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Minimum Wage Fairness Act

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SESSIONS. I thank Senator Hoeven.

The Senator is exactly right; it will do all of those things. It is a step in the right direction in every area.

I appreciate my leader on the Judiciary Committee and ranking member, Senator Grassley. I would ask a rather simple question of Senator Grassley which ought not to be forgotten in this process. If a pipeline is built and an additional source of gasoline is brought into the Midwest or other areas, if it is not cheaper than the gas that is already being supplied, isn't it true that nobody will buy it?

So won't this mean an opportunity for people in the whole country to be able to have another source of fuel which would be less costly and help bring down costs?

Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I am glad to yield.

I think that is very basic economics: Increase supply and reduce price.

The other matter is it makes us more energy independent. We spend hundreds of millions of dollars every day to import oil. There is no sense doing that when we can get it right here in North America.

Mr. SESSIONS. I thank the Senator.

I thank Senator Hoeven for his steadfast, consistent, principled leadership on this important issue. He has been there consistently. I don't think there is any Senator in this body who understands the details of this issue more than he does. It is just a positive thing for America. It just is, and I thank the Senator for his efforts.

We have been reviewing this for 5 years. Legally, as I see this situation, it is this: There is no Federal law at this time dealing with this issue. Presidents have issued Executive orders that created a mechanism to allow the State Department to review a request for a pipeline like Keystone XL. But clearly there is no doubt that Congress has every right to legislate on this issue. Just because we haven't yet, that doesn't mean we never will or never should, and I strongly believe that with the failed leadership of President Obama on this question, we are going to have to pass legislation. It is just that critical.

The Secretary of State has essentially asserted that under these Executive orders the State Department must evaluate the environmental issue. They have dealt with that, and they have satisfied that environmental process. There is the question left of the national interest.

So if we don't have a serious environmental issue--which I don't think we do, and pretty clearly we don't--then the question is: What is in the national interest?

Senator Hoeven represents a state on the border with Canada, and we have good relations with Canada.

First, I don't think there is any nation in the world with which we need to maintain and enhance our relationship more than with our good partner, Canada.

Second, let me ask the Senator this. The Senator is close to Canada. He knows the situation. If this pipeline is not approved, will it weaken and harm our relationship with our good neighbor, Canada, or will it make it better?

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Mr. SESSIONS. The Senator is so correct. In my time here in the Senate, this is one of the most inexplicable actions by a President I have ever seen. He has persisted in this after months and years have gone by and when the facts continue to come forward that justify this pipeline--for jobs in America, for lower energy costs in America, for importing oil from our ally Canada, where the people buy a great deal from us. Any wealth that goes to Canada, we can be sure a lot of that will come back to the United States because they purchase a great deal from us. But does Venezuela or Saudi Arabia or other countries that we buy oil from buy a lot from us? No.

So this is a partnership and relationship which benefits both parties. I just am astounded that it has not been approved to date.

The Washington Post editorial board wrote last week that the President's decision to delay the Keystone Pipeline was ``absurd.'' This is an independent, liberal-leaning newspaper that cares about the environment. So it seems the President is clearly acquiescing in favor of special interests.

Senator Thune is familiar with Mr. Tom Steyer, who a recent Associated Press article characterized as ``a former hedge fund manager and environmentalist, who says he will spend $100 million--$50 million of his own money and $50 million from other donors''--to defeat Republicans to promote environmental issues. He asked for some things if he is going to put up $100 million.

I am not happy about it. I believe the interests of the people of this country have been subordinated to either an extreme environmentalist agenda or to plain money. There is no other rational basis for the position we find ourselves in. It is really tragic.

We need jobs in this country. We have the fewest percentage of people working in America today in the working age group since 1975. Median income has dropped over $2,000 to $2,600. We are not doing well. These are high-paying jobs. It keeps growth and creativity here in the United States and in North America through our partner, Canada.

I am grateful to see others who are so interested in this issue. I feel really strongly we should move forward with this. It is the right thing to do. It is not politics. It is the right thing.

A lot of Democratic members favor this pipeline. Union groups, who tend to be Democrats, favor this pipeline. It is not a Republican-Democratic issue. This is an extremist issue against a commonsense issue. Sixty-two Senators voted for a budget amendment last year during the Senate budget debate that was supportive of the Keystone pipeline.

My good staffer Jeff Wood found a Charles Dickens quote about the fictional ``Circumlocution Office,'' of which Dickens wrote:

Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving--how not to do it. ..... [W]ith projects for the general welfare ..... , which in slow lapse of time and agony had passed safely through other public departments ..... got referred at last to the Circumlocution Office, and never reappeared in the light of day. Boards sat upon them, secretaries minuted upon them, commissioners gabbled about them, clerks registered, entered, checked, and ticked them off, and they melted away. In short, all the business of the country went through the Circumlocution Office, except the business that never came out of it .....

(Chapter 10 of Charles Dickens' ``Little Dorrit,'' 1855).

In my opinion, this bill would create thousands of good jobs if it is passed and this pipeline is built. It would strengthen, not weaken, our relationship with Canada. It would bring a new flow of oil into the United States and the Midwest which will provide competition and which would reduce costs. It would be a competitive source of energy for America.

Canada is a good trading partner. They buy a lot from us. The oil will be sold somewhere else if it is not sold in the United States.

By the way, pipelines are everywhere in this country. In my State of Alabama, pipelines crisscross the State. We don't have any problems with this. The idea that we can't build another pipeline in this country is about as ludicrous as one can imagine.

So I thank Senator Hoeven for the great leadership he has provided. I appreciate the opportunity to join with him. It is the right thing for the people of this country, and we need to get this done.

I yield the floor.

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