to setting aside the 
pending amendments? Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will report.
  The bill clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Nebraska [Mr. Nelson], for himself and Mr. 
     Burr, proposes an amendment numbered 2337 to amendment No. 

  (The amendment is printed in today's Record under ``Text of 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nebraska.
  Mr. NELSON of Nebraska. Mr. President, even at the University of 
Nebraska, which offers a quality and cost-effective education, the 
average graduate holds over $16,000 in debt as they enter the working 
world. That is the equivalent for many starting out of a near mortgage, 
although they don't own a house. For many students across the Nation, 
the picture is even more bleak, as students graduate with the 
equivalent of a home mortgage, in many instances. Over the last 10 
years, the problem has grown worse. Average tuition and fees at 4-year 
public and private institutions have increased by 38 percent.
  The class of 2008 will be the largest high school class in U.S. 
history, with nearly 3.2 million high school graduates facing the 
decision of whether they can afford to go to college. A key part of 
that calculation will be the financing options at their disposal, 
including grants, Federal loans, and private financing.
  I applaud Senator Kennedy for leading the charge, investing 
additional Federal dollars in Pell grants which provide need-based aid 
to 5.3 million Americans each year. An estimated 90 percent of Pell 
grant recipients considered to be dependent upon their parents had 
family income below $40,000. This provides essential support for many 
underprivileged families but only starts to address student need as 
loans are often required to supplement this aid and many middle-class 
families ineligible for Pell grants are left searching for financing 
  In a time of mounting challenges for America's middle class, I urge 
caution and moderation in cutting funding for the Federal Family 
Education Loan Program, known as FFEL, on which 8 out of 10 schools 
rely to serve their students' financial needs at the present time. 
Eight out of ten schools rely on these private financing situations for 
students' financial needs.
  The Federal Government partners with loan providers to ensure that 
the student loan marketplace is fully capitalized and students have 
access to affordable higher education financing options. This market-
based approach has solidified access for student loans, preserved 
attentiveness to the needs of borrowers and schools, while providing 
valuable discounts to middle-class families.
  That said, our amendment preserves significant cuts to the student 
loan industry. However, it does so in a tempered and moderate manner 
which bridges the desires of Members on the one hand to increase need-
based aid for low-income families and on the other hand to avoid 
increasing loan costs for millions of families and doing significantly 
irreparable harm to the public-private FFEL Program. In addition, our 
amendment preserves the maximum Pell grant levels established in the 
Higher Education Access Act and does not reduce financial aid for 
  Many will come and speak about past grievances in which a select few 
in the student loan industry have been involved. I am as troubled as 
anyone by these past actions, and I applaud the HELP Committee for 
taking action in the higher education reauthorization bill to make sure 
these problems do not occur again.
  That said, the Federal Family Education Loan, FFEL, has afforded 
young Americans the opportunity to attend college for over 40 years and 
is a critical part of making college a reality for many in the middle 
class. Over the life of a loan, the FFEL Program delivers on average 
$2,800 in discounts and savings to middle-class Americans. Amazingly 
often, we speak about the magnitude of student loan cuts as if they 
will cost nothing. Americans rely on the FFEL Program, and I encourage 
Members to ask their FFEL schools how valuable the program is for 
students in their State. Our amendment tempers the FFEL cut, preserving 
$15.65 billion in reductions to lenders.
  Reports are circulating that the Nelson-Burr amendment would set 
aside less money for Pell grants. What has not been relayed accurately 
is that the Nelson-Burr amendment increases grant aid to the exact same 
funding levels as the Higher Education Access Act. The amendment does 
not degrade the amount dedicated to Pell grants; rather, it uses a 
different baseline from which the CBO cost calculations are made. We 
assume the $4,600 Pell grant appropriation which was accommodated in 
the budget resolution--the same budget resolution which created these 
reconciliation instructions. This assumption is less than the House of 
Representatives' Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education 
appropriations bill which funds it as $4,700 for Pell grant maximum.
  Our focus is on the end result for students. A vote for Nelson-Burr 
not only assures that the most needy families see the same increases in 
Pell grants but also helps mitigate the damage to competitive student 
loans that deliver savings to middle-class families and students, many 
of whom are ineligible for Pell grants and other aid.
  Let me make the point clear.
  No. 1, 8 out of 10 schools rely on the FFEL Program.
  No. 2, we must proceed with caution and moderation in making these 
cuts because this will reduce the amount of capital available for 
student loans for middle-class families.
  No. 3, these cuts directly impact students' and middle-income 
Americans' pocketbooks, those who have to rely on loans for higher 
  No. 4, our amendment does not reduce student aid or the maximum Pell 
grant set out in this bill, as some have said.
  I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting the Nelson-Burr 
amendment. I ask that my colleague, Senator Burr, have whatever 
remaining time might be required for his remarks.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Carolina is recognized.
  Mr. BURR. I thank my colleague and friend, Senator Nelson. I take the 
opportunity to thank Senator Kennedy and Senator Enzi, who have played 
the leadership in trying to find the balance of what our policies 
should look like--the policies of competition, the policies of access, 
the policies of direct Government loans.
  It is not easy when there is so much we want to do, but we are 
confined by how much money we have to do that. It is my hope, as 
Senator Enzi said earlier, that we do not stop with this reconciliation 
bill, that we quickly reauthorize Higher Education. I believe that is 
absolutely essential, and many things we have in that make a tremendous 
  Senator Nelson has done a beautiful job of laying out for everybody 
what is at stake. I suggest to you that what we need to focus on, more 
than does the loan come from the private sector or from the Federal 
Government or this or that, is students. This debate is about students. 
It is about are we going

[[Page S9542]]

to provide an opportunity for every child in this country who wants to 
seek higher education, as part of the tools they possess for their 
competitiveness in the future, are we going to provide that for them 
regardless of where they come from, regardless of the income of their 
family, regardless of the school they choose?
  Senator Nelson stated very clearly, 80 percent of the schools in the 
country chose FFELP loans as their No. 1 tool to provide the financing 
students need to get their education.
  Why? Well, one, because they are more competitive in most cases. 
Those that provide FFELP eliminate the origination fee. They discount 
the loans. In many cases they are a point or more under what the 
Government direct loan is.
  Now, I would expect some would say since Senator Nelson and I are 
suggesting that since nonprofits we're reducing by 35 basis points in 
their spread, and for-profits 50, that 50 they can live with. They may 
be right. But the fact is that none of us knows. If one lender drops 
out of the marketplace, we have now constrained the choices and the 
options every student has.
  I think what Senator Nelson and I suggest is, let's do 35 and 35. 
Let's treat the for-profit and not-for-profit in the same way. In the 
case of North Carolina, I should be fine with where nonprofits are, 
because 65 percent of all student loans written in North Carolina are 
done by the College Fund of North Carolina, a not-for-profit 
  When you look at added services over and above the discount rate and 
the ease of doing business with the College Fund of North Carolina, and 
with the for-profits in comparison to the Government Direct Loan, which 
is Washington driven, it is bureaucratic, it is not consumer friendly, 
it is not responsive to the families or the students, you realize why 
eight out of 10 schools choose it; but, more importantly, why parents 
and students choose that as the No. 1 option.
  FFELP has a history. It is a history that shows tremendous benefits 
to students and to their parents. In most areas of the U.S. economy, we 
find that when we encourage competition, the beneficiary is the 
individual who reaches a lower price point. We are saying: Let's not 
risk it. Let's go to where we know nobody is harmed, but let's not go 
further than that. Let's make sure we have incorporated into the 
package for those low-income families the grant proposals Senator 
Kennedy and Senator Enzi have incorporated in their bill, but let's not 
be too punitive to the system, going into the unknown, that we actually 
eliminate clients who exist in the marketplace.
  Very simply, our amendment focuses on students. It uses the strength 
of the FFELP program to say we are going to make sure the competition 
that existed up to this point exists well into the future.
  As Senator Nelson says, our amendment cuts for all lenders $15.65 
billion over 5 years at a time when it is not just a domestic economy, 
it is a global economy. I believe every Member of the Senate--more 
importantly, every parent in America--understands, regardless of their 
education level, that for their kids to have an unlimited future they 
have to have an opportunity to get the best education they want to 
pursue so their opportunities in life are unlimited.
  I think we can safely say with a reduction of $15.65 billion, we feel 
fairly confident we can make that promise to parents across this 
country, that we have not diminished the opportunity for unlimited 
opportunities for their children. But I think it is safe to say Senator 
Nelson and I and others believe if you cut further and you diminish the 
competition in the marketplace, you have now diminished the 
opportunity, not just the educational opportunity but the economic 
opportunity, of the next generation.
  I don't necessarily agree with the philosophy that if we get it 
wrong, there is a Government Direct Loan program to service them 
regardless, and they will access loans; they will access it through a 
program that does not eliminate the origination fee; that does not 
discount the product; is at least a percentage point or higher, because 
they have no competition; it is not user friendly; it is not 
responsive; its application process is not predictable. It sounds a lot 
like the visa process for people in the United States, for people on 
the outside looking in.
  But the reality today is we need a system that every student and 
every parent understands. I have two children in higher education. I 
can tell you the most difficult thing is for a parent to sit down and 
try to figure out the application process, how to fill it out, how to 
qualify, and whether, in fact, you do qualify.
  Senator Enzi alluded earlier to the need for additional reforms. I 
think we agree, in a very bipartisan way, that there are other things 
we need to do. But the wrong thing to do would be to hurt students, to 
hurt parents right from the beginning with their access to affordable 

  The spirit of where we are going is right; it has just gone a little 
too far. And rather than to go into the unknown and not know what the 
reactions will be in the for-profit market, I believe the responsible 
thing is to roll back the change slightly, to treat for-profits and 
not-for-profits the same way, to assure every family that the 
educational opportunities we continue to see expand for all Americans; 
in fact, continue in the future, and they are not limited or 
constrained in a way that families look at it and try to find 
  Senator Kennedy has proposed in this bill a number of ways to create 
incentives for specific individuals, and I think in most cases this 
approach is embraced; as Senator Harkin very passionately displayed, 
probably long overdue in a lot of cases. As we focus on how to expand 
it, as we focus on how to be a little more attuned to what the needs 
are, it strikes me we would cut in a way that might--I stress the word 
``might''--constrain the choices parents and students have.
  It is simple: If we want to eliminate the word ``might,'' and say it 
does not, all we have to do is roll back slightly the cut we propose. 
In doing that, we still make the investment in low-income subsidies 
through FFELP and other programs, we still give the assurance to every 
family that there is a way to finance college education, we still 
assure students that once they get that diploma, that diploma is the 
answer to the payback of that student loan, because they now have the 
tools for an unlimited future which brings with it an unlimited 
earnings opportunity.
  The answer is easy. I hope my colleagues will support what I think is 
a very responsible amendment to a very well-intended bill. I believe 
not to do it is to accept the responsibility that some kids will win 
and some kids will lose; that the possibility exists that when you 
diminish competition, you actually raise the cost of education, not 
lower the cost; that for some who might have access today but might not 
have access tomorrow to anything other than the Direct Loan from the 
Government student loan program; that that option may be too expensive; 
it may be too cumbersome; it may be too difficult to understand; it may 
not be predictable enough; and that period of decision, as one 
completes a senior year in high school and potentially makes a decision 
about not just where they go but whether they go, that one change may 
influence them to say: Well, you know what, 12 years is enough.
  I come from a State that has had, I think, the largest transformation 
in our economy of practically any State in the country. Twenty years 
ago traditional manufacturing drove every job that was in North 
Carolina, and that was in textiles and furniture. Through the changes 
in trade and through the creation of a global economy, I do not need to 
tell my colleagues where textile and furniture jobs are today, but they 
are not in North Carolina.
  If it were not for higher education in North Carolina, we would not 
have reeducated and retrained an older workforce, but we also would not 
have the capabilities, without higher education today, to take the next 
generation that is coming through to give them the educational skills 
they need to compete in the 21st century jobs we are creating today.
  You see, for a State that I felt got kicked when we were already 
knocked down, we moved from what was the norm in 1950 to today jobs 
that are being created that are in the next sectors of the economy we 
are just now

[[Page S9543]]

creating. They demand and require a different level of educational 
proficiency. Sure, if they do not have it, they can fill out the 
application, but if they do not have the educational qualifications, 
they will never get invited for the interview. It does them no good.
  We are encouraging our colleagues today: make sure every student who 
fills out the application for that job has the educational 
qualifications to be invited for the interview because we have not 
diminished the tools they can use to pay for the education.
  There is a lot at stake. Clearly, this Congress, this body, under the 
leadership of the chairman and the ranking member, have moved the ball 
well down the road in the right direction--Senator Nelson and I might 
say a little bit too far as it relates to the for-profit lenders.
  I hope my colleagues will recognize that. I hope they will keep 
focused on the students and the parents, and if in the future we see 
that the spread can be rolled even further, I am sure at that point in 
time we will find a worthy investment we can make in students and in 
parents and in education.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the time 
until 12 noon today be for debate with respect to the Nelson-Burr 
amendment, with the time until then equally divided and controlled in 
the usual form; with no amendment in order to the amendment prior to 
the vote; that the vote with respect to the amendment occur upon 
disposition of the Kennedy amendment which is covered under a previous 
unanimous consent agreement; that there be 2 minutes of debate equally 
divided prior to the vote; and that the second and third votes be 10 
minutes in duration.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, Senator Enzi and I have 7\1/2\ minutes?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. That is correct.
  Mr. KENNEDY. I yield myself 5 minutes.
  First, I thank our friends, Senators Burr and Nelson, for their 
interest in this issue. Senator Burr is a strong member of our 
committee and much involved in educational issues. We always profit 
from his suggestions and ideas, as well as Senator Nelson. As much as 
we profit generally, there are times when we do not. This happens to be 
that one time.
  I have in my hand the pending legislation, which is Kennedy-Enzi, and 
the Nelson-Burr amendment. All one has to do is look on page 1 of both 
and they will see what the difference is. On Kennedy-Enzi, paragraph 
(A) is $2.6 billion; on Nelson-Burr, it is $1.6 billion. Paragraph (B) 
is $3 billion on Kennedy-Enzi; $2 billion on Nelson-Burr. Paragraph (C) 
is $3 billion according to Kennedy-Enzi; $2 billion on Nelson-Burr. 
Paragraph (D) is $3.9 billion; on theirs it is $2.8 billion. The point 
I am making is, it is $4.2 billion less in student aid. That is the 
basic point.
  Is there a question about the economic stability of primarily Sallie 
Mae? This chart may be difficult to see, but if you look at the bottom, 
right here on the bottom right are Sallie Mae's own projections. All 
during the 1990s, at the time we made some modifications in giving the 
students more help, and Sallie Mae had always indicated that they were 
going to have more and more trouble. If you look at the end here in the 
blue, this is their projections in terms of their revenues and profits 
going out to 2006. This is their document, not ours. They are going to 
be financially secure in terms of the future.
  The debate really is, do we want to do more for students or more for 
  The final point I will make is, if you look at what the cuts are 
going to be, this chart represents for every State the effect of the 
Nelson-Burr amendment in reducing assistance for students. My State is 
$59 million. The State of the Senator from Rhode Island is some $16 
million. But for every State in the country, this chart represents a 
reduction in student assistance.
  The economic and financial advisers have indicated that these 
financial institutions are going to have ample profits. My concern is 
whether we have done enough in terms of the students, not have we done 
too little. That is why I believe students will be best served by 
resisting the Nelson-Burr amendment. They will benefit the most under 
our proposal.
  If we are going to say we will leave it up to the appropriators, what 
are they going to do? They make certain assumptions that the 
appropriators are going to appropriate more money and, therefore, there 
really won't be a loss. If the appropriators appropriate more money, it 
will go to the benefit under our proposal. So Pell grants will go up 
and students will benefit even further. We provide effectively $800 in 
terms of Pell grants. They provide $500.
  I hope this amendment will not be agreed to.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Who yields time?
  The Senator from North Carolina.
  Mr. BURR. Mr. President, one has to look a little further at what you 
get for the money. If you look at the nonprofit world and the for-
profit world, they market student loans. They educate parents about 
what is available to them. For any parent who has gone through the 
process, one of the most difficult things is, when you look at the pot 
of savings you have as you have seen college cost escalate, when you 
realize what the cost is, you realize you don't have enough. When the 
likelihood is between grants and loans, you are going to have to do 
both. Where do you go? Part of the beauty of the system of a 
competitive private sector is they are competing, which means they are 
marketing. They are sending out information. They are educating parents 
and students. By the way, marketing is extremely expensive.
  There is another piece to it, and it is called financial literacy, 
the challenge every parent and student goes through about what their 
responsibilities are. What is the choice we are going to leave? Are we 
going to take away so much money that marketing and financial literacy 
are no longer a benefit, a service, a tool that lenders provide? I 
guess some would suggest we do.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Will the Senator from North Carolina yield for a 
  Mr. BURR. In one second.
  The solution, then, is that you let the Government entity, the direct 
to the student loan from the Government, be the education source. We 
have a long history. We don't do that well. As a matter of fact, we 
don't do it at all. So our expectations that financial literacy would 
exist or would improve would not be the reality.
  I am happy to yield to my colleague.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. I wanted to follow up, if I may for a moment, on the 
point raised by the distinguished Senator from Massachusetts who has 
just indicated that the effect of this amendment on my home State of 
Rhode Island would be $16 million less in student loans available for 
students. I ask the distinguished Senator from North Carolina if this 
is, in fact, correct? And if it is correct, where does that $16 million 
go that could otherwise be supporting higher education for students in 
my State?
  Mr. BURR. Let me respond to my colleague that what Senator Kennedy 
displayed was a simple mathematical calculation. We raise $4 billion 
and a few in change less money out of the system, and we believe that 
that is a prudent thing to do based upon the unknown as to whether that 
would reduce competition. So we have $4 billion less to work with. We 
have the same challenge, and that is, how do you invest that in a way 
that families and students feel the beneficial effects. I believe as 
you look at it and you say that money is now in the system, I can also 
point to the fact that the competition that exists in the FFELP program 
savings, the entire program, is $6 billion a year. So if you eliminated 
it, the $4 billion savings, if it were to knock out all the for-
profits, you have lost it on the competition that exists in that system 
and the lower prices, the elimination of origination fees, the 
discounts, set aside the fact that we do marketing and we do financial 
literacy programs that only the private sector seems to be able to do.
  I reserve the remainder of my time.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. If the Senator will yield for another question, does 
that mean that there is, in fact, with all of that said, still $16 
million less available to Rhode Island students as a result of this 

[[Page S9544]]

  Mr. BURR. I don't know the calculations that Senator Kennedy went 
through, but I have never found his charts to be incorrect.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. I thank the Senator for his courtesy.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Who yields time?
  The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, how much time remains?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts has 2 minutes 
50 seconds.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, the point raised is, with these kinds of 
cuts, will it somehow eliminate the competition? CBO said we could 
actually have a three-quarters of 1 percent cut and there would still 
be profitability in the system. We didn't take three-quarters of this. 
We have taken 50 percent of one and 35 percent in the other. We haven't 
reached the three-quarters. So under the CBO, there is going to be 
competition. If you take Sallie Mae's own future projections, there is 
going to be competition. We have included in this legislation something 
that is enormously important, a trial program to have real competition 
out there to see who will compete for the lowest possible additional 
payments and ensure that we are going to get the benefits for the 
students rather than for the lenders. That would be enormous. That 
would be real competition. We are not there yet. We have a trial 
program in this legislation. Even under the administration's own 
figures, we haven't really threatened any of the potential lenders.
  As the chart just showed, Sally Mae, the principal figure in this, is 
going to have ample profit over future years. I hope every Member takes 
a look at the charts and recognizes what is going to happen in terms of 
students in their particular States because under their program, there 
will be important reductions in terms of that assistance, particularly 
in the Pell Grant Program.
  Do I have any further time?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts has 45 seconds.
  Mr. KENNEDY. As I understand now we are going to have three votes. 
The last vote will be on the Nelson-Burr amendment. I believe I am 
correct. The effect of that will be a reduction of some $4 billion that 
is provided in student aid. I hope that amendment will not be 
successful, and we will stay with the bipartisan recommendation that 
came out of our committee with an overwhelmingly bipartisan majority.
  I yield back any remaining time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Carolina has 3 minutes 
  Mr. BURR. Mr. President, I will not use the full time yielded back. I 
want to once again thank Senator Kennedy and Senator Enzi for the 
leadership they have shown on not just the reconciliation but hopefully 
on passage of a reauthorization of higher education.
  Let me make this point: The fact that 80 percent of the students in 
this country choose the FFELP program for their student loan is a great 
indication of the value of this program, of the competition it provides 
but, more importantly, the savings that is apparent that this program 
provides to parents and students. If the Government Direct Loan 
program, which is the default, a bureaucratic, Washington-driven, loan 
program is the default because we have calculated incorrectly, then 
only 20 percent of the students are going to be happy because that is 
all they are choosing today. Eighty percent are going to be unhappy.
  The question is, how do you influence their decision in their senior 
year in high school about the need, the desire, and the ability to go 
on to higher education?
  As I look at the pages sitting in front of us, I understand it is 
them we are talking about. For most of us in the room, it is not about 
our kids because we have now aged out of that. The reality is, we have 
a next generation for which we are responsible to make sure they have 
equal to, if not better, opportunities than we as parents had. This is 
a time I am not willing to risk who is right. I am willing to say: 
Let's be cautious. Let's stand on firm ground. In this institution we 
have the ability to use CBO for or against us. When it is advantageous, 
we mention it; when it is not, we don't. I realize that. But I hope 
Members will use what they know and what they see. What you see with 
this program is, 80 percent of the students and the parents choose it. 
They have confidence in it. It brings real value. By the way, it saves 
a student $3,000 over the life of the loan because FFELP brings that 
level of competition. That is worth saving, and it is worth preserving.
  I yield back the remainder of my time. I don't believe we have asked 
for the yeas and nays, so I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent it be in order to 
ask for the yeas and nays on all the other amendments.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays on those 
other amendments.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second on the remaining 
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.

                           Amendment No. 2329

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, there will now be 2 
minutes for debate equally divided on amendment No. 2329 offered by the 
junior Senator from Alaska.
  The Senator from Alaska is recognized.
  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, my amendment would change the amount to 
be authorized and appropriated for the College Access Partnership Grant 
Program. It would change it from $25 million to $113 million for both 
fiscal year 2008 and 2009.
  What the College Access Partnership Grant Program does is make 
payments available to States to assist them in carrying out specific 
activities relating to increasing college access for low-income 
students in the State.
  Currently, about 64 percent of our higher income students who enroll 
in college get a bachelor's degree, while only 21 percent of our lower 
income students do so. The College Access Partnership Grant Program is 
specifically designed to help States put together services and benefits 
that are most likely to get more of their low-income students to apply 
for, to be accepted by, and to, ultimately, succeed in college.
  The amendment is paid for by the $176 million in excess deficit 
reduction funds above those required by the budget resolution.
  What we specifically provide for is outreach, information on 
financing options, on promoting financial literacy, on assisting the 
students to have access to these very important programs.
  I urge support of this amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Tester). The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I thank the good Senator from Alaska for 
her efforts for not only the State of Alaska but for all our States and 
for the initiation she has provided for this amendment.
  As she has quite correctly stated, one of the great challenges is 
that we have many qualified students, but they do not have the 
knowledge or support to be able to find the educational opportunities 
that are out there. There are nonprofit agencies in the respective 
States. This will help the States reach out to various groups and 
individuals in their State to assist them in finding the path toward 
education--the provisions that are included in this legislation.
  This amendment is very much needed, and it will make an important 
difference. We have more than 400,000 students now who are not in 
college who are qualified to go.
  The Senator's amendment is a positive one. I hope we will support it.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on agreeing to amendment No. 
  The yeas and nays have been ordered.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Delaware (Mr. Biden) and 
the Senator from South Dakota (Mr. Johnson) are necessarily absent.
  Mr. LOTT. The following Senator is necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Kansas (Mr. Brownback).

[[Page S9545]]

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 73, nays 24, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 254 Leg.]


     Nelson (FL)
     Nelson (NE)



                             NOT VOTING--3

  The amendment (No. 2329) was agreed to.

                           Amendment No. 2330

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, there will now be 2 
minutes of debate equally divided on amendment No. 2330, offered by the 
Senator from Massachusetts.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, could we have order?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Order, please.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, as we know, under the budget, we 
considered the legislation for 5 years, but the results of the 
recommendations that came out of our committee will carry on into the 
future. Obviously we will have a reauthorization and the Senate will 
make whatever judgment, but in the meantime, we are going to make sure 
that those resources in the future, after the 5 years, are going to go 
to the benefit of students.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Hampshire is recognized.
  Mr. GREGG. Mr. President, this is a reconciliation bill. The purpose 
of reconciliation is to not radically grow the size of Government but 
to control the size of Government. Under this bill, unfortunately, the 
size of Government will grow by $19 billion. The actual savings in the 
bill is now down to $750 million. So for every $1 of savings, there is 
now $19 billion of new spending--new spending. That is not the purpose 
of reconciliation.
  What the Senator is suggesting now is that in the second 5 years, 
when there is $40 billion of new spending, that another $2.3 billion of 
deficit reduction which was supposed to occur will be grabbed and also 
spent. This makes no sense at all. We are supposed to use 
reconciliation to reduce the rate of growth of Government, not to 
spend. This is an attempt to increase the spending, which is already 
$40 billion in the second 5 years, by another $2.3 billion, which was 
supposed to go to deficit reduction.
  I hope people will vote against it.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on agreeing to amendment No. 
  The yeas and nays are ordered.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from South Dakota (Mr. 
Johnson) is necessarily absent.
  Mr. LOTT. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Kansas (Mr. Brownback) and the Senator from Oklahoma (Mr. Coburn).
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 52, nays 45, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 255 Leg.]


     Nelson (FL)


     Nelson (NE)

                             NOT VOTING--3

  The amendment (No. 2330) was agreed to.
  Mrs. MURRAY. I move to reconsider the vote, and I move to lay that 
motion on the table.
  The motion to lay on the table was agreed to.

                           Amendment No. 2337

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, there is now 2 
minutes for debate equally divided on amendment No. 2337 offered by the 
Senator from Nebraska, Mr. Nelson.
  Who yields time?
  The Senator from Nebraska.
  Mr. NELSON of Nebraska. Mr. President, I rise to urge support for the 
Nelson-Burr amendment which is next in line for voting.
  In a time of mounting challenges for America's middle-class families, 
I am urging caution and moderation in cutting funding for the Federal 
Family Education Loan Program which 8 out of 10--80 percent of the 
schools--rely on to serve their students' financial needs.
  The Nelson-Burr amendment does preserve significant cuts of $15.65 
billion to the student loan industry, but it does so in a tempered and 
moderate manner which bridges the desires of Members on the one hand to 
increase need-based aid for low-income families and on the other hand 
to avoid increasing loan costs for millions of families and doing 
irreparable, significant harm to the public-private FFELP program.
  In addition, our amendment preserves the maximum Pell grant levels 
established in the Higher Education Access Act. There is information 
that says it is not doing it that way. That information is incorrect.
  I thank the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, all you have to do is pick up the Nelson-
Burr proposal and the one recommended by the committee and you will see 
that there is $4 billion in cuts. Those are benefits that are going to 
go to students.
  The question is, Are my colleagues going to support the students or 
are they going to support the banks? That is the issue. That is the 
question. Every State will see a reduction in the funding for students 
under this proposal. CBO has indicated, in evaluating our proposal, 
that the lenders, talking about the industry, are going to have 
profits--I will include their report--large and small alike. This is a 
question of whether we are going to support the students who need that 
help, need that assistance who are the future of our economy and of our 
national security or whether we are going to support the banks. That is 
the issue. This is the time.
  I hope this amendment will be defeated.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. All time has expired. The question is on 
agreeing to amendment No. 2337. The yeas and nays have been ordered. 
The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk called the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from South Dakota (Mr. 
Johnson) is necessarily absent.
  Mr. LOTT. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Kansas (Mr. Brownback) and the Senator from New Hampshire (Mr. 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. McCaskill). Are there any other Senators 
in the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 35, nays 62, as follows:

[[Page S9546]]

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 256 Leg.]


     Nelson (NE)


     Nelson (FL)

                             NOT VOTING--3

  The amendment (No. 2337) was rejected.

                             Change of Vote

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Mexico.
  Mr. DOMENICI. Madam President, I was recorded as a ``yea'' on the 
previous vote. I meant to be recorded as ``nay.'' I ask unanimous 
consent that I be recorded as a ``nay.'' This would not affect the 
outcome of the vote.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  (The foregoing tally vote has been changed to reflect the above 
  Mr. KENNEDY. Madam President, I see my friend from Maryland here who 
wishes to address us, and I hope our Members will pay close attention.
  We have been making important progress during this last hour or so on 
some very important amendments, and we are grateful for the interest 
and the involvement of all our colleagues. We have a number of our 
colleagues who wish to address the Senate on this education 
legislation. We will hear from several of them at this time.
  We are very grateful for all of the support the Senator from Maryland 
has given, and I yield such time as he might want on the legislation.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland.
  Mr. CARDIN. Madam President, I also thank Senator Kennedy and Senator 
Enzi for their extraordinary leadership in bringing forward the Higher 
Education Access Act. I think this is one of the most important bits of 
legislation that we will be considering during this term of Congress. 
To me, it speaks to one of the highest priorities of our country, and 
that is making education--quality education--available to all of our 
  Affordability of higher education is a critically important issue 
affecting families throughout our Nation. In 1965, we made a commitment 
in the Higher Education Act that every family--every family in this 
country--should be able to send their children to college and that the 
financial considerations should not prevent a family from allowing 
their children to get the benefits of higher education in America. We 
enacted the Pell grants, which was a huge program at the time, opening 
opportunities to many families who had never had it before.
  Over the last 20 years, we have seen a considerable erosion of the 
affordability of higher education to families in the United States. In 
the last 20 years, college costs have increased threefold. Yet the 
buying power of Pell grants has actually declined during the past 20 
years. Madam President, 20 years ago, 55 percent of the cost of a 
public 4-year college could have been financed through Pell grants. 
Today, it is less than one-third. It is estimated that 400,000--
400,000--children in our country each year see the doors of higher 
education barred to them because they just can't afford to pay the 
tuition and costs of going to a postsecondary school. This is important 
to our country.
  When I graduated from college, 15 percent of the new jobs required 
some form of postsecondary education. Today, that number is in excess 
of 60 percent. This is important for the individual, in order to 
benefit from the opportunities of America, but it is important for our 
country. If we are going to be competitive internationally, we need to 
have an educated workforce. So this is a public investment. It is not 
just for the individual. It benefits our Nation by allowing it to 
continue to grow economically so that our standard of living can 
  The cost of higher education can determine what school an individual 
will attend because the cost affects many families who may say: Gee, I 
know you could benefit from going to this particular college or 
university, but we just can't afford it, so we will try this college or 
university. That second choice may work and it may not.
  The cost of higher education also affects the careers that graduates 
choose because they have these huge loans they have to repay. We have 
students who would like to become teachers or would like to become 
nurses or go into law enforcement or some other field they feel a 
talent for or are committed to, but they take a look at their college 
loans and they have to opt out in order to repay those loans. So we 
lose out on the creativity of those college graduates.
  Finally, the cost of higher education may also affect when a graduate 
starts a family or whether he or she can buy a home.
  This financial burden truly has affected much of this Nation--the 
type of country that we are--and that is why this legislation, to me, 
is one of the most important that we will be considering during this 
term in Congress.
  Fifteen years ago, about half the students in colleges took out 
loans. Today, that number is over two-thirds. The average debt for a 
college graduate is $19,000. We have a chance to do something about it 
in this legislation.
  I might point out to my colleagues that, along with Senator Snowe, I 
have introduced the Master Teachers Act of 2007, which provides a 
Federal tax incentive for teachers who go into careers to help 
underserved areas, such as our rural areas and those areas where the 
schools are not meeting the expectations of No Child Left Behind--high 
poverty areas. That is an important bill that will help.
  But we have an opportunity in this legislation to make a major 
difference in the affordability of higher education. I was proud to be 
a part of the Budget Committee, and I congratulate the leadership of 
our Budget Committee, Senator Conrad, for finding a way in which we 
could consider this legislation and to say that our priority is in 
higher education and making quality higher education affordable to 
American families.
  Senator Kennedy and Senator Enzi have taken up that charge in 
bipartisan legislation that we have before us. It clearly moves us in 
the right direction to help families in this country and to help our 
Nation become more competitive.
  This legislation provides $17 billion of additional college aid to 
students, the biggest increase since the GI bill. Pell grants that 
currently max out at a little over $4,300 will be increased to $5,100. 
It also increases income levels, making more students qualified to 
receive Pell grants, and caps the monthly loan payment at 15 percent of 
discretionary income.
  This is a huge improvement on affordability for families. College 
graduates now know they will be able to work after they graduate and 
can go into careers they want to go into, knowing there will be a limit 
as to how much they have to repay on an annual basis from their 
discretionary income on their college loans. That is a major policy 
statement we are making, that we want college graduates to go into 
fields where they can best contribute to our society.
  It does a lot more. It protects working students. They are not 
penalized because they are working. That is an important policy. It 
encourages public service, with a loan forgiveness program for those 
who go into public service and commit to a 10-year requirement. I think 
that, again, is a policy that is important for our country--to say, 
yes, we do want young people to go into public service.
  It is fiscally responsible. There are offsets to make sure we are not 
adding to the deficit. It holds colleges accountable. If the cost of a 
college exceeds its peers', there are ways the

[[Page S9547]]

public can put on pressure to keep college costs down.
  This bill is very important. It helps families in Maryland. This bill 
will provide $32 million in new grants next year to families in my 
State of Maryland, and, over the 5-year period, $273 million in new 
  For the historically Black colleges and universities, it will provide 
$5 million in new grants next year, and $40 million in new grants over 
the 5 years of this legislation.
  The bottom line: More families in Maryland are going to be able to 
afford to send their children to college. More children will be able to 
go to their first preference, as far as the school they want to attend, 
which college or university, and will not be prohibited because of the 
costs. There will be more opportunities for so many families that have 
been left out of the American dream in my State of Maryland and more 
Marylanders will be able to choose the type of career where they can 
best add to their own self-fulfillment and to help our community.
  This is an important bill. To me it speaks to the priorities of what 
this Nation should stand for. I am proud to urge my colleagues to 
support this legislation.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New York.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, I wish to first recognize my friend, 
the Senator from Massachusetts, the senior Senator from Massachusetts, 
on his efforts to produce this fine bill before us today. His efforts 
to improve higher education affordability and his willingness to make 
tough reforms in student lending are going to make a major difference 
to America's students.
  One area in which this bill particularly excels is Pell grants. Pell, 
as we all know, is an important program. I have long supported it. I 
commend my colleagues for making such a meaningful investment in the 
Pell grant program.
  We all know, whether you are middle class or poor, going to college 
these days is a necessity almost. Yet it is harder and harder to afford 
it. This bill takes care of both the poor and the middle class in a 
variety of ways, and makes it easier to go to college. That makes it 
better for the students and the prospective students who will be 
helped. That will make it better for their families. It will also make 
it better for America.
  The Pell grant program is a critical resource for financially needy 
college students. In the 2005-2006 academic year, 5.3 million of the 
Nation's undergraduates received Pell grants. It makes an enormous 
difference to students whose family incomes are very limited. Most have 
incomes of less than $20,000; over 1 million in New York alone. One of 
the great things about America is that we provide ladders up. We are 
not going to give you an escalator. You are going to have to work to 
climb. But the Pell grant is a ladder. If you work hard and succeed and 
go to college, it will be easier for you to go despite the high cost of 
  This aid and improvements to the loan programs are critical. In fact, 
the typical student now graduates with $17,000 in Federal student loan 
debt. That is a mountain of debt for a working adult, which is becoming 
increasingly difficult to avoid. It is undeniable that sustaining a 
talented, college-educated workforce is essential to our success in a 
global economy. College education has become almost a necessity in the 
world our young people are facing, and yet it is priced as a luxury. 
Yet, since 2001, tuition and fees at 4-year public colleges and 
universities have risen 41 percent. That is after inflation.
  Families in New York are certainly struggling with education costs. 
Even after financial aid is taken into account, 33 percent of the 
median family income in New York is needed to pay for just 1 year of a 
4-year public college. The Federal student loan programs are a critical 
resource for America's students. Parents deserve a pat on their back 
when kids graduate from college, not bills and repayments that may 
break them.
  Families trying to afford a college education need our help, whether 
they be poor, working families, or families well into the middle class. 
That is why I was proud to author a law that allows students to deduct 
$4,000 from their tuition. That is why I am proud to be a supporter of 
this legislation, which helps students--poor students--with increased 
Pell grants, significantly increased Pell grants, but also those who 
take out Stafford loans. We limit how much they have to pay back to 15 
percent of their disposable income. That will dramatically help those 
  Democrats have said we are going to take America in a new direction. 
We said we are committed to strengthening America's middle class. This 
bill does both of those things, and I am happy to support it.
  I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. DODD. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent the order for the 
quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. DODD. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that I may be 
yielded time off the bill to speak.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. DODD. Madam President, I begin by commending our leading sponsors 
and managers of this legislation, Senator Kennedy and Senator Enzi, for 
the leadership they provided in working on this important legislation. 
It is especially important to most American families, because all of us 
now are beginning to appreciate how expensive it is to receive a higher 
education--tragically, I point out--and what a higher education can 
mean to more and more Americans--the quality of life, individual 
success of our citizenry, but also the collective health of our country 
as well when we have a well-educated population.
  I have often quoted the statistic made by Thomas Jefferson more than 
200 years ago that:

       Any nation that expects to be ignorant and free expects 
     what never was and never can be.

  Certainly as we enter this 21st century of global competitiveness, 
the children of my State are not just competing with the children of 
Missouri, the home State of the Presiding Officer, but also competing, 
obviously, with children from all over the world, from Beijing, 
Johannesburg, Moscow, New Delhi--everywhere. This is going to be a very 
different world for children growing up in the 21st century. The extent 
we provide them with the tools and preparation necessary to compete and 
succeed under these circumstances--very different from what most of us 
have grown up with--is going to be extremely important, and the work 
this body does in the coming days is extremely important.
  I believe the National Science Foundation reported that the abrupt 
changes that will come in this country will be staggering if we don't 
do a better job in preparing ourselves for the educational challenges 
that we will face in the 21st century. The cost of a college education 
obviously is a major factor here. It is vital for children and families 
and for America's long-term success. According to recent statistics, to 
put it in graphic terms, a person with a higher education, a college 
education, their earning power jumps by almost $1 million. Not that 
this ought to be the sole criterion whether someone gets a higher 
education, but the earning power of an individual is substantially 
enhanced. There are other, more important issues than earning power, 
but certainly the issues of individuals being able to do better, 
provide for the long-term financial security of themselves and families 
is critically important. But there are issues that go beyond how much 
money you make that have to do with an education. We have to support 
the institution we embrace as Americans, as Jefferson was suggesting 
back in the beginning of the 19th century. I would argue even more 
importantly, the subtleties of a Bill of Rights will depend upon a 
population that embraces them, understands them, is willing to do 
everything they can to protect them so future generations will enjoy 
the benefits of our form of governance as well.
  Today's tuition levels are one of the great barriers to people going 
on to higher education. I was stunned to learn, even in the last 2 
months, the number of people in our country who completed high school, 
were accepted

[[Page S9548]]

for higher education and did not go because of financial barriers. I am 
told the numbers hover around 400,000 young people in this country. 
That is a deeply troubling statistic. If we have as many as 400,000 
people in our country who cannot afford to go on to higher education 
despite having done everything else well, then America truly will be 
paying a price in no time.
  The average cost of attending a public university is roughly $13,000. 
The average cost of attending a private university stands at $30,000. 
That is the average. I know people here can cite numbers and statistics 
that make that $13,000 on average seem small and the $30,000 on average 
per annum seem small.
  But just think of that, $30,000, for one individual to attend 1 year 
of higher education; even at a public institution, it costs around 
$13,000. Then consider where the average family is in their income, and 
whether they have more than one child and other obligations, obviously, 
as they try to prepare for their own long-term financial security; not 
worry about health care costs, including rising premium costs, if they 
have health insurance. Additionally, the mortgage payments on their 
home with adjustable rate mortgages, all of those factors crowding in 
as families try to do everything possible to see to it that their 
children can have the benefit of a higher education.
  How many families have planned and spent years and years watching 
their children mature and grow, with the full expectation of all the 
admonitions: Work hard, do your homework, get involved in things, learn 
as much as you can, pay attention, and all of that. Then, arriving at 
the moment, where they do everything they are supposed to have done, 
they say now we want to send you on to college, but we cannot afford to 
do so. Or the loans are so expensive that you will be left with such 
debt that the benefits of getting a higher education seem daunting, to 
put it mildly.
  So imagine how daunting these levels are to a single parent or a 
family struggling on a minimum wage, for instance. You can even forget 
about it at minimum wage. Clearly, we must do more to ensure that 
skyrocketing tuition does not put out of reach the dream and the 
ability of obtaining a higher education.
  That is why this bill is so important, maybe one of the most 
important bills. We have had long debates on immigration, long debates 
on Iraq, all very important issues. But the long-term effects of what 
we do on this legislation may have more to do with the well-being of 
our country than almost anything else in the coming days and weeks.
  This bill will help us move toward a society where equal opportunity 
for all is more than just high-blown rhetoric. We hear too often in 
public speeches about doing something to make a difference in the lives 
of working families. There are a number of key provisions in this bill 
which accomplish those goals. For example, the bill caps the borrower's 
monthly loan payments at 15 percent of discretionary income. While 
payments are still costly at 15 percent, this is a major achievement.
  This cap, if you will, will make repayment more manageable and 
borrowers will be less likely to default on their loans, which ought to 
be important for the lending institutions.
  This bill will also increase the auto zero threshold, as they call 
it, to allow additional low-income families to automatically claim zero 
expected family contributions when filling out financial aid forms. 
This change will allow students of these families to be eligible for 
increased Pell grants.
  Too often what we have done with the Pell grants is consider these 
other factors, such as expected family contribution. It drives a 
student out of the Pell grant qualifications when, frankly, what the 
family has to contribute is so little that it would amount to almost 
nothing, and yet would disqualify them from receiving the Pell grant 
funding they need.
  Furthermore, we have raised the cap on economic hardship deferments 
from 3 years to 6 years to ensure that students are not finally crushed 
in times of financial difficulty.
  We have also strengthened our commitment to those who provide high-
quality childcare services as well as all other public service 
employees by offering them further opportunities for loan forgiveness.
  One of the items contained in this bill that I am most happy about is 
the increase in the Pell grant. I have been involved in this for many 
years. It has been terribly frustrating over the last 6, 7, 8 years to 
watch how little this administration is willing to support even modest 
increases to the Pell Grant Program in our country.
  The Pell grant in this bill will be raised to $5,100, in 2008 and up 
to $5,400 by the year 2012. Frankly, that is paltry. Candidly, I wish 
it were much higher, especially considering what a Pell grant used to 
provide only a few short years ago toward the cost of a public 
education. The grant used to cover 80 percent of the average tuition, 
fees, room and board at a public university.
  Today the Pell grant covers 29 percent. So even with a Pell grant you 
are still looking at having to come up with roughly 70 percent of the 
additional costs of that higher education when you take all of these 
factors together.
  As a result, low- to middle-income students who attend college are 
forced to finance their education with an ever-increasing percentage of 
loans, including private loans. This increase in the debt burden of 
students, in some cases, keeps them from going to college at all. As I 
mentioned the numbers earlier, somewhere close to 400,000 students are 
not going on to higher education because of financial burdens.
  This year alone, it is estimated that 400,000 high school graduates 
who are prepared and ready to go to a 4-year college will be unable to 
go because their families cannot afford it. While I continue to 
advocate for even greater increases in the Pell grant, I commend my 
colleagues for taking the first steps in getting us back to the 80-
percent tuition coverage we achieved in 1975. I am pleased that 
Senators Kennedy and Enzi are doing that.
  Until we reach the goal of 80 percent of students' tuition being 
covered by Pell grants and other forms of Federal aid, many students 
will be forced to turn to private and direct consumer and student 
loans, which are also not guaranteed by the Federal Government and are 
not subject to loan limits.
  In fact, the market for private student loans has grown significantly 
and is now the fastest growing segment of the $85 billion student loan 
industry, as traditional sources of student aid have failed to keep 
pace, with both the tremendous demand and the cost of higher education.

  The underwriting for private loans is similar to that used for other 
forms of consumer credit. This means student borrowers, who usually 
have little or no credit history, poor credit scores, or no parental 
cosigner, or whose parents have poor credit histories, will typically 
pay higher rates than those with good credit histories and those with 
parental consigners with good credit.
  In many regards, this model runs counter to the longstanding Federal 
purpose of student aid, which is targeting low-cost financial 
assistance to students with the greatest needs and those from the 
humblest of backgrounds, one of the great success stories of our 
  We have heard the anecdote repeated hundreds and hundreds if not 
thousands of times of what a difference a college education has made 
throughout history. We have tried desperately to make sure that no one 
in this country would be deprived of the opportunity of a higher 
education because they or their family lacked the financial resources 
to do it.
  If you had the drive, the ambition, the determination to get a higher 
education, America stood ready to see to it that this pathway was 
available to you. It has only been in the last few years that we have 
allowed a situation to develop where too often those young people and 
those families are being told: Because you are in those circumstances, 
you are not going to be able to get that higher education that you need 
and you deserve.
  As I mentioned a moment ago, 400,000 young people who will not go on 
to 4-year colleges, at a time when we enter a global marketplace, where 
we need to have the best prepared generation America has ever produced, 
we seem to be heading in the wrong direction.
  This bill reverses that trend. Again, I commend my colleagues, 
Senator Kennedy particularly, and Senator Enzi,

[[Page S9549]]

for their work in reversing this trend line. I hope it is the beginning 
of several steps that we take in the coming years.
  I am further alarmed by reports uncovered by the Congressional and 
State investigators which detail aggressive and questionable private 
loan marketing practices and other unseemly industry practices, ranging 
from conflicts of interest to kickback schemes to consumer fraud.
  I want to particularly commend Andrew Cuomo, the attorney general of 
the State of New York, who has taken a leadership role in this 
nationally, in uncovering some of these schemes and kickbacks and other 
financial activities that have put these loans at even higher costs to 
  I was pleased we had him testify before the Banking Committee only a 
few weeks ago to talk about this and the steps that we will be taking 
to try to correct some of those matters at the appropriate time.
  I also was troubled by issues uncovered at a hearing that I just 
mentioned in the Senate Banking Committee that suggests some lenders 
may be using as part of their loan underwriting criteria subjective 
rankings of academic institutions, and demographic information about 
the students who attend these schools who, that be discriminatory and 
disparately impact the quality and type of loans made available to 
students based on their race and socioeconomic background, in effect 
red-lining, where they are taking entire institutions, based on some 
data and so forth they collect to deny individual students within those 
institutions the lower cost access to financial support.
  That amounts to red-lining, as we saw in housing issues only a few 
years ago. If that is the case, and we believe it may be, we will be 
taking steps to correct that as well. Students seeking to finance the 
cost of a higher education should have access to the most competitive 
and affordable loans available through private student loan markets, 
with appropriate consideration given to the credit worthiness of the 
student and any cosigner, without regard to the type of institution 
that student chooses to attend.
  Students should have full and timely access to all of the information 
they need regarding the terms and conditions of private student loans 
in order to make a well-informed decision regarding the financing of 
their educational needs.
  Given the growth of this market and its enormous impact on the 
educational and economic future of student borrowers, I view it as 
imperative that we address these issues as part of the consideration of 
the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. We should ensure that 
the market is well regulated and accessible and affordable as an 
alternative source of higher education funding for those who need the 
loans in our country.
  We can do that, in my view, by prohibiting industry practices like 
revenue sharing and co-branding that present conflicts of interest by 
providing student borrowers with better, more timely disclosure 
information so that students understand the rates, the terms, and the 
conditions of the loans they are going to receive.
  We must work to make sure that private student lending practices are 
transparent so the public can be confident that students and families 
are obtaining the most competitive and affordable student loans with 
the fairest terms.
  I plan on working with my friend and colleague, Senator Shelby of 
Alabama, who is the ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, and 
all members of that committee for that matter, on this bill. We are in 
the process of doing that now. I would say under the circumstances that 
this bill is coming up, we would be prohibited, under Senate rules, 
from raising that issue on this particular vehicle.
  I do not in any way suggest that what they are doing is not the right 
thing to be doing, it is the right thing to be doing, but our bill that 
deals specifically with student financing and lending institutions will 
be presented at an appropriate time, possibly when the full higher 
education bill is before us--but we are determined on a bipartisan 
basis to address some of these issues, if not all of them, that I have 
raised briefly this afternoon.

  Indeed, this bill before us provides all students with the tools that 
make it possible to access and afford a postsecondary education. If we 
are serious about leaving no child behind, as I know all of us are as a 
nation, then we must reinvigorate our commitment to higher education, 
to ensure that students have access to a higher education, to a college 
  If America is to remain the land of opportunity that all of us want 
it to be, then we must ensure that college is available to all of our 
citizenry. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this long 
overdue legislation.
  I often cite the fact that in our Nation's history, it has always 
been a stunning commentary about our country, as it has evolved and 
matured over the years, that one of the very first bills that ever 
passed the United States Congress in the 18th century, in the early 
1790s, was the Northwest Ordnance. My colleague from Colorado probably 
is more familiar than I, given he represents a State in the far West, 
but the whole idea being to set aside land for educational purposes.
  The Morrill Act, which was adopted in the mid-1860s--in fact, right 
in the middle of the Civil War, Senator Morrill of Vermont offered 
legislation to create land grant colleges. So even in the midst of this 
great contest to determine whether we would remain one Nation, one 
Union, the Congress of the United States, under the leadership of 
Abraham Lincoln and Senator Morrill of Vermont, fought to create land 
grant colleges. The University of Connecticut is one of those 
institutions that provides incredible opportunities for young people 
all across the Nation, again understanding the value of education to 
our country.
  So in the 18th and the 19th centuries, and then of course in the 20th 
century, we saw, even before World War II was concluded, the Congress 
of the United States passed the GI bill, which provided, of course, a 
whole generation of service men and women coming back from that war the 
ability to get an educational opportunity.
  That investment in the GI bill has been repaid to the U.S. Government 
tenfold because of the earning power of the individuals who went 
through the GI bill who were able to improve their economic 
opportunity. The resources they paid back into our country have dwarfed 
the cost of that legislation.
  Today we do not even think about legislation like that, given the 
cost, regrettably, I might add, because when you consider that 
400,000--think of that, 400,000 of our young people in this country 
today are not going to go on to a higher education because of cost. 
That is, 400,000 young people who did everything they were asked to do, 
I presume, having been accepted on to higher education--will not get 
that chance because we do not have the resources or the will to come up 
with a system to make that possible.
  We talk about being a major competitor nation in the 21st century. I 
promise you, our major competitors around the world are not making that 
mistake. They will create the opportunities for their young people to 
get that education. This bill is a major step to reverse that trend in 
our country.
  There are other things we need to do, such as a proposal regarding 
private lenders that we will be offering shortly. I wish I could offer 
it today but, it would be subject to at least two points of order. So 
it would require a 60-vote margin to deal with it. We probably don't 
have a number of Members willing to go that far, I regret to say that. 
So I will wait for another opportunity in the coming weeks to do so. I 
will do that with Senator Shelby as we work on this together.
  But my hope is, shortly we will have an opportunity to present 
legislation that will close up some of these abusive practices that 
have contributed to rising costs and depriving families and their 
children of having the best possible arrangements for the student loans 
they need to get a higher education.
  I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Salazar). The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum 
call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, many years ago, President Lyndon B. 
Johnson said:

[[Page S9550]]

       We have entered an age in which education is not just a 
     luxury permitting some men an advantage over others. It has 
     become a necessity without which a person is defenseless in 
     this complex, industrialized society. We have truly entered 
     the century of the educated man.

  Those are important words to ponder as we consider the legislation 
now before the Senate. I thank Senators Kennedy and Enzi for their 
extraordinary leadership on this issue as well as so many others, and 
for the opportunity I have to speak today.
  I am here to talk about an initiative that revolutionized higher 
education in America, and that is the Pell grant. Inside this desk at 
which I stand are the names of Senators who have occupied it before me. 
I can actually open this drawer, take out the stuff in the drawer, and 
in the drawer I can see the names of Senators who have gone before me 
at the bottom. Here is John O. Pastore of Rhode Island, who served with 
great distinction and was my last Democratic predecessor in the Senate. 
It is hard to see because he was not a proud man and wouldn't write it 
in great big letters, but I can see, very carefully written, ``Pell, 
RI,'' Senator Pell of Rhode Island. It is a remarkable thing for me to 
be here in this context because Senator Claiborne Pell and his wife 
Nuala have long been cherished friends. Senator Pell is both a mentor 
to me and a constant reminder of the positive impact an individual 
person can have through public service.
  I am so glad the Senator Salazar from Colorado is presiding at this 
particular moment because I wish to describe to everyone a remarkable 
event that I was privileged to witness a few years ago. I was at an 
event in Rhode Island with a number of Senators, including the Senator 
Salazar. During that event, Senator Pell came to the tent we were all 
under in his wheelchair. As many of our colleagues know, he habitually 
uses a wheelchair now. The group became very quiet as he entered out of 
the respect we in Rhode Island have for this great and dedicated public 
servant. The Senator from Colorado, Mr. Salazar, went over to Senator 
Pell, took his hand and shook it and told him: I would not have been 
able to attend college if it had not been for the support of the Pell 
grant program. Now, I am standing here before you today, a United 
States Senator, thanks to the vision and foresight you showed years 
ago, your vision that every American should be able to get a college 
  It was an unforgettable moment then; it gives me goosebumps to 
recount it now. It happened because Senator Pell understood the 
difference that higher education could make in the lives of America's 
young people--from the Ken Salazar, who now serves with such 
distinction in this great institution, to those who will seize the 
opportunities of America in the decades to come.
  Today, the program that bears Senator Pell's name is in our hands.
  Each spring, high school seniors in Rhode Island and across the 
country wait anxiously for acceptance letters from the colleges of 
their choice. I have been through this experience recently with my 
daughter and all of her classmates. But for many American families, 
almost as important as those letters from the admissions office are the 
letters from the financial aid office. I have heard from so many 
families in Rhode Island who look ahead to the day when their children 
will go off to college and seize their bright futures, but wonder how 
they will ever be able to afford it without some form of financial aid, 
either from the institution itself or from the Federal Government.
  As the cost of higher education soars higher, up 35 percent in 5 
years, students and parents face ever more difficult financial choices. 
Many go into debt, not only through Federal student loan programs, but 
increasingly to private lenders. Many shoulder enormous burdens of debt 
that can stay with them throughout their lives. When that high school 
senior receives a Pell grant, money that does not have to be paid back, 
the dream of college becomes more of a reality.
  Since the Pell grant program began, these grants have been a critical 
form of Federal aid that has helped literally millions of young people 
across this country achieve a level of education that was previously 
out of their reach. Unfortunately, Pell grants now represent only 33 
percent, one-third, of the total cost of a 4-year public university. 
Twenty years ago, a Pell grant would have paid 60 percent of that cost.
  As higher education for Americans has become more and more important, 
not just to their individual opportunities but also to our national 
economy and competitiveness--remember the words of Lyndon Johnson so 
many years ago: ``We have truly entered the century of the educated 
man''--we need education to compete. Through that time Pell grants have 
actually lost value versus the actual cost of college. But the support 
for low-income students through the Pell grants has slid away over the 
years, until it is now only 33 percent of the cost of a public 
university. So we must recommit ourselves to making college affordable 
to all students.
  The Promise grants created by the Higher Education Access Act will 
guarantee that students who qualify for the maximum Pell grant will 
receive $5,100 for the 2008-2009 academic year and $5,400 by 2011. For 
us in Rhode Island, this will mean $10 million in additional grant 
funds for Rhode Island students next year and, over the next 5 years, 
$86 million. It will also expand family access to Pell grants, better 
reflecting today's economic realities.
  Senator Pell is part of a strong tradition of Rhode Island Senators 
who have committed themselves to making higher education accessible to 
all Americans. This tradition is proudly carried on by Senator Pell's 
direct successor in this Chamber, my friend, Senator Jack Reed, a 
champion of higher education access and affordability. I admire his 
work to provide more Pell grant aid for students who need it the most--
those who work and those whose family income is under $30,000.
  We see in this Chamber and across the country every day--every year 
in September when a new group of students go off to college--the 
tremendous influence the work of Senator Pell has had on the fabric of 
our Nation and on the lives of the millions of young Americans who have 
used Pell grants to make their dream of higher education a reality.
  I applaud this important legislation. Senator Kennedy and Senator 
Enzi have worked hard together in a wonderful bipartisan spirit to put 
together legislation that will advance the strength of our country and 
the opportunity for our young people. This is a vital step and an 
important investment we must make in the future of America's young 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. I ask my friend from Rhode Island to take note of the 
fact that we are conscious of Senator Pell's great contributions to 
America. The Pell grants have helped a lot of young people in 
unfortunate circumstances have a chance to succeed in life. It is a 
wonderful legacy. I know you see him from time to time, and I hope you 
will tell him we haven't forgotten the great contribution he made to 
this Nation.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. I will be sure to do that.
  Mr. DURBIN. I stand here today because of a number of things. I am 
fortunate to have a good family, friends, and role models, fortunate to 
have good luck in politics, and fortunate that in 1957, the Soviets 
launched a satellite. It is one of the reasons I am standing here. The 
satellite was known as Sputnik. Sputnik was the first satellite 
launched into outer space, and the United States, which thought it was 
the most powerful Nation in the world, stepped back on its heels, 
couldn't believe it: the Soviets had launched a satellite, and we knew 
they had nuclear weapons. A panic spread across Washington, DC, and the 
Nation: The Soviets are winning the space race; they could conquer the 
United States; if they can find a way to put that nuclear weapon into a 
satellite, we could never knock it down.
  What did Congress do? It did something that was breathtaking and 
unprecedented. It decided the best way to fight the Soviets was to make 
sure we had a force that could equal the Soviets, not just a military 
force--we always had a great military--but a force of private citizens 
with the training and knowledge to compete with the Soviet Union and 
every other country that might be our enemy in the future.
  There was an obscure Congressman who came up with an idea: Why 

[[Page S9551]]

the Federal Government loan money to college students? Nobody thought 
of that before. It was radical. Some said it was too big, the 
Government was getting too involved. But he prevailed in the fear and 
the climate in the post-Sputnik era.

  So they created something called the National Defense Education Act. 
It was in place in the early 1960s. The National Defense Education Act 
said to America's high school graduates: Go to college. Get educated. 
We need you in America for our future, for our defense.
  Well, there were a number of young people who heard that message, and 
I was one of them. So I borrowed money through the National Defense 
Education Act to go to college and law school, at a time when I could 
never have afforded to do it otherwise. The terms were very reasonable. 
Under the terms of the National Defense Education Act, you borrowed 
money throughout your academic career, and then, 1 year after 
graduation, you had to start paying it back. So they gave you a year to 
get back on your feet. The interest rate was capped at 3 percent. Think 
about that. So I paid it back over 10 years, even though when I 
graduated I did not think it was possible. It turned out to be fairly 
simple because with my law degree and college education, I made a 
little bit more money, so I could pay back my student loan.
  Now, repeat that story millions of times over, and you have an 
explanation as to why America is where it is today. We decided to 
invest as a nation in making certain we had a new generation of college 
graduates. We took higher education, which had been fairly elite to 
that point in our history, and democratized it. It was no longer just 
the smartest kids and the richest kids and the sons and daughters of 
alumni who were admitted to colleges and universities. Now, this kid 
from East Saint Louis, IL, whose mother and father went as far as the 
eighth grade, had his chance, and many more like me. Well, I would like 
to think, as I stand here today, that Government program paid off not 
only for me but for this Nation, and that story is repeated over and 
over again.
  But now what has happened? What has happened is that the cost of 
education has gone up dramatically. I took a look at what I paid at 
Georgetown University in the early 1960s, and I would be embarrassed to 
tell you the numbers. It did not take much to get through a university 
in those days. You could borrow $1,000 a year and make it through if 
you worked during the school year and worked during the summer and were 
careful with your expenses.
  That is, of course, not even close to the reality of today. Whether 
it is a public university or private university, the cost has gone up 
substantially. Students, as good as they are, when admitted to those 
schools understand that if they do not receive a lot of financial 
assistance, they will have to borrow some money. Borrowing that money, 
heaping up that debt, means as they graduate they have a burden they 
never anticipated--not the burden I faced back in 1969 but a much 
greater burden today for the cost of higher education.
  Then the scene changed. We went from the National Defense Education 
Act--a Government program with a fixed rate of interest--and decided: 
Well, let's let the private sector get into this. And they did. First, 
we had an organization called Sally Mae, which was created as kind of a 
quasi-Government operation, which was going to be a transition between 
the private sector and public sector. Well, over the years, Sally Mae 
evolved into a completely private corporation. It is now one of if not 
the largest student loan lender in America. It is also one of the most 
profitable businesses on the New York Stock Exchange. Think of it. This 
lender, loaning money to our children and the next generation of 
Americans, is flush with cash. They are making a lot of money. They are 
doing it, quite honestly, at the expense of these kids. A lot of these 
young people sign up for loans, and they have no idea what they are 
signing up for.
  If you think I am being critical of them, I will also quickly add 
that very few of us flip over the monthly credit card statement to read 
the fine print about what we are getting into. We just trust everything 
is going to work out.
  Well, for a lot of young students, they sign up for loans which 
dramatically increase in cost. For example, it is not unusual for a 
student to borrow money in his freshman year and then be told: Don't 
worry, you don't have to pay anything back while you are still in 
school. The student breathes a sigh of relief and continues on and 
borrows some money the next year. But many times, the loans they are 
borrowing are increasing in cost each year while they are not making a 
payment. The $5,000 you borrow in your freshman year that you do not 
pay back for 3 or 4 years turns out to be $10,000 at graduation. Now, 
multiply that times four, and you get an idea what students are into. 
So the debt students carry out of colleges and universities is much 
higher today. Companies such as Sally Mae are very profitable, at the 
expense of these students.
  Now, the companies--like Sally Mae--argue: Could you think of a worse 
risk than a recent graduate from high school? We are willing to run 
that risk of loaning money to that high school graduate, uncertain as 
to whether they will graduate or ever find a job. So you have to give 
us a break.
  I will concede that point. But when you take a look at the actual 
cost of the loan, it is pretty clear this industry is doing more than 
covering its risk; it is making an awful lot of money.
  Senator Kennedy has been our leader on this issue. This bill we have 
before us today is a bill which will dramatically change the kinds of 
student loans which will be available and student assistance available 
to students across America. I think it is long overdue. We need to make 
certain we have money available for young people to go to school, under 
terms where they can afford to repay. That is part of this bill--a big 
part of this bill.
  The average student in America today is graduating with nearly 
$20,000 in debt. In many places, that is more than a downpayment on a 
home. So how do we expect our kids to prosper if they spend the next 10 
to 20 years digging out of a financial hole?
  The Pell grants, which Senator Whitehouse just referred to, are 
basically scholarships given to the lowest income students. It is the 
right thing to do to give these kids a fighting chance. Until the 
changes offered in this bill we are considering today, the maximum Pell 
grant did not change for 5 years. What happened to the cost of college 
education in 5 years? It went up. So students trying to make up the 
difference had to borrow more money.
  Interest rates on a program called the Stafford loans went up last 
year. In fact, last year President Bush signed a bill passed in the 
Republican Congress which increased the interest rates on student 
loans. Think about that. Congratulations, recent graduate, your 
Government has just given you a bigger mortgage to pay in terms of your 
student loan. That is what we did.

  We also limited the opportunity of students to consolidate their 
loans and bargain them into lower interest rates. My wife and I own a 
home in Springfield, IL. When a good mortgage rate comes along, we talk 
about refinancing our home. Most people do. Students, under the bill 
signed by President Bush, unfortunately, were limited as to how and 
when they could consolidate their loans and look for lower interest 
  Even with these Pell grants, Stafford loans, work income, and, if a 
student is lucky enough, scholarships, many young people are forced to 
turn to private student loans to pay for college.
  What about private student loans? I had a couple come into my office 
a few weeks ago. They are in the private student loan business. They 
said they were just trying to fill in the gaps that the Pell grants and 
the Government loans did not take care of.
  So I asked them: ``What is the interest rate you charge on these 
student loans?''
  She said: ``oh, it's about 8 percent.''
  I said: ``Now, is that the highest rate?''
  ``No. The highest rate is 19 percent.''
  Quite a difference. Think about your home mortgage at 8 percent as 
opposed to 19 percent. Think about the possibility you will ever pay 
that loan off.
  Oh, incidentally, something happened on the floor of the Senate that 
people did not notice. Senator Kennedy did. Remember when we had the 
bankruptcy bill up. Do you recall what we

[[Page S9552]]

did in the bankruptcy bill? Let's go back in history for a minute.
  There was a time when some students who had borrowed money from the 
Government to go to school waited until they graduated and filed 
bankruptcy, discharging their student loans in bankruptcy, never paying 
them back. We said: Wait a minute, if the Government is going to pay 
for your education, then you have an obligation to pay it back because 
that money goes to another student. It gives another student an 
opportunity. So we said under the bankruptcy law that you cannot 
discharge a Government student loan in bankruptcy.
  Well, in the last bankruptcy bill, the people who are in the 
companies with private student loans put themselves in the same 
category. So if a student, unknowingly, signs up for a 19-percent 
college loan and then gets out of school and has an illness, ends up 
they cannot find a job, and files for bankruptcy, they are stuck with 
not only a Government loan but these private companies and their loans. 
They will haunt that student to the grave. That person cannot discharge 
that loan in bankruptcy under any conditions except the most extreme 
financial circumstances.
  This bill is long overdue. According to the College Board, tuition, 
fees, and room and board at public 4-year schools have risen by 42 
percent over the past 5 years--from $9,000 to almost $13,000.
  I wish to make that point. I have fought, as Senator Kennedy has, for 
better terms in student loans, larger Pell grants, more direct loans 
from colleges to students to take the lending institution and the 
middle man out of the operation, and I will continue to do it. But make 
no mistake, we are shoveling against the tide with this legislation. If 
colleges and universities decide: Well, if they are going to loan them 
more money at lower interest rates, we will just raise our cost--they 
have been doing that year after year after year. So my message, in 
voting for this bill, to colleges and universities is that we certainly 
expect them to use restraint and good judgment in terms of what they 
are charging students today.
  Let me give you one footnote to that. Twenty-five percent of the debt 
college students take out of college is because of expenses at the 
bookstore. If you as a student sign up for a course, and you are about 
to take the course, you notice there are a handful of textbooks you 
have to buy. You go down to your bookstore to buy the textbooks and 
find out that textbook, which is only for sale at this bookstore, costs 
$100. Not unusual. Well, it turns out in any given semester a student 
could end up with hundreds of dollars of debts just for textbooks.
  I made a proposal, introduced a bill, which we will bring up at a 
later time when the Higher Education Act comes before us, that 
basically requires colleges and universities to disclose to students 
the textbooks and the costs as part of their course offerings. Oh, 
textbook publishers scream bloody murder: How could you do that? How 
could you require us to disclose the costs of our textbooks before the 
students sign up for the course? And the professors say that inhibits 
academic freedom. No, it does not. They can pick any textbook they 
  We do something else: We also require them to put in what is known as 
the ISBN code. This is a universal code for a book. Why? So the 
students can go shopping on the Internet. Maybe they can find that 
textbook a lot cheaper. I do not think that is a bad idea in this day 
of Internet sales. Well, we do not have it as part of this bill, but we 
will offer it as part of the next bill. But colleges and universities 
which are dedicated to bringing down costs for students ought to take a 
look at not only tuition and room and board but the cost in the school 
bookstores as well.
  I am pleased that the Senate is considering this Higher Education 
Access Act today. It is going to help a lot of students.
  Many of us have been calling for an increase in the Pell grant for 
years, none more vocally than the Senator from Massachusetts.
  Twenty years ago, the maximum Pell grant for low-income and working-
class kids covered about 55 percent of the cost of a 4-year public 
education. Today, the maximum of $4,050 covers 30 percent--almost half 
of what it covered a few years ago. The bill on the floor today will 
raise the maximum Pell grant to $5,100 next year and $5,400 by the year 
2011. I am glad the Senate defeated an earlier amendment which would 
have reduced that amount. I think the Senate showed good judgment, 
understanding the Pell grant is really absolutely essential for a lot 
of kids from low-income families.
  Over the next 6 years, this bill will provide over $850 million in 
new grant aid to students in my State of Illinois. This will do a great 
deal to help the neediest students get a college education. This bill 
will cap monthly student loan payments at 15 percent of a student's 
discretionary income. I talked to Senator Kennedy about this earlier, 
and I believe he is moving in the right direction, so that students 
will realize that when they graduate they will not have to pay any 
more, each year, than 15 percent of their discretionary income. That is 
going to give them some relief in terms of their repayments and give 
them some opportunities to choose jobs they really want.

  I have run into students--and I bet the Presiding Officer has too--
who really want to be teachers, and we need them as teachers. But when 
they end up with $20,000 to $30,000 in student loan debts, they take a 
job which pays a little bit more so they can have a basic life and 
still pay off their student loans. This bill is going to help students 
understand they won't have to repay more than 15 percent of their 
discretionary income if they work in certain professions that have 
public importance to us.
  I can't tell you the number of college graduates who have come to me 
asking for relief from these high monthly student loan repayments. Many 
of them are just starting careers and barely scraping through. So I 
think this is a positive aspect of the bill. It will cover teachers. It 
will cover those who go into public defense, prosecutors, legal aid 
attorneys, and many others. It will accomplish all of this, not only to 
the benefit of these students but to the benefit of America.
  We are actually reducing the deficit with this bill, I might add, 
through cuts to the already substantial Federal subsidies to the 
lenders. The lenders are going to claim we have gone too far. A recent 
study shows that lenders spent less than one-tenth of 1 percent of 
their subsidy on benefits for borrowers. That means the average 
borrower saves only $118 through lender benefits. Let's not forget that 
these are the same lenders who many times have been involved in the 
scandals we have been reading about in the newspapers; lenders like 
Sallie Mae, whose former CEO Albert Lord used his generous compensation 
package to build a private, personal, 18-hole golf course in suburban 
Maryland. Well, it is time for Mr. Lord and his ilk to step aside. It 
is time for Congress to take control of the situation again. It is time 
to be more sensitive to the students and their families than to the 
wealthy owners of these limited corporations.
  An investment in education is an investment in our Nation. The cost 
of education is a hurdle for many students, and we can help them clear 
that hurdle with this bill. If America is going to succeed in the 21st 
century, if our college graduates are going to be ready for that 
challenge, we need to make certain they have the best education. 
Bright, hard-working students deserve the best opportunity to receive 
an education, and we can't afford not to invest in them. I encourage my 
colleagues to vote for the Higher Education Access Act.

                               DREAM Act

  I would like to say one final word, and I know the Presiding Officer 
is very sensitive to this issue as well. I don't think it will be 
possible on this bill, but I will look for every bill I can to 
introduce legislation known as the DREAM Act.
  Today in America, we have tens of thousands of high school graduates 
in undocumented status. These are people, young people, who came to 
America as children, brought here by their parents; many of them have 
never known another country. They have grown up here. They have 
graduated high school, and they want to be part of America's future. 
But because they don't have a legal status in this country, they are 
uncertain as to whether

[[Page S9553]]

they can go to college and if they graduate, whether they can even work 
here. At a time when we are importing tens of thousands of workers into 
America legally, with visas, to supplement our workforce, why would we 
turn these young people away?
  So for the past 5 years, I have been fighting for this DREAM Act. I 
have had the strong bipartisan support of many of my colleagues, and I 
thank them for it. It is basic. If you came to America before the age 
of 16, if you have been here at least 5 years, if you graduated high 
school, and if you are able to complete 2 years of college or enlist in 
our military, you will have a path to legalization. That is what it 
boils down to.
  I have met a lot of these young people. I know the Presiding Officer 
has too. These are some of the best and brightest, the most idealistic 
and energetic people you are ever going to meet. They are young people 
who want to be part of America's future.
  I have talked to the sponsor of this legislation. I am not sure we 
can put this as an amendment on this bill, but I wish to remind my 
colleagues that as we speak about college education and the future of 
America, we should understand there is a group out there yearning for 
an opportunity to make this a better Nation through the DREAM Act.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, would the Senator be good enough to yield 
for a question?
  Mr. DURBIN. I am happy to do that.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I have heard the Senator speak very 
eloquently today about the elements of the legislation and his outline 
of his strong, continuing, ongoing support for the DREAM Act which I 
welcome the opportunity to support and will work very closely with him 
to try to achieve this very important legislation.
  I have listened to him also talk about the division that is in 
America--whether we are growing as one country or whether we are 
finding out that we are really growing as different nations.
  The Senator remembers very well, in the postwar period, if you look 
back at the economics, the lowest income, the medium income, the 
highest income families--all of them moved along together. They all 
improved together. We had the GI Bill which, over a 6-year period, 
invested the equivalent of a third of the total Federal budget for the 
year 1951. That is the kind of priority we had as a nation in terms of 
education, and many believe it is the principal cause of the creation 
of the great middle class in our country, the backbone and the strength 
of our democracy, our economy, and our national security.
  I listened to the Senator talk about the DREAM Act, but I have also 
listened to him talk about the divisions that exist in our country. 
This is a chart here, which is really self-explanatory, which shows 
that low-income students are far less likely to graduate from college. 
This is what is happening today. As one who is committed to seeing that 
we are going to be one country with one history and one destiny, does 
it not underline the point that we have important responsibilities to 
try to ensure that all students, regardless of family income, can earn 
a college degree?
  I am interested in, if we are really talking about the divisions that 
exist in our country--we see them so dramatically in the area of 
education--whether we have some real responsibility to try to equalize 
those disparities, and would he not agree with me that if we don't do 
that, we are going to be a nation that is going to continue to be a 
divided country with all of the implications that it has in terms of 
fairness and equality and opportunity for the future?
  Mr. DURBIN. I would agree with the Senator from Massachusetts. When 
you consider the fact that low-income students in America today and 
minority students are about 50 percent likely to graduate from high 
school--many of them drop out--they are out there. They are somewhere 
in America. They haven't reached their full potential and may never.
  What the Senator shows us with this chart is that those who are lucky 
enough to get started toward earning a college degree--and the lower 
income categories have the toughest time--you have to believe, as I do, 
that many of those students who don't finish is because of financial 
reasons. These are students who are struggling and doing their best. I 
have seen them.
  I can recall a young student in Springfield attending Lincoln Land 
Community College. She was a young woman who had a child while she was 
in high school, but she was determined that she was going to make it 
through college. She used to take her baby with her on a bus out to our 
community college, which is not in town but in the outskirts, and she 
had to get the last bus back into town every night. When I think about 
the sacrifice she was making to take that baby and catch that bus and 
make it out there, you knew how much she wanted it, but you also knew 
that she was right on the edge financially at any given moment, whether 
she could complete her education.
  So what you are doing in this bill in giving these students a helping 
hand is not only going to mean more college graduates but, to the point 
the Senator raised, it is going to result in a fairer society in 
America, more opportunity, so that the disparity between incomes, the 
highest and lowest levels in America, is reduced. I thank the Senator 
for his leadership.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, the Senator may remember the 
extraordinary work that was done in this area of education by a former 
mentor of his and a very close personal friend of ours, Senator Simon 
of Illinois. Whenever we had the debate on higher education, he always 
reminded me of the great debate we had in this country in 1960.
  One of the principal issues that divided the two political parties at 
that time was the issue of education. At that time, Senator Kennedy 
believed that what we ought to have in higher education is a program 
that is going to give assurance to every young person in this country 
that if they have the ability to gain entrance into any college, that 
regardless of their resources, they were going to be able to put 
together a student aid package that would permit them to go where their 
talent leads them. He believed the country was a lesser country unless 
we were going to have that opportunity. Talent was going to be lost in 
terms of our Nation and our people. That was basically the philosophy 
behind the Higher Education Act.
  As my colleague knows, two years ago the maximum Pell grant covered 
55 percent of the costs at a public four-year college. Of course, that 
has completely been reversed in recent years, with the resulting 
disparity we see here. The maximum Pell grant covers just one third of 
the costs today.
  Does the Senator not agree with me that we ought to at least set the 
goal that ideal we had at the time of the passage of the act; that is, 
any young person who has the ability and wants to work, can put 
together whatever their family can contribute and receive the aid they 
need to attend college. But we ought to, as an ideal and as a nation, 
move toward that particular goal where we are going to give assurance 
to every young person that if they work hard, they can afford a higher 
education. This is a matter of national priority; our belief in young 
people, our belief in their families, and our belief in the future of 
this country demands it.
  I was always impressed by Congressman Silvio Conte, who is a 
Republican, and like so many people in this body--we heard from Senator 
Murray who talked about members of her family who are all professionals 
now who got the Pell grants, and Senator Cantwell, a very successful 
entrepreneur before she entered the Senate.
  Does the Senator agree with me that this is an investment we should 
be involved in as a matter of national priorities, and that we ought to 
be, as a country and as a people, really leading the way toward having 
a goal of providing that kind of help and assistance to our country as 
well as to the individuals?
  Mr. DURBIN. I certainly agree. When someone like Bill Gates of 
Microsoft comes and says: You have to give me visas so I can bring in 
foreign-trained engineers for my expanding information technology 
company, it really is a challenge to us. Why aren't we producing 
engineers here at home?
  It comes to this point: Will there be the kind of support, financial 
support for those promising students to get into math and science and 

[[Page S9554]]

or will they be discouraged at an early age and give up on it?
  The same thing is true--and I know the Senator from Massachusetts is 
well aware of it--when it comes to the field of nursing. We are just a 
few years away from being 1 million nurses short of what we need in 
America. As the baby boomer generation reaches a point where it needs 
more medical help, there will be fewer medical professionals available. 
We don't want to see that happen. It compromises the quality of care 
and also puts pressure on the United States to poach--to go after 
medical professionals in developing countries to attract them to the 
United States.
  So when we talk about this investment in education, it means a lot to 
the high-tech industry. It means a lot to every American in terms of 
basic health care. It means a great deal when it comes to the teachers 
we need.
  I had the university presidents, several of them from Illinois, in my 
office just a few weeks ago, and they talked about math and science 
skills, how that is the one thing that troubles them as they look 
ahead, that our students aren't keeping up in the world in terms of 
developing their math and science skills. How do they reach that point? 
Better classroom teachers, which means more young people graduating 
college, going into the teaching profession, who can make that call 
because they are not worried about paying back their debt.
  It all works together. If we start cutting back in terms of higher 
education, arguing we can't afford it, we will pay for it for decades 
to come.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, finally, the Senator remembers that this 
body passed the COMPETE Act, which was legislation that came out of our 
committee--Senator Bingaman from New Mexico, Senator Alexander from 
Tennessee were leaders on that bill--which had very strong, virtually 
universal support here, which gave focus in terms of encouragement in 
the areas of math and science and engineering. This is something, I 
know the Senator agrees, we ought to make sure we are going to invest 
  When we passed the GI bill, over those 6 years, we produced 450,000 
engineers--450,000. We had three Presidents of the United States who 
used the GI bill, three Justices who served on the Supreme Court of the 
United States, and several Senators who were educated under the GI 
bill. This is investing in education.
  We know what to do. The question is whether we have the will and 
whether the American people are going to be responding to this 
  I thank the Senator. I think we have work to do in this area. We have 
been able to find additional resources for the downpayment toward 
closing these gaps, and I give the assurance to the Senator that we 
will work closely with him to make sure we get the DREAM Act achieved 
and passed and we will also continue to eliminate the disparities in 
these charts.
  Mr. DURBIN. I thank the Senator. I encourage my colleagues to support 
passage of the bill.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I guess the parliamentary procedure is 
that I can speak on the bill.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator is correct.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I thank the managers of the bill for 
giving me the opportunity to speak. I wish to say a few words--general 
words--about the student loan program in our country.
  The Direct Loan program--the program by which the Federal Government 
itself loans money to college students across our country--began when I 
was the U.S. Secretary of Education, and the distinguished Senator from 
Massachusetts was chairman of the Health and Education Committee. We 
had a Democratic Congress and a Republican President named Bush, 
although a different Bush. Senator Kennedy will remember the Deputy 
Secretary was David Kearns, a very distinguished former business 
leader, head of Xerox. Bill Ford was chairman of the House Education 
Committee. Chairman Ford very much wanted a so-called Direct Loan 
Program. He wanted the Government to loan money to students. The law we 
have today is named after him. He made a great contribution to our 
Nation's education.
  I thought about the Direct Loan Program at the time and, generally 
speaking, I wasn't in favor of it. There were three reasons for my 
skepticism then. One was that it seemed to me the enormity of the 
program would mean the Government--our Federal Government--would 
suddenly find itself being a massive bank. Ever since Andrew Jackson, 
the idea of a big national bank had been something our country hasn't 
liked. We let the private sector have the banks. The problem with the 
government operating as a bank was we would have to borrow a lot of 
money and add to the Federal deficit.
  Second was the size of the student loan program. Millions and 
millions of students--one-half of our college students across the 
country--have a Federal loan or grant to help them pay for college, and 
may choose among any of the accredited colleges. We have about 6,000 
institutions that qualify or receive students with these loans. So it 
is a massive administrative challenge.
  I could not see how the Federal Government--the department I was in 
charge of at that time, the U.S. Department of Education--with the 
personnel, as dedicated as they are--could do a better job than the 
private sector on such a big administrative challenge.
  Finally, while I didn't know at the time, I didn't believe there was 
a way for the Federal Government, with its built-in efficiencies, to do 
a less expensive job of managing this massive program than the private 
sector could. I was relying on my gut instinct, which is generally that 
if you can find it in the Yellow Pages, the Government probably ought 
not to be doing it. So I came down on the side of having a federally 
backed student loan program, a generous one, which has grown since 
then, but that was managed by the private sector.
  The Government can do a great many things well. Regulation is one of 
the things it does well. One of the things it generally doesn't do as 
well--with the exception of the military--is manage large programs. The 
result of that debate was the creation of the Direct Loan Program. In 
the end, I saw that as an advantage for the country because it at least 
would give us the opportunity to measure the way the Government would 
administer a loan program against the way the private sector did it. In 
other words, it was something we could look at and compare. That is the 
way we have operated over the last 15, 16 years that this has been in 
  Now, I have not changed my view on the so-called Government program, 
or the Direct Loan Program. I believe almost every aspect of our higher 
education system in our country can be viewed as a success, including 
the FFELP student loan program. There are roughly 3,200 lenders today 
participating, with a loan volume of over $50 billion in the current 
year. The Direct Loan Program was approximately $13.5 billion. The 
total outstanding amount of loans, FFEL and direct loans, now 
approaches half a trillion dollars, about $448 billion. We are talking 
about an immense program that creates great benefits for students all 
over America.
  Now, the question that is before us is, if we have this private 
sector program out there--and we have been debating this in committee 
and we have had innumerable meetings on it and we had a vote earlier 
today--is the subsidy for the private lenders set at the right level? 
Obviously, we have all agreed that it is too high. Congress agreed it 
was too high last year. The President agreed it was too high this year, 
and he proposed some cuts. Now our committee in the Senate is making 
additional cuts. My concern is that we are guessing what the subsidy 
level ought to be. We have our finger up in the wind and are making 
arbitrary judgments.
  I am interested in the auction model that has been introduced into 
this bill. I think that is a useful way to find out what the private 
markets would tell us about what the right level of taxpayer subsidy 
is, so this program which loans

[[Page S9555]]

money to students, who aren't the best credit risks, is at about the 
right level. But the last auction program was a colossal failure. So 
that auction program may not tell us much.

  Another way we might find out the proper level of subsidy would be to 
try to develop a body of knowledge in the same way that State utility 
commissions do. In Tennessee and other States--well, Tennessee is 
different because we have the Tennessee Valley Authority. But in most 
States, a State utility commission regulates the rate set for 
telephones or electricity, and it allows the private company providing 
that service a reasonable profit. Over the years despite there being a 
lot of politics involved, which I remember that very well--there has 
developed quite a body of knowledge around the idea of what is an 
adequate level of subsidy for private companies providing a public 
service, such as electricity or telephones or, as I suggest, federally 
backed student loans. Perhaps that is something we could do more of.
  There was talk about asking the Government Accountability Office to 
study the subsidies in this bill. I don't know whether that sort of 
study ended up in the legislation. I hope it did. Looking ahead to the 
next time we reauthorize this ordeal with student loans, I would like 
to find out if there is a way to set up an appropriate way to measure 
what the level of subsidy ought to be for a private company.
  So we have, first, the idea of the auction which might teach us 
something. We have the cost of the Direct Loan Program. That could 
teach us something about the appropriate cost. Finally, perhaps in this 
legislation, before it is through, if it is not in already included, we 
can ask GAO to create indices that would help legislators make a better 
judgment than guessing what an appropriate level of subsidy is. We have 
an indication from the marketplace. Last week, an equity firm that was 
seeking to buy Sallie Mae, I believe, said our changes in the level of 
subsidy made that deal such that they felt it was not profitable for 
them. So as I understand it, they have backed down. That is a signal 
the levels we are setting in this bill may make it more difficult to 
attract a large number of private lenders to the program and, in 
effect, turn the student loan program more and more towards the Direct 
Loan Program.
  In other words, by cutting the subsidies deeper and deeper, we will 
be driving banks out of the business, especially the smaller ones--the 
ones that serve students perhaps in rural areas or in different areas--
and we might be reducing the opportunities students have to benefit 
from the services that these banks offer.
  I know some of my colleagues would prefer we turn the whole thing 
over to the Government. I hope we don't do that--through the front door 
or through the back door--by squeezing out all of the private lenders. 
My concern is not for the lenders; my concern is for the students who 
today get loans from 3,200 lenders. I like for students and 
universities to have those choices. And over the last 15 years, 
generally speaking, they prefer the program that involves private 
lenders instead of dealing with the Direct Loan Program that the 
Government runs. Eighty-three percent of the schools prefer to use the 
privately backed student loan program, and 76 percent of the student 
loans are originated by those lenders. Only 1,310 schools participated 
in the Direct Loan Program, which is a small proportion of the loan 
volume. The reason may be that the consumers who like choice and who 
like to have different options have looked at both options--the program 
run by the Government and the program run by the private lender--and 
they find, the universities and the students, that the privately 
operated program is better for the students.

  I am here today more to talk about looking ahead, not condemning this 
bill or the effort that has been made here. I am here today also to say 
that the work of the Senate and House committees and some of the States 
has uncovered abuses by student lenders, some of which have been 
corrected and the rest ought to be. There is absolutely no excuse for 
that. But correcting abuses by private student lenders is one thing; 
cutting the rates to such a point that we end up through the back door 
pushing the student loan program into a Government-run program, or 
largely into a Government-run program, is another thing. It would be an 
unwise step for us to take, and if we are to consider that step, I hope 
we will do that on a very careful basis.
  In conclusion, my opinion has not changed based on experience over 
the last 15 years about the merits of a program largely run by private 
and nonprofit organizations--3,200 of them right now--to offer choices 
to millions and millions of students who attend 6,000 universities. To 
me, almost by definition, the Government is not a good manager of such 
a large program. In fact, if it were a Government-run program, the 
Government would have to contract it out.
  In general, I still support a properly regulated and appropriately 
subsidized program that allows for the maximum number of student 
private lenders leaving students and universities choices.
  Second, I am not persuaded that the Government-run program costs less 
than the student program. I know there are reports and studies which 
suggest that it might, but that is because we count money up here in 
strange ways. If you just take real dollars and compare them to real 
dollars, I have seen no real evidence that the Direct Loan Program is 
cheaper for the taxpayers than the program run through the private 
  Finally, I don't like the idea of the Federal Government suddenly 
beginning to assume a debt which approaches a half trillion dollars and 
put it on our books at a time when we are trying to reduce the deficit.
  If it doesn't cost less, and if the Government is not likely to 
manage it better, and if we don't need another half trillion dollars of 
debt in the Federal Government, then why would we want to encourage the 
growth of a Government-run program over a privately run program?
  I appreciate the chairman being here while I am making these remarks. 
I look forward to working with him because he has long experience on 
this program and he has distinct views on it. I suggest that one of the 
most constructive things we can do over the next few years is try to 
create, either through the auction suggestion or by listening to the 
private markets or from the Government Accountability Office or some 
other way, something other than a guess about what the private level of 
subsidy is. Otherwise, we will be doing through the back door something 
that I really don't think we should be doing through the front door 
  I thank the Senators from Massachusetts and Wyoming for their time.
  I ask unanimous consent to print in the Record some elaboration of my 
remarks that have to do with the cost comparisons of the Federal and 
the private programs, the evidence, or lack of it, that the Government 
can do it better than the private sector, and some questions about why 
the Federal Government would want to assume more debt.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

   Federal Family Education Loan Program and the Federal Direct Loan 

       There is a lack of definitive evidence to suggest one 
     program is less costly to the taxpayer than the other.
       In October, 2005 the Government Accountability Office 
     identified the following challenges in providing an accurate 
     comparison of student loan program costs:
       Significant re-estimates of subsidy costs over the past 10 
     years illustrate the challenges of estimating the lifetime 
     costs of loans.
       Certain federal costs and revenues associated with the 
     student loan programs are not included in subsidy cost 
     estimates, such as federal administrative expenses, some 
     costs of risk associated with lending money over time, and 
     federal tax revenues generated by both student loan programs.
       If current assumptions correctly predict future loan 
     performance and economic conditions, the originally estimated 
     gain to the government from the FDLP made in fiscal years 
     1994 to 2004 will not materialize, and instead these loans 
     will result in a net cost to the government. In reality, 
     however, subsidy cost estimates of FFELP and FDLP loans made 
     in fiscal years 1994 and 2004 will continue to change as 
     future re-estimates incorporate actual experience and new 
     interest rate forecasts.
       While subsidy cost estimates may include many of the 
     federal cost associated with FFELP and FDL loans, they do no 
     capture all federal costs and revenues associated with the 
     loan programs. Consideration of all

[[Page S9556]]

     federal costs and revenues of the loan programs would be an 
     important component of a broader assessment of the costs and 
     benefits of the two programs.
       It is important for policymakers to understand how credit 
     reform subsidy cost estimates are developed and to recognize 
     that such estimates will change in the future. Decisions made 
     in the short-term on the basis of these estimates can have 
     long-term repercussions for the fiscal condition to the 
       The GAO warns against comparing the FDLP based on their 
     short-term cash flows. Doing so may distort the view 
     primarily because of timing--many FDLP borrowers will not 
     fully repay their loans for another 20-30 years.
       The Federal Credit Reform Act (FCRA) of 1990 introduced 
     bias into the comparisons of the projected costs of direct 
     loans and guaranteed loans. Therefore, the estimating 
     methodology used by both the Congressional Budget Office of 
     Management and the Office of Management and Budget is flawed 
     by the requirements of the FCRA.
       While subsidy cost estimates include many of the federal 
     costs associated with FFELP and FDLP loans, they do not 
     capture all federal costs and revenues associated with the 
     loan programs. Because federal administrative expenses--in 
     accordance with FCRA--are excluded from subsidy cost 
     estimates, these estimates can underestimate the total 
     lifetime costs of FFELP and FDLP loans. Other costs and 
     revenues are also not considered in subsidy costs estimates, 
     including interest rate risk inherent to lending programs, 
     and federal tax revenues generated by private-sector activity 
     in both FFELP and FDLP. (GAO, 2005)
       The government does not really `make money' providing 
     student loans--the subsidy calculations under FCRA are not 
     designed to fully capture the economic costs to the 
     government of the assistance that the student loan programs 
     provide, nor do they capture all of the effects of the 
     programs on federal spending revenues. (CBO, 2005)
       FCRA fails to appropriately value risky cash flows coming 
     into the Treasury, such as student loan repayments. Scoring 
     omits loan administration costs, indirect programmatic 
     effects on Government receipts, and the risk of programmatic 
     failures. (Budget Scoring Barriers to Efficient Student Loan 
     Policy, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, December, 2006)
       There is a lack of definitive evidence to suggest that the 
     federal government can service loans better.
       In March, 2007 a suit was filed against the U.S. Department 
     of Education for imposing late fees on borrowers even though 
     borrower's payments were made on time. Overcharges were 
     allegedly caused by a computer glitch that caused more than 3 
     million FDLP borrowers to be billed hundreds of millions of 
     dollars more than they owed--though no exact amount has been 
     stated. (Washington Post)
       More than 3 in 4 schools relied exclusively on FFELP loan 
     providers. An estimated 600 have switched to FFELP after 
     participating in FDLP. (American Student Loan Providers)
       Anecdotal evidence from financial aid professions suggest 
     that this switch has happened for the following reasons:
       FFELP provides students a choice of lenders.
       FFELP allows students to pay lower upfront fees, get better 
     interest rates and more generous repayment incentives than 
       FFELP lenders offer a portfolio of unpriced borrower 
     benefits--fee waivers, rate reductions, etc.--credit 
     counseling, expedited delivery, superior information 
     technology, college access in initiatives and other 
     enhancements and programs not offered by FDLP, but no easily 
       The Department of Education contracts out the bulk of the 
     origination, servicing and other administrative tasks 
     entailed in operating the FDLP. (Holtz-Eakin).
       Why would the federal government want to assume more debt?
       FDLP loans are funded by U.S. Treasury borrowing, while 
     FFELP loans are originated with funds generated via private 
     capital markets.
       Federal government subsidizes FFELP loans by paying a 
     portion of the interest costs and by providing for a guaranty 
     to the lender against borrower default. FDLP loan funds are 
     directly provided via the U.S. Treasury to make the same type 
     of loans. (Holtz-Eakin).
       At the end of FY 04, DL owed taxpayers $96 billion, but had 
     only $86 billion in outstanding student loans to cover this 
     debt. (FY 04 Performance and Accountability Report)
       In FY 04, the federal dollars actually spent on FFELP was 
     less than $900 million to support the $245 billion in 
     outstanding guaranteed loans--less than four-tenths of a cent 
     on ever outstanding dollar. (President's FY 06 Budget)
       Default rates for FFELP are 11.7 percent and FDLP is 16.65 
     percent. OMB has predicted that DL will experience a weighted 
     average default rate 5 percentage points higher than the 
     FFELP for FY 08. More than $6 billion of loans in the FDLP 
     are in default. (FY 04 Performance and Accountability Report)
       Private companies may be better suited than government 
     agencies for keeping track of borrowers, and have a greater 
     incentive to be innovative and follow others in the industry.
       Since FDLP's creation in 1993, it has spent $13 billion 
     more on interest payments than it has collected in interest 
     and fees, not counting default costs or program 
     administrative costs. (GAO 2004).

  Mr. ALEXANDER. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alabama.

                  Amendment Nos. 2333 and 2342 En Bloc

  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent, for the purpose 
of offering my amendments, that the pending amendment be set aside and 
that I be allowed to offer two amendments, No. 2333 and No. 2342 en 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. The clerk 
will report the amendments en bloc.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Alabama [Mr. Sessions] proposes amendments 
     numbered 2333 and 2342 en bloc.

  The amendments are as follows:

                           amendment no. 2333

  (Purpose: To strike the provisions relating to loan forgiveness for 
                       public service employees)

       Strike section 401 of the Higher Education Access Act of 

                           amendment no. 2342

(Purpose: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow personal 
exemptions under the individual alternative minimum tax, and for other 

       At the appropriate place, insert the following:


       (a) Allowance of Deduction for Personal Exemptions Against 
     Individual Alternative Minimum Tax.--
       (1) In general.--Section 56(b)(1)(E) of the Internal 
     Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to standard deduction and 
     deduction for personal exemptions) is amended by striking ``, 
     the deduction for personal exemptions under section 151, and 
     the deduction under section 642(b)''.
       (2) Clerical amendment.--The heading for section 
     56(b)(1)(E) is amended by striking ``and deduction for 
     personal exemptions''.
       (3) Effective date.--The amendments made by this subsection 
     shall apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 
       (b) Adjustment for Inflation of Individual Alternative 
     Minimum Tax Exemption Amount.--Section 55(d) of the Internal 
     Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to exemption amount) is 
     amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
       ``(4) Adjustments for inflation.--In the case of a taxable 
     year beginning after December 31, 2007, each of the dollar 
     amounts in paragraphs (1) and (3) shall be increased by an 
     amount equal to--
       ``(A) such dollar amount, multiplied by
       ``(B) the cost-of-living adjustment determined under 
     section (1)(f)(3) for the calendar year in which the taxable 
     year begins, determined by substituting `calendar year 2006' 
     for `calendar year 1992' in subparagraph (B) thereof.

     If any amount as adjusted under the preceding sentence is not 
     a multiple of $10, such amount shall be rounded to the 
     nearest multiple of $10.''.

  Mr. KENNEDY. Will the Senator who made the unanimous consent 
request--it is No. 2332 and then----
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, it is No. 2342.
  Mr. KENNEDY. I do not have a copy of that second amendment. I don't 
intend to object. If the Senator can withhold his unanimous-consent 
request until I look at this amendment.
  Mr. SESSIONS. I will be pleased to do so. I ask unanimous consent to 
call up amendment No. 2333.

                      Amendment No. 2342 Withdrawn

  Mr. SESSIONS. I withdraw my request to call up amendment No. 2342 at 
this time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The amendment is withdrawn. The Senator may 
proceed with amendment No. 2333.

                           Amendment No. 2333

  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, the education bill before us is 
troubling in the fundamental ways that Senator Judd Gregg, the ranking 
Republican on the Budget Committee, has pointed out, in that it 
utilizes our reconciliation process to, instead of containing spending 
and helping to balance the budget, actually increase spending 
substantially for a lot of new programs. I wish to talk about one of 
those programs today that I think should not be a part of this 
legislation. So I have offered this amendment to strike that provision. 
It is an idea that sounds good. It is something about which I have had 
at one time or another individuals ask me to support, always for their 
particular business, their particular agency of Government, and I have 
felt that I could not support it. One reason was, how can we justify 
supporting one agency of Government over another? So I guess, in one 

[[Page S9557]]

this legislation fixes that problem and covers everybody, and more. Let 
me tell my colleagues what it does.
  The idea is, if a person pays their loan debt and they are part of a 
direct Government loan program, that after 10 years they could get a 
large part of that debt forgiven. That sounds good, but let me discuss 
why I think this is bad public policy, why it is a new Government 
program we should not start, and why it is absolutely inevitable that 
it will grow and cost more and more as time goes along.
  Let me show how broad this program is. There would be a student loan 
forgiveness program that would provide forgiveness of loans to public 
emergency management employees, government employees, public safety, 
public law enforcement--these could be State, county, or local, I 
presume--public health, public education, public early childhood 
education, public childcare, social work in a public child or family 
service agency, public services for individuals with disabilities, 
public services for the elderly, public interest legal services, public 
library services, public school library sciences, or other public 
school-based services, or those on full-time faculty at a tribal 
college or university. That is what is included. That is a big deal. It 
eliminates one of my concerns of why pick and choose Government 
agencies; it just covers them all.
  Let me express why I think there are some good principled public 
policy concerns and objections and why I do not think this is a good 
step for us to take.
  For example, there is no limit in this legislation on the total 
amount of loan forgiveness, which creates a discrepancy between the 
rich and the poor. Graduates of expensive schools with a lot of debt 
would receive quite a sizable benefit under this program, while 
students who work their way through college, go to a community college, 
would receive nothing if they didn't have any debt.
  The National Association for College Admission Counseling reports 
that the average cost of a community college is less than half of that 
for a public college and one-tenth of a private 4-year college. So who 
is being helped here? Half of low-income students attend community 
colleges while only 1 in 10 high-income students attend community 
  Further, the lowest priced colleges are 2-year public colleges in the 
West, for example, with average tuition fees of $1,300. The highest 
priced colleges in the country are 4-year private colleges in New 
England with average tuition fees of $28,000.
  Section 401 then creates a perverse incentive to take out the maximum 
amount of student loans. Rather than encouraging better public policy, 
I submit, that would encourage students to work their way through 
college and families to help them make their way through college 
  Instead of moving in that direction, this bill would clearly move us 
in the direction that one would borrow more money and have the 
expectation that the Government will help them pay it off at some point 
later on.
  Also, I ask why we would single out public service Government workers 
for this kind of benefit--there are millions of Government workers--and 
exclude productive citizens working in low-income jobs in the private 
sector who could also benefit from a similar program? Why are they left 
out? What principled argument is there for that? Certainly, most people 
working in private businesses don't have as good a retirement plan or 
health care plan as Government employees do. Now we are going to help 
them pay their tuition from taxpayers' money that comes from people in 
the private sector who are not getting these benefits.
  Why should a public employee be elevated to a higher class of 
treatment of loan forgiveness than those in the private sector, those 
hard-working American taxpayers who are not lucky enough to have an 
air-conditioned office and a Government-sector job?
  Public service is an honor, and as public servants, I don't think we 
need to ask or should think to ask to elevate our number to a higher 
status than that of average working Americans.
  There are many hard-working Americans in the private sector who 
contribute to society and who would benefit from the program. I think 
about attorneys who need help. What about small town attorneys working 
hard to start a practice, or nurses, educators, inventors, small 
business employees, a cook who has gone to college to try to get a 
financial business degree so they can one day run a restaurant, 
department store managers who want to be CEO's one day, electricians or 
plumbers who want to establish their own businesses and go back to 
college and work their way through and keep their debt down? These 
people pay taxes that benefit a Government worker who has a lifetime 
job, probably making more than they are, certainly with a lot more job 
security than they would have, and countless others around the 
country. Why should we benefit one and not the other? These are people 
paying taxes too. I haven't seen that we have difficulty getting people 
to take Government jobs. They are pretty attractive out there, the 
truth be known.

  So somebody goes off to a big expensive college and gets a big 
expensive degree and owes $75,000 or $100,000. Well, the Government is 
going to help them pay that back but not help the guy out there on the 
street corner trying to make a living to pay his back--the same person 
who is paying the taxes that are paying not only the salary now for the 
Government employee but now will pay their education costs. There is no 
principled basis that justifies them to be entitled to loan repayments 
more than there would be for someone in the private sector.
  There is no means test for this program. It doesn't matter under this 
program if the public employee has millions of dollars in the bank. If 
you had millions of dollars in the bank, and you knew you were going to 
get a job where the Government was going to help you pay back the loan, 
why wouldn't you borrow the money to go to college instead of paying 
for it yourself? This incentivizes people, I suggest, perversely, to 
borrow money to go to college rather than working their way through or 
utilizing the millions of dollars they may have.
  Let me say this. I am not against assisting people to pay for a 
college education. But we are spending billions of dollars on higher 
education through direct benefits to colleges and universities, loans, 
subsidies, and grants. Total student aid, including grants from all 
sources, plus loans, work study, and tax benefits from the Federal 
Government, increased by 95 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars over 
the decade from 1995-96 to 2005-06. So we are spending more to help our 
people go to college, by putting more Pell grants and loan money out 
  I think Senator Kennedy's concern about abuse of the private loan 
program is valid. I was inclined to support the Burr amendment, but I 
am of the view that the program was subject to too much abuse and we 
needed to fix it. But I will note this about this amendment: It creates 
an unequal footing between the Direct Loan Program and the Federal 
Family Education Loan Program--Senator Alexander was referring to those 
programs--because the only people to get benefits under this loan 
repayment program would have to go through the Direct Loan Program. The 
competition between these two programs, it has generally been held, and 
the Senate believes, will benefit students, and that is why we didn't 
eliminate the private loan program even in this bill we are passing.
  So allowing loan forgiveness solely through the Direct Loan Program 
is not principled, I think, at all. It will undoubtedly give an 
advantage to the Direct Loan Program as students have no other route in 
which to receive loan forgiveness than to borrow under the Direct Loan 
  Let me say this--and I didn't realize this until recently: 82 percent 
of the schools in my home State of Alabama do not use the Direct Loan 
Program but participate in the Federal Family Education Loan Program. 
Students graduating from my small alma mater, Huntingdon College, a 
liberal arts college, would not be eligible because Huntingdon is not a 
direct loan school. Schools choose FFELP because the private sector 
offers the better services, they think, and saves them money. 
Nationally, this statistic is around 80 percent. So 80 percent of the 
colleges and universities in our country are not in the Direct Loan 
Program, and under this plan you wouldn't benefit unless you were in 

[[Page S9558]]

  They say: Well, you could consolidate your loans under the Direct 
Loan Program and, therefore, then you could get repayment. But isn't 
that a tilting of the scales and a perverse benefit to the Direct Loan 
Program, which is supposed to be on a competitive basis to see who 
offers the best incentive to the students to get a good loan program? 
They get to choose now which they think is best. So I don't think that 
providing this incentive to clearly favor the Direct Loan Program and 
exclude the other is good public policy. I am not aware that those who 
voted for it understood it might have done that.
  Studies show that when you extend your loan, sometimes you end up 
paying more interest than going on and paying them off. The Federal 
Family Education Loan Program is far more popular than the Direct Loan 
Program at present because they have tended to offer lower interest 
rates and quality service, but I think there are some abuses, too, and, 
hopefully, this bill will tighten that up.
  I will conclude on this matter by saying this is the kind of program 
that truly, colleagues, should strike fear in the heart of anyone 
concerned about the expansion and growth of Federal spending and 
Federal programs. It will create a new Federal bureaucracy. Next year, 
I predict--since this bill says you have to be regular in your payment 
of your student loan to qualify for this program--I will predict next 
year we will be providing exceptions to those who have lost their jobs, 
who have had an illness or who have had other kinds of problems; or we 
will be having lawsuits and administrative hearings over whether this 
or that person qualifies to have part of their loan forgiven based 
simply on the fact they work for some Government or public agency.
  If we want to help public employees, let us do it in a more direct 
manner. Why should we provide a benefit program that helps those who go 
to some expensive college, maybe don't work while they go to college, 
and end up with a big debt? Let's say two individuals are working at 
the county health department or the EMA and one of them ran up a big 
debt and the Government helps them pay it off; while the other one, who 
worked their way through college, doesn't get anything. That is not a 
good way to help people, in my view.
  It is also, again I submit, bad public policy because it encourages 
and incentivizes people not to pay their way through but to borrow 
money. We would like to have a different incentive. Good public policy 
should do that. I also see no principled basis to provide this benefit 
solely to the Direct Loan Program and not to the other loan programs. 
It is a clear tilt from one side to the other when 80 percent of the 
American colleges and universities are not in the Federal Direct Loan 
  So I would say, first of all, the way it is structured today it will 
not be a huge, costly program for our country, but it is not based on 
good principles, No. 1; No. 2, it is going to be expanded, you can be 
sure, in the future; and No. 3, it will create another bureaucracy, 
another Government program, when we already have Pell grants and loan 
programs that we are pumping more and more money into every year.
  I suggest if we have ideas about helping people with their loans, we 
focus on existing loan programs and not create this one that is 
unprincipled in its results.
  Mr. President, has Senator Kennedy had an opportunity to think about 
that other amendment I was going to call up?
  Mr. KENNEDY. If the Senator will be kind enough to let me examine it. 
That is dealing with the alternative minimum tax and deductibles that, 
quite frankly, as I was thinking about it, the Finance Committee deals 
with, and they would probably be the most valuable to try to address 
this. If we could deal with this first issue first, and then, if I 
might, try and get some member on the Finance Committee to come over 
and respond to the Senator's question because I think it deals with the 
alternative minimum tax.
  I am not trying to delay, but I see the Senator from Maryland is here 
and would like to speak. I will be glad to respond to the Senator's 
presentation and move ahead in a timely way.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, reserving the floor--I believe I still 
am recognized--I know Senator Kennedy has never offered a finance-
related amendment on a bill that hasn't cleared the Finance Committee.
  I am teasing a little bit because we all knew this bill is open to 
this kind of amendment, I think, and that is why I wanted to offer that 
AMT fix. We have voted on it before. It is something that I think we 
need to be more educated about and that is the reason I wanted to offer 
  I will not offer it at this time, if Senator Mikulski wishes to speak 
on the education amendment, but I hope that will not bar me from 
getting the floor a little later and seeking to call up that extra 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Whitehouse). The senior Senator from 
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I rise to speak enthusiastically in 
favor of the Higher Education Access Reconciliation Act and to also 
speak against the Sessions amendment to eliminate the debt forgiveness 
program for entering public service.
  I can't tell you how happy I am today to be speaking on legislation 
helping our young people have access to higher education. Finally, 
after a very dark week, where we were gagged and muzzled from trying to 
deal with bringing the Iraq war to an end, we now have an open debate 
on how to achieve the American dream. This is what I came to the Senate 
to be able to do. This is what the voters wanted us to do when on 
November 7 they held a national referendum and put the Democrats back 
in charge so we could change the tone, have a civilized debate such as 
we are, and also to change the priorities--and changing the priorities 
Senator Kennedy has, by leading us in a direction where we can expand 
opportunity for our young people without expanding our deficit.
  We will not expand our Federal deficit and we will help families not 
expand their family deficit, as they try to help their kids achieve 
higher education. This legislation pending before us today should be 
passed in a swift, expeditious, uncluttered way. This bill is 
absolutely a great bill for students and it is a great bill for 
America. It gives our students access to the American dream. It gives 
our young people access to the freedom to achieve, to be able to follow 
their talents, and to be able to achieve higher education in whatever 
field they will be able to serve this country. We do it by providing an 
increase in Pell grants.
  But the bill is also fiscally responsible as well as socially 
progressive. It cuts subsidies--big, lavish, bloated subsidies--to 
banks. In eliminating these bloated, unneeded subsidies in today's era 
of cheap money, what we are able to do is put that back into student 
aid. So we up the student aid, but we don't create more borrowing in 
order to do it.
  The bill also has other reform elements to it. It reforms the 
application process. Anybody in here who is a mom or a dad--or an Aunt 
Barb--knows that, boy, is that process complicated. You almost have to 
have been to college in order to apply for student loans to be able to 
go to college.
  The other thing it does is it keeps an eye on those colleges and 
universities. We have seen tuition creep--we have seen tuition gallop--
to where now there is an ever-increasing escalation. We worry if we 
increase the Pell grants, are they then going to increase tuition? So 
there is reform methodologies in this, and we salute Senators Kennedy 
and Enzi for being able to do this. So this is why I am so enthusiastic 
about this bill.
  As I travel around my own State of Maryland and I talk about what we 
want to do with our Federal legislative initiatives, I often say to 
audiences--and I say here today to my colleagues--we in this country 
enjoy many freedoms--the freedom of speech, the freedom of press, the 
freedom of religion--but there is an implicit freedom our Constitution 
doesn't lay out but which brings people to this country and excites the 
passions and hopes and dreams and that is the desire and the ability to 
have the freedom to achieve; to take whatever talents God has given 
you, to fill whatever are the passions in your heart, to be able to 
learn so you can earn and make a contribution. That is what I call the 
freedom to achieve.

[[Page S9559]]

  The freedom to achieve should never be stifled in this country 
because of economic reasons. Your freedom to achieve should never be 
determined by the ZIP code you live in, by the color of your skin, or 
by the size of your family's wallet. It should be, in a democratic 
country, that everyone has access to be able to do that. That means 
affordable education. That means access to the opportunity ladder that 
students and families can count on, because we know a degree is 
something no one can ever take away from you.
  When I was a young girl at a Catholic all-girls high school, my 
father and mother encouraged me to seek higher education. My father's 
grocery store had a terrible fire, and I offered to not go on to higher 
education but to work in our little family grocery store. But my father 
said, no, Barb, you have to go, and your mom and I will find a way, 
because no matter what you do or what in life happens to you, no one 
can ever take that degree away from you. As your father who wants to 
help you and to protect you, the best way I can protect you is to make 
sure you will be able to earn a living all of your life.
  My father gave me the freedom to achieve. But tuition costs were 
different in those days, and now people rely upon student loans or 
student assistance. That is what we need to continue to do.
  We also know when we are helping our young people, or not-so-young 
people who return, the value of higher education doesn't only accrue to 
the individual, it accrues to the Nation as a whole. Every time we help 
someone be able to go on and have that freedom to achieve, we might be 
educating someone who is going to find the cure for cancer. We are 
going to be educating the cop on the beat who might save that old lady 
from being mugged. Whatever we do, that education lifts not only that 
person but it lifts the level of attainment of the Nation as a whole.
  That is why this is an important public investment. This is why on 
this day, this week, we finally have some light coming into the Senate.
  We know higher education is a great opportunity. As I said, this 
means there will be people who are young and not so young who will 
bless us for what we are doing today. Getting a college education is 
the core of the American dream, and I am going to be sure that every 
student has access to that dream and make sure that when they graduate, 
their very first mortgage isn't their student debt.
  My colleagues have spoken eloquently about how often that debt is 
$20,000 or more. I know in my home State college tuition is on the 
rise. The tuition at the University of Maryland, a land grant college, 
has increased by almost 40 percent since 2002. Financial aid is not 
keeping up. Pell grants now only cover 30 percent of what a 4-year 
public college costs, but 20 years ago those Pell grants covered 80 
percent of the cost.
  We look at our families, our middle-class families, and they are 
stretched and they are stressed. Families in my State are worried about 
many things. They are worried about their jobs, worried about the cost 
of raising a family, gas prices are up, the cost of utilities is up, 
the cost of health care is up--you name it, everything is up but wages. 
They are racing from carpool to work and back again. While they might 
be taking care of mom and dad who need assisted living, they are also 
wondering how are they going to assist their kids to go to college so 
they are assisting their kids with learning how to earn a living. Our 
families need help. By gosh, I believe that help begins at home.
  This is what this legislation does. It will increase student aid by 
increasing Pell grants from $4,300 per year to $5,400 per year. It is a 
$1,100 increase. This is wonderful. That is already a $5,000 break over 
a 4-year program. If you are looking at a community college, this could 
help you pay for this. For so many of our young people, the community 
college is the first access to higher education.
  These families and these students will know exactly what this means. 
The simple expansion of Pell grants is going to take that opportunity 
ladder and take that first rung and make sure it is reliable and 
  There are other important aspects in this bill in addition to that. I 
am so proud we have extended our deferred loans for our men and women 
in the armed services. Under the old law, servicemembers could only 
defer their student loans for 6 months. They are fighting in Iraq. I 
think we ought to defer it indefinitely, but we will take what we can 
get in the law. That is an important step.
  I want to say a word about the comments about public service. Why is 
it every time we talk about public service jobs it is in a snide and 
snarky way? I am tired of people talking about public service jobs in a 
snide and snarky way. Somehow or other, in private sector jobs you work 
hard. I know for those hedge fund managers, walking down that rugged 
terrain of Wall Street, fighting their way to get a latte, is tough 
work. But why is it if you are an FBI agent we are going to talk about 
you in a snarky way? What about if you are a nurse in the VA helping 
fit that prosthetic device for that injured warrior coming back? We 
have to remember that civil service is honorable and civil service is 
hard work, and public service makes contributions to the public good.
  I hope we then in this debate also follow the kind of rubric that has 
been developed by our colleague from Ohio, Senator Voinovich. He is 
worried, too, about all the retirements that are coming in civil 
service. We are going to recruit, but let's talk about specifically 
what this does. This is debt forgiveness where we are facing shortages. 
We are talking about debt forgiveness in law enforcement. Law 
enforcement all over the United States is facing shortfalls in 
recruitment. There are people who no longer want to be cops on the beat 
because it is a dirty, dangerous job. We have a shortage of nurses. 
Let's talk about our teachers--oh, our most important asset is our 
children. We will not pay to recruit and retain, but we will 
overregulate our teachers. We have to be able to get them in.
  When we talk about the fact that if you are an elementary 
schoolteacher or you are that preschool teacher who gets our kids 
reading ready, often they are very poorly paid, paid less than if they 
had worked in fast food operations. We have to help our teachers.
  Then I want to talk about an area that is very near and dear to me, 
the nursing shortage. I have worked on a bipartisan basis with the 
Senator from Maine, Ms. Collins, on how to deal with the nursing 
shortage. It is now achieving a critical mass. Over 40 percent of our 
nurses will be retiring in a very short time. It is difficult also to 
retain our nurses. We need to be able to recruit and retain our nurses.

  When we hear about: Why don't they work their way through? Let's work 
our way through. Have you ever been to a nursing school? Have you ever 
been in a nursing school? I have. Nursing school is tough, demanding, 
unrelenting. If you are in a nursing college program, whether it is a 
community college or a 4-year college, you have to do your lab work, 
you have to do your clinical work. You can't take time off to go work 
to earn that tuition. You have to be there learning to be a nurse. 
There is practically no way that, if you want to be a nurse, an x-ray 
technician, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist--anything 
in allied health--you can take time off to work your way through. But 
you are mounting debt. This is a way that gives you a break.
  I believe in giving help to those who will be able to help us in our 
  To finish my point and my momentum here, I believe the Kennedy 
approach on student debt forgiveness is wise and prudent, and I believe 
can be implemented in a way that does not create abuse. Let's respect 
public service. Let's try to deal with the fact that we are facing 
critical shortages. Let's also begin to work together to solve our 
Nation's problems.
  We are willing to spend thousands of dollars to recruit in critical 
areas in the military. I happen to support that, to keep that sergeant, 
to recruit that lieutenant and so on--I absolutely think we should.
  I urge the passage of the Higher Education Access bill and at the 
same time the defeat of the Sessions amendment.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Will the Senator from Maryland be good enough to yield 
for a question?
  Ms. MIKULSKI. I am happy to yield to the Senator from Massachusetts.

[[Page S9560]]

  Mr. KENNEDY. The Senator is familiar with the fact--I am wondering if 
it is true about the students in Maryland--the average indebtedness of 
a student now graduating from a 4-year college has gone up 
significantly from 1993, from $9,200, to 2004, where it is over 
$19,000. It may vary in different States, but by and large the average 
is about $19,000.
  Let's take the starting salaries.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. First, if I could respond to the Senator, that is 
exactly right. We are experiencing the same situation for that level of 
public indebtedness in our public universities. If one would then go on 
to a private university such as Johns Hopkins, it would also be 
substantially more.
  Mr. KENNEDY. So the Senator understands, if you go on to medical 
school, more often than not you are probably closer to $100,000, by and 
large, by the time you finish medical school. But let's take the 
average college graduate, someone who might have gone through community 
college and then gone on to finish 4 years of college. They are ending 
up with about $19,000 in debt.
  Is the Senator familiar with the fact that here in Massachusetts, a 
starting teacher gets paid $35,000 a year? Let's take a social worker 
in Tennessee. He or she earns $33,000. A public defender earns $43,000. 
They obviously have to borrow more because they need the additional 
professional training. This example here is of a public defender in 
Indiana. Their debt is $51,000.
  Now, as I heard the Senator from Maryland, and we could go on across 
the line in terms of some of the areas of public need in this country, 
but if we take a school teacher, if we take a public defender, the size 
of their debt and the size of their income, is there any question in 
the Senator's mind those individuals, with that kind of debt and that 
kind of salary, that virtually that kind of obligation to repay at the 
present time is going to effectively make it impossible for those 
individuals who might want to go into those professions to do so?
  Ms. MIKULSKI. I would be happy to respond, if the Senator would allow 
me to focus on the allied health professions of which I am quite 
familiar, that it affects, first of all, when you look at what you 
could owe, it affects your major. So if I want to major in nursing, or 
where there is another shortage, x-ray technology, and you look at what 
you are going to earn, and what you are going to owe, well, you will 
take perhaps an easier path, and something that will be more lucrative 
at the end of graduation.
  So it starts in the freshman year when they are looking at that. 
Second, let's go to another issue in nursing. As the Senator knows, we 
have a problem with having enough people to teach nursing. That 
requires graduate training, master's, plus doctoral. Well, if you come 
out and you owe this bucket of bucks, and you are trying to pay off 
your undergraduate loan, working the terrific shifts the nurses work, 
and you are thinking about graduate school, you are not going to go get 
a master's or a doctorate to teach nursing, and we have little in the 
way of helping you. So we are, No. 1, affecting the shortages we have 
in these areas, and we are also exacerbating the people who would then 
have to go on to graduate school to teach the very people we need to 
  Mr. KENNEDY. Well, let me ask the Senator something.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Does that help?
  Mr. KENNEDY. That is certainly both understandable and expressing the 
reality of today. Say we are trying to attract a math teacher or a 
science teacher. We understand that if we are going to be competitive 
in the world, it is going to be in the new industries, the innovative 
industries. I do not know what it is in Baltimore, but I can tell you 
in Boston, it is difficult to get good math teachers to teach in our 
public school systems. It is very difficult to get good science 
teachers in there and good chemistry teachers to teach in there.
  In the sciences, it is extremely difficult, because if someone is 
going to have the ability to be a good teacher, understanding their 
course structure, they are going to have to graduate from college, and 
then they may even have to go on to earn an advanced degree.
  Now if they are still going to be paid a very modest salary, what do 
you think that math or science teacher is going to do? Do you think 
they are going to go to work in the private sector for $100,000 a year 
or go and teach the citizens in Baltimore or the citizens in Boston at 
a very modest salary?
  What do you think is in the best interest of our Nation in terms of 
its competitiveness?
  Ms. MIKULSKI. I can answer that, Senator, because we see it every day 
in the State of Maryland, which has a profile not unlike the State of 
Massachusetts. We have schools in the Baltimore-Washington corridor 
that are desperately, as of now, in getting ready for the school year, 
recruiting people in math and science, both at elementary and high 
  We also have a robust science program in the private sector. First of 
all, we have defense jobs, we have biotech jobs. If you are working as 
that science teacher at $38,000, with this big debt, you can go to work 
in pretty interesting private sector jobs, some under Government 
  As we like to say, Government work is often getting contracts with 
the private sector. They are going to walk out and they are going to 
take the $70,000, the $80,000 or the $100,000, not because of the 
money, they want to pay down their debt and they want what everyone 
else wants, the ability to have a family, buy a home. You know, a 
starter home now in our community is $400,000. That is starter--
  Can you imagine that? So, of course, they are going to make those 
choices, or, if they do come, they stay a very short time, a very short 
  So we think that this is a good way to get them into teaching and get 
them to stay in teaching. We believe that once they come, and once they 
stay a few years, they will stay for a while, particularly if we help 
them follow their dream, while they are helping these other young 
people to get ready to follow theirs.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Finally, to the Senator, in this legislation, we have 
provided individuals in public service professions with loan 
forgiveness. We are talking about those working in public safety; we 
are talking about law enforcement; we are talking about public 
education, early child education, and child care.
  We are talking about individuals who are going to work with the 
disabled and the elderly. The Senator has spoken so eloquently about 
the changing demographics in the country, and increasing concerns for 
our elderly to make sure that there are going to be alternative choices 
for those elderly people such as independent living. This bill also 
provides loan forgiveness for those in public legal services, library 
sciences, school-based service providers, and those who work at tribal 
  These are areas where there are critical shortages. Would not the 
Senator agree with me that these represent--represent--professions 
which are making a difference for other people, for other individuals? 
If we are able to have dedicated, competent, able, gifted people who 
work in those years, we are going to be a better Nation for doing it.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. The Senator has pinpointed exactly the point I wished 
to make. These are in fields that are making important contributions to 
the public good, be it public safety to health or public health, the 
education of our children at all ages, pre through 12.
  I do not know how it is in Boston, but we are experiencing a spike in 
violent crime in Baltimore. We have a considerable number of vacancies 
in the Baltimore City Police Department. At the same time, they have 
tried to cut the COPS Program, local law enforcement--the subject of 
another debate on appropriations. But I will tell you, Mayor Dixon is 
out there, we are trying to recruit. If we are going to fight crime, 
fight crime with police officers in the way of enforcement, you fight 
crime with education and other professions.

  So you have pinpointed it exactly. That is why I can understand some 
of the flashing yellow lights raised by the Senator from Alabama.
  I wish to say one thing. I spoke out about my mother and father. 
Sure, I helped them at the local grocery store. But I was working as a 
child abuse worker. When your brother was elected President, I was 
working as a foster

[[Page S9561]]

care worker at Catholic Charities. I wanted to prevent family breakups. 
I went to work at the Department of Social Services. I was a child 
abuse worker for a couple of years. That is pretty tough, what those 
social workers do.
  But I wanted to go to graduate school so I would know how to do 
better, so I would be more effective, so I could intervene. Well, I was 
an emancipated adult. Graduate school at the University of Maryland was 
getting underway.
  But thanks to the war on poverty, and thanks to a grant at the 
National Institutes of Health--again, which your brother started, and 
you have so steadfastly continued, community mental health--there were 
community mental health grants for Barb Mikulski to go to the 
University of Maryland and get her master's in social work.
  Well, given my style of debate, people might not say I have a 
``therapeutic'' personality, but I will tell you what I learned on the 
streets of Baltimore as a child abuse worker and what I learned with my 
program at the University of Maryland, I think that Baltimore is better 
because of what I learned. But I could not have done that, nor could I 
have taken out those loans--I was already an adult--to be able to do 
that, had not the U.S. Government said: We are willing to invest in you 
if you are going to put your heart and soul back into America.
  I say hats off to those programs that give all those other programs 
that chance.
  Mr. KENNEDY. I wish to thank the good Senator from Maryland. She has 
a way of speaking and taking complicated issues and simplifying them 
and getting to the core and the root of them. She has done so in a very 
important way, which addresses an underlying aspect of the Sessions 
amendment; that is, the value of work in the public sector, the value 
of work in the public sector as differentiated from the private sector, 
because of the value it makes and the difference it makes to other 
  That is what we have tried to do in this legislation, in providing 
the loan forgiveness.
  I wish to thank the Senator for her eloquence, and I wish to thank 
her for helping on this particular amendment. Effectively, the Sessions 
amendment would eliminate the provisions in this legislation that say 
that after 10 years, after 10 years of working in the public sector, 
the remainder of your loan would be canceled.
  Now, that is the provision he has made. Now, a couple points I wish 
to address in terms of the Senator's representation. The fact is, in 
the legislation there is what we call an income cap. The earnings have 
to be less than $65,000. So if you go to work in a public service place 
and somehow you earn in excess of $65,000, you do not have your loans 
  So this is targeted to the kind of individuals whom Senator Mikulski 
has talked of, the examples we have given out here, those who are in 
law enforcement, those who are teachers, those who are working in the 
nursing professions, those who are working in special needs; those 
provisions on page 30 of the legislation.
  We feel strongly that this loan forgiveness is a critical part of 
this bill, and this is the distinction we draw from the Sessions 
amendment, and it has been stated so eloquently by the Senator from 
Maryland, the distinction between the public and the private sector and 
the great needs we have in terms of the public sector. That is very 
  I wish to remind my friend from Alabama, according to this 
legislation, he is one of the fortunate Senators in higher education, 
the increased grant aid for students for the State of Alabama is going 
to increase to $442 million over the period of the next 5 years. My own 
State of Massachusetts is $319 million. Alabama has come out very well, 
one of the most favored States in terms of the totality. We always try 
to look out after the Senator from Alabama and Alabama. I thought the 
Senator would be interested in that.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Would you yield for a question?
  Mr. KENNEDY. I would be glad to.
  Mr. SESSIONS. I have supported the loan programs and the Pell grants. 
I like the Pell Grant Program. That is focused on a person of lower 
income. We probably do have lower income students in Alabama, and we 
probably benefitted nicely under the Pell Grant Program compared to 
more blessed States such as Massachusetts.
  I simply would ask the question, the question I raise is: If you have 
two persons in nursing school and one is maybe already a nurse but 
trying to get a higher degree and she works and keeps her debt down, 
the one who does not do that gets more benefit than the other. It does 
only favor those in the public sector and not in the private sector.
  I believe this bill continues the emphasis, which I support, on maybe 
having better Pell grant provisions for those who do math and science 
and some of the areas in which we have shortages. I believe it goes 
further than that, does it not? I know we did that last year. I think 
that was a good step in trying to help deal with shortage areas.
  Mr. KENNEDY. I thank the Senator. I am a very strong believer in the 
nursing profession, and have been. I think they are the backbone of our 
whole health care system. We provide relief for nurses in this bill, 
whether they are in the public or private sector. For those in public 
health, there is loan forgiveness after 10 years in the profession. And 
for all graduates, we provide income-based repayment, which caps their 
monthly loan payments at 15 percent of their discretionary income. If a 
nurse works in the private sector, works at Mass General Hospital, gets 
a good salary there, or works out in the community in terms of trying 
to work with foster children or otherwise, they would both get some 
kind of student loan debt relief under this bill.
  But on the loan forgiveness, the Senator is quite correct. We have 
targeted those individuals who are going to be working in what we 
consider to be the public sector, for the common good, for a larger 
sense of purpose for the country, as expressed so eloquently by the 
Senator from Maryland, to be eligible for the forgiveness. That is the 
point the Senator has made.
  For example, under this bill, as I understand, a public school 
teacher in Alabama who earns $31,000 and the average loan debt in 
Alabama is $17,559, they could have the loan payments capped at 15 
percent so it reduces his or her monthly payment by $59, from $203 to 
$104. That is about a 30-percent reduction which is not insignificant. 
Then after 10 years of teaching, under our legislation, all the 
remaining debt would be forgiven. In this case, a benefit of some 
$10,000, which is very significant. But they would have to teach for 10 
years to be eligible for this. We think this is a better investment, a 
better trade, than continuing to give so much in Federal subsidies to 
the banks. We have taken it effectively from the profits of these 
lending institutions, and we see they are going to survive. We have the 
CBO figures that show that they are. We have their own figures, for 
example, from Sallie Mae, that show even with this legislation the 
profits they are going to make over the next several years. We think 
this is a good trade. This is a good policy matter.
  I saw the Senator from Alabama leave the Chamber. I haven't talked 
with my friend and colleague, but we will be ready to move ahead and 
vote on that at the appropriate time. We will talk with our colleague 
and see if we can't figure out the best time to address this issue.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Who yields time?
  Mr. KENNEDY. I yield time from the bill to the Senator from 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
  Mr. COLEMAN. Mr. President, I am speaking on an amendment that I will 
call up later. It is amendment No. 2334. It is the Coleman-DeMint-
Thune-Inhofe amendment that would prohibit the FCC from reinstating the 
so-called fairness doctrine.
  The amendment says:

       The Commission shall not have the authority to prescribe 
     any rule, regulation, policy, doctrine, standard, or other 
     requirement that has the purpose or effect of reinstating or 
     repromulgating (in whole or in part) the requirement that 
     broadcasters present opposing viewpoints on controversial 
     issues of public importance, commonly referred to as the 
     ``Fairness Doctrine''.

  For those students following debate on the education reconciliation 
bill, they may well wonder what the fairness doctrine controversy is 
all about.

[[Page S9562]]

After all, this bill is about the podcasting, blogging, U-Tubing, 
channel-surfing generation that knows nothing but choice and vigorous 
freedom of expression. These students have grown up in today' s info-
tech world of rich and diverse media sources, in which they, just like 
the rest of us, can get the information they want, how they want, and 
when they want it--free of any government content restriction. I want 
to keep it that way. It hasn't always been like this. It was only 20 
years ago that we did away with the fairness doctrine.
  On its surface, the fairness doctrine sounds harmless enough, but at 
its core, the fairness doctrine would threaten our constitutional right 
to free speech and fundamentally undermine the workings of our 
  The Government has no place monitoring ideas on our public airwaves 
and penalizing broadcasters who don't meet the Government's definition 
of fair and balanced. There is a reason why our first amendment is 
freedom of speech; Because all freedoms are at risk when Government 
monitors and controls the broadcast of ideas.
  That is why I will be offering this amendment which will protect 
American's constitutionally granted right to free speech. After all, 
what sort of message are we sending to our future leaders when there 
are some on the other side who are seeking to restrict free speech?
  Our Founding Fathers knew very well the importance of free speech to 
our Nation's democracy.
  The genius of our system of Government is the conscious choice to 
leave decisions in the hands of regular people, by explicitly 
restricting the power of Government to make them. It is not by 
coincidence that the Framers of the Constitution established free 
speech, along with freedom of the press, in the first amendment. They 
come together in the first amendment.
  Beyond first amendment principles, there are also market principles 
at stake. Since the end of the fairness doctrine in 1987, talk radio 
has flourished because of consumer-driven market demand, not because of 
Government command, not because of Government control. The history of 
the fairness doctrine is actually one of chilling freedom of speech. 
The reality is, if you are a broadcaster and you know that you have a 
Government regulator monitoring what is on your channel, your station, 
a pencil and paper in hand and marking with probably a stopwatch the 
amount of time that you discuss idea A, and then all of a sudden if you 
don't give what the Government regulator feels is the right amount of 
time to give a varying opinion to subject A, in the end you risk 
penalty. You put yourself and your business at risk.
  The reality was during the years in which the fairness doctrine was 
in play, it chilled freedom of expression. Some folks probably would 
say: Let's just play country music. Let's just do something else, but 
let's not talk about things because it is going to put us in jeopardy, 
put our livelihood in jeopardy. That is not what America is all about.
  At the end of the day, there is nothing fair about the fairness 
doctrine. The issue is not which broadcaster is fair and which one is 
not: the issue is who makes that decision.
  I believe fairness is what the American public decides is fair, not 
some Washington politician or bureaucrat. Americans love a fair fight 
but there is nothing fair if the intent is to silence debate just 
because a Government bureaucrat or politician disagrees with it and 
then employs a Government bureaucrat to chill the expression of ideas.
  In the end, our Nation, our democracy, is best served when we let 
competing ideas enter the political marketplace freely, and let the 
best ideas win.
  One of my hometown newspapers, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, put it 
well the other day when it said in an editorial entitled ``Fairness is 
beautiful, especially when it's optional'':

       . . . let the gabbers gab--right, left, center, wherever--
     without government-imposed balance. Americans can make 
     listening and viewing decisions according to their own sense 
     of what is fair. To have faith in the marketplace of ideas--
     as we do--is to believe that, over time, good ideas will rise 
     by their merits.

  We live in an age of satellite radio, of broadband, of blogs, 
Internet, cable TV, broadcast TV. There is no limitation on the ability 
of anyone from any political persuasion to get their ideas set forth.
  The public, in the end, will choose what to listen to, and that is 
their right. It is not Government's right. It is not Government's 
obligation or responsibility to monitor and regulate that. That is very 
  The fairness doctrine is a flawed idea from a bygone era that has no 
place in today's information age. My amendment seeks to continue to 
protect Americans' right to free speech and to allow for our 
broadcasters to contribute to our national dialog without Government 
censorship, without Government demand and control. That is the beauty 
of democracy. It is the world to which the students we will improve 
with this reconciliation, which contains a lot of good things, will go. 
In the end we want to have people who have access to the free flow of 
information. We want to have old people who have access to the free 
flow of information. We don't want to step back into a bygone era where 
Government was monitoring ideas, monitoring content. That is very 
  I will ask my colleagues at a later time to support this amendment.
  I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, the clerk will call the 
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that I may be 
permitted to proceed as in morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.

                  Nomination of Judge Leslie Southwick

  Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, I have been very deeply disappointed with 
the response of Senate Democratic leaders to the President's nomination 
of Judge Leslie Southwick to serve as a judge on the U.S. Court of 
Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
  I had expected that his nomination would move expeditiously through 
the Judiciary Committee and the Senate. He is emminently well 
qualified. But the opposition of some members of the Senate Judiciary 
Committee and some outside political interest groups has slowed action 
on the nomination.
  I have known Leslie Southwick for 30 years. His qualifications are 
beyond question. During his distinguished career, as a lawyer and a 
State court judge, he has earned the respect and admiration of liberals 
and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, as well as fellow lawyers 
and judges who have worked closely with him and who know him well.
  He is fair and thoughtful and would be an outstanding Federal court 
of appeals judge. The judiciary would be well served by his leadership 
and his knowledge of the law. He will reflect credit--enormous credit--
on the Federal judiciary.
  He graduated cum laude from Rice University in 1972 and from the 
University of Texas School of Law in 1975.
  Following law school, he clerked for the chief judge of the Texas 
Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin and then, in 1976, for Judge 
Charles Clark on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  The next year he began the practice of law in Jackson, MS, with the 
firm of Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes, one of our State's most 
respected law firms. He quickly became a respected member of the bar.
  From 1989 to 1993, he served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General 
in the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. While there, 
he supervised the Federal Programs Branch and the Office of Consumer 
  In November 1994, Judge Southwick was elected to serve on the 
Mississippi Court of Appeals. He was reelected to a second term in 
  During 8 of the first 10 years on the court of appeals, Judge 
Southwick wrote the most opinions of anyone on the court. He has been 
involved in more than 7,000 opinions during his service on the 
Mississippi Court of Appeals, and he personally wrote almost 800 of 
  Judge Southwick also has a distinguished record of service in the 

[[Page S9563]]

Advocate General's Corps of the U.S. Army Reserves and has been an 
instructor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
  In August 2004, Lieutenant Colonel Southwick and the 155th Brigade 
Combat Team of the Mississippi National Guard were mobilized in support 
of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit was deployed in Iraq from January 
to December 2005, where he served as the staff judge advocate. He spent 
much of his time in Najaf, an area of significant insurgent activity.
  In a letter to the Judiciary Committee, one of Judge Southwick's 
fellow soldiers wrote this:

       He also took on the task of handling the claims of numerous 
     Iraqi civilians who had been injured or had property losses 
     due to [the involvement of] the United States Military in our 
     area of operations. This involved long days of interviewing 
     Iraqi civilian claimants, many of whom were children, widows 
     and elderly people, to determine whether the United States 
     Military could [or should] pay their claims. He always 
     listened to these Iraqi claimants patiently and treated them 
     with the utmost respect and kindness. He did this not just 
     out of a sense of duty but because he is a genuinely good and 
     caring person.

  Judge Southwick is currently a professor of law at the Mississippi 
College School of Law. He teaches courses in administrative law, 
consumer law, evidence, statutory interpretation, and judicial history.
  He has written several legal and historical articles that have been 
published in the Mississippi Law Journal, the Mississippi College Law 
Review, the Wall Street Journal, and other publications. He is the 
author of a book entitled: ``Presidential Also-Rans and Running 
Mates.'' It won an American Library Association prize as the ``Best 
Reference Work of the Year'' in 1985.
  Judge Southwick has served as president of the American Inns of 
Court, as a member of the American Law Institute, and on the Curriculum 
Committee of the American Bar Association's Section on Legal Education. 
He was honored by the Mississippi State Bar in 2004 with the Judicial 
Excellence Award.
  The American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal 
Judiciary unanimously concluded that Judge Southwick is ``well 
qualified'' to serve as a Federal appellate judge. This is the highest 
rating a judicial nominee can receive.
  After being nominated on June 6, 2006, to serve as a U.S. district 
court judge in the Southern District of Mississippi, he received a 
hearing in the Judiciary Committee in the Senate and was unanimously 
reported with a favorable recommendation for confirmation.
  After two nominees for the Fifth Circuit from our State were turned 
down, Senator Lott and I recommended Judge Southwick for that court, 
and President Bush submitted his nomination to the Senate on January 9, 
  In an editorial published in June 2006, the Clarion Ledger of 
Jackson, MS, called Judge Southwick's nomination ``an outstanding 
  In an editorial published in June 2007, the Clarion Ledger stated 
that Judge Southwick had built a reputation based on ``professionalism, 
hard work, and integrity'' and that support of the nominee's home State 
Senators is an important indicator of broad consensus on the 
  This vacancy on the Fifth Circuit has now existed since 2004. This 
seat is considered a judicial emergency by the Federal judiciary, 
meaning the efficiency and efficacy of the court are negatively 
affected by this vacancy.
  I am confident Judge Southwick will serve with great distinction on 
this court, and he will reflect great credit on the Federal judiciary, 
if he is confirmed.
  I am proud of the recommendation Senator Lott and I have made to the 
Senate, and the Senate should confirm this nomination.
  I mentioned the support of community leaders in my earlier remarks. I 
have been handed by staff members of mine a number of letters that have 
been sent.
  Here is one, June 1, 2007, to Senator Leahy and Senator Specter. This 
is from the adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard, MG 
Harold Cross. He mentions his experiences with Judge Southwick in Iraq. 
He started with a story I had not heard until I read this letter 
earlier today:

       Lieutenant Colonel Southwick joined the Army Reserve in 
     1992--obtaining an age waiver to allow him to join; even 
     though he knew from the outset his age would necessarily 
     prohibit him from serving long enough to vest a military 
     pension. In 1997, then-Captain Southwick transferred into the 
     Mississippi National Guard.
       While Lieutenant Colonel Southwick was originally assigned 
     to what was then called State Area Command, in 2003, 
     Lieutenant Colonel Southwick volunteered to transfer into the 
     155th Separate Armor Brigade, a line combat unit. This was a 
     courageous move; as it was widely known at the time that the 
     155th was nearly certain to mobilize for overseas duty in the 
     near future.

  He then goes on to talk about the leadership, the military 
leadership, the assets and qualities that he brought to the 155th 
Brigade Combat Team on active duty near Najaf in Iraq.
  He served, as my remarks indicated, as staff judge advocate for the 
155th, and it was located at Forward Operating Base Kalsu.
  After his service in Iraq, Lieutenant Colonel Southwick transferred 
back to Joint Force Headquarters of the Mississippi National Guard. He 
makes this comment--General Cross does--in closing--

       While there are many core qualities critical to a 
     successful military officer, one attribute I have found 
     particularly important during my many years of service is 
     sound temperament. In that regard, Lieutenant Colonel 
     Southwick has both a considerate and measured personality. I 
     can tell you without hesitation that I have always found 
     Lieutenant Colonel Southwick to treat everyone with whom he 
     comes into contact with both kindness and respect.

  Another letter, this one from a young lawyer with Brunini, Grantham, 
Grower & Hewes, the firm where Leslie Southwick practiced law for a 
number of years. This letter is addressed to Senator Arlen Specter.

       Dear Senator Specter:
       I am an African-American partner at the law firm of 
     Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes, PLLC, where Judge 
     Southwick was once a member. I believe in fairness for all 
     people and salute our leaders for giving their lives to 
     assure that fairness. While I share the sentiments of other 
     African-Americans that the federal judiciary needs to be more 
     diverse, I believe that Judge Southwick is imminently 
     qualified for the United States Fifth Circuit Court of 
     Appeals and write in support of his nomination.
       I met Judge Southwick during my third year of law school 
     when I interned with the Court of Appeals of Mississippi. 
     That internship allowed me an opportunity to work with most 
     of the Judges on the bench at that time. I was most impressed 
     with Judge Southwick because of his work ethic and his serene 
     personality. When I finished law school in 1996, I believed 
     that my chances for landing a clerkship were slim because 
     there was only one African-American Court of Appeals judge on 
     the bench at the time and there were very few Caucasian 
     judges during the history of the Mississippi Supreme Court or 
     the Court of Appeals (which was fairly new) who had ever 
     hired African-American law clerks. In spite of the odds, I 
     applied for a clerkship. Judge Southwick granted me an 
     interview and hired me the same day. While Judge Southwick 
     had many applicants to choose from, he saw that I was 
     qualified for the position and granted me the opportunity.
       During my tenure as clerk with the Court, Judge Southwick 
     thought through every issue and took every case seriously. He 
     earned a reputation for his well thought out opinions and his 
     ability to produce the highest number of opinions in a term. 
     It did not matter the parties' affiliation, color, or 
     stature--what mattered was what the law said and Judge 
     Southwick worked very hard to apply it fairly. Judge 
     Southwick valued my opinions and included me in all of the 
     discussions of issues presented for decision. Having worked 
     closely with Judge Southwick, I have no doubt that he is 
     fair, impartial, and has all the other qualities necessary to 
     be an excellent addition to the United States Court of 
     Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
       In addition to serving our State, Judge Southwick has also 
     honorably served our country. During his mission to Iraq in 
     2005, Southwick found the time to write me often to let me 
     know about his experiences there. Upon his return to the 
     United States, Judge Southwick shared with others his 
     humbling experience serving our country. It is clear from his 
     writings and speaking that he served with pride and dignity.
       Over the years, Judge Southwick has earned the reputation 
     of being a person of high morals, dignity, and fairness. It 
     is unfortunate that there are some who have made him the 
     chosen sacrifice to promote agendas and have set out to taint 
     all that Judge Southwick has worked so hard to accomplish. I 
     am prayerful that those efforts will not preclude Judge 
     Southwick from serving as our next judge on the United States 
     Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
       Yours truly, Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes, A. L'Verne 

  Mr. President, there are a number of other letters. There are two 
from the School of Law, Mississippi College where Judge Southwick has 
been a member of the faculty. One is from the

[[Page S9564]]

dean of the law school. Another is from the associate dean, Phillip 
McIntosh. I was impressed with his strong feeling that comes through in 
this letter that I detected and interpreted.

       Judge Southwick is a man--

  And this is to Senator Specter and to Senator Leahy. He wrote each 
the same letter, dated June 4--

       Judge Southwick is a man of highest integrity, honor and 
     intellect. As a judge on the Mississippi Court of Appeals, he 
     scrupulously did his judicial duty in following the law in 
     his judicial opinions. I am greatly disappointed that some 
     have taken the opportunity to try to score political points 
     by characterizing Judge Southwick as intolerant or having 
     ``very fixed, right-wing world view,'' seeking to imply that 
     he would not be fair and impartial in applying the law. In my 
     personal and professional dealings with him, I can attest to 
     his fine character. I have not the slightest doubt regarding 
     his impartiality and commitment to fairness.
       As an example of the regard with which Judge Southwick is 
     held by the law faculty at Mississippi College, he was 
     offered a position as a visiting faculty member following his 
     resignation as a judge for the Mississippi Court of Appeals 
     and pending the approval of his nomination with the Fifth 
     Circuit. The suggestion to make this offer was made by one of 
     our faculty members and the recommendation was unanimously 
     approved by our faculty. We have a politically and racially 
     diverse faculty, but not one note of concern about Judge 
     Southwick's integrity, fairness, or impartiality was sounded. 
     His appointment to our faculty was strongly supported by all 
     of our faculty members. I might even mention that his 
     teaching partner for trial practice this past semester is an 
     African American attorney and former Mississippi Circuit 
     Court judge whom Judge Southwick personally recruited to 
     partner with him for the course.
       I hope that you will support the nomination of this 
     outstanding man to the Fifth Circuit. He is an exceptional 
     candidate and deserving of confirmation.

  There are other letters similar in tone. Here is one from--I couldn't 
help but notice--the University of Mississippi School of Law, the Law 
Center at the university where I graduated from law school, and it is 
written by John Bradley. It caught my attention because John Bradley 
was a law student when I was a law student. John Robin Bradley is what 
we called him then. He is now a professor of law at Ole Miss. He was 
one of the most liberal members of the faculty when he joined the 
faculty, and he has lived up to that tradition very proudly ever since.
  I have a very high regard for John Bradley. He was editor in chief of 
the Law Journal, and when I was a first-year student, I had the honor 
of being invited to go to a Law Journal conference at William and Mary 
with John Robin and then the next editor to be, and I kept thinking I 
had just been anointed and I would be in line to be editor in chief 
also. That wasn't to be, but let me just say this: I am not sure John 
Robin Bradley has ever voted for me. He probably hasn't because I am a 
Republican and he is a very serious-minded Democrat. But here is a 
letter he wrote to Pat Leahy--and he also gave a copy to Arlen 
Specter--about Leslie Southwick, judicial nominee, dated June 5, 2007:

       I write to comment to you and the Committee on the 
     Judiciary on the judicial and legal ability of Leslie 
     Southwick. I do so not in generalities but in the context 
     that I especially know about. It is my hope that this 
     specific information will give you insight into how he has 
     undertaken his role as a judge.
       My detailed knowledge of Leslie Southwick's work as a judge 
     on the Court of Appeals of Mississippi concerns the law of 
     workers' compensation and its important overlap with other 
     areas of law, principally tort law. For a number of years I 
     have taught and written about these topics. Consequently, I 
     pay extremely close attention to the court decisions. 
     Although based on statutes, this area of law has become 
     intricate and often complex, so much so that lawyers 
     specialize in the field in order to be effective.
       When Judge Southwick started as a first-time judge with the 
     newly-created Court of Appeals, he and some other judges had 
     little or no experience with this area of law. This showed up 
     in several opinions that I considered to contain incorrect 
     analyses. In articles that I wrote and in oral presentations 
     at law conferences, I often detailed the reasons that I 
     regarded some of the opinions as incorrect, including 
     several that Judge Southwick wrote or concurred in.
       My observation was that Judge Southwick recognized that he 
     and other judges needed to learn the intricacies and 
     complexities. He set about doing that. I saw him at all law 
     conferences at which I was a speaker, and I know he read and 
     often cited my publications. Sometimes he agreed and 
     sometimes he disagreed with my explanations, but the point 

  And this is in italics--

       But the point is that he challenged himself to learn about 
     a field of law in which he had no previous experience, topics 
     which came to his court frequently.
       His court heard appeals in all areas of law, and we expect 
     broad institutional competence. Lawyers do not come to the 
     bench with all-encompassing experience, but the good ones can 
     and will learn. This is no small task. Judge Southwick--

  And this again is in italics--

       Judge Southwick rose to the challenge by hard work, legal 
     ability, and dedication. I saw him struggle and I saw the 
     evidence of his learning about this field.
       This is what we hope for in our judges. Judge Southwick did 
     this and earned my respect for his legal and judicial 
     ability. My expectation is that he will continue on this path 
     as a judge.

  That is the end of the italics.

       In my view his achievement in this regard is a significant 
     indicator that he has what it takes to be a good judge, one 
     of those humans to whom we entrust our halls of justice.
       Sincerely yours, John R. Bradley, Professor

  This next letter is written in hand--handwritten--by Kay Cobb. Kay 
Cobb is the presiding justice of the Supreme Court of Mississippi. The 
letter is written to Senator Arlen Specter in reference to Judge Leslie 
H. Southwick.

       Dear Senator Specter.
       This letter is enthusiastically written to urge you and the 
     Committee to confirm Leslie H. Southwick to serve on the 
     Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. I've known him for many years 
     and I'm honored to give him my highest recommendation without 
     reservation. In every way he is worthy to serve.
       Judge Southwick's scholarship and character are stellar. 
     The opinions he wrote during his 10 years on the Mississippi 
     Court of Appeals reflect his thoroughness and fairness, as 
     well as the depth of his knowledge and the quality and 
     clarity of his reasoning and writing.
       In every respect of his legal career and life in general, 
     Leslie Southwick has excelled. He has a long and consistent 
     record as a devoted family man, a courageous military leader, 
     an accomplished author, and an excellent appellate judge. His 
     awareness and attention to promoting fairness and equality 
     with regard to race and gender are exemplary.
       Our country needs conscientious and independent judges of 
     impeccable integrity, and I cannot think of anyone--

  And she underlines ``anyone''--

     who is better qualified for this appointment.
       Sincerely, Kay B. Cobb, Presiding Justice, Supreme Court of 

  There are other letters. I am not going to prolong my remarks. This 
is one from the dean of the Law School where he is on the faculty, 
another from one of his former partners. This one may be a little 
different. John Henegan--here is another Democrat, I think. I hope he 
is not upset with me for publicly identifying him in that way. He is a 
bright guy, widely respected. I know him. He has written a letter that 
talks about:

       One area where we have not worked closely together--

  He is addressing Arlen Specter--

       One area where we have not worked closely together is in 
     the political arena.

  I was right.

       I am a life long member of the Democratic party at all 
     levels of the political spectrum; namely, local, county 
     State, and Federal, and I have previously served as the Chief 
     of Staff and Executive Assistant to the former governor of 
     Mississippi who is also a life long Democrat. Accordingly, 
     although I am not qualified to call myself what we 
     affectionately refer to around here as a ``yellow dog 
     democrat,'' because I have at least on a handful of occasions 
     voted for a Republican candidate for public office, it is 
     very fair to say that I have never been a supporter of the 
     Republican Party or many of its policies, positions, or for 
     that matter certain Federal judicial nominees submitted to 
     the United States Senate in the past.
       In this context, I have been reading what has been said and 
     written about the qualifications of Leslie for this current 
     post, including an editorial in yesterday's New York Times, 
     and I cannot disagree more strongly with the personal attacks 
     that are being made against his character, integrity, or 
     fitness for office, or about his commitment to civil rights 
     for all people, regardless of their race, color, sex, creed, 
     religion, or national origin. It is an abomination that he 
     should have to experience these unfair and unjust personal 
     attacks, because they are quite simply untrue and cannot be 
     made by anyone who has had the opportunity to meet, work, or 
     be around Leslie for even an abbreviated period of time.
       In his many years of public service at the State and 
     Federal level, Leslie has served his State and his Nation 
     with honor and distinction at sacrifice to his personal gain. 
     I candidly can think of no one whom I would trust more to 
     carry out the oath of office that he will be required to take 
     and to uphold the

[[Page S9565]]

     laws of and Constitution of the United States if he is 
     confirmed by the United States Senate.
       I respectfully urge you to confirm his nomination. 
     Respectfully Submitted, John C. Henegan.

  I am not going to read all of the letters, Madam President. I know 
others may want to speak on the legislation that is pending before the 
  This one is from a fellow member of the Mississippi Army National 
Guard. They were deployed together in Iraq recently and his observation 
is that ``he shouldered a heavy load of regular JAG duties, which he 
performed excellently.'' He talked about Southwick being a kind and 
courageous man, being in a combat zone with him, and how it was 
stressful and challenging. He said:

       Leslie always listened to these Iraqi claimants patiently 
     and treated them with the utmost respect and kindness. He did 
     this not just out of a sense of duty but because he is a 
     genuinely good and caring person.

  This is from Norman Gene Hortman, Jr. He is from Laurel, MS, a lawyer 
with his own law firm there, a very respected person in our State.
  There are other letters. I thought you might be interested in this 
one. It is from Jose Cantu. He is writing Chairman Leahy. This is a 
copy of his letter:

       Dear Chairman Leahy.
       I read recently in the Houston Chronicle about the 
     nomination of Judge Leslie Southwick to the United States 
     Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The article was 
     questioning his character in light of a case in a Mississippi 
     appellate court involving a racial incident where a ruling 
     was in favor of a white plaintiff. Since I grew up with Judge 
     Southwick in Edinburg, Texas, located in the Rio Grande 
     Valley, I was shocked to read about the opposition to his 
     nomination on this basis. I was a classmate of Judge 
     Southwick in high school and knew him very well. I always 
     found him to be extremely polite and absolutely fair with 
     everyone. What the paper and the political activist 
     referenced in the article imply is that Judge Southwick is a 
     racist because of the ruling on the Court. This is absolutely 
     ridiculous and totally unfair. The Valley has a large 
     Hispanic population, and Leslie never showed the type of 
     discriminatory attitudes that are implied in the article. To 
     the contrary, I remember him as treating everyone fairly and 
     with respect.
       What was equally disturbing in the Chronicle article was 
     LULAC's opposition to the nomination. Being a Hispanic 
     American, my immediate and extended family want to voice our 
     strong disagreement with LULAC on this issue. Since this 
     organization is portrayed by the media to speak for all 
     Hispanics, I want your office to know that it does not. My 
     family and I wholeheartedly support the nomination of Judge 
     Southwick. It is apparent from the article that LULAC has no 
     first-hand knowledge of Judge Southwick's character or 
     integrity, but merely wanted to jump on the bandwagon and 
     oppose this nomination because it was submitted by President 
     Bush. Growing up in the Valley, both my family and I have 
     been lifelong Democrats. Now I live in Houston and am 
     beginning to believe that politically motivated actions, like 
     opposition to the nomination of this fine individual and 
     jurist, will force many of us to seek the Republican Party as 
     a viable alternative. I respectfully request that you support 
     the nomination of Judge Southwick and confirm his appointment 
     for the Court of Appeals.
       Sincerely, Jose Alberto Cantu, CPA, PrimeWay Federal Credit 

  Here is someone I noticed because she has been an active Democrat all 
her adult life, a good friend of mine, Kathryn H. Hester, a shareholder 
in the Jackson, MS, law firm of Watkins Ludlam Winter & Stennis. You 
have heard of Winter and Stennis. You may have heard of Watkins and 
Ludlam. They are both deceased. It reads:

       Re: Nomination of Leslie Southwick for the United States 
     Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
       Dear Chairman Leahy.
       I write in support of my colleague Leslie Southwick's 
     nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the 
     Fifth Circuit. You will have before you Leslie's resume. It 
     is outstanding, and it reflects both a sense of duty and an 
     intelligence appropriate for service as an appellate judge.
       Judge Southwick succeeded me as President of the Charles 
     Clark Inn of Court--named for the former Chief Judge for the 
     Fifth Circuit for whom Leslie clerked after law school. 
     Leslie was selected to that position by trial and defense 
     lawyers of the utmost professional skill and integrity.
       Leslie is diligent in performing his obligations, he is 
     smart, he has integrity, and he is temperate in his actions 
     and decisions. Leslie is passionate about love of country, 
     his alma mater's baseball team (Rice), and his adopted State, 
       If a man of intelligence, temperance and integrity, who has 
     served his country, his State, and his profession honorably 
     and with dignity, is not qualified to be on the court of 
     appeals, then the process is faulty. The legal profession and 
     the parties who will depend on his intelligence and his 
     integrity deserve to have a person of his caliber on the 
       Thank you for your consideration.
       Sincerely yours,
       Kathryn H. Hester,

  Madam President, I think I have read enough letters. I didn't mean to 
read as many as I did. But I hope that Senators will see from these 
letters they are not form letters organized by any political party or 
any special interest group. These are letters that were written because 
people care about and know about Leslie Southwick and are convinced he 
is being treated unfairly by the Senate if he is not confirmed.
  I know the Judiciary Committee has had a hearing. I was pleased to 
introduce Leslie Southwick at that time, with my colleague Senator 
Lott. It never occurred to me at any moment that there would be any 
question raised about his integrity, his sense of fairness, his 
qualifications, or his fitness to serve as a U.S. Court of Appeals 
judge during the consideration by the Senate of this nomination. The 
fact that I feel obliged to be here on the floor, after I had made my 
comments about how I thought he was a good choice to serve on the 
court, is probably superfluous. I apologize if anybody is bored by 
these remarks. But I hope you can sense the sincerity and seriousness 
of purpose of those who have written and the high quality of the people 
who authored these letters.

  To me, it is a dark and sad day in the Senate if one of its 
committees, the Judiciary Committee, is considering recommending that 
Judge Southwick not be confirmed for service on the U.S. Court of 
Appeals. It is unthinkable. But from information I have gotten from 
those who talked to all of the members of the committee on the 
Democratic side, that might happen. I don't know when a meeting is 
scheduled or when that is going to occur, but I hope there is an 
opportunity for reflection and careful consideration of action before 
that meeting does occur. I served my first 2 years in the Senate on the 
Judiciary Committee. I succeeded Jim Eastland, who had been chairman of 
the committee, when he retired from the Senate. That was in the Carter 
administration, and we had a lot of hot-button issues come before the 
committee. It was an interesting challenge to be on the committee 
during such a period of national transition. Alan Simpson and I were 
two junior Republicans on the committee that year.
  I guess the point is, I listened to presentations made before the 
committee for judicial nominees. I was observing and we were living 
through the transition in the South--the integration of organizations, 
of schools, of churches, on and on. It was a very challenging time in 
the history of our country. Ted Kennedy had just become chairman of the 
Judiciary Committee. It was a pleasure to serve and get to know all the 
people on the committee at the time. But I also remember thinking 
somewhere along after about 6 months of experience on the committee 
that maybe the best thing I could do for my career in the Senate was 
get the heck off the Judiciary Committee and get on something a little 
more attractive from a political standpoint. So as it happened, it 
worked out that 2 years later I was able to move to the Appropriations 
Committee. I gave up that seat on the Judiciary Committee to do so. I 
have always felt a special kinship for the members of that committee, 
knowing about the workload, the volume of information that has to be 
processed by the members to stay up to date with the legislation that 
is referred to the Judiciary Committee. So I have an appreciation for 
the challenges that are faced and particularly on a nomination that 
comes along that is not from your State, not from your area of the 
country. You take a look at what the facts are, make a decision, and 
move along.
  Well, I hope the Judiciary Committee will take another look at this 
nomination and look at what has been said about the nominee and his 
qualifications, and look at his entire career, which has been one that 
has reflected good judgment, a concern for his fellow citizens, whether 
they are Black, White, or Hispanic, or whether they are Democrats or 
Republicans. He is the ideal choice for this kind of job. And to 
absolutely contrive reasons to persuade others to vote against the 
nominee creates a bad feeling and a sense of unfairness that is 
pervading the body.

[[Page S9566]]

  Madam President, I have said enough.
  I ask unanimous consent that the letters I did read from be printed 
in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

         State of Mississippi, Military Department, Office of the 
           Adjutant General, Jackson, MS, June 1, 2007.
     Hon. Patrick J. Leahy,
     Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary,
     U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
     Hon. Arlen Specter,
     Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 
         Washington, DC.
       Dear Senators: I am writing you concerning Leslie H. 
     Southwick, who serves under my command as a Lieutenant 
     Colonel in the Mississippi National Guard. During my tenure 
     as Adjutant General, I have had the pleasure coming to know 
     LTC Southwick personally.
       LTC Southwick joined the Army Reserve in 1992--obtaining an 
     age waiver to allow him to join; even though he knew from the 
     outset his age would necessarily prohibit him from serving 
     long enough to vest a military pension. In 1997, then-Captain 
     Southwick transferred into the Mississippi National Guard.
       While LTC Southwick was originally assigned to what was 
     then called State Area Command, in 2003, Southwick 
     volunteered to transfer into the 155th Separate Armor 
     Brigade, a line combat unit. This was a courageous move; as 
     it was widely known at the time that the 155th was nearly 
     certain to mobilize for overseas duty in the near future.
       In fact, in August 2004, the 155th mobilized for duty in 
     support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, as the 155th Brigade 
     Combat Team. From August 2004 to January 2006, LTC Southwick 
     served on active duty, distinguishing himself as Deputy Staff 
     Advocate at Forward Operating Base Duke near Najaf--and later 
     as Staff Judge Advocate for the 155th, located at Forward 
     Operating Base Kalsu. After his service in Iraq, LTC 
     Southwick transferred back to Joint Force Headquarters, 
     Mississippi National Guard.
       Both before and after his service in Operation Iraq 
     Freedom, LTC Southwick has worked directly with me on 
     numerous matters of significance to the Guard. I have always 
     found his counsel sound, his bearing exemplary, his judgment 
     exceptional and his character beyond reproach.
       While there are many core qualities critical to a 
     successful military officer, one attribute I have found 
     particularly important during my many years of service is 
     sound temperament. In that regard, LTC Southwick has both a 
     considerate and measured personality. I can tell you without 
     hesitation that I have always found LTC Southwick to treat 
     everyone with whom he comes into contact with both kindness 
     and respect.
       I hope you find this information useful, as you consider 
     matters coming before your Committee. Thank you for 
     permitting me the opportunity to correspond with you 
     concerning LTC Southwick.
                                                  Harold A. Cross,
     Major General.

                                          Mississippi College,

                                        Jackson, MS, June 4, 2007.
     Re The Honorable Leslie Southwick.

     Hon. Arlen Specter,
     Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 
         Washington, DC.
       Dear Senator Leahy: I am writing to you to express my 
     strong support for the nomination of Leslie Southwick to the 
     Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. I have known Judge Southwick 
     for several years while he has been an adjunct professor and 
     visiting professor at Mississippi College School of Law. As 
     Associate Dean, Hiring of adjuncts comes under my 
     responsibilities for the law school. We have been honored to 
     have him on our faculty and look forward to a long and 
     beneficial relationship with him. Our students likewise hold 
     judge Southwick in highest regard.
       Judge Southwick is a man of highest integrity, honor and 
     intellect. As a judge on the Mississippi Court of Appeals he 
     scrupulously did his judicial duty in following the law in 
     his judicial opinions. I am greatly disappointed that some 
     have taken the opportunity to try to score political points 
     by characterizing Judge Southwick as intolerant or having 
     ``very fixed, right-wing world view,'' seeking to imply that 
     he would not be fair and impartial in applying the law. In my 
     personal and professional dealings with him, I can attest to 
     his fine character. I have not the slightest doubt regarding 
     his impartiality and commitment to fairness.
       Judge Southwick would make an outstanding judge for the 
     Fifth Circuit. I know that the will uphold the law and apply 
     it regardless of his personal view on a particular subject. 
     He is a very thoughtful man, a true scholar. I also know that 
     he is not racist and does not hold racist views. Such an 
     allegation is ludicrous, insulting, and without foundation.
       As an example of the regard with which Judge Southwick is 
     held by the law faculty at Mississippi College, he was 
     offered a position as a visiting faculty member following his 
     resignation as a judge for the Mississippi Court of Appeals 
     and pending the approval of his nomination to the Fifth 
     Circuit. The suggestion to make this offer was made by one of 
     our faculty members, and the recommendation was unanimously 
     approved by our faculty.
       We have a politically and racially diverse faculty, but not 
     one note of concern about Judge Southwick's integrity, 
     fairness, or impartiality was sounded. His appointment to our 
     faculty was strongly supported by all of our faculty members. 
     I might even mention that his teaching partner for Trial 
     Practice this pass semester is an African American attorney 
     and former Mississippi Circuit Court Judge, and whom Judge 
     Southwick personally recruited to partner with him for the 
       I hope that you will support the nomination of this 
     outstanding man to the Fifth Circuit. He is an exceptional 
     candidate and deserving of confirmation.
                                              Phillip L. McIntosh,
     Associate Dean and Professional of Law.

                                                 Butler, Snow,

                                        Jackson, MS, June 6, 2007.
     Re Nomination of Leslie Southwick to the United States Court 
         of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

     Hon. Arlen Specter,
     Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 
         Washington, DC.
       Dear Senator Specter: This is written in support of the 
     nomination of Honorable Leslie Southwick as a Circuit Judge 
     on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. 
     I have known Leslie for over 30 years, since August of 1976, 
     when he and I served as law clerks to the Honorable Charles 
     Clark, then Circuit Judge on the Fifth Circuit. I have worked 
     with him professionally both in that capacity and in 
     connection with local area bar association activities and 
     have also appeared before the Mississippi Court of Appeals 
     while he served as an appellate judge there and followed and 
     read not only many of his judicial opinions but his scholarly 
     legal articles as well. He and I corresponded several times 
     while he served his country in the current war in Iraq.
       One area where we have not worked closely together is in 
     the political arena. I am a life long member of the 
     Democratic party at all levels of the political spectrum, 
     namely, local, county, state, and federal, and I have 
     previously served as the Chief of Staff and Executive 
     Assistant to a former Governor of Mississippi who is also a 
     life long Democrat. Accordingly, although I am not qualified 
     to call myself what we affectionately refer to here as a 
     ``yellow dog democrat'' (because I have on at least a handful 
     of occasions voted for a Republican candidate for public 
     office), it is very fair to say that I have never been a 
     supporter of the Republican party or many of its policies, 
     positions, or, for that matter, certain Federal judicial 
     nominees submitted to the United States Senate in the past.
       In this context, I have been reading what has been said and 
     written about the qualifications of Leslie for this current 
     post, including the editorial in yesterday's New York Times, 
     and I can not disagree more strongly with the personal 
     attacks that are being made against his character, integrity, 
     or fitness for office, or about his commitment to civil 
     rights for all people regardless of their race, color, sex, 
     creed, religion, or national origin. It is an abomination 
     that he should have to experience these unfair and unjust 
     personal attacks because they are quite simply untrue and 
     cannot be made by anyone who has had the opportunity to meet, 
     work, or be around Leslie for even an abbreviated period of 
       In his many years of public service at the State and 
     Federal level, Leslie has served his State and his Nation 
     with honor and distinction at sacrifice to his personal gain. 
     I candidly can think of no one whom I would trust more to 
     carry out the oath of office that he will be required to take 
     and to uphold the laws and Constitution of the United States 
     if he is confirmed by the United States Senate. I 
     respectfully urge you to confirm his nomination.
       Thank you for considering my views and opinions in this 
     matter and for your service to our Nation.
           Respectfully submitted,
     John C. Henegan.

         Hortman Harlow Martindale Bassi Robinson & McDaniel, 
           PLLC, Attorneys at Law,
                                         Laurel, MS, June 6, 2007.
     Re Nomination of Judge Leslie Southwick to the United States 
         Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
     Hon. Patrick J. Leahy,
     Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 
         Washington, DC.
     Hon. Arlen Specter,
     Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 
         Washington, DC.
       Dear Senators Leahy and Specter: Thank you for the 
     opportunity to offer my opinion regarding the nomination of 
     Judge Leslie Southwick to the United States Fifth Circuit 
     Court of Appeals.
       I am a practicing attorney in a small law firm in Laurel, 
     Mississippi. I am also a Lt. Col. in the Mississippi Army 
     National Guard. I have known Leslie Southwick by reputation 
     as a practicing attorney and appellate judge and personally 
     for almost ten (10) years as a fellow officer in the National 
     Guard. Leslie Southwick and I also served together in Iraq in 
     2005 with the 155th Brigade Combat Team of the Mississippi 
     Army National Guard. Therefore, I feel that I am qualified to 
     express an opinion about Leslie Southwick's suitability for 
     the Fifth Circuit.

[[Page S9567]]

       Leslie Southwick is a superb nominee. He is brilliant, 
     able, dedicated to the profession, experienced as a lawyer, 
     judge, military officer, husband and father, well respected 
     among his peers, thoughtful, fair, hard working, honest, good 
     humored, and patient. In my opinion, he is the finest person 
     you could nominate for the position.
       Leslie Southwick is also a kind and courageous man. As you 
     know, service in a combat zone is stressful and challenging, 
     often times bringing out the best or worst in a person. 
     Leslie Southwick endured mortar and rocket attacks, travel 
     through areas plagued with IEDs, extremes in temperature, 
     harsh living conditions, sometimes bad chow, seeing the same 
     ugly mugs everyday--the typical stuff of Iraq. He shouldered 
     a heavy load of regular JAG Officer duties which he performed 
     excellently. He also took on the task of handling the claims 
     of the numerous Iraqi civilians who had been injured or had 
     property losses due to accidents involving the U.S. Military 
     in our area of operations. This involved long days of 
     interviewing Iraqi civilian claimants, many of whom were 
     children, widows and elderly people to determine whether the 
     U.S. Military could pay their claims. Leslie always listened 
     to these Iraqi claimants patiently and treated them with the 
     utmost respect and kindness. He did this not just out of a 
     sense of duty but because he is a genuinely good and caring 
     person. His attitude left a very positive impression on all 
     those that Leslie came in contact with, especially, the Iraqi 
     civilians he helped. This in turn helped ease tensions in our 
     unit's area of operations while it was in Iraq and, 
     ultimately, saved American lives. And, throughout his 
     service, he was always cheerful and encouraging. Adversity 
     and challenge bring out the best in him.
       He has the right stuff for the job--profound intelligence, 
     good judgment, broad experience, and an unblemished 
     reputation. I know him and can say these things without 
     reservation. Anyone who says otherwise simply does not know 
       I understand that the Committee's vote on Leslie 
     Southwick's nomination is to take place tomorrow and that I 
     need to get this letter in to you without delay. Therefore, I 
     will conclude by saying that Leslie Southwick would make an 
     excellent judge for the United States Fifth Circuit and that 
     all of your Committee members would look back with pride that 
     they had the wisdom and good judgment to approve his 
       You may call me if you have any questions.
                                          Norman Gene Hortman, Jr.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Klobuchar). The Senator from Colorado is 
  Mr. SALAZAR. Madam President, I thank my good friend, the 
distinguished Senator Robert Byrd, for allowing me to go first to make 
a few comments about the importance of education and the bill we are 
considering on the floor today, the Higher Education Access Act of 
  First, when we talk about education, it ought not to be lost on any 
Member of the Chamber that educational opportunity is the keystone to 
success for all of us in America. In my own personal story, my parents 
never had an opportunity to go to college or to get a college degree. 
And in my family, though we were poor and we grew up without a lot of 
material wealth, they were rich in spirit and believed in the 
fundamental values that have made America great. They believed in hard 
work and in faith. They believed the community was there for an 
important reason. They understood, without a doubt, that education was 
in fact the keystone to success.
  I often remember sitting there at the ranch in southern Colorado, 
almost 300 miles south of Denver, with a kerosene lamp on the table and 
the eight siblings around the table and my father and mother making 
sure we were doing our homework. My father would say to all of us: I 
cannot leave you large ranches or riches, but the one thing I can make 
sure I give to you is an education. It is perhaps because of his 
teachings and his understanding of the promise of America that all 
eight of his and my mother's children became part of the American 
dream. All eight became first-generation college graduates, and today I 
stand on the floor of the Senate as a Senator. I have a brother, 
Congressman Salazar, who is in the House of Representatives, also 
serving our great Nation and serving the State of Colorado.

  As I think about those educational achievements we have had, it would 
not have happened were it not for the promise of America, the programs 
that have been created by so many people who came before me.
  I was on the floor earlier serving as Presiding Officer when Senator 
Whitehouse of Rhode Island spoke about Claiborne Pell. It is true that 
I was in Rhode Island not so long ago at an event when Senator 
Claiborne Pell arrived at this event. He was wheeled to the tent, in 
fact, in a wheelchair. Someone whispered to me that the person who just 
arrived on the scene was none other than Claiborne Pell. It was for the 
first time that I connected the dots. I remember going through college 
and receiving Pell grants that allowed me the opportunity to go to 
college. But I never knew that the term ``Pell'' was somehow associated 
with someone who actually sat two desks to my left here at one point in 
time. That is the great Senator Claiborne Pell from the State of Rhode 
Island who came up with the idea that the promise of America was 
somehow embedded in the opportunity to receive a good education.
  He believed, as many of us here believe, that economic barriers 
should not be the reason why someone does not advance in higher 
education. Everyone who wants to go into higher education should have 
that opportunity to do so. Yet, somehow today when we look at the 
reality of America, the fact is the educational opportunity that was 
there for me and hundreds of thousands of my generation is being slowly 
taken away from our American youngsters. We have been headed in the 
wrong direction, and it is for that reason that this legislation, which 
Senator Kennedy, Senator Enzi, and the members of the HELP Committee, 
with a vote of 17 to 3, was brought to the floor of the Senate today.
  I am proud to be a supporter, a strong supporter, of this legislation 
because it will keep hope alive in America with the American dream that 
results from the education that is provided to the people of our great 
  When we look at what is happening today in terms of educational 
opportunities for Americans, it is getting harder and harder for our 
young people to access higher education. Madam President, 400,000 
talented, qualified students each year--that is 400,000--decide they 
cannot go on to higher education because of economic barriers--400,000 
talented young Americans, successful young Americans who should have an 
opportunity to go on to higher education.
  That is what this bill is all about. This bill is about tearing down 
those barriers so that these young people, these 400,000 talented young 
people have an opportunity to be a part of the American dream.
  When one looks at what has been happening over the last several years 
as we have invested and continue to invest in education, the fact is we 
have not invested enough. The fact is, when we look at the statistics, 
while we have invested in educational opportunities and access to 
higher education, the investment has been a flat investment. So by the 
time we take into account general inflation and particularly the high 
rate of inflation in higher education, we have been on a roadway that 
has been disinvesting in opportunities for the young people of America.
  If we look at the white lines on this chart, what they show is what 
the maximum Pell grant has been from 2001 to 2007. We essentially see a 
flat line across right at about $4,000.
  During that same time period, we see what has happened with respect 
to the cost of education. We have gone from a point of a little over 
$8,000 to an average of over $13,000. The gap has increased. We had a 
gap of $5,282 in 2001, and today the gap is $8,700. What has happened 
in the last 5 years, as a good friend of mine from the University of 
Michigan calls it, is the disinvestment in America's future. What we 
are doing is taking away opportunities for the young people of America. 
The bill before us today rights that wrong and puts us in the right 
direction to investing in the education of our young people.
  This legislation is important because it raises the maximum Pell 
grant to $5,100 next year. It is about time. It is about time we do 
that. We have waited far too long to increase Pell grants for young 
  Secondly, it provides loan forgiveness for those borrowers who serve 
in areas of national interest--those values of early childhood 
education, librarians, highly qualified teachers, speech language 
pathologists, and others. It makes sure we provide loan forgiveness for 
those people who decide to take jobs to serve others.
  In addition, the program creates a forgiveness of a balance due on 

[[Page S9568]]

loans by borrowers who have been public sector employees for 10 years 
and who have made 120 income-contingent payments on their loans.
  The legislation also makes Federal loan payments by student borrowers 
contingent by capping payments of 15 percent of an individual's income 
and allowing those borrowers to have their loans forgiven after 20 
years of payments.
  This is an important issue, particularly when we see how much debt is 
being put on the saddles of young Americans as they are graduating from 
college and graduate schools. There are a number of other provisions in 
this legislation that are very important.
  Finally, with respect to my own State of Colorado, I want my own 
State, as every Senator here, to make sure we are providing a maximum 
opportunity for young people, and these programs I mentioned will do 
that. For the State of Colorado, this means we will have $320 million 
more in student aid over the next 5 years.
  I am proud of this legislation. I am proud of my colleagues, both 
Democrats and Republicans, on the HELP Committee who have brought this 
legislation forward. I urge my colleagues to support it wholeheartedly 
as part of making sure that the American dream we live today is a dream 
that this generation and other generations behind it will be able to 
  Madam President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia is recognized.

                              dog fighting

  Mr. BYRD. Madam President, for several days--for several days--the 
news has been saturated with stories about the indictment of a well-
known professional football player for running a dog-fighting 
operation. I am not going to comment on that particular case. The man 
has been accused. He has not been convicted. We must wait until all the 
facts are in and a verdict is rendered. The man cited in these recent 
news stories is innocent until proven guilty, and Lord help him if he 
is proven to be guilty in a court of law. We must wait for the justice 
system to run its course. But the facts are already in, and the verdict 
has already been delivered.
  What is it about? What is it about, Madam President? It is about the 
scourge of dog fighting in the United States--dog fighting in the 
United States. According to the Humane Society, there are about 40,000 
dog-fighting operations in the United States. The deputy manager of 
dog-fighting issues for the Humane Society, John Goodman, points out, 
``. . . dog fighting is at an epidemic level'' in the United States. It 
involves urban areas as well as rural areas. It involves all sections 
of the country. It cuts across cultures and class and other socio and 
economic differences.
  Dog fighting continues even though all 50 States have laws on the 
books prohibiting dog fighting. Dog fighting is a Federal crime. Let me 
say that again. Dog fighting is a Federal crime, and yet animal welfare 
officials report that dog fighting is more popular today than ever. 
Shame, shame, shame.
  Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars have all been at 
stake in the breeding, the training, and the selling of fighting dogs. 
How inhuman, how dastardly.
  Two dogs are placed in a pit and turned loose--turned loose--against 
each other. How inhuman, how cannibalistic, how sadistic. Let me read 
that again.
  Two dogs--God created the dog to be man's companion--two dogs are 
placed in a pit--think of that--placed in a pit and turned loose 
against each other. And get this: the fight can go on for hours. The 
fight can go on for hours. Do you hear me? The fight can go on for 
hours. The poor dogs literally bite and rip the flesh off one another, 
and bets as high as $50,000 are placed. The brutality goes on until one 
of the poor dogs is seriously injured or killed. So the poor dog died--
died. The dog died. And for that reason, dog fighting is regarded as a 
blood sport. A blood sport. While bloody, Madam President, it is hardly 
a sport. Hardly a sport.

  It is a brutal, sadistic event motivated by barbarism of the worst 
sort and cruelty of the worst sadistic kind. One is left wondering: who 
are the real animals--the creatures inside the ring or the creatures 
outside the ring?
  The depravity of dog fighting is a multimillion-dollar business that 
involves training innocent, vulnerable creatures to kill--to kill--and 
putting them in a ring to be killed or to kill for the entertainment 
and/or the profit of their owners and other spectators.
  I have seen one individual in my lifetime electrocuted in the 
electric chair--in my time. It is not a beautiful spectacle. So I can 
say I could witness another one if it involves this cruel, sadistic, 
cannibalistic business of training innocent and vulnerable creatures to 
  Undercover investigators who have infiltrated the dog-fighting ring 
have found blood-soaked dogs with life-threatening injuries that are 
left to die as soon as they are no longer able to compete. Undercover 
investigators have found dogs with ripped ears, torn lips, genitals 
dangling from their bodies, eyes swollen shut, and faces riddled with 
punctures so severe that they were barely able to breathe. How inhuman, 
how inhuman, how sadistic.
  Dogs that survive a fight often die days or even hours after the 
fight from blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion, or infection. 
What a shame. What a shame.
  If the losing dog survives the ordeal--get this--it is usually so 
mangled that it is no longer of any use and, therefore, it is put to 
death--put to death.
  I have seen a human being put to death for killing another human 
being, but why a poor dog--a poor dog? If the losing dog survived the 
ordeal it is usually so mangled that it is no longer of any use. How 
sad, sad, sad. It is put to death. Even the winner of a dog fight 
commonly suffers from massive bleeding, ruptured lungs, broken bones, 
or other life-threatening injuries.
  The training of these poor creatures--weigh those words--the training 
of these poor creatures to turn them into fighting machines is simply 
barbaric--barbaric. Let that word resound from hill to hill and from 
mountain to mountain, from valley to valley across this broad land--
barbaric. May God help those poor souls who would be so cruel. 
Barbaric. Hear me. Barbaric. Such practices as starvation of the poor 
animal to encourage malice, and beatings to build endurance are common. 
It involves teaching the dog to maul by using smaller animals, such as 
cats or rabbits or small dogs as training bait.
  The result of this most cruel business reaches beyond the fighting 
ring itself. There are cases of dogs trained to kill that have broken 
loose and mauled human beings to death. It is reported that dog 
fighters often involve their children in their bloody activities, with 
severe damaging psychological impact. What a sin. What a sin. Studies 
have revealed that children exposed to dog fighting develop a greater 
acceptance of aggressive attitudes and behavior. They are taught to 
believe that violence--violence--is entertaining, and that it is OK to 
inflict the cruelties they have observed. Dog fighting, reports the 
Houston Chronicle, simply breeds violence.
  Madam President, as a dog owner and a dog lover, I cannot even begin 
to understand how human beings can be so cruel to man's best friend. 
Over the centuries of time, these creatures of God have made a place in 
our hearts as well as in our homes. Dogs have endured as our devoted 
companions. They provide important emotional support to humans so that 
the mere petting of these social creatures can lower blood pressure in 
humans. Get that, Madam President? The mere petting of these social 
creatures can lower blood pressure in humans. The affection that a dog 
provides is unlimited, unqualified, and unconditional. Ever the loyal 
companion, dogs protect us, assist those of us with afflictions, and 
provide hours of enjoyable companionship. Therefore, I take great 
satisfaction in knowing that if the people allegedly involved in this 
outrageous business are found guilty, they will have to answer to our 
judicial system--and may God help their souls. Congress has made it a 
Federal crime to engage in dog fighting.

  God, the one, eternal, everlasting God, made man caretaker of the 
Earth. God gave man the responsibility of tending to the natural world 
with dominion over animal life. We honor God when we treat all of his 
creatures responsibly and with decency and with respect.
  The Book of Proverbs in the Holy Bible, King James Bible, tells us:

[[Page S9569]]

       A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast, but the 
     tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

  The immortal Dante tells us that Divine justice reserves special 
places in hell for certain categories of sinners. I am confident that 
the hottest places in hell are reserved for the souls of sick and 
brutal people who hold God's creatures in such brutal and cruel 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania is recognized.
  Mr. CASEY. Madam President, I ask to be recognized as in morning 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. CASEY. Madam President, I am honored to follow Senator Byrd to 
the floor. Today, as on so many other days in the Senate, we are 
reminded why he is not only our distinguished colleague from West 
Virginia, but why he is so revered. We thank him for what he talked 
about today.
  Mr. BYRD. I thank the Senator.

             Global Warming and Climate Change Legislation

  Mr. CASEY. Madam President, I rise today to talk about one of the 
most important issues facing our country, our world, and our children. 
The issue is global warming due to climate change. I know the Presiding 
Officer has a strong interest in this issue. We talked about it, and 
she has with many of her constituents in Minnesota and beyond. I 
appreciate that commitment.
  The problem, as you know, is so serious that it could physically and 
irrevocably change the world in which we live. I think we are 
confronted today with a moral duty to preserve the environment, not 
just so we can have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink, but 
because this world that we live in is in our care for our children and 
our children's children--God's creation itself.
  In the State of Pennsylvania we have always held the environment in 
high regard. In our State, as in many States, we put it right in our 
constitution. Article I, section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution 
reads as follows:

       The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to 
     the preservation of the natural scenic, historic, and 
     esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania's public 
     natural resources are the common property of all the people, 
     including generations yet to come. As trustee of these 
     resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them 
     for the benefit of all the people.

  That is what our State constitution says. As a public official from 
that State, albeit in a Federal capacity, I feel an abiding obligation 
to give meaning to that constitutional directive through my work in the 
Senate. For all these reasons I firmly believe we must take action to 
slow, stop, and reverse our greenhouse gas emissions. The United States 
must stand up as a leader in the international arena to stop global 
  I am not a scientist, and I do not claim to be an expert on 
scientific theories. But I do know something about some of the 
literature that has been written the last couple of years. One thing I 
remember in particular, and this had a profound impact on me, is a very 
simple statement, but it tells what we are dealing with here.
  I remember reading back in 2005 that the percent of the Earth's 
surface which has been subjected to drought has doubled since about 
1970. So in just about 35 years the percent of the Earth that had 
drought has doubled. That alone should tell us what the stakes are. We 
know what drought leads to. It leads to poverty and hunger and 
starvation and death and darkness.
  We know it from our recent history, the catastrophic storms and 
flooding, Katrina being an example of that; changes in habitat that 
threaten species and the potential of a mini ice age in northern Europe 
if melting ice sheets disrupt ocean currents; major ecological changes 
translating into major sociopolitical changes. We know various 
committees in this Senate--the Foreign Relations Committee being one--
are dealing with this issue as well, focusing on the implications of 
global warming to national security and the military readiness of our 
  There are so many examples. Even in Darfur, a terrible horror that we 
see unfolding every day--part of that was caused by changes in our 
environment. Drought caused people to move into new areas, causing 
  Consider the implications of widespread global drought, storms, 
coastal flooding, and crop failures among others.
  Inflicting this future on the children of the world and the children 
of America is unimaginable, and I think unforgivable. Yet that is 
exactly what we are doing if we do not take action, the action we must 
take. The evidence of human-caused climate change is overwhelming. 
Global warming exists, and human activities are a major factor.
  The evidence--rising average temperatures, melting glaciers, shifts 
in migratory bird patterns--is telling us something. It is telling us 
that we are failing in our duties as stewards of God's creation.
  What shall we do about it? It is a question I have asked and so many 
others have asked over the course of many months in this Senate and 
many years. I spent, as did a lot of my colleagues, many hours talking 
with what we might call stakeholders. People in the manufacturing 
field, people who might own businesses, labor unions, 
environmentalists, scientists--all the way down the list of people and 
groups that have an interest. They are all determined that a national 
climate change program that we develop to combat it must accomplish a 
number of basic goals.
  I will read quickly through about 10 of them:

       Making mandatory greenhouse gas reductions.

  The operative word there being ``mandatory,'' not voluntary.

       No. 2. Reduce greenhouse gases at rates and levels 
     identified by international scientists at 80 percent by 2050.
       No. 3. Take immediate actions to reduce emissions in the 
     short term.
       No. 4. Reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions.
       No. 5. Use a market-based approach to reduce emissions 
     while providing some stability in the market, specially in 
     the early years.
       No. 6. Balance regional differences in the sources of 
     greenhouse gases and the solutions.
       No. 7. Position the United States as a global leader on 
     climate change while bringing developing countries like 
     China, India, and Mexico to the table.
       No. 8. Hold States accountable for their own carbon 
       No. 9. Make major Federal investments in carbon capture and 
     storage research and clean coal technologies.
       No. 10. Continue reducing other pollutants that pose 
     threats to public health.

  Guided by these 10 principles, I am a cosponsor of three global 
warming bills. The first is the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act 
introduced by our colleagues, Senator Sanders and Senator Boxer. I 
commend my distinguished colleagues from Vermont and California for 
drafting such an important bill. I believe their bill will be the 
starting point for the Senate's work on global warming. This 
legislation makes strong and significant cuts to greenhouse gas 
emissions. The near-term goal of reducing emissions levels by the year 
of 2020 to 1990 levels is a good start, as is the long-term goal, 
meaning reductions of 80 percent from 2006 levels by 2050.
  We know the scientists must guide us in this work. We must not do any 
less than what the scientists tell us we need to do to prevent the 
catastrophic changes in the Earth's atmosphere.
  The second bill I am cosponsoring, the Low Carbon Economy Act, 
introduced by Senators Bingaman and Specter--I applaud them for their 
work in putting together a comprehensive and detailed piece of 
legislation. Many of the things we will debate in this Senate will be 
critically important to my home State of Pennsylvania. Any climate 
change program must include a number of things: First of all, a 
detailed proposal for a cap-and-trade program for carbon credits; 
second, measures to keep our manufacturers competitive--we must again 
bring our international trading partners to the table--and a commitment 
to provide some measure of stability to the new carbon economy.
  The third and final bill I am cosponsoring is Senator Carper's Clean 
Air Planning Act. This legislation keeps other hazardous air pollutants 
at the forefront of our decision. Nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and 
mercury continue to have deleterious effects on the health of 
Pennsylvania and America, in terms of asthma in our children, harmful 
impacts of mercury on early childhood development, and women's 
reproductive health.

[[Page S9570]]

  All of this compels us to take action. Each of these bills does. Each 
of these bills has strengths that must be included in any climate 
change proposal developed by the Environment and Public Works Committee 
and the full Senate.
  I have discussed with Chairman Boxer her legislation. I appreciate 
her longstanding commitment to getting a climate bill to the Senate 
floor. I commend, as well, I must say, her leadership on a wide range 
of environmental issues over many years. I thank her for her continuing 
commitment to work with colleagues like me so we will be at the table 
to work on priorities for our country, as well as Pennsylvania's 
priorities in any chairman's mark on a climate bill.
  I urge all of my colleagues to join the call of the thousands of 
people who have visited Capitol Hill and come to our offices to talk to 
us about global warming, not to mention the millions of Americans who 
care very deeply about this issue--Democrats, Republicans, and 
Independents alike, east and west, north and south. We have no time to 
waste when dealing with the problem of this magnitude and gravity for 
our world.
  Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that I be made a cosponsor 
of the following legislation: S. 309, the Global Warming Pollution 
Reduction Act; S. 1766, the Low Carbon Economy Act; and, S. 1177, the 
Clean Air Planning Act.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Stabenow.) The Senator from Massachusetts 
is recognized.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Madam President, we have moved along on the issues in 
this bill and have heard from many of our colleagues. We've had a good 
debate and discussion. Most of the members of our Education Committee 
and Human Resources Committee have spoken about this measure with very 
considerable knowledge and understanding and awareness and made a very 
strong and convincing case.
  I think we have had very good opportunity to talk in considerable 
length and detail about this proposal. I am going to do a brief summary 
of this legislation in a moment and then we will hopefully have our 
leader come to the floor with a unanimous consent request so that we 
may find a pathway to move toward the reauthorization bill, which is 
very important.
  The bill we're debating now--the reconciliation bill--deals with a 
key part of our education system; that is, the funding that is the 
lifeblood of our higher education system. But the authorization 
provisions are enormously important. We have worked very carefully 
together on the committee and we stand in strong support of those 
proposals. They deal with some very important matters.
  One is the simplification of the FAFSA, the free application for 
federal student aid. That might not sound like a very important 
undertaking, but it is extraordinarily important. When you try and go 
through the older application, as many students have, or families have, 
they find it virtually impossible to understand.
  We give great credit to my friend and colleague, Senator Enzi and 
Senator Reed for their work. We also have provisions that deal with the 
issue of rising college costs. We deal with the funding of students, we 
deal with addressing the needs of the neediest students in this 
country. We have also provided opportunity for the elimination or the 
forgiveness of indebtedness for those who are going to work in public 
service areas for 10 years. That is very important.
  In the authorization legislation, we have provisions we think can be 
useful and helpful in terms of the overall cost of education. We 
support and encourage colleges to publish their tuition and fees, so 
that there is greater transparency and so that students and families 
have the knowledge to weigh their options. So that is enormously 
important. The other part of the authorization, which is absolutely 
called for, are what we call the sunshine provisions, the ethical 
provisions. We reform the student loan industry, so that it works 
better for students--not banks.
  What we have seen over the course of our hearings and investigations 
are instance after instance where those who were involved in the 
lending aspect of the student loan programs at colleges and 
universities, and also in the programs themselves, have abused the 
system. We've seen instances where lenders give gifts, such as trips 
and performance tickets, in order to gain preferential treatment. 
That's unacceptable, and we're working to stop those kinds of abuses.
  We have recommendations in this proposal to deal with that very 
serious problem. The members of our committee are very strong in terms 
of their support for the reauthorization. There are other provisions in 
the bill as well, but the most important are the ones I have 
identified. There is strong bipartisan support for those.
  We know there are members who wish to address some of those issues in 
some way. We are glad to have debate and discussion on those matters. 
But it is our desire, certainly my desire, I know Senator Enzi's 
desire, that we try and move that authorization proposal in a short 
period of time. We will have a consent agreement on this shortly. 
Hopefully, with that consent agreement, we will be able to conclude the 
debate on the reconciliation provisions and yield back the time we 
have, and start the process of considering any of the outstanding 
  Certainly, the Senator from Alabama's amendment is a pending 
amendment and other members have talked about other amendments. I will 
address that issue in a few moments.
  To give a very quick summary of what we have tried to do over the 
period of these past weeks in the area of higher education, we have 
effectively taken $17 billion from lender subsidies in order to give it 
to students, and we have deficit reduction distribution of close to $1 
  This chart gives a pretty good summation about what this legislation 
is all about. People who are watching this program, certainly the 
Members, now, after we have had a good discussion and debate about the 
program, have an awareness of what this program is about. It is a 
historic increase in need-based grant aid, the most important increase 
in need-based grant aid since the GI bill in World War II. This Nation 
reached out to so many of the young service men and women after World 
War II, and provided them an opportunity to go on to college and earn a 
bachelor's degree. What a difference it made for this country in terms 
of building the middle class, and in giving hope and opportunity to an 
entire generation. As we have pointed out time and time again, most 
economists believe for every dollar that was invested in that GI Bill, 
the World War II GI bill, $7 was returned to the Federal Treasury. We 
believe that to be true.
  This is something the American people ought to keep in mind. In this 
legislation, the $17 billion is not coming from the taxpayers. It is 
money that is recovered from the lenders in the student loan program. 
So we have a historic increase in the need-based grant aid in this 
bill--an increase of over $700 next year alone for the maximum Pell 
  We have better repayment options that cap the borrowers' monthly loan 
payments to 15 percent of their discretionary income, discretionary 
income, I underline, because that is sensitive to individuals, size of 
their family, and we are responsive to that.

  This takes into consideration the size of their family, which we 
think is enormously important. We have loan forgiveness for borrowers 
in public service jobs. We had an excellent debate and discussion 
earlier in the afternoon with the Senator from Maryland on that 
program, who told us enormously moving stories about her own life and 
others that she knew about.
  This is a very important provision, the loan forgiveness, for 
borrowers in public service jobs. We have great need for more 
professionals in public service areas, and we have scores of young 
people who are interested in entering these fields. Visit any college, 
as I have, and talk to the young people, and the interest of the young 
people being involved in local community service programs, State 
programs or Federal programs in public service is extraordinary. I 
think it is the highest level of interest and involvement I have seen, 
that I can remember in memory.
  The loan forgiveness provision in this bill helps address the 
enormous explosion of student loan debt we've seen recently, which 
closes out opportunities to attend college for far too many Americans.

[[Page S9571]]

  We have gone through this in some detail during the course of the 
debate. We provided some protection for working students by not 
penalizing their earnings. So often individuals are trying to go out 
and work, they are hard pressed in terms of their resources that are 
available to them and to their families. They go out and earn some 
extra money. What happens, in a number of instances, is they exceed the 
provisions of existing law and work themselves out of some need-based 
  We address that issue. The students are going to go out and work and 
work hard to be able to buy their books, to be able to afford their 
living expenses. We make sure they are not going to be penalized for 
their hard work. We offer longer deferment periods for borrowers in 
economic hardship. We also have additional consideration for those who 
have served in the Armed Forces of this country.
  We had a good review of that program with Senator Murray late 
yesterday afternoon, a very important additional kind of protection for 
our servicemen, particularly those who are on active duty and find out, 
as we know, there are increasing extensions of their duty. We wish to 
make sure those individuals who are involved in defending this country 
are not bothered or harassed by those who are trying to collect their 
  So this provides these benefits at no cost to the taxpayer by 
reforming the student loan industry so it works for students, not 
banks. This is not additional money from taxpayers for these programs. 
This comes from the lenders, from the banks, changing the way that this 
whole program works to benefit the students in a very important way, 
and in a way, quite frankly, that actually isn't going to cost the 
lending agencies that much profit.
  Even with this particular proposal, we have seen the various CBO 
reviews, we have these financial officer statements we have reviewed. 
These lending agencies, they are going to do very well. We reviewed 
some of the documents of Sallie Mae itself, which pointed out the size 
of their earnings, which are going to be substantial, even with the 
inclusion of this legislation. So we do not need to have crocodile 
tears for the lending agencies. We ought to even strengthen those 
programs for the students of this country.
  So this is the broad form and the broad shape of the legislation. 
When we talk about the need based aid, what we are talking about 
basically are the lowest-income families.
  Pell grants assist 5 million of the neediest students, 5 million of 
them who are attending our universities. This is very important help 
and assistance. What we see is, as they take advantage of this program, 
it means they may be able to borrow less. By borrowing less, they have 
less monthly payments and this frees them to be able to focus on 
school, so that students during their breaks and during their free 
hours are going to be talking about their subject matter and about the 
books they have read, and their classes and teachers, rather than 
constantly worrying about the payment of their debt.
  So this is a very major aspect of how we have allocated a major part 
of the $17 billion. We have, as every person knows who is in this 
Chamber, and every family knows who is watching this, an explosion of 
costs both at private colleges and public colleges.
  We know many students who go to these public colleges and the private 
colleges are young men and women of extraordinary ability and talent; 
and many of them are also hard pressed financially. What we have tried 
to do, although we have not done it up to now, is to keep grant aid up 
with the incredible increase we have seen in the cost. We made a 
downpayment on that with our increase in the Pell grant maximum to 
$4,310 earlier this year. This bill goes even further, and raises the 
maximum Pell grant to $5,100 next year and to $5,400 by 2011.
  As I mentioned earlier, we have made some recommendations in the 
education authorization bill to try and deal with costs in the 
future. We have seen those costs go up.

  This is a very important chart. Each year, nearly half of the lowest-
income students, who are talented students, cannot go to a 4-year 
college because of cost. We know that 400,000 students don't attend a 
4-year college each year because of cost. These are young people who 
could effectively gain entrance into college but cannot go because of 
the limitations of income. This is a great loss for this Nation, a 
great loss for those individuals. It is an incredible loss in terms of 
our Nation.
  We tried, with the need-based aid and assistance in this bill, to 
provide help. We tried through Senator Murkowski's amendment to provide 
the mechanisms in the States to reach out to these students to assist 
them, to motivate them so they will go on to college, and explain to 
students the complicated financial aid process. That is enormously 
  With the work of Senator Enzi and Senator Reed, we have simplified 
the form for application for federal aid into two pages compared to the 
current form's eight or nine pages, which are hardly understandable for 
many parents and students.
  This is what is happening. This is why we are seeing one of our 
candidates, Senator Edwards, talking about the two Americas. It is 
right here at the breaking point where we find out that half of the 
college-ready students, which means that they have the academic 
capability to go on to college, do not do so because of the cost.
  These are the facts. This is the need. This is another way of 
expressing a similar point; that is, more students must take out loans 
to finance their education. In 1993, less than half of all graduates 
had to take out loans. But in 2004, nearly two-thirds had to take out 
loans to finance their education--an enormous increase. Students are 
borrowing more, and this is the indebtedness.
  I see our leader on the floor. Knowing his responsibility, I would be 
glad to withhold and make whatever comments I might have after any 
comments he would want to make.
  Mr. REID. Madam President, Benjamin Franklin once said: ``Genius 
without education is like silver in the mine.''
  It is unquestioned that a college education is the single greatest 
weight on the scales of success.
  Yet today, more and more working-class Americans are shut out from 
the promise and opportunity of a college education because the price is 
out of reach.
  The Higher Education Access Act is a bill that will restore that 
promise to hundreds of thousands of American students.
  Over the past 20 years, the cost of a college education has tripled. 
Yet the average family's median income has been virtually flat, and 
Federal student aid has not kept pace to make up the difference.
  As a result, the goal of higher education has never been further out 
of reach for many working class students and their families.
  Nearly 400,000 students who would otherwise have the credentials to 
go to college are shut out because they cannot afford it.
  Imagine the doors to opportunity that a college degree would have 
offered these students, the benefits to our society and the benefits to 
our economy.
  Over the course of their lifetime, a college graduate will earn $1 
million more than a high school graduate. And the Department of Labor 
projects that almost 90 percent of the fastest-growing and best-paying 
jobs require at least some postsecondary education.
  Too many students are losing out on all that opportunity. And too 
many students who do make it to college are shouldering the burden of 
more debt than ever before.
  In Nevada, we are fortunate that the cost to attend one of our fine 
State universities is still relatively low. But even in Nevada, the 
average graduate has almost $17,000 in student loan debt.
  There is nothing wrong with borrowing money to help pay for college. 
But when that debt reaches an average of tens of thousands of dollars, 
students are buried in debt before they even enter the workforce.
  The Higher Education Access Act, the bipartisan reconciliation bill 
that we are today debating will help solve this critical problem.
  It will do so in a comprehensive way by increasing grant aid, 
expanding the number of students eligible for Federal aid, making loan 
debt more manageable, and expanding loan forgiveness

[[Page S9572]]

options for those professions that we all recognize are important to 
society--teaching, social work, law enforcement, and health care.
  The Higher Education Act includes three crucial components.
  First, the bill includes a significant increase to the Pell grant, 
which has long been the foundation for Federal student aid.
  Twenty years ago, the Pell grant covered half the cost of attendance 
of a 4-year public college. Today, it covers less than a third.
  In 2000, President Bush campaigned on a promise to increase the Pell 
grant, but for 5 years, it remained at $4,050. After years of 
stagnation, one of the first acts of the Democratic Congress this year 
was to raise the Pell to $4,310.
  This bill takes the next step, increasing the Pell grant to $5,100 
next year and to $5,400 in 2012, and makes an additional 250,000 
students eligible.
  Second, the Higher Education Access Act caps monthly Federal student 
loan payments at 15 percent of a borrower's discretionary income. This 
will translate to real benefits for graduates.
  Under this new income-based repayment plan, a teacher in Clark 
County, NV who earns about $45,000 a year, would have his or her 
monthly payments reduced from $192 to $149, or 23 percent.
  This bill also increases the amount of student income that can be 
sheltered from the financial aid process. The current levels amount to 
an unfair ``work penalty'' on working, part-time, and community college 
students, including the nearly 58,000 students in my own State who 
attend a community college.
  Third, the Higher Education Access Act expands loan forgiveness 
options to encourage college graduates to pursue public service and 
careers in such high need areas as nursing, teaching, or law 
  We have a tremendous teaching shortage in Nevada, particularly in 
Clark County. Clark County is one of the fastest growing school 
districts in Nation. They are building, on average, one new school 
every month. Each year, the district needs to hire as many as 1,000 new 
teachers to fill these buildings.
  This loan forgiveness program would erase remaining student debt for 
new teachers after 10 years of teaching.
  The large banks and lenders tell us that the provisions in this bill 
will impact the benefits that they provide to students. But they never 
tell us what these so-called benefits really mean for the average 
  This legislation, on the other hand, has clear and tangible benefits 
for students. The savings generated in this bipartisan bill, through 
modest cuts to lender subsidies, are sent right back to students in the 
form of $17 billion in new benefits. This would be the largest increase 
in college aid and student benefits since the GI bill.
  Let me address the issue of lender subsidies. The Federal student 
loan program was established in 1965, before a student loan market even 
  Back then, the Federal Government had to offer incentives and 
subsidies to encourage private financial institutions to provide 
education loans.
  But times have changed. Today, there is no doubt that the student 
loan market is highly lucrative, and one need look no further than $225 
million in compensation that the CEO of Sallie Mae received over a 5-
year period to prove this point.
  Yet the Federal Government continues to provide excessive subsidies 
and guarantees to lenders under the FFEL, Federal Family Loan Program. 
I support the FFEL program Our State's oldest university, the 
University of Nevada Reno, participates in the FFEL Program.
  But without a doubt, the private student loan industry is heavily 
subsidized by the American taxpayer. And, in my view, it is past time 
for the Congress to take a second look at these subsidies. This bill 
does that in a bipartisan, responsible, and reasonable way.
  I thank Senators Kennedy and Enzi and the rest of the HELP Committee, 
as well as the chairman of the Budget Committee, Senator Conrad, for 
their work in crafting an important piece of legislation that meets the 
reconciliation instructions in the budget resolution.
  Mr. President, passing the Higher Education Access Act is one of the 
most important steps this Congress could take. I can think of few 
things more important to our country's future than opening the door to 
a college education for millions of students and unlocking all the 
opportunity it affords.
  I also want to amplify what I said this morning about the way this 
bill has been managed. The two managers of this bill, Senators Enzi and 
Kennedy, have done an exemplary job. There are some difficult issues to 
deal with, and they have done it in a graceful manner. They have 
allowed people to offer amendments and debate whatever they feel is 
appropriate. I would hope that in this little vote-athon we have, which 
is one of the quirks in the Senate rules--people may offer amendments 
when we are finished--people will keep in mind what we are trying to 
accomplish with this bill. Once this passes, they will be no longer 
trying. It will really help lots of students to go to school. Things 
are different than when I was a college student. I could work, as I did 
and many others did, and put myself through school with a little 
scholarship here and there. You can't do that anymore. You need, with 
rare exception, student aid. This bill will allow students more money 
to be educated.
  As has been said here in the last several days on many occasions, a 
person getting a college education will earn over a lifetime $1 million 
more than a person with no college education. That really says it all. 
That is what this is about, to allow more people to be educated.
  I appreciate very much the manner in which this bill has been 
managed. I think it is exemplary. It is how a bill should be managed in 
the Senate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Who yields time?
  The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Madam President, I thank the leader for his comments and 
also for scheduling this proposal. It is a clear indication of the 
priority this legislation has. We are very grateful that we have been 
able to, hopefully, complete this whole proposal in terms of the 
funding and the authorization.
  Mr. REID. Will the Senator yield for a brief statement?
  Mr. KENNEDY. Yes.
  Mr. REID. We are going to have a number of votes that could start in 
the next half hour or so, whenever the managers decide we should start. 
But my goal is to finish the voting tonight. We have this bill started. 
I would hope we could finish it tonight. We are going to give it the 
college try. All the amendments that will be offered, we are going to 
vote on them tonight. Many of them will be points of order, a 60-vote 
margin. I would hope people understand these are procedural votes. I 
hope we can dispose of them as quickly as possible, one way or the 
other. We have a lot to do. We have a cloture vote tomorrow on a very 
important appropriations bill. So we are going to move to that. I hope 
the distinguished Republican leader and I can work out arrangements so 
that we may not even need a vote tomorrow. If we can proceed to it on 
Monday, we would do that, whenever we finish education issues in this 
next cycle.
  It is my understanding that there may even be something more we could 
do on education Monday. That is not quite worked out yet, but if it is, 
I would be happy to work out the schedule so that we can continue on 
education and perhaps go to the appropriations bill either Monday night 
or Tuesday sometime.
  Again, we are going to do everything within our power to finish this 
bill tonight. I hope it is not going to be a night like we had Tuesday. 
I am confident it won't be, but it could go into the late evening 
  Mr. KENNEDY. Madam President, I want to indicate to the leader that 
we have a pending amendment, the Sessions amendment. But we have 
effectively ended the debate on education. The students of this country 
and the parents of this country ought to know that we have done our 
duty, our responsibility. It is going to be those who are going to be 
offering amendments that have nothing to do with educating the children 
of this country who are going to be delaying what is a vital interest 
to the students and working families. We have been here, ready to deal 
with the amendments. We have a pending amendment with the Sessions 
amendment. But it ought to be very

[[Page S9573]]

clear to every student who is watching this program and every parent 
who is watching that Senator Enzi, myself, and our committee--we have 
done our work. We are ready to have final passage. The House of 
Representatives has acted on this proposal. We are ready to go ahead 
and get to conference and get these benefits to students. If Members of 
this body have other issues, they ought to consider those at another 
time, or in another place. But every parent of every child ought to 
know, when we start having these dilatory amendments that are being 
offered, who is offering them and who is delaying the most important 
education program we have had here in the Senate since the GI bill in 
World War II. That is what this is about.
  I thank the leader for both scheduling this and his willingness to 
stick with it. We are fine. It is 6 o'clock on a Thursday evening. We 
are glad to work, and we are glad to work through tomorrow, Monday, 
whatever it is. But the American people ought to know, when these 
amendments that have nothing to do with education are offered, who is 
on the side of the students and who is on the side of working families, 
who is on the side of middle-income families. We have been out here 
ready to deal with education amendments. We have one that is pending. 
But the idea that they are going to use this as some kind of vehicle to 
tack on every single amendment to cause what they consider to be 
difficult political votes, they are basically insulting the families of 
this country who know how important this issue is.
  Make no mistake about it, we will know very soon who is on the side 
of the students and who is not.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The distinguished majority leader.
  Mr. REID. Madam President, we are now waiting for the distinguished 
Republican leader to come. As further evidence of your good work, we 
have a unanimous consent request here that will allow us to move Monday 
to the higher education extension which is so important. I, frankly, am 
elated that this is going to happen. This is a gift for the American 
people. I certainly hope the Senate understands how important it is 
that the two of you have worked this out. This is really remarkably 
  Again, we are waiting for the distinguished Republican leader.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. REID. I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call 
be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                  Unanimous Consent Agreement--S. 1642

  Mr. REID. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that at 2 p.m. 
Monday, July 23, the Senate proceed to consideration of Calendar No. 
264, S. 1642, the higher education extension, and that when the bill is 
considered, it be considered under the following limitations: that 
there be a total time of 8 hours of debate on the bill and amendments, 
with the time equally divided and controlled between Senators Kennedy 
and Enzi or their designees; that the only amendments in order, other 
than the committee-reported substitute, be a total of 12 relevant 
first-degree amendments relative to the matter of S. 1642 and/or the 
committee-reported substitute; there would be six for each manager, and 
an additional managers' amendment which has been cleared by the 
managers and the leaders, with no other amendments in order; that upon 
disposition of all amendments, the substitute amendment, as amended, if 
amended, be agreed to, the bill, as amended, be read a third time, and 
the Senate proceed to passage of the bill.
  Prior to asking approval of this consent, I want the record to 
reflect, I love people who write left-handed. I have a son who is left-
handed, and there was nothing meant to disparage left-handers when I 
said that.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Reserving the right to object, and I will not object, 
I was off the floor when the majority leader was talking about the 
measure we are on at the moment. Let me just indicate that there will 
be a number of amendments. I think our colleagues ought to stay 
relatively close to the floor when we get into a series of amendments. 
I share the majority leader's view that hopefully we will finish that 
bill tonight. But I do think it would be a good idea for people to stay 
close to the Chamber when we get into the so-called vote-o-rama.
  With regard to the consent agreement, I have no objection.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from Wyoming.
  Mr. ENZI. Madam President, I am so pleased at what just happened 
here. We have an important part of higher education in a reconciliation 
bill. In every speech I have made since we started this yesterday, 
although it seems like weeks ago, there was a second part that is 
actually a bigger part. There is a whole puzzle, and we are taking care 
of the little red triangle there in the reconciliation bill, but there 
is a lot more to higher education that we need to do. We came close to 
getting some done a year ago, but we didn't quite get there. The system 
kind of failed for the students. Now we have the chance, and we are 
going to do it on Monday. We are going to take care of that bigger 
part, the yellow part there, which is the reauthorization.
  We have talked about this financial aid form simplification--and even 
showed the multiple pages that are currently required--bringing that 
down to one page. That is in there. We have talked about the need for 
better loan disclosure for financial institutions, the need to do a 
better job of following the rules, and we even interjected some new 
rules. That is in this part.
  There are year-round Pell grants so students do not have to interrupt 
their study when they want to get ready to be in the workforce. There 
is support for nontraditional students that we have not had before for 
graduate and international education. We have financial literacy and 
better borrower information in this part we will be debating Monday. We 
have privacy protection in there, which is extremely important.
  We have improvements to the Academic Competitive Grants and the SMART 
grants which encourage students to get into science and math and 
engineering and technology and languages and medicine. There is some 
additional incentive for them to do that.
  There is also the college cost watch list, which will provide more 
information to students and to us so we know what we are doing when we 
reauthorize higher education the next time.
  There is much more. One of those ``much more'' is a very important 
part, which is more money for teacher preparation. Teachers are a key 
to the education system, and they are taken care of in the 
reauthorization part of the package, not in the reconciliation package. 
So it is very important to get both of them done. I am so pleased we 
have been able to arrive at a unanimous consent agreement to do both of 
  We will finish this one up. I will make a few comments. We will be 
ready to yield back time and get on with the vote-o-rama.
  I wish to echo the sentiment that the amendments are rather limited. 
I hope that is the case. I think the amendments that were really 
pertinent to the reconciliation bill have probably already been put out 
there. There may be a couple of others, but I am hoping we do some 
things that are pertinent to this reconciliation so we can get that 
wrapped up and get the reauthorization done so that higher education in 
this country will function the way we envision it. It is always on a 
good path. It can be better. These two bills make it better.
  The reconciliation bill, of course, reduces subsidies to lenders by 
$18.5 billion and provides $17.6 billion for students benefits. This 
legislation, coupled with the Deficit Reduction Act passed 2 years ago, 
will result in $40 billion in changes to Federal student loan programs.
  I am pleased we have come to an agreement that will allow the rest of 
the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act to be considered on the 
floor of the Senate with limited relevant amendments and a limited 
amount of time. The bill before us today focuses on a narrow slice of 
the Higher Education Act. As I mentioned, it will give us a chance to 
do the entirety of the Higher Education Act, which will ensure the 
continued quality of our higher education system.

[[Page S9574]]

  Now, as I mentioned, this is the second time in as many Congresses we 
have been on the brink of systemic reform. We are going to make it 
through the reform this time. I am so pleased at that. The students of 
America, whatever age, will benefit from this legislation. We talk 
about the need for education from the time you are born until the time 
you retire. We have some other pieces yet that we need to do, such as 
the Workforce Investment Act, but we are on course to get that done 
  The American system of higher education is renowned throughout the 
world. America's students will now be provided with the tools and 
assistance contained in both bills to complete their higher education 
and training to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to be 
competitive in a 21st-century economy.
  I supported reporting both bills out of committee. I did ask they be 
considered together and had that expectation. So I am very pleased that 
the Senate Democratic leader has worked with us and provided an 
opportunity to have an open and full debate on the aspects of the 
Higher Education Act.
  As debate on this bill comes to a close, it is necessary to thank 
those who worked long and hard on this bill. First and foremost, I 
thank Chairman Kennedy. The bill we will be doing Monday is virtually a 
bill the two of us worked out last year, for which we got to that brink 
of getting done, and then it did not get done. So now we are presenting 
it again. I thank him for his commitment to keeping this process 
  Education is bipartisan. There is no partisanship in that. I think 
that will be displayed throughout the process. And I appreciate his 
working with me and my Republican colleagues on the HELP Committee 
throughout this entire process. We have a different process than some 
of the other committees. We use the markup to kind of find the 
direction, the intent and the intensity of the feelings on the issue, 
and then we actually keep working with people through that time to 
either correct the situation or to get an understanding of what it is 
we are really doing. Sometimes that even requires coming up with a 
third way. But that is what has happened in both of these bills, and it 
gets us to this point.
  Now, it involves a tremendous amount of work on the part of members 
of the committee, but it also involves a tremendous amount of work by 
our staff. They work through weekends. They work late into evenings 
trying to resolve a lot of these things so it can get to the decision 
at the Member level.
  So I particularly thank Katherine McGuire, my legislative director; 
Beth Beuhlmann, who heads up the education shop; Ann Clough; Adam 
Briddell; Amy Shank; Ilyse Schuman; Greg Dean; Kelly Hastings; and 
Lindsay Hunsicker.
  I also thank the members of Senator Kennedy's staff for their hard 
work: Michael Myers, who is doing a marvelous job of coordinating with 
us; Carmel Martin; J.D. LaRock; Missy Rohrbach; Emma Vadehra; Erin 
Renner; Raquel Alvarenga; and David Johns.
  Finally, I thank all the members of the HELP Committee and their 
staffs for all their hard work throughout this process. It has been 
hard work making sure everybody had an understanding of all of these 
difficult issues and getting us to this point.
  So again I thank the chairman for his hard work and cooperative work 
to be able to get this done for the kids of America.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Nelson of Florida). The majority leader is