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Making Emergency Supplemental Appropriations For Fiscal Year 2010

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. McCAIN. I will respond to the Senator from Texas, and I thank him. We who are from border States have perhaps a better understanding of the violence--the dramatically increased violence over the last several years. In the last 3 years, 22,000 Mexican citizens have been murdered in this struggle between the drug cartels and the Mexican Government. It is the worst kind of brutality: people being beheaded, bodies hanged from the overpasses. I think it was on the Mexican side of the Texas border the other day. There was a wedding--if the Senator recalls--and the drug cartel people went in and took the groom, the brother, and nephew out and murdered them. That brutality and violence, we all know, is spilling over the border. I believe three American citizens were murdered in Juarez--who were coming back from Juarez.

So the violence and the connection between human smuggling and drug cartels now is incredibly intertwined. They use the same routes, the same intelligence, the same sophisticated communications equipment. It is a threat to our security. That is why we Senators have asked for the Guard to be sent to the border.

What happened yesterday in what was clearly a PR stunt, the President announced 1,200 National Guard to the border. Now we find out they are going to do desk jobs. One of the things we have found out is that the presence of the uniformed Americans on the border has a significant effect on the drug cartels because the only threat they feel from Mexico is from the Mexican Army because of the terrible corruption that exists.

These people who have come across the Nogales border into Tucson and Phoenix have been distributed nationwide. People all over America are beginning to appreciate--according to the polling number the Senator from Texas pointed out--the American people are beginning to understand that our broken borders affect all of America. This violence is increasing, certainly, on that side of the border. The drug cartels make--the number I hear is as high as $65 billion a year. When I tell people we intercepted, in the Tucson sector alone, over 1.2 million pounds of marijuana, people don't believe it. When we tell them we intercepted 241,000 illegal immigrants--and we figure that 4 to 5 to 1 crossed our border to Tucson illegally--over 1 million people--what does the President do? He said he is going to send 1,200 troops to the border. We need 6,000. We need 3,000 for the border and 3,000 for the Arizona border. That is what we hear from the people who are enforcing the law.

This is a national security issue. It is something that all Americans are now more and more aware of and are supporting. I hope the administration and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who also are being affected by this will understand we need to secure the borders first. Then we can work out an orderly system to address the results of our failure to secure the border.

I ask my friend and colleague from Arizona, what would happen if we enacted comprehensive reform and didn't secure the border?

Mr. KYL. Mr. President, I might respond by noting that my colleague from Arizona likes to talk about exactly what would happen. When President Reagan did exactly that, and the promise was to secure the border with amnesty for 3 million illegal immigrants, the amnesty was granted, but the border was not secure. I know there is an argument on the other side that, well, if we secure the border, then some people will not want to do comprehensive reform because they would not have any incentive to do so anymore.

I don't think that is right. I think there would be more of an incentive once we do secure the border. In any event, we certainly should not hold securing the border hostage to passing some law in the future. That is our obligation and the President's obligation irrespective of what other laws we pass.

Mr. McCAIN. I ask the Senator from Texas this: There is another important point. There is the belief that we can't secure our borders, that there is just going to be an unending flow of illegal immigrants into this country. I ask my friend from Texas, isn't it true that in at least parts of Texas, with the combination of surveillance, fencing, and proper staffing, there has been basically a secure border?

Mr. CORNYN. The Senator is absolutely right. Where there is a combination or layered approach to dealing with illegal immigration, there have been great successes, including an effort to use prosecution of people for crossing and incarcerating them for a short period of time, which acts as a further deterrent.

The Senator raises another important point. While I certainly support his effort to try to get sufficient National Guard on the border, 1,200 won't cut it, not with a 2,000-mile border. We need more boots on the ground. We need to also make sure we support our local and State law enforcement people who are standing in the gap in the short term. That is why I appreciate the Senators' support on the other amendment we hope to vote on. We need the Southwest border task force to deal with these high-intensity drug trafficking programs. We also need to make sure we use the latest technology.

The distinguished Senator is the ranking member on the Armed Services Committee. He is well aware of the use of the military unmanned aerial vehicles and, I believe--and I think he would agree with me--they could be used as a good effect, as a multiplier effect for the Border Patrol and National Guard there, something that could be used for training purposes for the National Guard, who have had experience using those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Finally, we need not only Border Patrol and National Guard, we need Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. These are the people who actually catch the guns that are bought in bulk through straw purchasers and brought across the border that are used by the cartels. All of these Federal agencies--from ICE, CBP, DEA, ATF--all of them represent additional boots on the ground that could be used to help secure our border.

I appreciate the support both Arizona Senators have given, as well as Senator Hutchison, who is a cosponsor. But we need a permanent solution, not a temporary Band-Aid which I believe the President's proposal represents.

Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, bringing the issue back to my home State of Arizona, I ask my friend, Senator Kyl, who has, along with me, traveled extensively to the southern part of our State, many of the residents of the southern part of our State, particularly those who are ranchers who live near the border, basically do not have a secure existence. They have people crossing their property illegally. They have home invasions. They have wildlife refuges on the border being trashed because of the overwhelming human traffic and the garbage and the items that are left behind. I have talked with ranchers' wives who said they could not leave their children at the bus stop.

I want to be very clear. Many of these illegal immigrants are just people who want to come and get a job. But the change over the last few years is that they are escorted by these coyotes who are also associated with the drug cartels who are amongst the most cruel and inhuman people in the world.

When people criticize the law in Arizona as being discriminatory, where is their concern for the individuals who are being escorted by these coyotes who inflict on them the worst abuses, terrible abuses? They bring them to Phoenix. Phoenix is the No. 2 kidnaping capital in the world. No. 1, Mexico City. No. 2, Phoenix, AZ. Can my colleagues understand why the people of Phoenix are upset?

They bring them to these drop houses, they jam them into these homes, and they hold them for ransom. Then once they get the money, sometimes they let them go, sometimes they ask for more money. In the meantime, they are suffering under the most inhumane conditions.

When the advocates for ``legal immigration'' are up, I say: Where is your compassion for the people who are being so terribly abused that the coyotes are bringing in the most inhumane fashion across our border and kept in the most inhumane fashions? Isn't that an argument to secure the border? Isn't that an argument to stop this human trafficking? They are unspeakable things. I will not on the floor of the Senate talk about some of the stories I have heard.

We have a situation in the southern part of our State where the residents are living in a state of, if not fear, certainly deep concern and insecurity. Then we have this terrible human trafficking tied to the drug traffickers who are committing the most terrible human rights abuses.

Mr. KYL. Mr. President, I will respond to my colleague by noting, these are the crime statistics that are never reported. Let's face it, the people who are accused of these crimes cannot go to the police and report what has happened.

Again, there is an argument made that crime statistics have actually gone down in the last 2 or 3 years. In the cities--the cities of Tucson and Phoenix, for example--that may well be true. I don't know. What I do know is this: In the rural ranch areas that my colleague, Senator McCain, speaks of, families who used to have no worries at all, left homes unlocked at night, windows open, and if an occasional illegal immigrant or two came by and needed a sandwich or water, frankly, they got it, now fear for their lives.

One of our constituents was killed a couple months ago, a rancher who was beloved in the area. Others have been robbed. There have been physical assaults. They are no longer safe in their homes and in those more rural areas.

In the urban areas, I, too, will not describe on the Senate floor what goes on. If you can imagine large numbers of women and children who are brought across the border by people who have absolutely no scruples about committing any crimes whatsoever. They commit rapes and leave articles of clothing hanging from trees as a warning to anyone who dares to report it or as a way of bragging about what they have done. The things they do to these people cooped up in the safe houses for weeks on end, as my colleague said, are unspeakable.

There are so many reasons to secure the border. But this is one that is never spoken of. It bothers me as much as it does my colleague because we have people who speak of the human rights issues that might relate to an Arizona law enforced by sworn police officers in the city of Phoenix and the city of Tucson who, I am quite sure, will do their job as professional police officers, and not a word is spoken about the kind of situation my colleague and I have described. That bothers us significantly. It is just one more reason we do need to secure the border, as my colleague said.

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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I will point out another aspect of this issue. We are proud in my home State of our Spanish heritage. Spanish was spoken before English was in the State of Arizona. We believe our culture and our life and our State have been enriched by the influx of Hispanic citizens. We want that to continue, but we want it to continue legally. In a broader sense, we want everyone in the world to have an opportunity to come to our country legally. If we did secure our border, then everybody has an equal opportunity, rather than it be by geography.

Let me point out something, of which I am not sure my colleagues are totally aware. The sophistication of these human smuggling rings and drug cartels is beyond description. They have the latest equipment. They have the latest communications. They have the latest weapons. They have a network of informers and a network, unfortunately, of corruption that is of the highest sophistication. Their operations are extremely sophisticated operations which are quite successful. But there are areas and measures that have been taken in certain parts of our border that show we can secure our border. What we need is the manpower, the technology, the assets, and the funding to get our borders secured.

The State of Arizona, unfortunately, has become a funnel for this illegal human trafficking and drug cartels to the point where it has threatened the security of its average citizens.

I hope my colleagues will understand this is a humanitarian issue. This is an issue that cries out for the compassion of all of us so that we can give everyone in the world an opportunity to come to this country, but also to give our citizens a chance to live lives of security that makes them able to enjoy the rights and privileges that American citizens everywhere should enjoy, even if they live on our southern border.

Mr. KYL. Mr. President, let me ask my colleague a question. The number of National Guard troops that would be funded under his amendment is 6,000 total. The idea would be that it would fund 3,000 on the Arizona portion of the border and 3,000 wherever they would be deployed in other places on the border. Senator McCain has argued that is a number closer to what is needed to do the job the National Guard can do than a number that would be less than one-fourth that much.

Would the Senator describe a little bit more the historic levels that existed, for example, during the time our now national Homeland Security Secretary was the Governor of Arizona, when she was very supportive of the Guard as well, compared to what Senator McCain has asked to be funded in his amendment?

Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I say to my friend from Arizona, the situation of Secretary Napolitano, former Governor, whom I respect and admire enormously, is a classic example of it is not where you stand, it is where you sit because when Secretary Napalitano was Governor of Arizona, she made fervent pleas for reimbursement for the State of Arizona for our law enforcement problems dealing with immigration and for 3,000 additional Guard troops to be sent to the border.

Senator Kyl and I wrote a letter back on April 9 asking for a decision concerning troops to the border. We still have not received an answer. Perhaps what the President announced yesterday a half hour after discussing the issue with Senator Kyl and me and yet not mentioning that decision might be made to send 1,200 troops to the border--you have to laugh. It is in the spirit of bipartisanship. I hope in the case of our Secretary of Homeland Security that we could see some restoration of the same zeal she held as Governor of the State of Arizona to secure our borders and advocate for the necessary assets to achieve that goal.

Mr. KYL. Mr. President, if I recall--and I could be wrong on this--the number that had been deployed to Arizona roughly in 2005 or 2006--I do not recall the exact year--was about 2,600. It was not quite 3,000. Obviously, we needed everyone we could get.

Eventually, a lot of those troops were then deployed to Iraq, I believe. In any event, we all--the Governor and the rest of us--were distressed when they were finally pulled out. I think 2,600 or something pretty close to that was the number and that Senator McCain believes 3,000 would be the appropriate number under the circumstances that exist today.

Mr. McCAIN. I think 3,000. I know we are taking a lot of my colleagues' time. I ask my colleagues and the American people to understand what we are facing in Arizona. I ask the American people and my colleagues to understand the frustration that the Governor and the legislature of Arizona felt about the conditions we have tried to describe on the floor of the Senate that exist, that cry out for Federal intervention, that they did not receive that assistance from the Federal Government so, therefore, they acted.

That law, by the way, upon examination certainly does not call for racial profiling. In fact, it expressly prohibits it. I would urge my colleagues to read the law. I have a copy and would be glad to provide them a copy of it.

But I hope my colleagues and the American people understand the reason why the legislature acted, the reason why we are here on the floor today asking for additional assistance is because of the plight of human beings, both the residents of my State who are there legally, whose security is being threatened, in some cases on a daily basis--those who live in the southern part of our State--and also for those individuals who are being transported across our border by these cruel coyotes and who are being terribly mistreated. There are human rights violations of the most terrible kind.

I hope we can all come together, recognizing this is a serious problem. It is not just a problem for Arizona, it is a problem for the Nation. We have a requirement to secure our borders. That is the obligation of every Nation. We happen to be, unfortunately, the State that suffers the most because of these insecure borders, but this spreads throughout the country. The drugs don't stop in Arizona; they go all over the country. The individuals who are smuggled in, all of them don't stop in Arizona; they go all over the country.

We need to help the Government of Mexico in their struggle against these drug cartels, but we also have to take the measure--which can probably help the Mexican Government as much as anything else--of getting our border secured. I want to assure my colleagues that those of us from border States, once we get our border secured, stand ready to address these other issues that need to be addressed. But if we don't get our border secured, a year, 2 years, 10 years from now we are going to be faced with the same problem over and over with a population of people who have come to our country illegally.

I ask not only for the votes of my colleagues on these amendments, but I ask for their compassion and understanding about a human rights situation that cries out for us to address as Christians and as individuals who are motivated by Judeo-Christian principles.

Mr. President, I thank my colleagues, and I yield the floor.

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Mr. McCAIN. I would say to the distinguished chairman, if there is a unanimous consent agreement concluded, I would be more than happy to be interrupted. I know that business in the Senate needs to proceed. I am proud to be joining forces with my colleague from Oklahoma, Dr. Coburn, to insist that we stop burdening our children and our grandchildren with massive debt.

We have before us today a supplemental appropriations bill totaling nearly $60 billion, most of it not paid for, simply being added to the ever growing debt, to be paid for by future generations of Americans.

If we are serious about our commitment to reduce our debt and eliminate our deficit, then Congress needs to start making some tough decisions about our national priorities and we need to start now.

Dr. Coburn is seeking a vote on one of two reasonable amendments, both of which would fully offset the cost of this bill. Yesterday, Dr. Coburn very eloquently laid out his reasons for offering those two amendments. Essentially our fiscal situation is extremely perilous and we can no longer afford to approve any new Federal funding without eliminating wasteful and unnecessary spending in other areas.

Mr. President, a kind of bizarre thing happened yesterday. In the middle of his speech and his argument before the Senate, Dr. Coburn yielded the floor to the majority leader who proceeded to file cloture on this bill after only 1 day of floor consideration and not a single vote on any amendment. So on a $60 billion bill, most of it not paid for, we are now going to, without a single amendment having been voted on, be voting on a bill, in fact, that will not be paid for. As my colleagues know quite well, the editorial page of the Washington Post is by no means a conservative, right-leaning, penny-pinching bunch, but even they are perplexed about what we are doing here. Yesterday, in an editorial entitled ``Congress as Usual: There's an election coming. Time to spend,'' the Post wrote:

All across the Western world, fiscal stimulus is starting to give way to fiscal consolidation. In London, the new British government has announced $8.6 billion in immediate budget cuts. In Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is negotiating to raise that country's retirement age. In Madrid, Spanish civil servants are facing a 5 percent pay cut, followed by a wage freeze. Even Italy is talking about tightening spending. And don't get us started on Greece.

Only in Washington, it seems, is the long awaited ``pivot'' to fiscal restraint nowhere to be seen. As the mid-term elections draw near, Congress is considering a passel of new spending, necessary and otherwise, most of which won't be paid for.

Sadly, the Washington Post hit the nail on the head and the bill before us is the perfect example of Congress's inability to deal with the very serious fiscal realities that are facing this Nation.

Under this supplemental, DOD receives $33.7 billion for operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Haiti. The bulk of this money, $24.6 billion, is for operations and maintenance, and much needed other funding. The remainder of the DOD funding is for military personnel costs and other equipment.

Some say the fiscally responsible way to pay for our war costs is to increases taxes. We disagree. The American people, particularly our soldiers and their families, are sacrificing enough already. It is time for Congress to start making some sacrifices and forgo the earmarks and other special deals to help provide our troops with the support and equipment they need.

The first amendment of Dr. Coburn saves taxpayers $59.6 billion by doing the following: freezing raises, bonuses, and salary increases for Federal employees for 1 year; collecting unpaid taxes from Federal employees, $3 billion; reducing printing and publishing costs of government documents, $4.4 billion over 10 years; reducing excessive duplication, overhead, and spending within the Federal Government, $20 billion; eliminating nonessential government travel, $10 billion over 10 years; eliminating bonuses for poor performance by government contractors, $8 billion over 10 years; repealing the Energy Star Program, $627 million over 10 years; eliminating an increase in foreign aid for international organizations, $68 million; limiting voluntary payments to the United Nations, $10 billion over 10 years; striking unnecessary appropriations for salaries and expenses of a government commission Congress ignored, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, 1.8 million; rescinding a State Department training facility that was not requested by the community where it is to be constructed, $500 million.

On the second amendment we can save taxpayers $60 billion by cutting budgets of Members of Congress, by disposing of unneeded, unused government property, auctioning and selling unused and unneeded equipment, rescinding unspent and uncommitted Federal funds, $45 billion.

We have ways we can cut spending. We have ways we can reduce the government, in the first amendment, by nearly $60 billion, and in the other one by $60 billion.

In a letter to Speaker Pelosi in April of last year, President Obama wrote:

As I noted when I first introduced my budget in February, this is the last planned war supplemental. Since September 2001, the Congress has passed 17 separate emergency funding bills totaling $822.1 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After 7 years of war, the American people deserve an honest accounting of the cost of our involvement in our ongoing military operations.

Quoting from the President's letter of April of last year:

We must break that recent tradition and include future military costs in the regular budget so that we have an honest, more accurate, and fiscally responsible estimate of Federal spending. And we should not label military costs as emergency funds so as to avoid our responsibility to abide by the spending limits set forth by the Congress.

The President emphasized, again quoting from his letter to the Speaker of the House:

After years of budget gimmicks and wasteful spending, it is time to end the era of irresponsibility in Washington.

I could not agree more. That is why I am disappointed to see yet another supplemental spending bill designated as an emergency without offsets. Dr. Coburn and I agree with what the President said last year. ``After years of budget gimmicks and wasteful spending, it is time to end the era of irresponsibility in Washington.'' That is precisely what we are seeking to do with these two amendments.

In the past 2 years, America has faced her greatest fiscal challenges since the Great Depression. When the financial markets collapsed, it was the American taxpayer who came to the rescue of the banks and the big Wall Street firms. But who has come to the rescue of the American taxpayer? Certainly not Congress.

So what has Congress done? By enacting inexplicable policies that can only be described as generational theft, we have saddled future generations with literally trillions of dollars of debt. Since January of 2009, we have been on a spending binge the likes of which this Nation has never seen. In that time, our debt has grown by over $2 trillion. We passed a $1.1 trillion stimulus bill.

Remember the assurance that unemployment would be at a maximum of 8 percent? Now it is 9.9. We passed a $2.5 trillion health care bill. The American people are still angry about that. The President submitted a budget for next year totaling $3.8 trillion. We now have a deficit of over $1.4 trillion, and we just passed, a week or so ago, the $13 trillion debt mark which amounts to more than $42,000 owed by every man, woman, and child in America.

This year the government will spend more than $3.6 trillion and will borrow 41 cents for every $1 it spends. Unemployment remains at 9.9 percent and, according to forbes.com, a record 2.8 million American households were threatened with foreclosure last year. That number is expected to rise to well over 3 million homes this year. With this bill, we are poised to tack another $60 billion onto the tab.

I travel a lot around my State. I know all of my colleagues do. Every place I go I meet county supervisors, city councilmen, mayors, elected officials from all over the State. I talk to the Governor, the legislature. They make tough decisions. The city of Phoenix had to cut its budget by some 30 percent last year, a very tough decision. Meanwhile, we increased domestic spending by 20 percent. What is the difference between the city of Phoenix and us in the Capitol? We print money. A debt of $1.4 trillion this year, estimated to be $1.5 trillion this year, how can we continue this?

These two amendments by Dr. Coburn can achieve a significant savings, $60 billion in each. That is $120 billion that both of these amendments could save the taxpayers. Wouldn't it be wonderful to show the taxpayers that maybe we are going to do something like cutting the budget, cutting our budgets? Wouldn't it be nice to tell the American people we are going to eliminate nonessential government travel? Couldn't we at least freeze bonuses?

We have an opportunity to show the American people we are going to tighten our belts a little bit, too; that we care about generational theft; that we care about future generations of Americans. I know some of these measures will not be popular, but Dr. Coburn has never been one who has tried to win a popularity contest. What Dr. Coburn has tried to do is steer the American people on a path to some kind of fiscal solvency so we can stop this terrible generational theft we are committing.

The greatness of America, certainly one of her greatest attributes, is we have handed on to every generation a better one than the one they had before them. That has been the great wonder and beauty of America. With these kinds of debts and deficits, what can we pass on to our children and grandchildren?

I applaud Senator Coburn not only for this effort but many of the other efforts he has made. I am pleased to join him. I hope my colleagues will understand that the American people are angry and frustrated. Look at the latest polling numbers--we do read polls. Do you want to reelect your Member of Congress? What is our approval rating? It is 14, 13, 12 percent. We are down to blood relatives and paid staffers. The point is, let's send a message to the American people we are serious.

Yes, there are tough decisions and tough things that are embodied in this legislation. I urge my colleagues to at least take a look at them and consider putting this Congress and this Nation on a different path.

I yield the floor.

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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, may I engage in a colloquy with my friend from Wyoming for 1 minute?

Mr. BARRASSO. Yes.

Mr. McCAIN. I understand the Senator from Illinois was talking about Arizona and the border. I wonder if the Senator from Illinois has ever been to the Arizona border. He has?

Mr. DURBIN. Is that a question to me?

Mr. McCAIN. Yes.

Mr. DURBIN. I don't know if it is proper. But, yes, I have been to Nogales and both sides of the border.

Mr. McCAIN. It is pronounced Nogales.

Mr. DURBIN. Yes, I have been there, on both sides of the border. You are always welcome to come to Illinois, too.

Mr. McCAIN. And I have been there many times. It is obvious the Senator from Illinois, even though he has been there, has no conception of what the people who live in southern Arizona are suffering under with hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants and human smugglers and drug smuggling going through our State.

I am glad he is such an expert--he and the Senator from New Jersey--on the issue of the terrible problems that afflict our State and our need to try to get our borders secure, which every citizen has the right to expect.

I thank my colleague for yielding.

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