Ms. LANDRIEU. I thank the Senator from New Mexico.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Louisiana.
Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, I thank my distinguished colleague for yielding.
I am objecting also because of an issue that is of great concern to me and to the people of Louisiana. It is in this $137 billion tax bill that we have worked on very hard for 2 years. Our leaders in the Senate have done an excellent job under very difficult circumstances. It was a House committee, without the cameras rolling and without a real record of it.
The only people taking bullets for us, who are the men and women on the front line in Afghanistan and Iraq-in this case the Guard and National Reserve-the only people taking the bullets were left out of the bill completely. They were not the top of the list, they were not in the middle of the list, and they were not in the bottom of the list.
So I am slowing the Senate down until I can get this message out, and talking to as many reporters and others who will talk so I can tell them the truth and what happened. I can talk to my colleagues if we are going to stay here a day or 2 days or 3 days. They have been in Iraq for over a year and a half, 2 years, and another weekend is not going to hurt me. We need to talk about a plan to work through it. But I am not leaving them on the cutting-room floor.
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Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, I think under the unanimous consent agreement that I am entitled to speak for the next 15 minutes.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator is correct.
Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, the Senator from Nevada makes some interesting points. I will have more to say about that specific issue later, as will other Senators from this side. But I am glad that he brought up the point of greed because it is actually something that I am going to speak about myself but as it relates to a different aspect, a different bill, and a different issue, but basically the same "sin," if you will.
Unfortunately, it is not our allies who are committing this sin, it is us right here. We are debating now, over the course of the next several days, and have actually been debating for 2 years, a tax relief bill prompted by the World Trade Organization's decision that some of the things in our U.S. Tax Code were contrary to the free trade principles that most of us-not all of us but most of us-espouse. So that decision set in motion a very necessary effort to address that decision by changing some things in our Tax Code.
Of course, anytime you open up the Tax Code there are many people interested in changing the words, the letters, the titles, the paragraphs, and the provisions. Sometimes a change in one word could mean a $1 billion windfall for a particular company, or millions of dollars of windfall for particular entities. There is a lot of interest every time this body opens up a tax bill.
Two years ago when it came to the attention of some of us that a tax bill would be opened, and then as the 9/11 tragedy happened and as we saw men and women from our States going to the front lines to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, and as we watched some of our health units, particularly in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, right here in Washington, DC, and Virginia respond to some very tough casualties that this country experienced, some of us began to think: What could we do in this tax bill to honor the men and women who are on the front lines?
Not being on the Finance Committee, I wasn't aware of all the specific aspects, but I knew there would be maybe hundreds or thousands of entities, corporations, big and small, groups that thought they were entitled to some sort of tax break.
For the life of me, I didn't think we would have any trouble at all when a group of us got together-Senator Boxer being one, Senator Mikulski, Senator Murray, Senator Daschle, Senator Reid, Senator Bond, the Senator from South Carolina, LINDSEY GRAHAM, and many others-and thought, having been to a lot of parades and flag-waving ceremonies for our troops, maybe there would be a way we could help them in this tax bill.
I know it is not the focus, but we figured-or I thought-there would be lots of other people who were trying to get in. So why don't we try to get our troops in? The good part of this story is we did in the Senate, with the help of Senator Grassley, Senator Baucus, and many members on the Senate Finance Committee who worked long hours, many weeks, many months negotiating a bill that would correct the original problem that the World Trade Organization had, and provide some tax relief, according to their views and other people who wanted tax relief; we put in a tax benefit of $2 billion for the men and women who are actually on the front lines, the guardsmen and reservists who have become a larger and larger component of our fighting force, who leave their regular jobs, leave their families, and leave their regular civilian life, put on their uniforms and go to the front lines.
We know from reports which we have read and from our own experience representing our Guard and Reserve in our own States that 40 percent of these men and women take a cut in pay to go to the front lines. Not only do they take the bullet, not only do their Humvees get blown up on patrols, but they also take a cut in pay to go.
Some of us had the notion that maybe in this bill, whether it was going to be $350 billion or $75 billion or $100 billion, now it is $137 billion-I would like to show you what that looks like. This is only part of it. This is what a bill looks like that has tax relief provisions of $137 billion. This is just part of it. I am going to get the rest of it because it is a lot of pages.
Some of us had the foolish notion that maybe the Congress could find one page, one paragraph, one letter to include tax relief for American businesses that are doing the right thing, the patriotic thing, by filling the pay gap that these men and women are experiencing. When they leave their civilian life and they put the uniform on, and they pick up their paychecks from the Army, Air Force, or the Navy, they get a substantial cut in pay. Some of the employers are making them whole and doing the right thing, the patriotic thing. We thought surely in this tax bill we could give a tax credit to those small businesses because times are not good everywhere in some States and communities. Really, the whole economy is weaker than we had expected and these small businesses are struggling.
But I don't know why Chairman Thomas from California who wrote the bill, and the House leadership of Congressman DELAY and Speaker Hastert, couldn't find one page or paragraph to include them. So they were left out. They weren't in the top of the list, they weren't in the middle of the list, and they were not at the bottom of the list. They are not on the list.
We stand here and talk all weekend about our intelligence reorganization to secure ourselves. We talk about spending and the investment in our defense to secure ourselves. Let me just ask anyone who would want to come to this floor, or Chairman Thomas, if he is listening to me, what could we be thinking if we are not even keeping the paychecks of the men and women on the front lines whole? No bonus, no extra, just keep their paycheck whole, just to keep their house payments up, just to keep the car notes for their spouse who is at home so they can continue to work and transport the children, just keep the children's trust funds moving along so they don't have to make that up when they come home-what could they be thinking? They weren't thinking very well on the House side. They took it out.
If we could afford $2.5 trillion in tax cuts in 2001, I think we could at least allocate one-tenth of 1 percent to our troops on the front lines who are protecting us today.
I want to say another thing to the businesses that are in this bill. I have a lot of companies in Louisiana that are going to benefit from this bill. I have not a word to say about that. I am happy they are in. I am sure they have good reasons. I am sure it is going to help create jobs.
But I have a word to say to the businesses in the United States of America. No business would be here, no business could operate, no business would have international trade, no business would have stockholders, no business would have a profit sheet, no businesspeople would be paying taxes on profits they made if it were not for the men and women in uniform who go to the front lines every time we have a conflict, a peacekeeping mission or a war to undertake to protect their commercial interests.
I am confident that the businesspeople who are represented in this bill know that. I know they are not going to blame me for taking a few days to talk about it. I know they will say, Senator, you are right. We are grateful to the men and women in uniform. We are actually a little embarrassed because we are in the bill and they are not. It is not their fault. It is nobody's fault. But the House leadership who wrote the bill left them out.
We have in this bill help for investors who want to invest in a subway system in Paris. I like NASCAR. Lots of people in my State go to NASCAR races. We have tax relief for NASCAR. We have tax relief for ceiling fan importers with Home Depot. I shop at Home Depot. I like Home Depot. But we left out the Guard and Reserve.
I don't know. I am just starting to think that unless the cameras are on nobody remembers the truth. It is only the photo opportunities or the rallies or the parades that everybody goes to. We wear the pins and the flags, but when it comes to the budget and to the tax bill, we leave them out.
I don't think our troops need a lobbyist. I thought we were their advocates. Mr. President, $137 billion and we could not allocate $2 billion, not $1 billion, not half a billion?
I will speak about this as often as possible for the next couple of days. I tell my leadership, I don't want to make people's lives miserable. I am happy to talk with our leadership and the Republican leadership about any time agreements that make people's weekends convenient, but I could not in good conscience not spend some hours-whether it is 2, 5, 10, or 30-talking about the 5,000 men and women who have been deployed out of Louisiana, who are on the front lines, whose employers, whom I know personally, are making their paychecks whole.
We had the chance to help out small business, to help our National Guard and Reserve. Somebody, somewhere, on the other side of this Capitol made a decision that is immoral, unconscionable, and most certainly not justifiable.
I will present for the record some names of families. I will present some hardship cases so the record is clear about the kind of families we have turned our backs on and the kind of employers who are doing the very best they can. While they are hiring a replacement, because they obviously need the job done, and sending the paycheck overseas, the Government of the United States, which is supposed to be on their side, decides we do not want to help them because we have higher priorities.
What higher priorities could we possibly have in the Tax Code at this time? If any one of my colleagues wants to explain to me and anyone else what could be a higher priority, I would appreciate it. If there is something else in here for the Guard and Reserve, for the military, to support our troops directly, please tell me. Maybe I didn't get to read the whole report.
I was on the Armed Services Committee for several years. Eventually, I hope to be on Defense Appropriations where I can do more work along this line. I know one thing, last year the Guard and Reserve, despite the fact these are the most dedicated and patriotic men and women-they will go the distance. They do not complain. They do not even like to say what is wrong because they feel sacrifice is what they do. I understand that. They came 5,000 people short of their retention goals. Could it possibly be because, although the soldiers do not mind making the sacrifice, they are getting belly sick of their spouses and their wives and children making sacrifices more than the rest of us are making? Why can't we sacrifice and help them? Why do they have to continue to make the sacrifice? When we have the opportunity, we say no.
Drastic pay cuts, bankruptcies, foreclosures-these aren't exactly the kinds of challenges members of the American military reserve signed up for when they volunteered to put their life on the line for us and for a country as great as this. For all of our pompous talk about how patriotic we are in this Congress, the least we can do is keep their paycheck whole.
Let me talk about three families I actually know. I will be in the Chamber talking about more.
Janet Wright is from Hammond, LA. Her husband Russell is in the Marine Corps. I have the Marine Corps pin on today in honor of our men and women. He makes $60,000 a year in the civilian world. He was activated and made only $30,000. He took a 50-percent pay cut. Mrs. Wright said that after a couple of months she started to put water in her children's cereal while her husband was gone because she had to count every penny. That is what happens when we give out $137 billion: We cannot help the Wrights. We don't have enough money to help the Wrights, so they have to put water in the children's cereal bowls.
Scott is a Navy reservist from California. He lost his home when he was activated and he lost nearly $1,000 a month in pay because the Navy job was different than the civilian. People say, Senator, that is impossible. There is a law that protects people from losing their home. I know that. You cannot foreclose on someone's home when they are on the front line. But the problem is, the bills add up and when they have to come home, if they have not paid those monthly notes and they cannot pay it within a certain amount of time, the foreclosure happens.
I don't understand how we don't have any money to fix it. How can I go home and tell my Guard and Reserve, I'm sorry, we didn't have any money, but here is $137 billion we gave out to everybody else? I am not going to do it. I can't go home. So I would as soon stay here because I don't have a thing I can tell them, not a thing I can say.
I will tell more stories about real people. They are calling my office right now and sending letters. We are getting a lot of e-mails. I will come down here until I hear from Chairman Thomas. We are sending a letter to the President at 6 o'clock today.
Let me say on the record I don't think the President of the United States knows they were left out. He has a lot on his mind. I understand that. And I know this is only one of a thousand things he has to consider, literally, weekly. But I am sending him a letter to let him know. I cannot amend this bill; it is beyond my power to amend it. It is against the rules. But the bill could be vetoed and this could be included. Or the President could send a message to his House leadership that says, you must have made a mistake; we should have included this. We obviously could afford it and he could promise to fix it.
I hope that is a response we will get over the next couple of days. I don't know. I know he is very busy on many other things right now. There will be a big debate tonight, but this is something I had to bring to our attention.
Over 410,000 members of the National Guard and Reserve have been activated since September 11. Secretary Rumsfeld has predicted that number may go up to 640,000. That is a lot of families dependent on us to make good decisions for them. This was not a good decision made by the House leadership. I will do everything in my power to get them to change their mind, to change the bill, or to promise they will put in this $2 billion or $3 billion-whatever it will cost to close this pay gap-so the men and women who leave your State of Illinois or my State of Louisiana or the Senator's State of Ohio or the Senator's State of Massachusetts, when the soldiers leave to go overseas, they have confidence that when we have a chance to help them keep their pay whole, keep their benefits intact, give them some support in the spousal support program we have established, we are there for them.
I understand the Senator from Massachusetts will speak and I understand the Senator from Iowa will yield the time to make that possible. But if my colleagues are wondering why the process has slowed down, why we are having a hard time getting a schedule for the next couple of days, this is one of the reasons. This is the reason I am voting against the bill and will be speaking about it as the days go forward.
I yield the floor.
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Mr. KENNEDY. Madam President, while my good friend the Senator from Louisiana is in the Chamber, I commend her for the enormously persuasive case she has made and say I agree with her 100 percent and will certainly do everything I can to support her.
The point is, we passed this underlying bill in June, and the conferees were appointed in July by the Senate of the United States. The House of Representatives did not even appoint their conferees until the end of last week, and did not have their first meeting until Monday of this week, and we are trying to jam this legislation through the Senate late in the afternoon on a Friday, and the cloture motion was filed the first thing this morning before there was 1 minute of debate on it.
Ms. LANDRIEU. Yes.
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Ms. LANDRIEU. Will the Senator yield for a question?
Mr. DORGAN. I am happy to yield.
Ms. LANDRIEU. Does it strike the Senator as odd and actually unjust that the same bill that would push the date back for companies to go register in the Bahamas-to give up their U.S. citizenship presumably because they think it is too hard for them to pay their taxes-in that same bill, the men and women who are protecting the right of those businesses to make a profit and to benefit from the great riches of this country were deprived of a tax credit? Does that strike the Senator as an odd way to either begin or end a session of the Congress?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The time of the Senator has expired.
Mr. DORGAN. I ask unanimous consent for 1 additional minute to answer my colleague.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. DORGAN. Let me answer my colleague from Louisiana by saying of course it is absurd. Let me say it seems to me the first obligation in this Congress is to make sure we are doing what we should do for those men and women who, when called, left their homes, left their families, left their jobs, and went to serve this country. It is unbelievable to me, some of the priorities that have been established around here.
I heard the Senator from Louisiana make the case earlier today. She is absolutely right about that. The soldiers she is talking about should not be put at the end of the line. They ought to be at the front of the line when you talk about trying to do what is right in this bill. I appreciate the leadership of the Senator from Louisiana on that point.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.
Mr. THOMAS. Madam President, I am a little surprised to hear my friend from North Dakota. This bill has been worked on for a long time here. It passed this Senate with a great amount of support. There are some things here that are very important that we are doing, and all I hear is talk about how bad it is. That is interesting.
I think it has a little to do with politics. There are some things on here we ought to be talking about. Please remember why this bill was offered in the first place. We had a benefit that went to manufacturers, a 3-percent reduction if they shipped overseas. What happened is WTO, the World Trade Organization, said, That is not in keeping with our rules, and they started to levy a penalty, each month, that goes up to 17 percent. Something had to be done about that.
The Senator didn't bother to mention that. He didn't bother to mention all the good things that are on here. I don't know whether that is politics or whether they are trying to talk a little bit about the facts. That would be a surprise.
Ms. LANDRIEU. Will the Senator yield for me to have an opportunity to try to answer that just briefly?
Mr. THOMAS. Really, if you have a question, I will take that. Otherwise I think it is my turn to have the floor.
Ms. LANDRIEU. OK. I would just ask the Senator, did he know that at least my remarks were not at all directed politically to this bill? The Senator is correct. Did he know that when the provision I spoke about earlier left the Senate floor, 100 percent of the Senators, including the leadership of Senator Grassley and Senator Baucus, sent our bill over to the House saying, please put our troops at the top of the list if we are going to give out $137 billion? Did the Senator know they didn't even come back in any part of the list? They are not on the list. I just wanted to ask the Senator if he remembered that that was something we sent over.
Mr. THOMAS. Absolutely. There is no question. But this is the size of the bill. There are thousands of things in there.
I am sorry. I agree with you. I was on the conference committee. We went through this process. But it is the House and the Senate both. When you go through a conference committee you come out with some things added and some things subtracted. I agree with the Senator and supported what she is talking about. But that is not the whole issue in this bill. This is a huge bill.
The other thing that seldom is mentioned is that this is revenue neutral over 10 years. There are offsets to these expenditures which I feel very strongly about because I probably feel more strongly about the deficit than the Senator from North Dakota. But this is revenue neutral. They took enough things out, and that is one of the reasons some of the things are not in there that people would like in there, because they had to limit it to the amount of offsets they could find to make it work this way.
But what happened then is they took off this 3-percent addition that went to manufacturers because the WTO opposed it and turned it around and gave that to all manufacturers, including people, for instance, who produce oil and who produce coal. It broadened the definition of manufacturers to where nearly every business in this country, then, receives it.
We are talking about jobs numbers, which have grown pretty significantly. We are talking here about strengthening business to create jobs. Somehow we seem to forget that is where jobs come from, is by encouraging and giving incentives to businesses so they will invest and provide an opportunity to create jobs. That is what it is for. I don't quite understand where the Senator thinks jobs come from unless it has to do with businesses that invest and create those jobs.
There are a great many things in there. Everyone could find something they don't like. I thought it was perhaps a little overdone, frankly, in terms of some of the things that were there. I tried very hard to get the tax element of the Energy bill into the bill. We were not able to put that all in there. We did get some energy incentives here, however, which will help some. We all had some things.
There are some things that are particularly useful, just little things that are kind of typical of the many issues that are in there.
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Ms. LANDRIEU. Madam President, is there a specific order under the unanimous consent agreement?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority has up to 30 minutes of debate.
Ms. LANDRIEU. I ask unanimous consent to speak for the next 10 minutes, if I am not interrupting anyone's time.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Ms. LANDRIEU. Madam President, before the Senator from Wyoming leaves, I want to make a couple of comments regarding some of the things he said. While some Members of this Senate intend to vote for this bill, I am one who will not be voting for the bill. I would like to restate why.
There is only one reason, one specific reason, and I think one compelling reason, that injustice was done in this bill after it left the Senate, and that injustice was that the one provision which would give direct tax relief to the men and women on the front lines, the Guard and Reserve fighting in Afghanistan, in Iraq, or whether it is North Korea, or South Korea, was left out of the bill.
We have a lot of bills, and not all of them are this fat, this full, and this expensive. This is $137 billion.
In 2 years, we negotiated between the House and the Senate. I know the Senator from Wyoming is aware of this because he helped to put it in. But there was only one provision in this entire bill that would have actually directed some modest tax relief to the men and women in the Guard and Reserve. But for some reason-I am not sure if it was politics, I am not sure if it was an election, I am not sure because I have not gotten an answer yet from anyone about why it was left out. Obviously, we had $137 billion to spend, and we spent it. We allocated it, but not for the Guard and Reserve.
We send the Guard and Reserve to the front lines. According to Secretary Rumsfeld, we sent 640,000 men and women, 5,000-plus from my State of Louisiana, to the front lines. We can't even send them with a full paycheck.
Some of us thought, gee, if we have this tax bill going through, we have to fix this problem with the World Trade Organization, and surely in the middle of this war at this time we could spend $2 billion to give tax credit. If we didn't have the $2 billion, I certainly would not have suggested that we spend it. But we have $137 billion in this bill.
I am confused. My constituents are confused. The men and women in the armed services are confused and their families are wondering and are very puzzled: How could we possibly be giving away $137 billion to businesses here and abroad and leave them out?
I am going to stand here for a couple of days and talk about it. I don't have an explanation for it. I don't want to go home because I don't know what I would tell them.
When the Senator from Wyoming says it is politics involved in the opposition of this bill, I think that is a good question. I am not sure of the answer. But I would like to say it this way. Is politics in any way involved in the passage of this bill? This bill, $137 billion for every corporation, or many corporations that you could think of, big ones, little ones, ones that make ceiling fans, ones that operate horse racing-just go through it. I am not going to even comment about the benefits of that. I don't want the reporters and the people following this debate to say Senator Landrieu objects to anything in this bill except that the Guard and Reserve were left out. That is what I object to. I am not going to even talk about ceiling fans and horse racing, or shipbuilding, which happens in my State. There are lots of wonderful things in this bill. My only question is, How could we possibly have the nerve to pass a bill and leave the Guard and Reserve out?
According to the GAO, the men and women in the Guard and Reserve on the front lines are taking a 41-percent pay cut.
You may say to me, Senator, they knew it when they signed up. Let me answer that. They knew there would be sacrifice. These men and women don't want a lot of pity or attention. They are happy to go. They want to go. They are proud to serve. I know many of them personally. I am proud of them. But I tell you what they did not know: They didn't know that we-when I say "we", I mean this President, the former President, and the leadership of the Armed Services Committee-would make a policy decision that would say that our Armed Forces, instead of relying mostly on Active and a little bit on our Reserve, decided because it is less expensive we are going to rely more on our Reserve and a little less on our Active.
We didn't tell them that because they signed up 10 years ago and we have been making these decisions in the last couple of years. They sign up. They weigh the pros and cons. They want to serve their country. They are patriotic. They say, I will make the sacrifice. But then we changed the rules on them. It is not their job to fix that. It is our job to fix it.
We had a bill coming along. It started 2 years ago. I thought: this is a perfect time to fix this situation. Here is the money. It is small businesses that are writing these checks to keep their pay whole, and surely this country would find money in this bill to do this, and then whatever else they want to do is fine with me. But, oh, no.
Let me make another point about what the Senator from Wyoming said. He said something along the lines that jobs are created by tax cuts. We have to have tax cuts for businesses to grow. I think that is partially correct. I don't think just any tax cut at any time makes business grow, but I will give him that. But I will tell you what makes businesses in America grow. I will tell you what no business could operate without. I will tell you in large measure what this war is about. It is about economic freedom. It is about global trade. It is about peace in the world so people can make a profit. No business in this bill could possibly function without the men and women in the Active or Reserve units. They wouldn't exist. Yet we have this bill to help companies and businesses, and we can't help the men and women taking the bullets.
I am not voting for a bill like that. I urge my colleagues, if they have decided how to vote, they might want to change their minds. I hope maybe people listening in their States, and maybe some of the families who have actually lost soldiers on the front lines might call their Senators, and say, Senator, if you do not mind, what Senator Landrieu is saying makes sense. Please don't leave me out of the bill. You put me in the war. Don't leave me out of the bill. You put me in the photograph, don't leave me out of the budget.
I will say one more thing before my 10 minutes is up.
I know something else about military families, and it is what I love about them the most. They never even want attention. I have had a little bit of a difficult time getting some of the families to call me. Do you know why? Because these men and women understand what sacrifice is all about. They didn't sign up to get rich. They didn't sign up to get an award. They don't really advertise their bravery every day, not like some people around here who cannot wait to show their awards off, et cetera. The men and women in uniform don't do that. So it is hard for them to ask.
I want them to know it is my job as their Senator to ask for them and to fight for them. I don't blame them for not wanting to have their names used. They want to feel self-reliant. But I will be darned if I will sit here and watch this $137 billion get out of this Chamber and leave them behind.
My colleagues, we are going to be here for a long weekend because I have a lot of things to say about this. My time now is up, but I am not going far. I don't live far from here. I am back and forth from Louisiana, and the house I live in when I am here is four blocks away, so I am not far away. I would stay here for many days to talk about it.
Members in this Chamber feel very strongly about their Guard and Reserve. They know the sacrifices they are making and a mistake was made. Mistakes can be corrected.
At 6 o'clock today I am delivering a letter to the White House. I will read it before 6 o'clock in the Senate. It is being delivered to the President. It is assumed in the letter that he didn't know about this personally, that it was just something that did not come to his attention. But he has the power as the President to fix it, and I hope that he will take that action.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
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Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. BURNS). The clerk will call the roll.
The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
The Senator from Louisiana.
Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, I thought I would take the next 15 minutes or so to review a couple points about the tax relief bill we are considering adopting. There are three or four major pieces of legislation that the Senate is trying to finish in the next couple of days. One of them is the reorganization of homeland security and the Intelligence Committee. One of them is the tax relief bill that we have been working on for 2 years. There are other issues that this Congress is struggling to get finished in the next few days, but the most important issue to me and the one I would like to spend a bit of time talking about now is the tax relief bill that was put together by many of us, or tried to be put together by many of us, over the last 2 years.
That started out for a very good purpose and a very good reason because there was a trade decision made by the WTO that called into question the legitimacy of some part of our Tax Code relative to certain businesses.
We had to take some action or our businesses would have been fined through the WTO because the European Union had prevailed in their argument. So our tax writers got busy and tried to fix that. We need to fix it. But what has happened is, we have done more than fix. We have really messed up some things. Unfortunately, inexplicably, and as a grave injustice, we didn't take care of our men and women in uniform. For the men and women who are taking care of us on the front lines and suffering pay reductions, we are letting pass the opportunity to make their paychecks whole. I am going to spend a few hours over the next couple of days talking about that. Before I do, let me share a fact that maybe some might not realize. We have always had men and women in our Guard and Reserve units supplementing our Active Forces. But never in the history of this country have we relied on the Guard and Reserve to the extent we are today.
Let me share that in the Berlin crisis of 1961, we called up 148,000 reservists; in the Cuban missile crisis, we called up 14,000; in the Vietnam war, we called up 37,000-for a total of almost 200,000 from 1953 to 1989.
You can see from this chart that just in the last 12 years, in the Persian Gulf War, the invasion in Haiti, the Bosnia peacekeeping, Operation Southern Watch, which is ongoing, the Kosovo conflict, and Iraq and Afghanistan-and this list is not completely up to date-we have called out 364,000 guardsmen and reservists to supplement our Active Forces, to protect this country, to defend this country. These troops have been willing to go at great sacrifice, but the least we could do is keep their paychecks whole. The least we could do, if we are giving out tax credits and tax cuts to other people, is include them in the bill. This conference report that this Senate is considering over the next couple of days, $137 billion, left them completely out.
We talk about helping small business. This is a picture of one of our soldiers. We left them out but we put in ceiling fans. I know people are not going to believe this, because it is hard to believe. But the guardsmen and reservists and their employers who keep their paychecks whole while they are on the front lines so they can pay their mortgages, pay their car notes, continue to contribute to their children's college trust fund, or just keep their household together, the employers of this country, small employers and large employers, are doing the right thing, the patriotic thing, not mandated by the Government but out of their own good heart, digging deep, keeping those men and women on the front line with a full paycheck.
We had the opportunity to give them a modest tax credit so they could keep that paycheck whole and hire a temporary worker to take the spot of that guardsman or that reservist who went overseas to protect us. And we couldn't find one line, one paragraph, not one word in a $137 billion tax relief bill for every conceivable commercial, industrial, or manufacturing interest in the country, for our guardsmen and reservists.
I want to show you the state of our Active Reserve. Sometimes pictures help us to understand. I know this subject can be complicated, but it is actually very simple. We just didn't put our Guard and Reserve in the $137 billion tax bill. We put everybody else in, but we left them out. I am going to stand here until I get an answer why.
In 1940, at the height of the Second World War in the 1940s, this was the Army troop strength. This is where we had to go in the Second World War to defend. This is in the thousands, so it was 600,000 to defend our Nation. Because we, of course, won that war, won the Cold War, defeated communism, we have dropped the active strength force of our troops down to probably the lowest level since 1942. What fills this gap is our Guard and Reserve that are called up when we need them.
When September 11 hit, we needed them and we called them. And they went. And 41 percent of them are going with a pay cut. Some of us got together, Republicans and Democrats on the Senate side, Chairman Grassley and our ranking member, Senator Baucus from Montana, and fixed that. Since we have a big, fat tax bill going through, couldn't we possibly give a little bit of money to the businesses that are keeping those paychecks whole, filling the gap, giving us extra strength, Active and Reserve, to protect us?
But for some reason, once the bill left here and got over to the House Republican leadership, it got taken out.
I know Senator Byrd is here to speak so I will wrap up my comments in just 5 minutes. I know he wants to speak, perhaps a little about this and other subjects. But I want to say a few things that the newspapers are saying about this bill.
Let me be clear. I don't oppose this bill for any other reason other than the fact that the $2.4 billion tax benefit to employers for the Guard and Reserve to help keep their paychecks whole while they are on the front line was left out. There are other provisions of this bill that are questionable. There are other important issues that have been raised by the Senator from Iowa, Mr. McCain from Arizona, and the Senator from Massachusetts. Those are legitimate arguments as well.
But leaving the Reserve and the Guard out and their patriotic employers is more than I can bear to be silent about.
This is some of what some of our newspapers are saying about the general bill.
The Washington Post, October 8:
The bill is aimed at ending a transatlantic trade war by scrapping certain illegal tax subsidies for U.S. exporters that have brought on retaliatory action by Europe. But in the version approved last night by the House, that modest goal is largely overwhelmed in a preelection package of benefits for dozens of constituencies, including NASCAR track owners and mall builders.
That is the opinion of the newspaper. Again, I don't know if the NASCAR track people are deserving or not. Many people enjoy NASCAR in my State. Maybe they are. But I can promise you that nobody in my State thinks NASCAR owners or investors or ceiling fan importers deserve a tax break more than the employers who are keeping whole the paychecks of our men and women on the front line. I can promise you that-not a one. I don't know of a business or a mall or a retail establishment that thinks they should get in line before the Guard and the Reserve.
It was a long line. This is what I call a long line. This is not a thin bill. This is not a one-page bill. This is a lot of lines and a long line. They didn't even get in the middle of the line. They didn't get in the end of the line. They didn't get in at all. It is a grave injustice.
The New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and the Las Vegas Journal have all editorialized against this bill for different reasons. I am hoping that many of these newspapers and others that are listening will begin to focus on this issue as to a reason why we should vote against this bill, send it back to conference, redo it.
We all make mistakes. This was a big mistake the House Republican leadership made. I say basically this is a paycheck that we send to our soldiers. Their average pay is $30,000. According to our own report, these soldiers are getting a 41-percent pay cut. We could have done something to help them, but we chose not to. So I am going to vote against this bill. I know other Senators are joining me in letters being sent to the conferees, which evidently did not make an impression on them-at least not to the point where they kept our provision in. That was passed by 100 votes here, Republicans and Democrats, and it would be paid for with an offset. We didn't ask for this provision to be included without paying for it. It is even paid for. But they decided-the leadership, Chairman Thomas and, I guess, Congressman DeLay and Speaker Hastert-we could not afford it.
Let me again say for the record that there is $137 billion in this bill. The bill started out as being a $50 billion fix over 10 years. That was the cost of fixing the problem we originally started to correct. It grew and grew and grew. Everyone, it seems, was added in, except the men and women who are taking the bullets morning, noon, and night.
It is hard for me to go back to Louisiana and explain this. I am not sure I could explain it adequately to the 5,000 families who are currently serving on the front lines. Why should they pour a little water into the cereal bowl, as one woman wrote to me, trying to make ends meet? Why did some of them lose their houses because their notes pile up and they cannot pay the bill when they get home? What could we be thinking as to the justice of losing an automobile, losing their retirement, losing their college benefit, or having to make them stretch and sacrifice when we could help them? If we could not afford it, if we didn't have the money, that would be one thing. This is $137 billion. Why could we not have given them $1 billion, or $2 billion, or half a billion? Or even if you could not give them the money, write something in the bill, for Heaven's sake, and tell them you understand they have a 41-percent pay cut and you are sorry you cannot fix it today, but when we get another bill, we will try later.
Not even a comment.
When they go off to war, they don't make a lot of comments to us either, other than I am going to my post, I am going to do my job; I will see you when I get back. Take care of my family. That is all they say to us. We could not even get a paragraph of gratitude in this bill.
Senator Byrd is going to speak. I will speak a few more times this weekend about this. I am doing as many interviews as I can, explaining this to people and handing out material. I am still waiting for Chairman Thomas to either write me, send me a note, write a letter, make a comment in the newspaper, or meet me for a debate about why he took them out of the bill in the middle of the night, when the cameras were not on, and there is virtually no record of the discussion. I don't know. The people in my State would like to know.
I yield the floor.