[Congressional Record Volume 160, Number 129 (Wednesday, September 10, 2014)]
[Pages S5468-S5482]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                      ELECTIONS--MOTION TO PROCEED

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the 
Senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S.J. Res. 
19, which the clerk will report.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       Motion to proceed to Calendar No. 471, S.J. Res 19, a joint 
     resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the 
     United States relating to contributions and expenditures 
     intended to affect elections.

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Michigan.
  Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, I ask that I be allowed to proceed as in 
morning business for up to 4 minutes.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 


  Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, I believe the President will lay out a 
strong approach against ISIL tonight. That approach will include going 
after them wherever they are located, including Syria. The President 
and Secretary Kerry are making every effort to help lead a broadly 
based coalition which is so critically important to avoid the 
consequences of a Western go-it-alone approach which was mistakenly 
used when we invaded Iraq.
  This President, like all Presidents, will welcome bipartisan 
Congressional support, even though he has the authority in this 
situation to act without explicit Congressional authority. I hope our 
friends on the other side of the aisle will lay aside partisan attacks 
and make a true effort to find a way to take on ISIL in a united 
manner. A strong bipartisan approach here in the United States will 
help the President and Secretary Kerry attain the explicit open support 
of a broad cross section of this world, including Arab and Muslim 
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from New Mexico.
  Mr. UDALL of New Mexico. Mr. President, I rise today to talk about 
our constitutional amendment. I think we have had a very good debate 
this week--an overdue debate. I want to thank my colleagues for coming 
to the floor and for speaking out. But there have also been many 
misrepresentations by the other side about what our constitutional 
amendment would do.
  Michael Keegan, the President of People for the American Way, wrote a 
piece in the Huffington Post yesterday. He summed up the debate from 
the other side of the aisle quite well. He said, ``a good rule of thumb 
in politics is that the scarier someone sounds, the more you should 
doubt what they're saying.''
  We heard some scary things in the last couple of days. Lorne Michaels 

[[Page S5469]]

going to jail. And he is sharing a cell with a little old lady who put 
up a $5 political yard sign. Books and movies are banned. The NAACP, 
Sierra Club, and moveon.org have been prohibited from speaking about 
politics--scary stuff but none of it is true.
  Erwin Chemerinsky, a great constitutional scholar, recently wrote an 
op-ed in the Hill, rebutting many of the claims we have heard. He 

       The amendment--

  He is talking about our constitutional amendment here.

     --gives no authority to the government to ban or limit 
     anyone's speech. It provides the government no power to 
     ``muzzle'' messages the government doesn't like. It does not 
     change in any way the longstanding First Amendment principle 
     that the government cannot restrict speech based on the 
     content of the message or the views expressed. The amendment 
     would do no more than allow the government to regulate 
     spending in election campaigns.

  That is the heart of what we are doing, regulating spending--out-of-
control spending--in election campaigns, dark money, big interests 
weighing in in an unprecedented way.
  Professor Chemerinsky is right. S.J. Res. 19 reaffirms the First 
Amendment principle of equality. It will undo the damage done by the 
Court over the years, most recently with Citizens United and McCutcheon 
that said: Those with the most money have the most free speech. Nothing 
in the amendment would permit the arrest of anyone for engaging in 
political speech. It would not allow books or movies to be banned.
  All the amendment does is restore to Congress and the States the 
power to set reasonable limits--reasonable limits--on campaign 
contributions and expenditures, a traditional power that the Court has 
stripped from us. The amendment returns the First Amendment to its pre-
Buckley interpretation when money and speech were not the same thing.
  Prior to Buckley, we did not see the kind of legislation against free 
speech that my Republican colleagues envision, offering extreme 
examples of laws Congress could pass. That is one way to argue against 
this amendment. But it ignores the long history of laws Congress did 
pass to protect the voices of individual voters.

  These reforms were not radical. They were narrowly tailored responses 
to restore America's faith in the political system after a lack of 
regulations led to scandals and corruption. Let's not forget that any 
law must pass both Houses of Congress and be signed by the President. 
That is a significant check against any radical legislation getting 
passed or these days, against almost any legislation getting passed.
  Critics also fail to acknowledge something else. Our amendment does 
not give Congress free reign to pass any and all campaign finance laws. 
When the Court interprets any amendment to the Constitution, it reads 
in a reasonableness requirement. This means that even if Congress did 
abuse its authority and passed the extreme laws that conservatives 
suggest, they could still be overturned as unreasonable.
  But more importantly, Members of Congress who pass extreme laws can 
be held accountable by their constituents. The same cannot be said for 
Supreme Court justices willing to strike down sensible regulations by a 
narrow majority.
  We also heard a quote from the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Senator 
Kennedy did oppose a similar amendment in 1997 and 2001. The truth is, 
we do not know if he would oppose the amendment today.
  Citizens United and McCutcheon changed the landscape and changed it 
dramatically. Senator Kennedy was a champion for the underprivileged 
throughout his career--in civil rights, education, health care, the 
minimum wage. He stood up for those who did not have a voice, the very 
people who are harmed by most of these misguided Supreme Court 
  We do know some of Senator Kennedy's colleagues who also opposed the 
amendment in the past are still here in the Senate. They have 
reconsidered. Chairman Leahy, Senator Durbin, the chairman of the 
Constitution subcommittee. Thoughtful Senators who felt an amendment 
was unnecessary in the past now see that it is the only way to fix a 
broken system.
  Changing the Constitution is a big step not to be taken lightly. In 
the Federalist Paper No. 49, James Madison argued the Constitution 
should be amended only on ``great and extraordinary occasions.'' I 
agree. I also believe we have reached one of those occasions.
  Thank you, Mr. President. I ask unanimous consent that the op-eds I 
referenced by Michael Keegan and Erwin Chemerinsky be printed in the 
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

               [From the Huffington Post, Sept. 9, 2014]

            The First Amendment According to Mitch McConnell

                          (By Michael Keegan)

       Have you heard that Senate Democrats are working this week 
     to repeal free speech? I did, yesterday morning, from Mitch 
       Have you heard that Democrats are going to go out and 
     ``muzzle'' pastors who criticize them in the pulpit?
       We did, from Ted Cruz.
       Did you hear that Democrats are going to shut down 
     conservative activists and then ``brainwash the next 
     generation into believing that this is how it should be''?
       We did, last month, from the Family Research Council's Tony 
       A good rule of thumb in politics is that the scarier 
     someone sounds, the more you should doubt what they're 
     saying. Another good rule in politics is not to trust what 
     Mitch McConnell says about money in politics.
       Because, yes, that's what we're talking about here. Not a 
     secret new Orwellian regime. Not a new anti-pastor task 
     force. What we're talking about is simply limiting the amount 
     of money that corporations and wealthy individuals can spend 
     to influence our elections.
       This week, the Senate is debating a constitutional 
     amendment that would overturn recent Supreme Court decisions 
     that have paved the way for an explosion of big money in 
     politics. In those decisions, including Citizens United and 
     this year's McCutcheon, the Supreme Court radically redefined 
     the First Amendment to allow corporations and the wealthy to 
     drown out the speech of everyday Americans with nearly 
     unlimited political spending. The Democracy for All amendment 
     would restore to Congress and the states the power to impose 
     reasonable restrictions on money in politics, just as they 
     had before the Supreme Court started to dismantle campaign 
     finance laws.
       So, what are Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz so scared of?
       In fact, it wasn't that long ago that Mitch McConnell 
     supported the very laws that he is now dead-set on blocking. 
     Back in 1987, McConnell said he would support a 
     constitutional amendment to allow Congress to regulate 
     independent expenditures in elections--just as the Democracy 
     for All amendment would. And then he introduced that very 
     constitutional amendment. Either McConnell has dramatically 
     changed his mind regarding what constitutes a threat to the 
     First Amendment, or he's motivated by something more cynical.
       So, if Mitch McConnell doesn't actually think that limiting 
     the amount of money that wealthy interests can spend on 
     elections is a violation of the First Amendment, what is he 
     up to? Could it be that he now finds it more useful to court 
     the dollars of major donors than the votes of his 
       Washington is the only place where campaign finance reform 
     is a partisan issue. A poll this summer found that 73 percent 
     of voters support a constitutional amendment to get big money 
     out of politics. Americans know that our First Amendment is 
     about protecting the speech of citizens, not the interests of 
     wealthy campaign donors.
       Faced with a large, bipartisan grassroots movement that 
     threatens their big-spending friends, the only arguments that 
     Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz have left are wild accusations, 
     flat-out falsehoods, and outlandish interpretations of the 
     Bill of Rights.

                    [From thehill.com, July 3, 2014]

                       Ted Cruz Should Be Ashamed

                         (By Erwin Chemerinsky)

       Reasonable people can disagree on whether it would be good 
     to amend the Constitution to overcome the Supreme Court's 
     decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 
     but Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) false claims about the proposed 
     amendment have no place in an informed debate. In a series of 
     speeches and writings, Cruz has lied about what the amendment 
     would do. Surely we can and must expect more from our elected 
       The occasion for Cruz's wrath is a proposed constitutional 
     amendment concerning campaign finance that is now being 
     considered in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The amendment's 
     purpose is to overturn the Supreme Court's recent decisions 
     that have limited the ability of Congress and state 
     governments to regulate campaign spending.
       In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in 2010, 
     the Court, 5-4, declared unconstitutional a provision of 
     federal law and held that corporations have the right to 
     spend unlimited amounts of money in independent expenditures 
     in election campaigns.

[[Page S5470]]

     This year, in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, 
     again by a 5-4 margin, the Court held unconstitutional 
     another provision of federal law that regulated the total 
     amount that a person could contribute to candidates or 
     political parties in a two-year period. As Justice Breyer 
     lamented in his dissent, these cases ``eviscerate'' federal 
     campaign finance law.
       The proposed constitutional amendment seeks to restore the 
     power of Congress and the states to enact laws of the sort 
     that the Court declared unconstitutional in these cases. 
     These laws existed without problems for many years until the 
     Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional. In fact, seven 
     years before Citizens United, the Supreme Court upheld the 
     very provision that it invalidated in that case.
       The proposed constitutional amendment, in its key 
     provision, simply would say: ``To advance democratic self-
     government and political equality, and to protect the 
     integrity of government and the electoral process, Congress 
     and the States may regulate and set reasonable limits on the 
     raising and spending of money by candidates and others to 
     influence elections.'' Another provision would make clear 
     that the government can limit campaign spending by 
       It is impossible to reconcile this language with Cruz's 
     claims about it. In a statement to the Senate Judiciary 
     Committee, Cruz declared: ``This amendment here today, if 
     adopted, would repeal the free speech protections of the 
     First Amendment. . . . This amendment, if adopted, would give 
     Congress absolute authority to regulate the political speech 
     of every single American, with no limitations whatsoever.''
       Similarly, in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Cruz 
     said, the amendment ``gives Congress power to regulate--and 
     ban--speech by everybody.'' In remarks at the Family Research 
     Council, Cruz declared: ``What it [the proposed amendment] 
     says is that politicians in Washington have unlimited 
     constitutional authority to muzzle each and every one of you 
     if you're saying things that government finds inconvenient.''
       The amendment does nothing of the sort. It gives no 
     authority to the government to ban or limit anyone's speech. 
     It provides the government no power to ``muzzle'' messages 
     the government doesn't like. It does not change in any way 
     the long-standing First Amendment principle that the 
     government cannot restrict speech based on the content of the 
     message or the views expressed. The amendment would do no 
     more than allow the government to regulate spending in 
     election campaigns.
       Cruz's repeat statements are more than just political 
     hyperbole. They are false assertions intended to scare people 
     into opposing the proposed constitutional amendment.
       In a statement before a subcommittee of the Senate 
     Judiciary Committee, Cruz said, ``Any politician who put his 
     or her name to an amendment taking away the free speech 
     rights of every American, in my view, should be 
     embarrassed.'' But it is Cruz who should be embarrassed by 
     his false assertions. Ted Cruz is a lawyer who had a very 
     distinguished career in government and private practice. I 
     have debated him on several occasions and know that he is a 
     person of great intelligence. He knows exactly what the 
     proposed amendment would do and yet has chosen to vilify it 
     by misrepresenting it.
       Whether it is desirable to try and amend the Constitution 
     to allow campaign finance regulations is the question to be 
     debated. In this, and all debates, we should expect and 
     demand honesty from our elected officials. Cruz, in his 
     statements about the proposed campaign finance amendment, is 
     far below the most minimal standards of honesty.

  Mr. UDALL of New Mexico. Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor 
and note the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in 
morning business.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator is recognized.

                      America's National Security

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, most Members of the Senate and the House 
of Representatives and the American people are awaiting the President's 
speech this evening. It is a critically important speech about 
America's national security from our Commander in Chief. It is going to 
address the horror of terrorism in the Middle East and particularly the 
Islamic state, a terrorist group like few others--maybe like none we 
have ever seen.
  This Islamic state, known as ISIS or ISIL, has been moving in full 
force in Syria and in Iraq. They are different than other extremist 
terrorist groups because they take and hold territory. That has not 
been seen in the past. They are also hell-bent on establishing 
resources and ongoing visible treasury. Some say they generate $1 
million a day in revenues from the oil production they are in charge 
of. They swoop into a city and take over the banks, raiding them of all 
the money they can get their hands on.
  In addition, they are engaged in some of the most barbaric and 
depraved tactics we have seen. The beheading of two Americans comes to 
mind instantly. It is a heartbreaking situation for their families and 
friends but an enraging situation for all of America, to think that 
innocent journalists would be subjected to such horrific treatment. And 
they threaten to do more. It isn't just Americans who are in their 
sights. They have targeted minorities. They have targeted those who are 
struggling in Iraq to survive, and they are prepared to literally force 
them into starvation or death. It is a harrowing situation. To think 
that some 11,000 or 12,000 of these ISIS terrorists have wreaked such 
havoc on the country of Iraq and the neighboring country of Syria 
really is a wakeup call for America.
  The President is going to speak to the situation this evening. We, of 
course, want him to lay out the threat, and he will. We want him to 
spell out why this threat is important to the security and the future 
of the United States. I am certain he will. I want him to speak as well 
to our approach and how we are going to deal with this threat, and I 
believe he will, in some detail. I want to know who else is on our side 
in this effort as we move forward, what the scope of our activities 
will be, and the limitations of that scope of activities. The duration 
and the justification, the constitutionality and the legality are all 
critical issues, and we await the words of the President of the United 
  Most of us have held back at this point, waiting for the President's 
statement, but some have not. Some have already come to the floor of 
the Senate this morning to criticize the President when it comes to 
this issue of foreign policy. That is unfortunate. I think the 
President is entitled to at least present his case this evening before 
people come to the floor and condemn the President's foreign policy. We 
need to hear from the President what his plan is. And my hope is--and 
it would be nothing short of a political miracle in Washington, DC--
that there would actually be bipartisan support for a plan emerging 
from the President's statement tonight.
  Some of us may have our differences with some part of it. That is 
natural. That is our responsibility in the legislative branch of our 
government. But we should try to find common ground where we can. When 
America speaks in unity, with one voice, with one determined effort, 
that is when we are strongest.
  There was a time in the history of this country--and I have lived 
through part of it--when there would be vigorous debates on foreign 
policy on the floor of the House and on the floor of the Senate, 
leading up to a vote on a critical question such as the invasion of a 
country or a war. Even after a contentious and sometimes partisan 
debate, without fail--without fail--there would be bipartisan support 
for the emerging policy.
  People remember the war in Kuwait. I was one who voted against it. Do 
my colleagues know there was offered on the floor of the House 
immediately after the vote in favor of the President's policy a 
bipartisan resolution supporting the President's policy? That was 
considered the natural, reasonable thing to do.
  We can look back to the war in Iraq. Go back to October 11, 2002. On 
the floor of the Senate we had a debate that ended in a vote on the 
invasion of Iraq. It is one of those moments in my career I will never 
forget because 23 of us voted no, including 1 Republican, Lincoln 
Chafee, and 23 Democrats. We voted no on the invasion of Iraq.
  It wasn't long thereafter, though, that we were presented with 
appropriations bills to fund the military effort in Iraq. I voted for 
them. The reason I voted for those appropriations is pretty obvious. If 
it were my son, my daughter, my spouse fighting in Iraq, I would want 
them to have every resource necessary to accomplish their mission and 
come home safely.
  So there was a bipartisan consensus, even though there was a 
difference in the formulation of foreign policy. I

[[Page S5471]]

hope that is what emerges tonight. I hope once the President has 
stepped forward and said that this is a plan, let us work together 
toward that plan, that we will see some bipartisanship emerging in the 
Senate and the House of Representatives.
  We can have our differences and questions, but at the end of the day 
we need to come together as a nation. This horrible terrorist group, 
which has beheaded two innocent Americans and is absolutely depraved in 
its conduct, is going to continue. It is going to create chaos in Iraq. 
It is going to destabilize that country, and it is going to endanger 
not only innocent people but it is going to endanger innocent 
Americans. Let's listen carefully to what the President has to say.
  This morning the majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada came to the 
floor and talked about a chance occurrence yesterday. Who should return 
to the Halls of the Capitol yesterday? Former Vice President Richard 
Cheney. What a moment for him to return to Washington as we debate 
foreign policy. We remember the foreign policy of Vice President Cheney 
and others. We know the price we paid for what turned out to be some 
very questionable, if not wrong, decisions.
  At the end of the day in Iraq, 4,476 Americans lost their lives; 
30,000 came home with serious injuries. We added $1 trillion to our 
national debt to pay for it.
  It was Vice President Cheney's idea that the United States would be 
strong and muscular after the 9/11 attack, and he picked Iraq as a 
target. We would take out Saddam Hussein. The purported weapons of mass 
destruction never existed, never were found, but we invaded 
nevertheless. Now comes former Vice President Cheney again to inspire 
his troops in terms of this conflict.
  I hope not only Democrats but Republicans as well will think twice 
about that advice. We have listened to this man's counsel before, and 
the world did not turn out to be the place he promised it would be.
  Let us listen carefully, objectively, and honestly to the President 
tonight. Let us try to find some common ground as Americans where we 
can stand together against this terrorist threat.
  The President has made it clear to all of us he is not going to be 
sending ground troops into this Iraq situation. We want to be careful 
that we don't engage ourselves in a long-term war involving the 
vulnerability of our troops for a long period of time, so I was 
disappointed with some of the statements made on the floor this morning 
on the other side.
  I hope Americans will listen carefully, as I will tonight, to the 

                Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act

  Tomorrow marks the 13th anniversary of 9/11. Our thoughts turn to the 
Americans we lost that day and to the men and women who showed such 
heroism above and beyond the call of duty. Firefighters, police, first 
responders, and Americans from all walks of life showed on that day 
that although terrorists might try to destroy our way of life, they 
cannot keep us down. Americans do stand together when we are 
  Since that day, to support the global war on terror, the Defense 
Department says about 2.5 million Americans--members of the Army, Navy, 
Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and related National Guard units--have 
been deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Of those, more than one-
third were deployed at least one time. More than 11,000 lost their 
lives in those two wars.
  There are ways we can show our gratitude and help our veterans, 
including service veterans from Operation Enduring Freedom and 
Operation Iraqi Freedom, now that they are home.
  Tomorrow I am introducing, along with Senator Blumenthal of 
Connecticut, the Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act. It will allow 
veterans who own small businesses to participate in GSA's excess 
Federal property program. This program makes items that the Federal 
agencies no longer need available to nonprofits and other groups that 
have a justifiable need for the property. We are talking about 
everything from vehicles to computers, office furniture, tools, and 
even heavy construction equipment. Participants in the program can 
claim the items for their businesses if they demonstrate a justifiable 
need for the property and they agree to pay for shipping and handling 
so there is no expense to the Federal Government.
  By keeping their equipment overhead low, in this way the small 
businesses can grow their businesses. If unclaimed, the Federal 
property has to be disposed of by our government as excess property--
and that costs money. The items have to be organized into one physical 
location, then photographed, catalogued, and ultimately auctioned off 
to scrap dealers who pay pennies on the dollar.
  The National Association of State Agencies for Surplus Property, 
which helps facilitate the GSA's excess Federal property program, 
estimates that taking surplus property off the Federal Government's 
hands, pairing it with those who could use it, saved the United States 
$200 million last year alone.
  Minority-owned small businesses participate in this program now and 
have since 1999. My bill would extend that opportunity to veteran-owned 
small businesses as well.
  Veterans throughout Illinois have contacted me to let me know how the 
surplus property program might help their small businesses.
  Jim Ward, for example, a retired Army veteran, owns a popular tile 
business in Mount Sterling, in west central Illinois. His small 
business could benefit from maintenance equipment typically found in 
the Federal surplus program. Tile saws and cutters, kneepads, mixers, 
scrapers, trowels, and other hand tools are all items that appear from 
time to time in the program. He says he doesn't need state-of-the-art 
equipment. Getting his hands on something that works would be a big 
help to his veteran-owned business.
  Then there is veteran Jim Sodaro. He owns a bar and a snow removal 
business in Springfield, IL. There are quite a few surplus items that 
could help him operate his business and free up resources for employees 
and overhead. Jim says he needs things such as tables, brooms, paint, 
and hand tools to run his bar. His snow removal business needs a pickup 
truck and other vehicles.

  We heard from Jason Harris, a Marine Corps veteran who runs a popular 
landscaping business in Carbondale, IL. Shawnee Landscaping designs and 
installs patios, fencing, and retaining walls for gardens and porches. 
Mr. Harris would benefit from Federal surplus equipment too: Bobcats, 
tractors and loaders, hand tools and office supplies.
  Tom Lomelino is a retired Army veteran and owner of the Lomelino Sign 
Company in Jacksonville, IL. Mr. Lomelino makes and installs 
advertising signs. He can use a bucket truck, a backhoe, or other 
equipment needed for installation and maintenance.
  All of these Illinois veterans have a legitimate need for items that 
otherwise would go to waste and we would pay to destroy. Wouldn't it be 
better to put these items in the hands of veterans so their businesses 
can succeed and they can hire people in their local communities? I 
think so. Small business is the engine of the American economy. Our 
veterans have served our country well. Let us serve their next phase in 
life and make sure their businesses are successful.
  I encourage my colleagues who want to support the veterans and 
dispose of surplus property in a productive way--not an expensive way--
so that it continues to make money for the United States to join me in 
support of this legislation.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Heitkamp). The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Mr. MARKEY. I ask to speak for up to 10 minutes in morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. MARKEY. I rise today to speak about an issue that is fundamental 
to our democracy and vital to the future of our Nation. This is an 
issue so important that it requires us to take the monumental step of 
amending our Constitution.
  This is not an action any of us should take lightly, but our 
democracy is under assault and I will not stand by and watch the damage 
being done without trying to do something to repair it.
  Because of the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, a tsunami 

[[Page S5472]]

undisclosed, unlimited campaign funding is corrupting our democracy. 
Our government is supposed to be about checks and balances. Citizens 
United and the recent McCutcheon decision make it more about who is 
writing the checks and how big is their bank balance.
  In the 2012 election, 60 percent of the contributions to super PACs 
came from just 159 donors. Sixty-four percent of the money raised by 
the Senate candidates came from a mere .04 of 1 percent of the 
  Our government is in jeopardy of no longer being of the people but 
instead becoming of and for the wealthy. The voices of the majority of 
the American people, those of middle-class families, seniors on fixed 
incomes, workers making minimum wage, are being drowned out by an ocean 
of campaign cash. This is utterly undemocratic and it needs to stop.
  Congress has tried to stop this tidal wave of unlimited money, but 
the Supreme Court interprets the First Amendment not as a guarantee of 
free speech but of who can pay to speak. As a result, our democracy is 
in peril.
  Campaign finance limits don't limit our free speech. They increase it 
by ensuring that every citizen can be heard and that no one gets unfair 
access to our government at the expense of everyone else. Campaign 
finance laws don't stifle democracy, they enhance it.
  We need to fix our broken campaign system. We need a constitutional 
amendment that overturns the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions.
  Our democracy is based on the fundamental principle that all voters, 
and each and every vote cast, are created equal. People, not dollars, 
are the true currency of our Constitution and democracy.
  That is why I will be voting for Senate Joint Resolution 19, to 
support a democracy for all attitudes in the United States.

                             Net Neutrality

  I also rise in support of another principle that enshrines 
democratization to access of information and ideas: net neutrality.
  Net neutrality is as basic to the functioning of the Internet as 
nondiscrimination is to the U.S. Constitution. In fact, net neutrality 
is just a fancy word for nondiscrimination.
  The Internet is a success today because it is open to anyone with an 
idea. An open Internet enables freedom of expression and the sharing of 
ideas across town or across the world. Yet the vitality of this open 
platform is at stake. The FCC is currently considering a proposal that 
could allow broadband providers to charge Web sites, applications, and 
services more for faster delivery times to consumers. We cannot allow 
that to happen.
  That is why I am proud to stand with the netizens--all Internet 
users--to show what the Internet would look like with fast and slow 
  Today is our battle for net neutrality. Today we demonstrate on our 
Web sites what paid prioritization really means: Web users stuck on a 
bumpy gravel path while the select few whiz by on a sleek highway with 
their Internet E-Z passes.
  In solidarity with netizens everywhere, I have posted on my Web site 
a symbol familiar to Internet users everywhere--the loading symbol you 
get when your video is waiting to appear because there is congestion on 
the net. My Web site today, along with countless others, serves as a 
harbinger of the dark days that lie ahead if we let the broadband 
behemoths win.
  I believe we should never forget that the net comes with a 
manufacturer's guarantee: No one should have to ask for permission to 
  To prevent this from happening, this summer I led 12 of my Senate 
colleagues in urging the FCC to reclassify broadband as a 
telecommunications service under title II, enabling the Commission to 
put the strongest rules on the books to prevent discrimination.
  Internet access today is like traditional phone service was decades 
ago, it is essential for everyday living. But if the ISPs have their 
way, the FCC would turn the Internet from a democratic ``Field of 
Dreams'' into an exclusive set of gated communities.
  But the good news is the online activist community--the Netroots and 
the startups, the Internet investors--have spoken out in favor of 
implementing title II to protect net neutrality.
  I will continue to join with my colleagues in the Senate to fight for 
an open and nondiscriminatory Internet because the future of our 
country depends upon it.
  I yield back the remainder of my time and I suggest the absence of a 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. TESTER. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. TESTER. Madam President, as many of you know, my wife and I still 
farm, and for part of August I had the pleasure to be able to be on the 
tractor and have some quality time to think about what makes our Nation 
great. There are many reasons, but one of them is the belief that 
everyone has a say in the decisions we make in this democracy, that 
each of us--from the richest to the poorest--has an equal stake in 
electing our leaders and impacting how we govern. Unfortunately, the 
Supreme Court has not figured that out.
  From the Citizens United case to this year's McCutcheon decision, the 
Justices continually side with big money and corporations. They are 
siding with those who think government should work for the rich and the 
elite. They are siding with those who think that money equals speech 
and think it is OK for the wealthy to drown out the voices of the 
working folks, of the middle class, of everyone else.
  Our current election system is hurting our democracy by reducing 
public confidence in our elections and increasing apathy in the 
political process. After all, why should someone take time out to 
follow our political process and vote when our system leads them to 
believe their vote does not make a difference? We simply cannot let 
that happen.
  I agree with my colleague from Arizona, Senator McCain, when he says 
that sooner or later our current system is going to cause a scandal in 
this body. This body cannot afford to fall further out of favor with 
the American people. After all, negative numbers are right around the 
  The unprecedented amount of money--much of it unaccountable and 
anything but transparent--is allowing corporations to have an outsized 
say in not just who gets elected but how they act once they get into 
office. And trust me, corporate voices already have plenty of influence 
in Congress. It is putting up walls between regular folks and elected 
leaders who spend more and more hours on the phone with donors or 
bowing to those who might finance an outside ad campaign on their 
behalf and leaves less time for constituents.
  Too many of the Justices--and too many of our colleagues--do not 
understand that many of Washington's current problems are tied to our 
campaign finance system. A lot of folks in the Senate and the House 
talk about working together. They talk about reaching across the aisle 
for responsible solutions that move our country forward. So what is 
holding them back? In many cases, it is the threat of big money coming 
after them in their next election.
  We are not talking about Rick who works at Walmart or Amanda who 
teaches third grade chipping in $20 for a candidate they believe in. We 
are talking about corporate executives plowing millions--sometimes tens 
of millions--of dollars into independent and often secretly financed 
  We have all seen colleagues hesitate to introduce legislation that is 
popular in their home State but were afraid it would spur big-moneyed 
outside groups to spend millions of dollars to defeat them. When that 
happens, it leaves constituents without any real say in who represents 
  Lawmakers are also held back by the hostile political climate that 
these expensive campaigns create. When you constantly see an ad that 
distorts your record, and then you see a fellow Senator from out of 
State endorse that ad, it makes it hard to compromise on legislation 
with somebody that, quite frankly, you do not trust.

[[Page S5473]]

  Politicians also know that most of the money in campaigns is on the 
extremes of the political spectrum. And the extremes fight almost any 
sign of compromise and the folks who are willing to get things done. 
Heck, why are we having trouble confirming ambassadors? It is because 
``compromise'' is a dirty word. It leads me to wonder: Could we do big 
things today like our predecessors did? Could we pull it together to 
build an Interstate Highway System or send a man to the Moon? Right now 
I think not.
  Supporters of the current system defend their views by citing the 
Constitution. They put up some fun charts here on the Senate floor that 
cross out lines of the First Amendment, pretending as if this 
legislation actually changes the First Amendment. It is entertaining, 
but it is incorrect.
  I guarantee you that our Founding Fathers--men such as George 
Washington and Thomas Jefferson--would not want to see the Constitution 
used to justify our current campaign system. Leaders such as Washington 
and Jefferson had a vision for our Nation. They knew America would 
change with the times as new technologies were developed and new lands 
came into the Union. Back in 1787 there was no Montana.
  If the Framers warned against political parties, I can only imagine 
what they would have to say about the rise of super PACs.
  Folks who support Citizens United talk about protecting free speech 
and the First Amendment, but who is protecting the free speech of 
regular working-class folks? Who is protecting the voice of the 
schoolteacher or the repairman being drowned out by special interests? 
With this amendment, we are.
  If the Congress needs inspiration, they should look at my home State 
of Montana. More than 100 years ago Montanans voted to limit the 
influence of Big Money elections. We were ahead of the curve. We called 
for fair elections after wealthy mining corporations bought influence, 
support, and even a U.S. Senate seat--and our laws worked pretty well 
for those 100 years. But 2 years ago the U.S. Supreme Court struck down 
Montana's law, citing its own Citizens United decision.
  In 2012, Montanans stood once again to Big Money and its influence 
over a democratic process. In a voter referendum passed by a 3-to-1 
margin, Montana voters called on Montana's congressional delegation to 
overturn Citizens United, and I proudly accepted that challenge. That 
is why I am cosponsoring Senator Udall's amendment. Together we are 
saying enough is enough.
  Congress and the States should have the power to regulate campaign 
spending to ensure that election spending does not corrupt elections. 
States should be able to decide whether to allow corporations' 
unchecked spending power in Governor and legislative races.
  I heard one of my colleagues suggest yesterday that we are 
threatening to silence the voice of the little old lady who wants to 
put up a yard sign in front of her home. In fact, it is quite the 
opposite. We are working to ensure that her voice is louder than that 
Fortune 500 corporation--or at least as loud--when deciding the future 
of her town, her State or her country because that is what our country 
is supposed to be about, one person, one vote.
  Spending for the Senate election in Montana in 2012 topped $50 
million. That is more than $100 for every vote cast. In a State such as 
Montana, where the average household pulled in $45,000 in 2012, that is 
a big sum of money. It is the kind of money that can buy a lot of ads 
come election season. It can give a platform to drown out any other 
  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, spending by outside 
groups in this 2014 election cycle is currently three times higher than 
the amount spent at the same point in 2010, and as of the end of 
August, outside groups have spent about $170 million on Federal midterm 
races--just the Federal part. Folks don't spend that kind of cash 
without thinking they are going to get a return on investment. Things 
are out of control, make no mistake.
  Senator McCain is right. Sooner or later it will lead to another 
Watergate or worse, and that is what is frustrating. We know how the 
story of unchecked money in politics ends. We have seen it before. Yet 
the Supreme Court has opened the door to yet another scandal. So it is 
time to overturn Citizens United, and it is time to overturn this 
year's McCutcheon decision which invalidated a 40-year-old law that 
limits the total amount of money an individual can contribute to 
campaigns each cycle.
  Since that ruling in April, about 300 folks have taken advantage of 
that ruling, contributing over $11.5 million to political campaigns 
this year--just since April--300 in this Nation of 300 million. We must 
put regular people and their ideas back in charge of our elections.
  Amending the Constitution is not something we should take lightly. 
The Constitution is our founding document, and it has held up under the 
test of time. But Big Money interests and defenders of Citizens United 
are distorting our First Amendment for their own gain. Getting Big 
Money out of elections is critical to improving how we govern, to make 
responsible decisions for all Americans. It is critical to electing 
leaders who put people first. I am proud to step forward in this fight. 
Our democratic system has worked for over two centuries. It has made 
our Nation the greatest Nation in the world, and I will not let that be 
jeopardized without a fight.
  Back in Montana it doesn't matter whether someone has 5 acres or 
5,000 acres: They jump on that tractor, and that tractor is still going 
to break down; the weather can be good, the weather can be bad. It is 
still going to happen.
  The lesson is this. We are in this together, we all need to pitch in, 
and we all deserve a fair and honest say in how our election process 
works and our leaders are elected.
  I urge my colleagues to support Senator Udall on this important 
amendment. It is simply the right thing to do for our democracy.
  I yield the floor and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  Mr. FLAKE. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. FLAKE. Madam President, I rise to speak against the bill before 
us, S.J. Res. 19. This is a constitutional amendment that would 
significantly curtail the free speech rights of all Americans.
  I oppose this amendment because I believe that while it is critical 
to support speech with which we agree, it is even more crucial to 
support speech with which we disagree.
  Whether it has been campaign finance laws or amendments to prohibit 
flag burning, I have consistently opposed amending the Constitution to 
limit the First Amendment.
  As others have mentioned, if this amendment is adopted, it would be 
the first time Congress has limited rights protected in the Bill of 
Rights. This would be a very dangerous precedent to set.
  By limiting the amount of money individuals and corporations can 
spend on elections, this amendment would clearly limit their rights 
under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has made clear that this 
would be tantamount to a restriction on ``the number of issues 
discussed, the depths of their exploration, and the size of the 
audience reached.''
  This amendment would allow us to decide what amount of money is 
speech and who can use it. This is a perilous amount of power to place 
in the hands of politicians. I don't think we need to protect incumbent 
politicians. I think we need to protect the rights under the First 
  In addition to concerns with what we know this amendment will do, I 
am even more concerned about what we don't know. Before we amend the 
Constitution, we are obligated to understand the effects of the 
  What does it mean to ``influence elections,'' as the bill states? Who 
is a ``candidate''? What is the ``press''? Does this include bloggers? 
What about a citizen who writes his or her own newsletter to their 
community association and prints it on her home printer? All of these 
terms and more seem ripe for litigation, which leaves the true meaning 
of this amendment in the hands of unelected judges.

[[Page S5474]]

  It also bears mentioning that opposition to this amendment is not 
limited to Republicans or conservative organizations. The ACLU wrote a 
letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, 
on which I serve, opposing this legislation. The ACLU stated: ``As we 
have said in the past, this and similar constitutional amendments would 
fundamentally break the Constitution and endanger civil rights and 
civil liberties for generations.''
  I could not agree more.
  Amending the Constitution is serious business. I believe limiting the 
Bill of Rights for the first time in our history is a bad decision. I 
will once again vote to preserve and protect the First Amendment, and I 
urge my colleagues to do the same by rejecting S.J. Res. 19.
  As an incumbent politician, I am the first to concede that elections 
are daunting. They are unpredictable. It is unnerving to see other 
groups and individuals spend money to run ads against you. But the 
alternative is to have me, as an incumbent politician, write rules and 
regulations to limit the speech of those who would run against me or 
support those who would run against me. That is wrong. It is wrong for 
people in this body to define speech and to define who is entitled to 
  We need to tread carefully. That is why we need to reject this 
  I yield back the balance of my time and I suggest the absence of a 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland.
  Mr. CARDIN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection.

                            Racial Profiling

  Mr. CARDIN. I rise today to discuss the tragic shooting of Michael 
Brown last month in Ferguson, MO.
  Michael Brown did not need to die. This cycle of needless sacrificing 
of our teens to violent ends must end. It has been heartbreaking to see 
yet another American town gripped by such a tragedy. I welcome Attorney 
General Holder's decision last week to begin a pattern or practice 
investigation into the allegations of unlawful policing by the City of 
Ferguson's Police Department. I also strongly support the Justice 
Department's outreach efforts through their Community Oriented Policing 
Services Office. This office, known as the COPS Office, can help better 
evaluate and train local law enforcement to carry out fair and 
impartial policing.
  In addition to the recent investigation announced by the Department 
of Justice, I urge Attorney General Holder to expedite the issuance of 
new guidelines that would, once and for all, prohibit racial profiling 
by law enforcement officers at all levels of government, including the 
federal, State, and local law enforcement officials. Congress should 
also examine the program that provides for the transfer of surplus 
military equipment to local law enforcement agencies to ensure local 
government is not inhibiting the First Amendment rights of people to 
peaceably assemble and petition their government for the redress of 
  Local government must also respect the First Amendment rights of the 
press to do their jobs, report the story, and help provide the truth to 
the American people.
  For a more permanent fix, Congress should take up and pass 
legislation that I authored, the End Racial Profiling Act, known as 
ERPA, which is S. 1038. I want to thank my colleagues who have 
cosponsored this legislation, including Senators Reid, Durbin, 
Blumenthal, Coons, Harkin, Menendez, Stabenow, Levin, Mikulski, Warren, 
Boxer, Gillibrand, Hirono, Wyden, and Murphy. I also thank Congressman 
John Conyers, the ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, for 
introducing the House companion legislation, H.R. 2851, which has 54 
cosponsors in the House of Representatives.
  This legislation provides training and monitoring for law enforcement 
agencies at all levels of government. By enacting this legislation, we 
can begin to reduce the racial disparities that plague our Nation's 
criminal justice system. We need to better educate more of our law 
enforcement officials in the differences between specific suspect 
descriptions and sweeping generalizations or profiling that wastes 
valuable resources. Racial profiling is un-American. It has no place 
within the values of our country. It turns communities against the 
partnerships needed to keep our neighborhoods safe.
  Two years ago, I want to remind my colleagues, the Senate and the 
American people were having this very same conversation. So it is 
heartbreaking to me that we are having this conversation again without 
having taken more definitive action. In 2012 the Nation's attention was 
riveted to the tragic avoidable death of Trayvon Martin in Florida in 
February 2012. As we all know from the news, an unarmed Martin, 17, was 
shot in Sanford, FL, on his way home from a convenience store while 
wearing a hoodie and carrying a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles.
  After the tragedy I met with the faith and civil rights groups at the 
Center for Urban Families in Baltimore to discuss the issue of racial 
profiling. Joining me were representatives of various faith and civil 
rights groups in Baltimore, as well as graduates from the Center's 
  I heard there first-hand accounts of typical American families who 
were victims of racial profiling. One young woman recounted going to a 
basketball game with her father, only to have her dad detained by the 
police for no apparent reason other than the color of his skin.
  Trayvon's tragic death led to a discussion in the Senate of the 
broader issue of racial profiling. The Senate Judiciary Committee held 
a hearing on ``Ending Racial Profiling In America'' in April 2012 which 
was chaired by Senator Durbin. At the hearing I was struck by the 
testimony of Ronald L. Davis, the Chief of Police of the City of Palo 
Alto, CA.
  I want to quote in part from Chief Davis's testimony, in which he 

       There exists no national, standardized definition for 
     racial profiling that prohibits all uses of race, national 
     origin, and religion, except when describing a person. 
     Consequently, many State and local policies define racial 
     profiling as using race as the ``sole'' basis for a stop or 
     any police action. This definition is misleading in that it 
     suggests using race as a factor for anything other than a 
     description is justified, which it is not. Simply put, race 
     is a descriptor, not a predictor. To use race along with 
     other salient descriptors when describing someone who just 
     committed a crime is appropriate.

  Then Chief Davis continued:

       However, when we deem a person to be suspicious or attach 
     criminality to a person because of the color of his or her 
     skin, the neighborhood they are walking in or the clothing 
     they are wearing, we are attempting to predict criminality. 
     The problem with such predictions is that we are seldom right 
     in our results and always wrong in our approach.

  After the hearing I was joined at a press conference by Baltimore's 
Reverend Dr. Jamal Bryant, a leading youth activist and adviser to the 
Trayvon Martin family. Reverend Bryant echoed the call of ending racial 
profiling by law enforcement in America, and let me quote him:

       This piece of legislation being offered by my Senator, 
     Senator Cardin, is the last missing piece for the civil 
     rights bill from 1965 that says there ought to be equality 
     regardless of one's gender or one's race. Racial profiling is 
     in fact an extension of racism in America that has been 
     unaddressed and this brings closure to the divide in this 

  I have called for putting an end to racial profiling, a practice that 
singles out individuals based on race, ethnicity, national origin or 
religion. My legislation would protect minority communities by 
prohibiting the use of racial profiling by law enforcement officials.
  First, the bill prohibits the use of racial profiling by all law 
enforcement agents, whether Federal, State or local. Racial profiling 
is defined in a standard, consistent definition as the practice of a 
law enforcement agent relying on race, ethnicity, religion or national 
origin as a factor in their investigation and activities. The 
legislation creates an exception for use of these factors where there 
is trustworthy information relevant to the locality and timeframe which 
links a person of a particular race, ethnicity or national origin to an 
identified incident or scheme.
  Law enforcement agencies would be prohibited from using racial 

[[Page S5475]]

in criminal or routine law enforcement investigations, immigration 
enforcement, and national security cases.
  Second, the bill would mandate training on racial profiling issues 
and require data collection by local and State law enforcement 
  Third, this bill would condition the receipt of federal funds by 
State and local law enforcement on two grounds. First, under this bill, 
State and local law enforcement would have to ``maintain adequate 
policies and procedures that are designed to eliminate racial 
profiling.'' Second, they must ``eliminate any existing practices that 
permit or encourage racial profiling.''
  Fourth, the bill would authorize the Justice Department to provide 
grants to State and local governments to develop and implement best 
policing practices that would discourage racial profiling such as an 
early warning system.
  Finally, the bill would require the Attorney General to provide 
periodic reports to assess the nature of any ongoing discriminatory 
profiling practices. The bill would also provide remedies for 
individuals who were harmed by racial profiling.
  The legislation I have introduced is supported by a broad coalition 
of civil rights groups. These groups include the Leadership Conference 
on Civil and Human Rights, the ACLU, NAACP, Rights Working Group, and 
numerous other national, State and local organizations.
  Racial profiling is bad policy, but given the state of our budgets, 
it also diverts scarce resources from real law enforcement. Law 
enforcement officials nationwide already have tight budgets. The more 
resources spent investigating individuals because of their race, 
religion, national origin or ethnicity, the fewer resources are used 
towards suspects who are actually demonstrating illegal behavior. Using 
racial profiling makes it less likely that certain affected communities 
will voluntarily cooperate with local law enforcement and community 
policing efforts, making it harder for our law enforcement community to 
fight crime and terrorism.
  Minorities living and working in these communities in which racial 
profiling is used may feel discouraged from traveling freely, which 
corrodes the public trust in government. This ultimately demonizes 
entire communities and perpetuates negative stereotypes based on an 
individual's race, ethnicity or religion.
  Racial profiling has no place in modern law enforcement. The vast 
majority of law enforcement officials who put their lives on the line 
every day handle their jobs with professionalism, diligence, and 
fidelity to the rule of law, and they understand that racial profiling 
has no place in their work.
  However, the Congress and Justice Department should still take steps 
to prohibit racial profiling and finally root out its use.
  I agree with Attorney General Holder's remarks to the American-Arab 
Anti-Discrimination Committee where he stated:

       In this Nation, security and liberty are--at their best--
     partners, not enemies, in ensuring safety and opportunity for 
     all. . . . In this Nation, the document that sets forth the 
     supreme law of the land--the Constitution--is meant to 
     empower, not exclude. . . . Racial profiling is wrong. It can 
     leave a lasting scar on communities and individuals. And it 
     is, quite simply, bad policing--whatever city, whatever 

  The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the 
equal protection of law to all Americans. Racial profiling is important 
to that principle. It should be ended once and for all.
  As the late Senator Ted Kennedy often said: ``Civil rights is the 
great unfinished business of America.'' Let's continue the fight here 
to make sure that we truly have equal justice under the law for all 
Americans. I urge my colleagues to support the legislation I have 
introduced that will end racial profiling once and for all.
  Madam 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.
  Mrs. FISCHER. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mrs. FISCHER. Madam President, I rise to express my strong 
frustration--and the frustration of Nebraskans--with the Senate's 
current debate.
  Similar to many of my colleagues, I spent the past 5 weeks traveling 
my State and meeting with constituents. I held over one dozen listening 
sessions in communities all across Nebraska. Not a single Nebraskan 
told me to go back to Washington and vote to limit free speech. Not a 
single Nebraskan told me to come and play politics or take show votes.
  The message I received from almost every Nebraskan was the same: Get 
something done, turn the economy around, deal with overregulation, help 
control the costs of health care, and help businesses create jobs. 
Prevailing concern with the economy and weak job growth exists all 
across our country. According to several leading economists, 225,000 
jobs were supposed to be created last month. Instead, the number of 
jobs created was just 142,000. The real unemployment rate--those who 
are unemployed or underemployed--remains unacceptably high at nearly 12 
percent. That is 19 million Americans who are out of work or want to 
work more hours.
  It is a disgrace the Senate is not debating policies that will help 
them. Instead, we are debating a bill to limit free speech. It is no 
wonder the American people have such a poor opinion of Congress. 
Seriously, what are we doing here? In Washington, those in power are 
more concerned with winning elections so they can stay in power than 
with actually governing and making tough decisions that will protect 
our country and help our families, and that is what we are doing today 
with another show vote, another sound bite that is engineered by 
campaign strategists who don't have any interest in sound policy.
  I wish to address the two proposals before the Senate this week--a 
resolution to amend the Bill of Rights and campaign legislation that is 
targeting women voters. The resolution offered by the Senator from New 
Mexico is, I believe, a clear attack on the First Amendment and a 
series of recent Supreme Court rulings. The measure grants unlimited 
authority to Congress and State legislatures to criminalize speech on 
any platform, and that includes the Internet.
  This proposal guts the First Amendment and the principles of free 
speech that have endured since the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791. 
It further empowers incumbent politicians to make decisions with less 
accountability, and it muffles the voices of private citizens. It is 
perverse that the Senate is actually devoting time to debating the 
constitutional amendment that would actually diminish democratic 
participation and decrease freedom.
  What have we become?
  In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the ACLU wrote that 
the proposed amendment ``would severely limit the First Amendment, lead 
directly to government censorship of political speech and result in a 
host of unintended consequences that would undermine the goals the 
amendment has been introduced to advance--namely encouraging vigorous 
political dissent and providing voice to the voiceless, which we, of 
course, support.''
  The ACLU is not exactly an ally of the Republican Party, but their 
letter shows there is broad concern over this poorly crafted 
  I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to stand for free 
speech, to stand for democratic participation, and to reject this 

                           PAYCHECK FAIRNESS

  At this time I wish to address the issue of equal pay and the 
paycheck fairness legislation. Make no mistake, some women in this 
country continue to struggle with gender-based pay discrimination. 
Equal pay for equal work is a principle I strongly support. With 60 
percent of women working as primary breadwinners, lost wages hurt 
families and single women alike. Republicans fully agree that gender-
based pay discrimination in the workplace is unacceptable.
  In April I worked with Senator Collins, Senator Ayotte, and Senator 
Murkowski on a reasonable proposal to modernize key portions of the 51-
year-old Equal Pay Act. Our proposal prevents retaliation against 
employees who inquire about, discuss or disclose

[[Page S5476]]

their salaries. In fact, one of the President's April Executive orders 
also deals with nonretaliation, suggesting this is an area we can agree 
and work together.
  Our proposal also reinforces current law which prohibits pay 
discrimination based on gender and it requires employers to notify 
employees of their rights.
  Finally, it addresses the opportunity gap or the need to provide both 
men and women with good-paying jobs. It consolidates duplicative job 
training programs and provides Federal grants to States for the 
creation of industry-led partnerships. This program is meant to provide 
women and men underrepresented in industries that report worker 
shortages with the skills they need to compete.
  I believe this proposal could pass the Senate. It is reasonable, it 
is targeted, and it is a serious solution. Instead, we have a Senate 
that is laser focused on election-year politics, bills that no 
Republican can support, and bills that even some Democrats reject.
  The majority leader does not appear to have any interest in putting 
bills on the floor that can pass--bills we can work on together. That 
idea doesn't fit into that election-year playbook. At the end of the 
day, this is raw politics. That is all it is. Nebraskans expect more. 
Americans expect more. They expect us to do our jobs, to work together 
to offer solutions, to debate, to amend, and to vote.
  There are so many proposals I would love to vote on. Sometimes you 
win, sometimes you lose, but we should be voting. We have to start 
having meaningful debate. We have to start taking votes, and they 
better be real votes. That is the only way we are going to do our jobs, 
and that is the only way we will be held accountable by our 
constituents. We should be tackling those very important issues we 
spoke to our neighbors and friends about when we were at home traveling 
our States during the August recess.
  Enough with the sound bites, enough with the show votes, enough 
speaking to cameras. Let's listen to the American people. Let's get 
back to the Senate we all admired when we were in school and read about 
in our country's history. As students we studied those serious--and 
many times very heated--debates that took place on this floor.
  As Senators we may not always agree on what is the best policy, but 
we better start doing our jobs. We need to return to debating real 
policy that addresses the very real needs of the American people.
  I thank the Presiding Officer.
  I yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. INHOFE. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


  Mr. INHOFE. Madam President, I was not scheduled to speak at this 
time, but there is something going on today that is pretty exciting and 
I wish to share with everyone.
  There is a new group that has been formed that is called the IDC, In 
Defense of Christians. I just came from addressing this group's summit, 
and it is pretty amazing. There are over 1,000 people in the Visitor 
Center's big auditorium. It is the largest crowd that has ever been 
down there, and it has been quickly formed because of the persecution 
that has taken place throughout the world and primarily in the ISIS 
  Unfortunately I don't have charts that are big enough to project this 
issue well, but at least the President is there and can see them. This 
is the area where ISIS is working. They are not just in Syria and Iraq. 
They are in Jordan and other areas. It is a very large area. They are 
not confined to any particular area.

  One of the problems that is being addressed--we know about what they 
are doing. We know they are probably the strongest force and greatest 
threat against the United States we have ever faced.
  I was very proud of the Secretary of Defense, Secretary Hagel. He was 
very outspoken when he talked about the threat we are facing. He 
characterized it as a great threat.
  Why is it a great threat? It is a great threat because they have 
already declared war on America, and that is why I stood here yesterday 
to get support in the Senate for authority to use military force--that 
is AUMF--and we are going to make every effort to get that done.
  Tonight the President is going to speak about this issue. Hopefully 
he will come out stronger than he has in the past and say something 
meaningful about how he, as the President of the United States, is 
going to win this war. I am not expecting it, but I am hoping for it. 
There is no doubt that once we pass this resolution, he will have the 
authority to do it. This group is concerned with that matter, but the 
reason they are together is because they are concerned with the 
Christian and religious persecution that is going on.
  I have a lot of background in this area. Way back--before a lot of 
you guys were born--in 1979, I was mayor of the city of Tulsa, OK, and 
I remember a man named Boris Penson. Boris Penson was sent to a 
Siberian gulag prison for 9 years. He was there because of the fact 
that he would not relinquish his Jewish faith. He was persecuted 
because of his faith, and we were able to get him out. That was a long 
time ago.
  I had another experience in 1988 in Damascus. There was Christian 
persecution going on at that time. We were able to get them to change 
the geography a little bit so the people there could openly pray to 
their lord and savior Jesus Christ. That was unheard of in Syria. It 
was not like it is today. Today they are killing them. Back then they 
were putting them in prison.
  I think it is important for people to understand that ISIS is the 
most well-organized, well-funded terrorist group in history. More than 
1 million people have fled their homes in Iraq after being given the 
ultimatum by ISIS to convert to Islam or be put to death. Since they 
invaded Iraq, hundreds and thousands of men and women have been 
enslaved and have been beheaded as a result of the ultimatum to 
Christians. I will read it to my colleagues because I don't want to be 
misquoted. They issued the ultimatum to Christians living in the region 
I just showed: ``Convert to Islam or face death by the sword.'' That is 
what is going on today.

  As I told this group a few minutes ago, now and then we have a happy 
ending. I have been active--and a lot of people know this--in Africa 
now for 20 years. I have actually made 135 African country visits. I 
have seen all kinds of things take place in terms of religious 
intolerance, persecution. But I remember very well being in the new 
country called South Sudan. South Sudan is to the south of Sudan. Sudan 
is up there near Khartoum. We are all familiar with that and the 
problems taking place there, and we know how intolerant they are there.
  It happened there was a lady there named Mariam Ibrahim. I am going 
to show my colleagues a picture. We have never seen a prettier lady in 
her life. That is in her wedding dress. She is beautiful. She is 
Sudanese. She had been a Muslim. However, she renounced that and she 
now is a Christian. So they went to this beautiful young lady who had 
one baby and she was 8 months pregnant with her next baby, and they 
said, We are going to put you on trial. You have to renounce 
Christianity. She said, I can't do it. They said, Well, you have to do 
it. So she was found guilty of not renouncing her Christianity. She was 
sentenced to 100 lashes, which would kill her, and then they would hang 
her up by her neck for public display as an example of what happens.
  Several of us were involved in this. We had a lot of cooperation from 
some of the surrounding African countries, including Uganda, President 
Museveni came through; President Kagame from Rwanda; President Kabila 
from Congo, and our State Department and others, and we were able to 
get them to have an appeal. As of today, she is now out of prison. She 
is back. She has two children, and she and her husband and children are 
living in the United States.
  If it hadn't been for seeing what Mariam Ibrahim was facing and 
knowing that was going on and seeing the beautiful picture of her and a 
few of us finding out about it, she would be right now still hanging up 
for display.

[[Page S5477]]

  This is what is happening. A lot of people out there are saying, 
Well, ISIS is a very serious thing, but this isn't our problem. Yes, it 
is. I can remember 3 months ago I made the statement that ISIS is a 
threat to our homeland and people didn't believe that was the case. 
There is a poll that came out yesterday that I thought I had with me 
and I don't. But the ABC poll shows that 71 percent of the American 
people believe ISIS is a direct threat to the homeland of the United 
States of America. That is 71 percent of the people. They also 
believe--the same 71 percent of the people--that our President does not 
have the strategy to win this war. So tonight we are hoping to hear 
something that is out of character for him. We are hoping it will be 
something strong that will allow us to win the war.
  Let me wind up by welcoming those over 1,000 people who are 
downstairs right now in the Visitor Center who are from the Defense of 
Christians Summit that is taking place as we speak. We have a lot of 
people out there. They are doing the Lord's work and they will be 
richly blessed for it.
  I yield the floor and 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. WARNER. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. WARNER. Madam President, I come to speak today on a question of 
enormous importance. Before I do so, I wish to take a moment, as I was 
just with the majority leader and the deputy leader and a number of our 
colleagues where we held a ceremony in commemoration of a Congressional 
Medal of Honor that was issued in remembrance of those who gave their 
lives on September 11, 13 years ago. Neither the Presiding Officer nor 
I were Members of the Senate at that time, but I think all of us 
remember where we were that early Tuesday morning, and the ceremony we 
just came from was an appropriate tribute.

                           Student Loan Debt

  Madam President, during the most recent recess in August, I 
crisscrossed Virginia in a variety of efforts. One that was 
particularly meaningful to me was where I did a statewide student debt 
tour, where literally I spoke with hundreds of students and graduates 
from families of nine Virginia colleges and universities about student 
debt and what this crushing amount of student debt is doing to their 
opportunities to get the same kind of fair shot the Presiding Officer 
and I both had.
  The schools I visited ranged from big 4-year public universities, 
small, private liberal arts colleges, to one of our historically Black 
colleges, as well as a 2-year community college. The student debt 
figure right now is at $1.2 trillion, exceeding credit card debt. 
Student debt has exceeded the aggregate of auto loan debt, credit card 
debt, and home equity debt balances, becoming, next to mortgages, the 
second largest debt of U.S. households. That means that for far too 
many young people, and not so young people, they are forced to put off 
their decisions about starting a family, launching a startup business, 
or buying a home because of the burdens of student debt. Many young 
people find themselves working in jobs they didn't want or necessarily 
train for just to pay off their student debts.
  At Old Dominion University I spoke to Carina. She is a bright and 
ambitious young woman who told me that in her sophomore year, she 
worked three jobs, at one point four jobs, to ensure that she met 
tuition. She mentioned that she was the first of all her family members 
to step foot on a college campus. She said: ``College is a foreign 
field in my family.'' She said: ``I am a pioneer.'' She is not alone. 
The challenges she faces are repeated time and time again.
  At Virginia State University, one of our historically Black colleges, 
I met with Tobias, who mentioned that a lot of his peers had to drop 
out of school because they could not afford to take out any more loans 
or debt. He told me: Senator Warner, I have made the decision to stay 
in school. It is the key to my future, but I do so knowing that I will 
have to spend a lot of years paying off student loans.

  At one of our finer public institutions in Virginia, the College of 
William & Mary, I had a great conversation with Jacob, a junior 
originally from the far southwest part of our State, in Lebanon, VA. He 
is graduating from college in 3 years instead of 4 because of dual 
enrollment he took while he was in high school, at Southwest Virginia 
Community College. He told me that despite his ambition, it is 
financially impossible for him to go on to immediately get a graduate 
degree or buy a home or buy a car or start a business, because even 
with shortening college from 4 years to 3 years, he still has a 
tremendous amount of student debt.
  I have to tell my colleagues, across Virginia I have heard over the 
last year more about this issue than virtually any other issue, from 
young people, from families, from parents. I remember somebody in 
Virginia Beach not too long ago, a young man, 31 years old, who 
actually served in elective office. He had graduated from the 
University of Michigan Law School, had worked as a lawyer, had been 
laid off, and was moving back in with his parents at the age of 31. I 
could almost see his ambitions being crushed because his student debt 
payments amounted to $2,000 a month. Where does he get the same kind of 
fair shot that many of us had?
  I am the first member of my family to graduate from college. I got 
out of college and law school and worked for a while, started 
businesses, failed miserably twice. The third time I managed to do well 
in a startup industry called cell phones. But I came out of that 
experience with a total of $15,000 worth of debt. I am not sure I would 
have taken the first shot or second shot or, Lord knows a third shot, 
if I had come out with $50,000 $60,000, $70,000, $80,000, or $100,000 
of debt that many people come out of school with now.
  We have to get on this issue. This issue is having an effect on our 
economic recovery. I meet with homebuilders on a regular basis and with 
realtors on a regular basis. They are saying, The real estate market is 
recovering for everybody except people buying starter homes. Why are 
they not buying starter homes? Time and again because of crushing 
amounts of student debt.
  I hope during this shortened period we will get a chance to have a 
conversation about a broadbased proposal to refinance student debt at 
lower rates. I am not sure we are going to be successful in that 
proposal, but I think it is a conversation and debate we ought to have. 
I look forward to supporting that effort. But if we are not able to get 
that effort across the finish line right now, we can't walk away from 
this issue.
  I have worked on a series of bipartisan, targeted reforms that would 
reduce costs, increase transparency, and allow students to better 
manage their amounts of debt. Any one of these proposals isn't going to 
completely solve this problem, but this should not go into the bucket 
of issues we continue to kick down the road. The issue of student debt, 
the affordability of college, are issues of enormous economic 
proportion and, frankly, one that shouldn't be viewed as a Democrat or 
Republican issue.
  Let me speak briefly about a couple of my proposals. First is a 
proposal I partnered with Senator Wyden and Senator Rubio on that in 
any rational place should be a complete no-brainer. It is a bill called 
Know Before You Go. The idea is quite simple. Let's do with higher 
education what we have done in real estate with the Zillow Web site or 
what we have done with the travel pricing, with Travelocity and a 
series of other Web sites, and try to take every 4-year institution, 2-
year institution, career and technical education program, graduate 
program, and make them totally transparent on a single user-friendly 
Web site, where before you go, you know what your chances of graduating 
are, how much debt you might want to take on, if you major in art 
history, the way my daughter did, what your chances of getting a job 
are and how much it is going to pay, so that we can actually make 
people better informed consumers before they choose higher education.

  Probably next to buying a house, higher education is the most 
expensive investment you will make in a lifetime. Maybe students will 
find out that

[[Page S5478]]

if they go to UVA and drop out after 3 years and come out with a lot of 
debt, they will not have much with which to get into the job market, 
whereas if they went to Piedmont Community College and actually came 
out with a 2-year degree in medical tech fields, they will have a 90-
percent placement opportunity.
  This Know Before You Go Act--we have collected most of this data 
already, so it should not be that big a stretch to put this in a user-
friendly fashion. What if Tobias's friends at Virginia State had a 
better idea before enrolling in college how much they would be expected 
to pay, how this would actually break down grants versus loans, a 
recognition of the actual graduation rate and their job prospects upon 
graduation? Maybe some of them might choose a different path.
  Better informed consumers of higher education would be one no-brainer 
  A second opportunity--and I do not know where it falls on the 
ideological spectrum, but on the commonsense spectrum it makes an awful 
lot of sense. Why does college have to be 4 years anymore? Why can't we 
have more students--particularly first-generation students--getting a 
jump-start on college with dual enrollment in high school? The key on 
this is to make sure the credits they get in their dual enrollment at 
community college actually count toward their degree requirement, which 
requires what are called articulation agreements between the 4-year 
institutions and the 2-year institutions. It does not do much good if 
you come into college with a lot of course credit but it does not count 
toward your degree requirements. Let's try to make sure more students 
can knock off a semester or a year of college in high school. That 
would save families $10,00, $20,000, $30,000, in effect, if we could 
make that happen.
  If you are a low-income student and you qualify for a Pell grant, why 
not be able to use part of those Pell grant proceeds in high school if 
the credits you receive in high school in dual enrollment actually 
count toward your degree requirements? Again, that is a jump-start on 
college. It would make sure that a student such as Jacob at William & 
Mary, rather than being the exception, would become more the rule.
  Let me talk about another proposal. Again, I am working with my 
colleague from Florida, Senator Rubio, on this legislation. Senator 
Rubio has a story similar to mine. He is the first generation in his 
family to graduate from college and law school. He tells stories as 
well of years of repaying student debt.
  In our student debt processes, we already have a series of payment 
proposals. Unfortunately, most of them are confusing. Many of them end 
up like the student I know or the young person I know in Virginia Beach 
who is on a fixed payment proposal. This individual, as I mentioned--
$2,000 a month, completely crushing his abilities to take any chances 
at all.
  So what Senator Rubio and I have done is we put together a proposal 
that would say the first option--it would still be the young person's 
option to opt out of, but the first option would be an income-based 
repayment proposal that would cap your student debt repayment at 10 
percent of your income. What would this do? Ten percent of your income 
would allow you to take that chance on that startup business. Ten 
percent of your income, capped, would maybe give you the ability to 
say: Oh gosh, if I hit a rough spot, I will not get crushed. I will not 
have to move back in with my family.
  This better structured, financially sustainable, income-based 
repayment proposal would allow young people to better manage their debt 
and avoid the impact of default.
  Part of our proposal includes loan forgiveness programs that will 
provide borrowers such as Jacob in southwest Virginia the kind of 
relief they want.
  Even if we cannot agree on a grand refinancing proposal, this income-
based capping at 10 percent--which has been greeted by left and right 
alike as a dramatic step forward--ought to be part of our discussion.
  Then I come to another proposal--one that, quite honestly, even this 
body with all of its dysfunction ought to be able to get done. I 
partnered with my colleagues Senator Thune and Senator Ayotte on a very 
business-friendly proposal that would be an option for an employer and 
employee. Right now, if an employee wants to continue with their 
education, an employer can take up to $5,000 of that employee's salary 
and apply it to their tuition, tax free, on continuing education. Well, 
if we are allowing an employer to do that for an employee to continue 
their education, to increase their skills, why not provide that same 
kind of option for an employer to apply that same amount--up to $5,000 
of a person's salary--directly against an employee's student debt 
pretax and tax free as well? It does not cost the employer another 
dime. This is purely at the option of the employee. It would be a great 
retention tool for a company to say: Hey, keep working with us. We are 
going to give you this benefit.
  That young or not-so-young person will get this money pretax going 
against their student debt. It is common sense, bipartisan, and 
something on which--even with all of our bitter battles back and 
forth--we ought to be able to find common ground.

  As I mentioned at the outset, like many Virginians, like many 
probably in this body, as the first in my family to have graduated from 
college--I could not have gotten to college; my family did not have the 
resources. I had to work. I got grants. But I also had to take out 
student debt. The student debt that I had at $15,000 pales in 
comparison to the average amount of debt with which people come out of 
even public universities in Virginia right now--more than $25,000. I 
had $15,000 of debt after college and law school. Look at people who 
come out of graduate school. On average those numbers more than double.
  This is an issue whose time has come for us to address. In America in 
the 21st century, you should not go broke if you decide to go to 
college. We all encourage our young people to get that education that 
will allow them to prosper in a knowledge-based economy, but we hold 
out a false hope when we say: Go get that education, but we are going 
to put you into such debt that for the next 20 years you are not going 
to be able to exercise that education in the way you wanted to because 
you are going to be scrambling to repay the obligations it took you to 
get those skills.
  I say this as a former Governor. This is the case. I was proud of the 
amount of the investment we made in higher education when I was 
Governor. Quite honestly, if we look across the board at every State in 
our Nation as a whole, over the last 20 years Federal and State direct 
aid to higher education has been virtually a straight line down. The 
cost of a higher education has been a straight line up. How have we 
filled that gap? We have filled that gap with basically an unfair deal 
to a whole generation. We have said: Do not worry about the cost; just 
take out more debt. For a while, when the economy was good and you 
could get a job pretty much guaranteed coming out of college or 
graduate school, this did not present a crisis. In the last 4 or 5 
years, as we have seen college graduates, law school graduates, 
graduate school graduates coming out without job opportunities, we have 
seen this house of cards collapse.
  I again remind my colleagues that there is $1.2 trillion of student 
debt--greater than credit card debt. The cost of a higher education is 
continuing to escalate at a rate even higher than health care costs.
  For those of us who are lucky enough to serve in this body, we all 
got our fair shot. If we are really going to honor our commitment to 
this next generation--and, quite honestly, the parents who are also 
helping to pay off this next generation--we have to deal with this 
crushing issue of student debt. I look forward to working with my 
colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we address this problem in a 
reasonable, responsible, and timely manner.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Baldwin.) The Senator from Texas.


  Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, we all are anticipating the President's 
speech tonight in which hopefully he will make the case for why it is 
in America's national security interest to eliminate the ISIS or ISIL 
threat from the Islamic State that is forming a new

[[Page S5479]]

caliphate in what used to be called Iraq and Syria and which hopefully 
will be restored.
  When the President first campaigned for President in 2008, I know he 
did not promote himself as a future war President--just the opposite. 
He told supporters that on his first day in office he would give U.S. 
military forces in Iraq a new mission, which was ending the war. But 
just because one side of a war quits does not mean the war ends. I 
think now we found that to be painfully obvious.
  When the President was running for reelection, time and time again he 
boasted that he upheld that 2008 campaign promise and brought the Iraq 
war to a close. He further assured us that the tide of war was 
receding. I am sure if he had a chance he would probably take back 
those words because history has disproved those very arguments.
  As recently as mid-June, even after the so-called Islamic State in 
Iraq and Syria had conquered the second largest Iraqi city, the city of 
Mosul, a national security spokeswoman was still repeating the White 
House talking points that are 3 years old, telling the Wall Street 
Journal that President Obama promised to responsibly end the war in 
Iraq and he did.
  Of course, America's complete withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 did not 
end the war, as I suggested a moment ago. It just ended the U.S. 
involvement in the war in Iraq until now. But it did make the 
resurgence of war much more likely. It was, in hindsight, a tragic 
mistake. We were the glue that held Iraq together, but once we left and 
pulled the plug without--because we did not negotiate a status of 
forces agreement or a bilateral security agreement, the old sectarian 
strife that is perhaps centuries or more old came back to the 
forefront. Iran continued its aggression in Iraq, as it had been doing 
all the time we were there, as well as their support for Bashar al-
Assad and his support for Hamas and other terrorist organizations. 
Meanwhile, in Libya--remember, NATO went to war in Libya as well, 
primarily using U.S. assets and money.
  Our complete and utter neglect of Libya following the neglect of 
Muammar Qadhafi did not end that war either; it merely created a 
security vacuum that was quickly filled by radical militias and 
terrorist groups with ties to Al Qaeda.
  If we learned anything from 9/11--and I just returned from a 
Congressional Gold Medal service in the Capitol--if we learned anything 
13 years ago, it is that vacuums get filled. If we do not fill the 
vacuum with constructive self-governance and respect for the rule of 
law and individual human worth and dignity, then that vacuum will be 
filled by terrorists and others who reject all of those fundamental 
values of our country. We did not learn it. We did not learn the 
lesson. We did not learn it in Libya. We did not learn it in Iraq. 
Eleven months after Qadhafi's death and less than a week after 
President Obama told the Democratic National Convention that Al Qaeda 
was on the path to defeat, Al Qaeda-linked terrorists killed four 
Americans in Benghazi, including our U.S. Ambassador--less than a week.
  I mention all this recent history because it all comes back to the 
issue of credibility, not only of our Commander in Chief in the United 
States, but of the American people. It comes down to our Nation's 
credibility around the world.
  Will we be trusted by our friends and allies? Will we be feared by 
our would-be adversaries, the bullies, the tyrants, the thugs, and the 
terrorists who will take advantage of the vacuum left once America 
  From the Middle East to the Far East, from Baghdad to Beijing, to 
Mosul, to Moscow, this administration has done tremendous damage to 
America's credibility.
  America is the one indispensable nation in the world. We may not like 
that sometimes; it may seem like too big a responsibility, but no one 
else can fill a void left when America retreats. Ronald Reagan 
understood that. That is why he stood for what he called peace through 
strength, and you know it works.
  But when the President announced a withdrawal date from Afghanistan 
in the very same speech in which he announced a U.S. troop surge, he 
damaged America's credibility again. Is that any way to encourage 
people to support the United States and NATO's mission in Afghanistan, 
to tell them: Well, we are going to surge troops today, but we are 
going to be gone tomorrow, so you better make your bets in terms of 
your long-term interest--which, in Afghanistan, means they are betting 
with America's adversaries.
  Of course, as we saw in Iraq, tragically--the investment the United 
States made in terms of blood and treasure, which was squandered in 
Iraq--he created another prospect of the squandering of America's blood 
and treasure in Afghanistan unless we have learned the lesson of Iraq.
  Then there is Syria. The President has given speech after speech. The 
Department of State, Hillary Clinton, others, the national security 
advisors, have said it is American policy that there be regime change 
in Syria, that Bashar al-Assad has to go.
  But then nothing happened--well, I take that back. Something did 
happen; 200,000 civilians have died in Syria as a result of that civil 
  The President came to Congress to ask for authority to conduct air 
strikes in Syria, but then when he couldn't explain what his strategy 
was, he got a lifeline from Vladimir Putin. Putin said: We will help 
you get rid of those chemical weapons in Syria. And the President 
retreated from that red line and nothing seemed to happen.
  In addition to those 200,000 Syrian civilians killed since the civil 
war started, we have seen millions of Syrians displaced in refugee 
camps in Turkey, in Lebanon, in Jordan.
  Then there is Ukraine. When the President promised to help Ukraine 
defeat Russian aggression, and to help it maintain its full territorial 
integrity and sovereignty, he subsequently refused to give the 
Ukrainians even modest defensive weapons. I think we sent them MREs, 
meals ready to eat. We sent them, maybe, some medical supplies which 
are important. But they needed not MREs but weapons to defeat Russian 
aggression, to raise the cost to Putin and his regime in their 
continued invasion of Ukraine and Crimea.
  Then the President decided: Well, we are just going to use economic 
sanctions against Putin. Putin could care less about the economic 
  Again, as to the extent to which our allies and friends can rely on 
us when they get in trouble, they begin to doubt our credibility. The 
bullies, tyrants, and terrorists lick their lips and take full 
advantage of the situation. We have seen that time and time again.
  Then there was when the President--I bet this is another couple of 
words he wished he could take back in light of subsequent events--
dismissed the Islamic State terrorists as the JV team. Even though they 
were gaining a stranglehold over eastern Syria and western Iraq, again 
the President--by underestimating a threat, a threat I am sure he will 
confront head on tonight--undermined America's credibility.
  Make no mistake. America's credibility does matter. And when America 
loses credibility, the world becomes a much more dangerous place. That 
is exactly what has happened over the past several years.
  I would say that despite the criticism I have made of the President's 
policy, I believe he has an opportunity tonight, starting tonight, to 
reverse some of that damage. Beginning with this speech on U.S. policy 
in Iraq and Syria, he has an opportunity to reverse the impression that 
he is aloof and detached from the ongoing chaos. He has the opportunity 
to lay out a clear strategy for destroying perhaps the richest, most 
well-armed terrorist group on the planet. He has an opportunity to 
describe how our strategy might utilize Syria's more moderate anti-
Assad rebel groups and describe how he plans to work with Congress on 
implementing that strategy. He has an opportunity to sell the American 
people on his strategy.
  Make no doubt about it. While the President thinks he can go this 
alone and he doesn't need to come to Congress for additional 
authorization, he does need and we do need the support of the American 
people. There are practical reasons why the President should come to 
Congress. Because if he makes the case to a bipartisan Congress and 
Congress issues the authorization for him to act because we actually 
believe he has a strategy that can

[[Page S5480]]

work, then I think the American people will be much more inclined to 
support that strategy.
  Tonight I hope he will speak not only to Congress, he will speak to 
the American people candidly about the threat and about our military 
goals and how he intends to achieve those goals by the strategy he lays 
  He has an opportunity to explain the evolving nature of the terrorist 
threat and also explain what he is going to do and what we can do 
together to defend U.S. interests and to keep America safe.
  Yesterday the Washington Post-ABC News poll revealed some very 
important data with regard to the American people's understanding of 
the threat and their support for what the President is talking about 
doing. In some ways it seems as if the American people were way ahead 
of their leadership in Congress and in the White House. From the 
Washington Post-ABC poll I will read three questions.

  No. 1:

       As you may know, a group of Sunni insurgents called the 
     Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS, has 
     taken control of parts of Iraq and Syria. How much, if at 
     all, do you see ISIS as a threat to the vital interests of 
     the United States?

  Ninety-one percent of the respondents responded said they see it as a 
serious threat to the vital interests of the United States.
  No. 2:

       Do you support or oppose U.S. air strikes against the Sunni 
     insurgents in Iraq?

  Seventy-one percent support.
  No. 3:

       Do you support or oppose expanding U.S. air strikes against 
     the Sunni insurgents into Syria?

  Sixty-five percent support.
  So we can see from the first question people recognize ISIS as a 
threat. Fewer support kinetic strikes against the insurgents in Iraq 
and Syria, but still a two-thirds majority do.
  My point is, while the President of the United States may take what I 
think is a very generous view of his authority as Commander in Chief 
and under the Constitution to do this without congressional 
authorization, I think it is a terrible mistake for him to do so for 
two reasons, one I just mentioned, which is he needs and we need the 
support of the American people before we send any American into harm's 
way to deal with this threat. We need to have a robust debate and there 
needs to be bipartisan support for this effort in order for the 
American people then to see we are united and thus to unite them in 
common cause against this terrible threat.
  Then the last reason is practical too. The President wants, it is 
reported, $5 billion. We have already burned up about $\1/2\ billion 
with air strikes in Iraq. War is expensive, and if the President says 
this is going to go on for another 3 years, which is one estimate I 
saw, he needs to come to Congress in order to get the appropriations, 
to get the money, in order to carry this out. If he thinks he can just 
come and request $5 billion and Congress is going to rubberstamp that 
or write him a blank check without any strategy, I think he is terribly 
mistaken. From what we have seen, since our Nation has been at war in 
Afghanistan and Iraq for these many years, 13 years in Afghanistan, we 
know war is expensive and $5 billion is a very minimal downpayment on 
what it will cost the American taxpayer to conduct this effort.
  The President may have a very narrow view of his responsibility to 
come to Congress and get authority, but there are very practical 
reasons why he should, as I said--both in terms of gaining the support 
of the American people for this effort before he sends more Americans 
into harm's way, and the fact that under the Constitution the 
Executive, the President, can't appropriate one penny. That is going to 
have to come from Congress.
  One party can't do this. Heaven forbid our national security would 
break down along purely partisan lines. But if the President doesn't 
have a plan and if he doesn't lay it out tonight, it is hard to see how 
he will get either the support of Congress, whether it is official or 
not, or of the American people.
  It is hard to see where this is going to go if he thinks he can fund 
this on the cheap when, in fact, by his own estimate and others' it is 
going to take 3 years or more to defeat ISIS.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.
  Ms. STABENOW. I ask unanimous consent to speak as in morning business 
for up to 10 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                            Income Equality

  Ms. STABENOW. Madam President, as the Presiding Officer is well 
aware, as one of our great leaders on our economic agenda, of what we 
are calling a fair shot, it is incredibly important in the time we are 
in session that we have an opportunity to vote again on each of those 
items and hopefully pass each of the items at the front line of what 
American families, American people, care about in terms of lifting 
their standard of living and creating more opportunities.
  It is great that we have seen the stock market more than double in 
the past 5, 6 years. It is great that someone who is living off of 
interest earnings has a better portfolio. That is great.
  But the person who is getting up every day, going to work, and maybe 
takes a shower after work, ought to have the same fair shot to get 
ahead so that this economy is growing--and that is great--but it needs 
to grow and create opportunity for everyone.
  We can help with that by having the right support and the right 
policies, and that is what the fair shot agenda is all about.
  This afternoon we are going to be voting on a very important piece--
which I frankly can't believe we are even having to talk about in 
2014--whether we are going to actually enforce equal pay for equal work 
  When I think about my own family, my daughter, daughter-in-law, and 
granddaughter at 7 years old--I hope by the time she grows up we are 
not still going to be talking about this issue. I think about they are 
working hard every day and the assumption they have is that they will 
get paid just as their male counterparts are.
  There are those who have said: Well, this is a distraction. This 
isn't really an issue. There are some in Michigan who have said: Women 
don't care about equal pay. What they care about is flexibility.
  My response is flexibility doesn't buy my groceries. It does not buy 
my daughter's groceries. It does not put gas in her car. It does not 
pay her mortgage.

  The reality is, in America, in 2014, there is absolutely no reason--
zero--that we would not have a 100-percent vote not just on the 
procedural vote to proceed but on a final bill to make sure enforcement 
is in place on equal pay--a pretty big deal. An awful lot of women who 
are the sole breadwinners in their families are counting on us to get 
this right so they can make sure their kids, who are now going back to 
school, can have the school clothes they need, they can put the food on 
the table, they can put the gas in the car to get them to school and 
get to work, and so on.
  Another big piece of all this agenda in terms of creating opportunity 
for people is to make sure you can afford to go to college. That same 
person who is trying to put food on the table would love to put money 
aside in a bank account for their kids to go to college and would love 
to know that, when they are doing the right thing--they are making the 
grade, they are going to college--they will not be stuck with mounds of 
debt, buried in debt, because we do not have the right kind of system 
that provides funding for higher education and access to low-interest 
  So another piece of the fair shot agenda, which is absolutely 
critical, is to make sure--let's start with ground zero, which is ``at 
least''--that anybody who has a student loan now will have a chance to 
refinance it, just like you would a house, at the lowest possible 
interest rate, which is impossible today.
  Now, what does that do? We know there is more student loan debt today 
than credit card debt. Think about that for a minute. There is more 
student loan debt than credit card debt--$1 trillion. There are 
mortgage bankers in Michigan saying to me: You have to fix this because 
I have folks who want to buy a house and they cannot qualify because of 
their student loan debt. They want to start a small business and they 
cannot get a loan because of their student loan debt. We also know 
there are actually people who are on Medicare who are holder than 65 

[[Page S5481]]

of age in this country who are still paying off student loan debt. When 
we talk about opportunity and a basic value of America: Work hard, go 
to school, have opportunity, it seems to me this flies in the face of 
  So another really important piece we want to get to and we want to 
pass is the ability to allow people, step one, to renegotiate and to 
refinance their student loans at the lowest possible interest rate from 
last year, which is 3.86 percent for undergraduate students. So that 
needs to get done so we are addressing one of the huge burdens and 
costs on middle-class families.
  We also know that, unfortunately, we have another agenda item that 
came about because of the Supreme Court deciding that for women--that 
for women only--our choices on preventive health care, on birth 
control--if we are on the job covered by insurance our boss can 
actually overrule personal decisions about what type of birth control a 
woman will choose for herself, for her family. So we have a bill called 
Not My Boss's Business. I think it is pretty clear. It is not your 
boss's business what decisions you make, and you should be able to have 
your birth control decisions and what you need covered just like 
anything else in terms of preventive health care for men are for women.
  So that is another piece of all of this that needs to get passed to 
make it clear. This is an economic issue for people. I know in my own 
family, when I think about my daughter and son and nieces and nephews 
who are planning their families and making decisions, these are 
economic issues about health care coverage.
  We have two other critically important economic issues that are part 
of what we want to get done before this session ends in September. One 
is raising the minimum wage. It seems to me pretty basic that if you 
are working 40 hours or more a week you should not be in poverty, plain 
and simple. If we are going to reward work, if we are going to expect 
people to work, then working should pay more than not working. If you 
are working 40 hours a week, you ought to be making more than the 
poverty level. It has been way too long for American workers to get a 
pay raise.
  So that is an important part of it.
  Then finally there is a bill that I have introduced that, to me, 
ought to be a no-brainer. I do not understand; we tried to pass it a 
couple years ago. It was blocked. And it was blocked again by 
Republican colleagues a few weeks ago. We need to get this done. It has 
to do with a part of our Tax Code that allows a company that packs up 
shop and moves the factory overseas to write off the cost of the move, 
so the American taxpayers, including workers who just lost their job, 
would be paying for it.

  Unfortunately, over the years, we have seen too much of that in 
Michigan. Now things are coming back. Manufacturing is coming back. We 
are very happy about that. But we want to send a very strong message 
that if you pack up shop and decide to move overseas, American 
taxpayers, the workers and their families, the communities are not 
going to pay for the move. But if you want to come back, we are more 
than happy to allow you to write off those costs through the Tax Code, 
and we will even give you another 20 percent tax credit for those costs 
on top of it.
  So it is very simple. The Bring Jobs Home Act simply says: If you 
want to come back to America, great, we will help you do that. We will 
help you pay for those costs to come back to America. But if you want 
to leave the country, you are on your own.
  So those are the five items that we want to get done before the end 
of this month that all relate to whether we are going to have 
opportunity and we are going to focus on the middle class of this 
country. Too many folks are barely holding on or are not holding on or 
used to see a path to get to the middle class and cannot anymore. That 
is not going to work for America. If we do not have people who know 
they have a fair shot to make it--that they have opportunity, that they 
see opportunity for their children--if they do not have money in their 
pocket so they can take care of their family and invest in the future, 
we are not going to have a strong economy. That is just a fact.
  So we are glad that Wall Street is doing well. But it is time to 
focus on Main Street, middle-class Americans. That is what the fair 
shot agenda is all about, and I hope colleagues will come together and 
help us get this done.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Missouri.
  Mr. BLUNT. Madam President, when I was home last month, I heard a lot 
from Missourians, for really the first time over and over: What about 
all of the bills the House has passed that the Senate has not taken up? 
What about funding the government? My good friend from Michigan just 
mentioned the five things she would like to get done before we get to 
the end of the year. I think everybody on the other side of the aisle 
knows those five things, for various reasons, will not happen this 
  But what are we not doing? We are less than a month away from the 
beginning of a new spending year. We have not voted on a single one of 
the appropriations bills. There is no budget. The fundamental work of 
the government is not going on while we continue to debate the same 
things over and over because there are some people who think there is a 
good title to the bill or a good headline: The five things we want to 
get done.
  Equal pay. Who is not for equal pay? The law requires equal pay. In 
fact, when the President signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act, he said: This 
solves the problem. Well, suddenly, it does not solve the problem 
because we want to get that title back out there again where we can 
talk about the title.
  Access to college. I am the first person in my family to ever 
graduate from college. I had the chance to be a university president. I 
believe people's lives are affected by the right kind of education 
after high school. Nobody is opposed to access to college. We ought to 
be talking about that. But we ought to be talking about that in a way 
that can produce the right kind of result.
  When the people of Missouri are saying: You are not getting the work 
of the country done, that is clearly right--just the fundamental things 
that need to get done, and here we are back in Washington, reminded by 
our friends on the other side that really we are here to just hold 
votes we have already had. Not a single thing was mentioned in the 
preceding remarks that we have not voted on already and not a single 
thing was mentioned in the preceding remarks that has any chance of 
passing both the House and the Senate and, frankly, has no chance of 
advancing in either the House or the Senate. But here we take these 
critical 2 weeks--the government is unfunded, no budget to talk about, 
with work not being done--to talk about these things.
  Right now, the joint resolution we are on--with all the critical 
challenges we have not solved, we are talking about changing the 
Constitution. The only person in the Senate who can decide what bill 
comes to the floor is the majority leader, and the majority leader has 
brought a joint resolution to the floor, an amendment to the 
Constitution, an amendment that would take 67 votes in the Senate to 
pass, an amendment that has 45 sponsors, all from the other side--not 
very close to 67. Nobody believes this is going to happen.
  To amend the Constitution, two-thirds of the Senate has to agree. 
That will not happen. Two-thirds of the House has to agree. That will 
not happen. Two-thirds of the States have to approve the amendment. 
That will not happen. More importantly, it should not happen. We are 
talking about amending the Constitution of the United States when there 
is no chance of doing it. So the only thing we are surely talking about 
is just trying to score some kind of last-minute election-year points. 
But if people are paying attention, the points that will be scored will 
be scored by those defending the Bill of Rights and those defending the 
  What is being proposed here would have a chilling effect on the First 
Amendment, which says ``Congress shall make no law . . . abridging 
[among other things] the freedom of speech.'' We are thinking, for the 
first time ever, we would amend the Bill of Rights? Now, nobody really 
thinks we are going to do that so apparently everybody thinks, as long 
as it is just a show vote, it does not matter. But if you can take 
these freedoms today and decide they are worth bandying around as a 
show vote, I suppose you could

[[Page S5482]]

take them tomorrow and actually think about taking these freedoms away.

  The Constitution would not have become the Constitution of the United 
States without the promise of the Bill of Rights. The Founders got a 
lot of things right. They did not get everything right. But one of the 
things they got right was the Bill of Rights. One thing that the States 
demanded when the Constitution was shown to them was: We can do that, 
but we are not going to do that unless we are promised that these 
fundamental rights that make us who we are and have the potential to 
make us more than we are--that these fundamental rights are guaranteed. 
We have never amended the Bill of Rights. So suddenly 45 Members of the 
Senate--with no enthusiasm for this anywhere else that I can find in 
the country--45 Members of the Senate have decided that for the first 
time ever we would amend the Bill of Rights.
  Now, what does the Bill of Rights give us? It gives us freedom of 
religion--the first right. There will be another debate, I assume, late 
in the next 2 weeks to once again talk about how important is that 
right of conscience, that the Constitution in the Bill of Rights 
guarantees--the very first freedom it gives us is the freedom to 
believe what we believe. In fact, President Jefferson said in the 
decade after the Constitution was written that of all the rights, that 
is the one we should hold most dear: the freedom to hold our beliefs 
and not let the government decide how you conduct yourself in ways that 
violate your faith beliefs.
  But right after that comes--what we are talking about--freedom of 
speech, the second of all those freedoms. There may be people here not 
at all offended by the fact that we can just bandy that around with no 
chance we are going to change this amendment. It is not like there are 
67 cosponsors of this amendment.
  I find it offensive we would talk about this as if it is a freedom so 
easily discussed and so easily utilized for political reasons that we 
just bring it up here a few weeks before the election and talk about 
it, even though there is no chance it could possibly be changed at this 
point and shouldn't be changed in the future.
  The right of conscience, the freedom of speech, the freedom of press, 
the right to peaceably assemble, the right to petition the government--
those are the five freedoms given in the First Amendment to the 
Constitution, and here we are talking about them as if they are nothing 
more than political talking points. They are who we are as a nation.
  The chilling effect this discussion has on the First Amendment is 
concerning. I suppose part of it is to convince people: You don't want 
to participate in the system because you are going to be criticized if 
you participate in the system.
  One of the great rights we have as Americans is the right to 
criticize those who are participating and, if we do participate, the 
right that others have to criticize us. This is an effort that if it 
occurred would certainly be a great thing for the current occupants of 
public office because you begin to write the rules in a way that makes 
it harder for those who don't hold public office to challenge those who 
do. No one likes being criticized, but in our country it is a 
fundamental part of who we are.
  The Constitution wouldn't have been agreed to without the Bill of 
Rights. The Bill of Rights, as I said before, hasn't been changed. The 
freedom of the press is one of those rights, but it is not the only 
one. This amendment would go a long way toward making the press the 
only way people get their information and news. The press--the media 
generally--has a guaranteed right to do what they do, but individuals 
have a guaranteed right to say what they want to say, to participate as 
the courts and the Constitution allow in this great debate we call 
  To see that dealt with in this way--I actually wonder what people 
would think if they thought this was going to happen. Nobody believes 
this is going to happen because it is not going to happen. We are 
taking the people's time. We are taking the time given to us by the 
Constitution and the people to do the people's work, to instead talk 
about things that shouldn't happen, to talk about things that will not 
  To suggest there is a real debate going on in Washington, when this 
is exactly what people are tired of--people in Washington not doing 
their job and trying to convince the people whom Washington should be 
working for that somehow great debates are going on, when all we are 
doing is getting ready for the next election, I am tired of that. I 
think most citizens of our country are tired of it.
  For those who want to defend the Constitution, count me on their 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa.