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Public Statements

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM ACT OF 2006

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MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION PART-D BENEFIT

Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I thank my colleagues who are managing this very important bill and Senators Kennedy and Salazar as well. We are engaged in an important debate right now, but there is another important debate going on around every kitchen table and in every senior citizen center right now, which is what is going to happen today after they can no longer sign up for the Medicare prescription Part D benefit.

We know that for about 3 million low-income seniors, they are going to be allowed to continue to sign up until the end of the year without penalty. But for the 3 million to 5 million seniors who are not in that category, they are not allowed to continue to sign up, and there will be a penalty between now and November when they can sign up again.

I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of a bill which I will send to the desk now which extends the enrollment deadline for Medicare Part D, waives the late enrollment penalty, provides the option for a one-time change of plan during 2006, and provides increased funding for State health insurance counseling and assistance programs.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?

Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I am hearing this for the first time. I must object until I take a look at it and consult with some people on this matter.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.

Mr. SPECTER. For current purposes, I do object.

Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, if I might just continue, there are three important pieces in this bill. They are certainly not new to us. I appreciate we are in the middle of another important discussion, but we have had an ongoing discussion with seniors all across America who are concerned about this issue. If not this entire bill, I ask unanimous consent to pass a bill that would at least extend the enrollment until the end of the year.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?

Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I am constrained to object again until I have had a chance to examine the specifics as to what the Senator from Michigan is offering.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.

Mr. SPECTER. May I add that I have joined with other Senators in seeking to have an extension of the date. So I am in agreement with what I believe to be the thrust of what the Senator from Michigan seeks to accomplish. But speaking for myself, I would have to know more and examine the documents before I could refrain from objecting. And on behalf of others on this side, as the manager of the bill, it is incumbent upon me to give them an opportunity to examine what the Senator from Michigan wants to do. So I am constrained to object.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard. The Senator from Michigan has 1 minute remaining.

Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I then ask, because of the seriousness and sense of urgency, that we have unanimous consent at least to pass the bill containing only the part that waives the late enrollment penalty that starts today.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?

Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I again object for the reasons I said. I will be glad to have the effort of the Senator from Michigan renewed later today when I have had a chance to examine it and others have had a chance to examine it. But on this state of the record, hearing it for the first time and being surprised by it, we need time to study it and time for others to consider it.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard. The Senator has 10 seconds remaining.

Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I appreciate the position of the Senator from Pennsylvania, but I ask unanimous consent to pass the bill containing a provision which provides at least a one-time change of plan during 2006.

Mr. SPECTER. Objection, without restating all my reasons.

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CONGRATULATING SENATOR LEVIN

Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, before we proceed to the next vote, I want to acknowledge that this is a historic vote for us in Michigan because our senior Senator CARL LEVIN will be casting his 10,000th vote. We are so proud of him in Michigan. He stands for all that we believe in and serves with dignity and is respected by everyone here. I want to mention he is the 25th Senator in the history of our Senate to cast 10,000 votes.

I went back to research his very first vote. I thought this was an example of a historic moment. He cast his first vote on February 22, 1979. It was in favor of a Byrd motion to table a Stevens amendment to S. Res. 61 which was a postcloture rules change resolution. It was very profound, and he has been profound ever since.

Congratulations to Senator Levin.

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