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New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act and the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2007

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC


NEW DIRECTION FOR ENERGY INDEPENDENCE, NATIONAL SECURITY, AND CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT AND THE RENEWABLE ENERGY AND ENERGY CONSERVATION TAX ACT OF 2007 -- (Senate - April 03, 2008)

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I see our leader leaving the floor. He was expressing his frustration about the lack of action. I join him in underlining what he has stated here. Yesterday, a number of us, including the chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, listened to Mr. Bernanke. Mr. Bernanke was before the Joint Economic Committee talking about how they had let go more than $200 billion over the period of these last weeks--$200 billion in secret transactions, without any guarantees to the American taxpayers. And here we have a proposal that the Senator from Illinois, Mr. Durbin, and Senator Dodd and others are involved with in the Banking Committee, trying to do something about the fact that homes are being foreclosed while we are here on the floor of the Senate.

What is it about the other side that they are quite prepared to see hundreds of billions of dollars flow out of the Treasury, and when you stand up and say: Can we not this afternoon help stop some of these foreclosures of homes of working-class people, they say: No go, no way, we are not going to let you take action, but we are fine with the hundreds of billions of dollars that have flowed out of the Treasury in the last several days. What possible justification is there for that?

Finally, when I asked the Federal Reserve--I said: Well, we have the immediate crisis, but we are also going to have the crisis in the States. States have two options: they can either raise their taxes or cut services. What are they going to cut? Medicaid is first. They are the poorest of the poor. When we ask the leader of the Federal Reserve, the architect--because he is the man in charge--whether he believes we ought to reach out and help those families, he said he did not have a position on that and that is a position that will have to be taken up by the Congress of the United States. Why doesn't he tell that to the Republican leaders? Why? Here you are trying to take some kind of a position, and this is the old Chicago movie that I remember so well where they talk about ``Give us the old razzle-dazzle. I will razzle-dazzle me, too.'' We are finding out that the American homeowners, who are hard pressed, are being given the old razzle-dazzle.

I applaud the determination and resolution the leader has shown on this issue. Real people are hurting. We are here this afternoon waiting to take some action, ready to move ahead on a proposal that has broad support, and we find out the emptiness and vacuousness of the Republican response.

Mr. REID. Will the Senator yield for a question?

Mr. KENNEDY. I will yield.

Mr. REID. Does the Senator from Massachusetts realize that today, this day in April, April 3, 2008, almost 8,000 people will be pushed out of their homes because their foreclosure has been completed? They are gone--8,000 today and 8,000 tomorrow. Now, foreclosures usually don't happen on weekends; it is during the week. So this week, 5 times 8,000 is 40,000 people, approximately, who will be out of their homes while we have been here this week. If we don't get something done today, we will start tomorrow, and there will be another 8,000. Is the Senator aware of that?

Mr. KENNEDY. Well, I have been aware of it because we have listened to our good leaders, including yourself, Senator Durbin, Senator Schumer, and Senator Dodd, talking about between 8,000 and 12,000.

I had a chance to be out in Youngstown, OH, recently. Five-thousand homes are empty there, and it is increasing every single day just in that one community. That is being replicated in my State. People are saying:
Where is the action? Where is the leadership? When are you going to do something on this issue? We are interested in getting something done.

Mr. Bernanke was asked, after he became Chairman of the Federal Reserve: How are things going in terms of our economy? ``Fine,'' he said. He never exercised the bully pulpit to stop the explosiveness that is taking place in the housing market and put so many homeowners at risk.

This is as bad as Katrina and as bad as the Iraq war. We have a similar response from the administration, and that is a failure of leadership and a failure of action. The

American people ought to understand that.

Mr. REID. Will the Senator yield for another question?

Mr. KENNEDY. Yes.

Mr. REID. Did the Senator hear me when I said we have asked for an agreement that the only amendments that will be offered on this bill are relating to housing? Is he aware that they said no deal? And is the Senator aware that Senator Durbin had offered an amendment at approximately 10 o'clock this morning, and there have only been four speakers, with not long speeches, and that we are not voting because of the speeches, because they are gone? Is the Senator aware that I said: Okay, how about voting on a resolution offered by the Senator from Massachusetts that honors the lives of 4,000 Americans who have been killed in Iraq? Is he aware that we could not get a vote on that?

Mr. KENNEDY. Well, it is difficult to believe, Mr. President. We had our moment just last week in which those of us who were there in the Rotunda listened to our leader, who spoke so well, so movingly, as well as the other leaders, both Republicans and Democrats, to honor the anniversary of the war. Now, in the last few days, we have another moment of special significance, and that is the 4,000 soldiers--just with regard to Iraq--who have been lost and 500 more in terms of Afghanistan. I was very grateful to the Senator and to our other colleagues--and I am sure on the other side as well--who thought it would be useful to memorialize in the Congressional Record the names of these extraordinary men and women, listing their names, hometowns, their ranks, and their service, and that we could include that in the Record at this time. We are trying to do it at an appropriate time because we have been reminded about the loss of the 4,000--not as an add-on to some other kind of action here but to give respect and dignity and honor to these individuals and do so by having a rollcall vote to send a special message to their families and friends in their communities that we honor their service. Why is it that we cannot get an agreement on that?

The good Senator--I will not insult his intelligence. I read the resolution, and it may be 8 lines long. It is honoring these extraordinary men and women and in tribute to their valor. Why is it that we cannot have a time when we could bring the membership together to honor those names? What is the possible problem? Where is the Republican leader? Can he explain to the American people why we cannot have that? Usually, if they are going to object, at least they indicate why. Why don't they take the floor? Why can't they give an explanation to the American people? Look at these pages. On each one of these pages is 50 names. Look at these pages. There are 50 names on each and every one of them with their home addresses. We ought to be able to take a few moments for those who want to speak to be able to express themselves and pass this resolution and include it in the Record at this time, where we have paused as a Nation out of respect for the loss of some 4,000 Americans.

I thank the majority leader for all he has done. Since I have the floor, I will just take a few moments here, obviously, before the Senator from Illinois, whose amendment is pending. I will withhold at any time he thinks he can get action.

Mr. President, this is the resolution we will be offering. It honors the sacrifice of the members of the Armed Forces who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan:

Whereas 4,009 members of the United States Armed Forces have lost their lives in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and 487 members of the United States Armed Forces have lost their lives in support of Operation Enduring Freedom;

Whereas we honor the ultimate sacrifice that these men and women made for our country;

Whereas the sacrifices of the fallen are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard;

Whereas, as their families and loved ones have sacrificed as well, we honor them in commemorating the memory of those that lost their lives;

Whereas the following 4,009 members--

It starts off listing the fallen members of the Armed Forces.

Mr. REID. Mr. President, will my friend yield?

Mr. KENNEDY. Yes.

Mr. REID. Mr. President, progress in this body is sometimes very hard to come by, but progress has been made. I appreciate Senator Kennedy coming to the floor. As those of us who have such affection and love for him know, once in a while he raises his voice. As a result of raising his voice, I ask unanimous consent that at 2:45 p.m. today, the Senate proceed to vote on the adoption of S. Res. 501, honoring the sacrifice of the members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan; that upon adoption of the resolution, the preamble be agreed to, with no intervening action of our debate; and that no amendments be in order to the resolution or the preamble.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection? Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. REID. Mr. President, I appreciate the Senator yielding.

Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I thank the majority leader for his leadership in making this all possible.

Mr. President, the war in Iraq has deeply divided our country. But whatever our views are about the war, we know our soldiers are serving nobly under extraordinarily difficult circumstances and that far too many are making the ultimate sacrifice for our country. The war continues to impose an enormous human toll on our soldiers, their families, and their loved ones. Our men and women in uniform have served with great courage and honor for 5 years, and last week, during the recess of Congress, we reached a sad milestone--the loss of 4,000 service men and women in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. An additional 30,000 service men and women have been wounded. We have also lost nearly 500 service men and women in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

This loss of life is deeply distressing, and the impact of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continues to be devastating to families and communities around our Nation. We honor their service, and we pray that God's grace and mercy may ease the anguish of those they have left behind.

It is fitting, therefore, that today we honor and remember the courageous men and women who gave the last full measure of their devotion to our country in these wars. From Lexington and Concord and Gettysburg, to Normandy and Iwo Jima, to Korea and Vietnam, to Iraq and Afghanistan today, these heroes are part of a long line of courageous patriots who stood their ground with uncommon valor and sacrificed for all of us.

Since the terrorist attack by al-Qaida on September 11, millions of Americans have proudly and voluntarily defended our country and our Constitution by serving in our Armed Forces, our Reserves, and our National Guard. Their devotion to duty is beyond question, and their valor is proven. They volunteered to serve and help us meet the immense challenge we face. They knew the vast danger to life and limb and were well aware that at any moment they might make the ultimate sacrifice. And as of today, 4,496 have made that sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were all patriots. They put themselves in harm's way to protect us all. And because of their dedication and sacrifice, we continue to enjoy the freedoms we cherish in our democracy.

Each of these men and women has a poignant story to tell. Just as poignant are the fond memories of their loved ones here at home. I know something of that feeling. I was 12 years old when my mother became a Gold Star mother. It still seems like only yesterday when that knock on our door came in 1944, and we learned that my oldest brother, Joe, had been lost in World War II.

I know there is no easy way to mend these broken hearts, no way to lift the almost unbearable burden from the families and friends of those we lost. We mourn the loss of these heroes. We honor their sacrifice and extend our deepest condolences to their families. Words cannot ease the grief of losing a loved one, but I hope the families may find some comfort in the words of Abraham Lincoln in that famous letter he sent to a bereaved mother during the Civil War. He wrote:

Dear Madam, I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and the lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

The consequences of the decisions we make in Congress profoundly affect our military, their families, and the communities they have left. We have an obligation to our soldiers to make sensible decisions that will not place them needlessly in harm's way.

It is fitting that we now pause to recognize, remember, and honor those who have lost their lives far from home for our grateful Nation in Iraq and Afghanistan.


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