FINANCIAL CRISIS -- (Senate - September 30, 2008)
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Mr. DOMENICI. Mr. President, I rise to say thank you to the distinguished majority leader for his kind words about my service in the Senate with him and my service in the Senate generally. I wish to say you have been far too generous in your words. I accept them and appreciate them abundantly.
I also wish to correct one slight error, I was a right-hander, not a left-hander. But that is all right. Everything else you said was correct.
Mr. REID. I have described him as left-handed all the time I have known him because I did not think we had two right-handed pitchers. I thought BUNNING was the only right-hander.
Mr. DOMENICI. My pitch was a very gifted one. I was right handed, but the ball broke automatically as if I was pitching left handed. So you were close. When you have a right-handed pitcher who throws a certain kind of fastball that breaks into the right-handed batter, that is the screwball. You go to a lot of trouble throwing a screwball; but mine, I did not have to go to a lot of trouble, it did it anyway. I wish there were things around here that worked that way, that you did not have to work so hard to make something happen. But you have to work here.
It has been my pleasure to work on many measures, so people will know it is not just talk when you say you work in a bipartisan manner--on the Appropriations Subcommittee, on Energy and Water, a strange-sounding title. We have had the task of maintaining the safety of the nuclear arsenal. We were given a brandnew approach, this Senator and I, to saving and securing our arsenal without testing for the first time.
So we inherited a job of seeing that nuclear weapons were safe, and we were no longer going to test them as we had from their inception. We were given a concept called science-based stockpile stewardship. Remember those words, Leader? For a long time we had trouble saying them, science-based stockpile stewardship.
That meant we were going to use a scientific manner of assessing what was going on inside a nuclear weapon as it matured. We had put together a plan, paid for it, and it took a long time. Every national laboratory had to have something, as you recall, some piece of this project. We are not yet finished with the biggest piece, which is in California, at the laboratory there, a gigantic laser facility, multilaser facility that will look inside nuclear weapons and see that they are safe.
But I give you this one example: Two Senators did that. No audiences. No television. They were all welcome. It was open. But we went about our business. As we moved along, nobody could tell who was chairman and who was ranking member. It was a pleasure. I could count on you and you could count on me. I do not think we ever once deceived each other.
Your story about my getting perturbed at you was slightly different than it was. You were ranking member and you went to the Republican side and got a proxy. What I told you was to never do that again. When you get a proxy from a Republican on my side, you have to tell me. And you were very apologetic and found out that I was telling you right. We never had another word. We never had another situation where proxies got mixed up. Republican proxies were sought after by the Republican person. If you couldn't get them, you would go somewhere else. But we had to have an open hand there and tell each other what was going on. That is the way we did it. We told each other the truth. With the truth came great things from that subcommittee on which we were totally bipartisan.
We had kept the nuclear arsenal safe enough where those who ran the three Laboratories could tell the President every year that the United States nuclear arsenal was safe and sound. They must do that as a matter of law, you recall.
I say thank you. I close and say I, too, am sorry about leaving. You indicated something about sadness, but I am hopeful things will be all right with me, and certainly the Senate will have to continue to be a great place.
As we close, we had this one dialog this morning, and I have the chance, before my distinguished Republicans waiting to speak, just to say I hope with all the strength of my being that we can put together a package that will gather the votes in the House and Senate to put this plan, this recovery plan, in place so we are not going to suffer irreparable harm for the people by the financial markets falling apart.
I am so sorry we got started with this concept of calling it a bailout. There is nothing to bail out. We are buying assets that are stopping up the system. I don't know how that got to be a bailout. You buy them and you own something and you sell it later. If you don't buy it, the entire system behind those bad assets, which were stuffed into the system over a number of years because we sold mortgages that were not good mortgages--I wish the people could understand that we are not bailing out Wall Street. We are not bailing out anything. We are trying to make sure the American financial markets in your own backyard--your bank, your savings and loan, all the other things, your payroll checks--are going to function under this very fabulous American financial system which has some very big kinks in it now. It won't work. We have to make it work.
Again, I thank the majority leader for his comments.
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Mr. DOMENICI. Mr. President, I once again thank my friend from Arizona. He has given me far too much credit, but I appreciate it. I have tried to understand the significance of this agreement. I only wish that every Member had the luxury of understanding it because I don't think they do. I don't think some do. I wish far more that the millions of Americans who are writing their Congressmen saying this bailout should fail, it is no good, it doesn't help me, I wish they would understand the way I have been privileged to understand. I want them to know it didn't come easy.
The first couple of days I didn't understand, maybe the first 3 days. It looked to me like it was all crazy and wild and it would never work and what were we trying to fix. It turns out I finally got it.
Once I did, there was no citizen who could write to me and say I shouldn't vote for this because it is bad because I would have to call them and tell them they didn't understand. That is why I am talking to you. I hope some additional citizens hear us.
If they say: Why should he be telling us we don't understand, I am telling you, citizens, you don't understand if you are against this on the basis that it bails out Wall Street. There is no bail out. If it bails out nothing, how can it bailout Wall Street? It buys something. We will agree to that, right, it will buy something. But the something it is buying is an asset that is clogging up the financial rivers of America because they are toxic. They are not good mortgages. If you don't buy them up, they will continue to clog it up.
So, citizens, turn some of your Members loose whom you are holding hostage by telegram and phone call to allegations that are not correct, that are untrue. If we continue to have our citizens believe them and thus lead our Members into not permitting this vote to occur with a majority vote, we are going to do irreparable harm to a system that brings us the luxury of America, the luxuries of everyday life, the luxuries of buying so many things which come from a financial system, the luxury of buying cars that come from a financial system. Nothing is paid for in cash today.
I don't want to offend the few people who do pay in cash. Some people pay in cash, but 99.9 percent of every transaction has some credit in it. If it has some credit in it, it is not going to work a couple of weeks from now because it has fallen apart.
I wish when we started it off we would have huddled and said: How do we talk about this? They are still using the phraseology ``bailout'' this morning. In fact, some are saying ``the bailout,'' but then they say: But it isn't a bailout. But they started by saying it is a bailout. So we have citizens all over the place telling House Members who are running for office--and I don't blame them--don't vote for the bailout.
I have taken these few minutes. I probably won't come back to the floor this morning. I hope not. I have burdened the Senate enough. I have bothered you enough. You just came down to say a few words. Here I got up and said it all over again. What I didn't do, I say to the Senator from Tennessee, I didn't use the metaphor about a superhighway.
Mr. KYL. I will use that.
Mr. DOMENICI. I dreamt it up with my staff, and it is pretty darn good. That is one where what you are going to say, if the American people are telling their Congressmen that this is a bailout, if they listen to you, they will find out there is no bailout. They will find out there are some broken down cars in the middle of the road, and they have to be moved.
In any event, let me say one other thing about your mentioning my activities and just say to you, a number of things I have done lately I could not have done without your help and your leadership. I want to tell you one of them because it is a good one--I will be gone, and you need to stand up for it; if you have to filibuster, you have to--that is opening all of the offshore of America for drilling for natural gas and crude oil.
If the new President or the majority tries to reinstate those moratoria, I am saying thanks for helping me who started that thing. I got it started with a little bill because my staff and I said: What is the biggest thing we need. And we needed that so we put it in. Then, thanks to this leader, we made the bill grow. Then it grew, and then the people bought it. That is how it happened. The people said: Drill, drill, drill.
Don't let it go away when I am gone. I am just asking you. You are a good filibusterer, so do it. The first time they want to close up some of that, and the first one will be California, you tell them to get an estimate of how many billions California will get if they start that. Then you ask that Governor: How would you like to have a gift for your people over the next 10 years, 15 years of, say, for California, maybe $12 billion. They may fall over out of a chair if you told them that, and that might be the case. I don't know the number. I am just telling you it is big.
With that, I say thanks. It is nice being here again with you.