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Mr. COONS. I thank the Senator.
Senator Rubio and I have come to floor today to talk about our shared experiences. In my home State of Delaware, over the 1 year I have been a Senator--and over the years before that, I served in county government--I have heard from hundreds, even thousands, of families and individuals looking for work, deeply hurt and challenged by the ongoing slow economic recovery. Folks have come to us asking for opportunities for assistance, for promise and hope.
In reality, I think what is causing some real concern in this country, in my State and most likely in yours, Madam President, and most likely in Senator Rubio's as well, is a broadly shared concern that we here in the Capitol, we in Congress, are not capable of getting past the partisan politics and making real progress in tackling the job-creating challenges before us.
Let me, if I could, quote from a couple of letters I have received from Delawareans in the last few months. Lawrence from Milford wrote my office: Congress needs to stop the political arguing and take positive action to make America and our economy strong again.
Janet from Wilmington wrote: I am the owner of a very small business. I have been in business 29 years and I have never seen it as tough as it is today.
Joseph in Smyrna summed it all up in a letter he wrote: Our economy needs jobs now.
Delaware is a great place to grow a business, to raise a family, to achieve success. But we have the toughest economy we have seen in generations. The folks we represent expect us to act, and they expect us to find ways to work together and to get past the partisan divide that has made it so difficult for us to make progress.
I ask the Senator what sorts of things has he heard from his constituents in Florida, and how has that motivated the Senator to act?
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Mr. COONS. We together yesterday announced the introduction of the AGREE Act, the American Growth Recovery Entrepreneurship and Empowerment Act, which conveniently spells out ``agree.'' The core principle, as Senator Rubio described, was for a real Republican and a real Democrat to look through all of the different ideas that have been put out there, in the President's jobs bill, by the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, by Members of the Senate and the House from both parties, that we could come to agreement on, and to put them into a bill packaged to assemble all of these ideas and to put them out and hopefully we will pick up cosponsors, hope it will pick up steam, and hope we can demonstrate to the American people, to the families Senator Rubio and I have heard from in letters and e-mails and tweets, who have expressed real concern.
The basic big-picture proposals in this bill are, first, extending tax relief for small businesses. There are three different provisions that have already been in law but that would be extended by this bill: for capital gains exclusions for 5-year investments in qualified small businesses, for accelerated depreciation, and for increased expensing, all of which would help small businesses invest in growth; encouraging cutting-edge research and innovation by making permanent the R&D tax credit, and by adding something to it that I think has real potential, an added incentive for companies that invent something here to manufacture it here; another, commonsense regulatory relief for fast-growing businesses that seek to go public; another, an idea originally championed by Senator Casey, providing incentives through the Tax Code for veterans to become franchise owners and entrepreneurs; reducing some immigration barriers that prevent highly skilled workers who studied here from staying here; and now the last point, protecting American businesses from intellectual property theft, strengthening our ability to prevent counterfeit goods from coming into American markets by fixing a small but real barrier to effective border protection against counterfeiting.
All of these provisions are provisions that have already enjoyed bipartisan support in other settings. We have simply assembled them together, put them into a commonsense package, and want to move them forward.
I ask Senator Rubio, what sort of response has our action gotten so far from people in Florida, around the country, who might have contacted the Senator about this initiative?
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