STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS
By Mr. MCCAIN (for himself and Mr. DORGAN):
S. 1231. A bill to amend the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act to modify provisions relating to the National Fund for Excellence in American Indian Education; to the Committee on Indian Affairs.
Mr. MCCAIN. Mr. President, today I introduce the National Fund for Excellence in American Indian Education Amendments Act of 2005 to revise the Act.
In 2000, Congress authorized the establishment of a Federally-chartered non-profit foundation to further the educational opportunities for Native American students. This foundation, named the National Fund for Excellence in American Indian Education, was established in July, 2004 and has the potential for success in providing critical support to Native American students.
The legislation I introduce today will enable the foundation to become self-sufficient by authorizing appropriations for endowment or seed money and authorize the Secretary of the Interior to provide funding for the foundation's operating costs on a reimbursement basis. The legislation authorizes $5 million each fiscal year 2007 through 2009 and increases the administration cost limit from 10 percent to 15 percent of donations and transferred funds. This bill will also allow the Board to appoint the Chief Operating Officer who will be experienced in Indian education.
Mr. President, this legislation will provide significant improvements for the foundation in its mission of advancing Indian education and I urge my colleagues to join me in this effort. I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the RECORD.
There being no objection, the bill was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
By Mr. McCAIN (for himself and Mr. LIEBERMAN):
S. 1237. A bill to expedite the transition to digital television while helping consumers to continue to use their analog televisions; to the Committee on Finance.
Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce a bill to support the Nation's finest: our police, fire fighters and other emergency response personnel. The Spectrum Availability for Emergency-response and Law-enforcement to Improve Vital Emergency Services Act, otherwise known as The SAVE LIVES Act. This bill is drafted in response to the 9-11 Commission's final report, which recommended the ``expedited and increased assignment of radio spectrum for public safety purposes.''
To meet this recommendation, the SAVE LIVES Act would set a date certain for the allocation of spectrum to public safety agencies, specifically the 24 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band that Congress promised public safety agencies in 1997. This is a promise Congress has yet to deliver to our Nation's first responders. Now is the time for congressional action before another national emergency or crisis takes place. Access to this specific spectrum is essential to our Nation's safety and welfare as emergency communications sent over these frequencies are able to penetrate walls and travel great distances, and can assist multiple jurisdictions in deploying interoperable communications systems.
In addition to setting a date certain, this bill would authorize funds for public safety agencies to purchase emergency communications equipment and ensure that Congress has the ability to consider whether additional spectrum should be provided for public safety communications prior to the recovered spectrum being auctioned. The bill contains significant language concerning consumer education of the digital television transition. The bill would mandate that warning labels be displayed on analog television sets sold prior to the transition, require warning language to be displayed at television retailers, command the distribution at retailers of brochures describing the television set options available, and call on broadcasters to air informational programs to better prepare consumers for the digital transition.
The bill would ensure that no television viewer's set would go ``dark'' by providing digital-to-analog converter boxes to over-the-air viewers that have a household income that does not exceed 200 percent of the poverty line and by allowing cable companies to down convert digital signal signals if necessary. I continue to believe that broadcast television is a powerful communications tool and important information source for citizens. I know that on 9/11, I learned about the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon like most Americans--by watching television. Therefore, this bill seeks to not only protect citizens' safety but also the distribution of broadcast television.
Lastly, the bill would establish a tax credit for the recycling of television sets and require the Environmental Protection Agency to report to Congress on the need for a national electronic waste recycling program.
The 9-11 Commission's final report contained harrowing tales about police officers and fire fighters who were inside the Twin Towers and unable to receive evacuation orders over their radios from commanders. In fact, the report found that this inability to communicate was not only a problem for public safety organizations responding at the World Trade Center, but also for those responding at the Pentagon and Somerset County, PA, crash sites where multiple organizations and multiple jurisdictions responded. Therefore, the Commission recommended that Congress accelerate the availability of more spectrum for public safety.
The SAVE LIVES Act would implement the important recommendation and ensure that when our Nation experiences another attack, or other critical emergencies occur, our police, fire fighters, and other emergency response personnel will have the ability to communicate with each other and their commanders to prevent another catastrophic loss of life. Now is the time for congressional action before another national emergency or crisis takes place.
Several lawmakers attempted to act last year during the debate on the intelligence reform bill, but our efforts were thwarted by the powerful National Association of Broadcasters. This year, I hope we can all work together and to pass a bill that ensures the country is not only better prepared in case of another attack but also protects the vital communications outlet of broadcast television. I believe the SAVE LIVES Act does just that.
Mr. President, in an effort to expeditiously retrieve the spectrum for the Nation's first responders, to preserve over-the-air television accessibility to consumers and to ensure the adequate funding of both, I urge the enactment of the SAVE LIVES Act.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
By Mr. McCAIN (for himself, Mr. DORGAN, and Mr. BAUCUS):
S. 1239. A bill to amend the Indian Health Care Improvement Act to permit the Indian Health Service, an Indian tribe, a tribal organization, or an urban Indian organization to pay the monthly part D premium of eligible medicare beneficiaries; to the Committee on Indian Affairs.
Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, today I introduce the American Indian Elderly and Disabled Access to Health Care Act of 2005 to revise the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.
The legislation I introduce today will amend the Indian Health Care Improvement Act to permit the Indian Health Service, an Indian tribe, tribal or Urban Indian organization to use their funding to pay the Medicare Part D premiums of eligible Indian beneficiaries. These premium payments are for the American Indians and Alaska Natives enrolled in the prescription drug plans under part D of title XVIll of the Social Security Act. Currently, these funds can be used for paying Medicare Parts A and B premiums but not Part D, and this legislation will enable eligible Indian beneficiaries to enroll and participate in the Part D program when it begins in January, 2006.
Mr. President, this legislation will increase the ability of the elderly and disabled American Indians and Alaska Natives to access the prescription drug benefits available under Medicare Part D and assist the Indian Health Service in achieving potentially significant cost savings. I urge my colleagues to join me in improving access to health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the RECORD.
There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows: