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Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2010--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, today I wish to describe my disappointment at the vote yesterday, a vote on whether we were going to shut down the drain in this tub of ours down which we are draining American jobs. We are trying to create jobs and put new jobs into the economy. Now what we have discovered is that the drain is wide open. Even as we talk about this, we have American jobs going overseas in search of cheap labor. We actually give a tax break in our IRS Code for allowing companies to shut their American plant, get rid of their American workers, and move jobs overseas. We tried very hard to change that. I have tried that in the past on four occasions. Yesterday was the fifth vote to say, at least let's stand up for American jobs. Let's not give a tax break to move American jobs outside of the country, especially at a time when millions of Americans are out of work. Let's not do that.

The proposal was to shut down that unbelievable tax break. The vote was, no, we can't do it. Apparently on the floor of the Senate there is plenty of support for Chinese jobs. I didn't notice anybody got up in the morning to come to this Chamber to support Chinese jobs. It seems to me the hard work here is to support American jobs.

I see the two leaders. When they wish to seek the floor, I will continue my discussion.

I can't tell you how disappointed I am. Every member of the minority voted against a bill that stands up for American jobs and shuts down the tax break for moving jobs overseas. We did get 53 votes. In other eras of the history of the Senate, that would be enough to pass legislation. Here it is not because everything needs 60 votes.

Let me yield the floor with the understanding that when the leaders are completed with their work, I know they have some important work trying to wrap up the business of the Senate, I want them to be able to do that, and then I will be recognized when their activity transpires.

I yield the floor.

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Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, this unanimous consent agreement means we are now on a timeline to finish passing a continuing resolution very soon. I appreciate the work everyone has done. I do want to finish what I was saying.

It was a profound disappointment to me that after all of this time, going back 9 years and five votes, that we were not able to get sufficient votes in the Chamber, 60 votes to shut down a tax provision that rewards people who actually move their jobs overseas from this country. I won't go through the presentations I made previously, but it is quite clear that we need, on behalf of the American people, to say: Our job is to stand up for jobs in this country. Our work is to help people get back to work here and to support businesses which produce in this country, which decide to rent the building and hire the employees and produce here. That is what we ought to stand for. Yet those who produce here and stay here are at a disadvantage, because there is a tax break given to those companies that move overseas and hire foreign workers and then sell back into this country. That was the debate yesterday and the vote. Regrettably, not one Member of the minority voted with us. That is a profound disappointment. We will all get over that. But the people who are unemployed will not, if these jobs keep moving overseas. That is the point.

NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC IN CUBA

I did want to come for another reason. I will do this quickly. A long while ago I was on the floor talking about something that I think should happen, and it needs the approval of this government to make it happen, the approval of a license to make it happen. That is for the New York Philharmonic to be able to perform in Havana, Cuba. It would be a wonderful thing. They had to cancel a previous appearance because they couldn't get a license from their government to allow them to do it.

Let me describe with a couple charts what brings me to this point and the reason I want to talk about it for a moment. This is in the middle of the Cold War with Russia. This is Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic shown here performing in Moscow in 1959. It is the oldest symphony orchestra in America, since 1842, one of the most renowned cultural ambassadors for this country. It has performed all around the world in 59 countries on 5 continents. It performed many times in Communist countries with the full blessing of the U.S. Government. At the height of the Cold War the orchestra was enthusiastically received in Moscow. The audience applauded for 30 minutes following their performance. Conductor Bernstein took the New York Philharmonic to Moscow. Think of it.

In addition to performing in Moscow, the New York Philharmonic has performed elsewhere. They have performed in North Korea. I have seen the DVD of that performance. It was quite extraordinary, February of 2008 in the capital of North Korea, the first ever concert by a U.S. orchestra within the boundaries of that secretive state. We know that there is a lot wrong with North Korea, but the conductor and the president of the Philharmonic told me and a group of Senators that the State Department encouraged the visit of this orchestra, assisted with arrangements. The concert In Pyongyang was broadcast live on State radio and television. They played music by George Gershwin in North Korea's capital, even played the Star-Spangled Banner. I saw the video. The audience continued to applaud long after the orchestra had completed its music and left the stage.

This is a photograph of Hanoi, Vietnam in 2009.

The New York Philharmonic orchestra performed there, in Hanoi, Vietnam. The demand for tickets was so great they simulcast the concert live out on the streets of Hanoi.

The only country in the world in which the Philharmonic, at this point, is not able to perform in is Cuba. They had to cancel a previous visit to Cuba in October 2009. It was planned. But it was cancelled because they could not get a license from our government to travel to Cuba.

The U.S. government allows anyone, including an orchestra, to travel to North Korea, to Iran, to any other country in the world; but you have to have a license to travel to Cuba. Why is that the case? Because the Castro brothers have stuck their fingers in America's eye for a long time. We have an embargo against the country of Cuba, and we decided we were going to take care of the Castro brothers in Cuba by punishing the American people and restricting their right to travel to Cuba, unbelievably, in my judgment. We say to the American people: We are going to fix you. We will restrict the rights of the American people to travel to Cuba. So they have.

Senator Enzi and I have a bill with a large number of cosponsors in the Senate that would lift that travel restriction.

The reason I brought this issue to the floor of the Senate today is, I feel it is time to get a positive answer from this government--the Treasury Department and the State Department--to give a license to the New York Philharmonic to make this trip and perform in Havana, Cuba. They should not have to keep cancelling their plans because of U.S. government restrictions.

Some say: Well, what is the difference? What matter does it make if they are not able to travel? Do you know what? If you watch the DVD of the New York Philharmonic performing in North Korea in 2008, and then take a look at the clips and the pictures of them in Moscow in 1959, and then ask yourself whether it makes a difference for us to be able to send, in a cultural exchange, this wonderful, unbelievably world-class orchestra to perform in these countries. I think it makes a difference.

We are in a circumstance at the moment where if you do not have a license to travel to Cuba, violators, U.S. citizens, can be fined up to $50,000 by their government. It does not make any sense to me. That needs to change. Criminal penalties could be $250,000 and 10 years in prison for violating the travel ban. We need to change all that.

In the meantime, I believe this government needs to provide a license, and they can do it under existing circumstances without changing the policy at all. They need to provide that license to allow the New York Philharmonic to be able to perform in Havana, Cuba. I am talking to the Treasury Secretary and the Secretary of State and asking for their cooperation. This is not something that is difficult. This can be allowed under existing rules. Members of the New York Philharmonic, and those who work with them and those who sponsor them, who would participate fully in the youth programs in Havana, Cuba, can be, in my judgment, approved with a license from the Treasury Department. I hope Secretary Geithner understands that and will take appropriate action. I know the Secretary of State wishes to see this happen. I believe the Treasury Secretary would as well. I hope within days they will make it happen.

I intend to work next week with all of those principals to see if at last, at long last, we might be able to resolve this issue. This makes no sense to me, to decide that the way we are going to conduct diplomacy is to prevent our Philharmonic Orchestra from playing in Havana, Cuba, given the fact they have played in the capital of North Korea, in Russia, in Vietnam, and more.

Mr. President, I was going to talk a little about energy and my profound disappointment that we are going to end this session without having done something in energy, and how some of us are trying very hard between now and the lameduck session to at least get what is called a renewable electricity standard or at least perhaps get that plus the Electric Vehicle Deployment Act moving so we can advance our country's energy interests. I will find another time to talk about that issue.

I do want to finally say, in addition, before this Congress adjourns sine die at the end of the year, there must--there must--be a solution to two things. One is the Cobell settlement, because American Indians deserve that settlement. It has been negotiated, is done, is ready. This is an abuse of 120 and 150 years. It must be corrected, and that settlement needs to be done. No. 2, what is called the Carcieri fix needs to be resolved.

My colleague, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, well understands this. Every Indian tribe that was recognized after 1934 has every parcel of land they took into trust since that time now in legal question. The Congress cannot possibly leave this session without addressing that issue. The issue arises from a court decision that in my judgment was wrong, but it places in jeopardy a wide range of facilities on Indian reservations with respect to the status of their property ownership and their lease. I hope and I know Senator Inouye shares my feelings that we must, before the end of this year, address both of these issues.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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