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Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, 2004

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CRAIG. On the legislation that became law a couple years ago, with your backing and my backing, that is that agricultural goods and medical supplies could be traded and sold to Cuba without United States taxpayer credit, maybe we need to add the words and "related medical services."

That is really picking the flyspecks out of the pepper here down at the Department of the Treasury. Shame on them for standing in the way of a humanitarian effort to make kids healthier.

But behind you is the picture of Miss Scott. She also visited my office yesterday. I must say to this administration: Do not fight us on this issue. We are giving you the right way out. The House and the Senate, in a strong bipartisan voice-the loudest and the strongest vote we have ever had here on the floor of the Senate-said: Let's begin to back away from this travel embargo with Cuba. It does not work any longer. It is a 40-year-old failed policy. Now you are being arbitrary. Now you are being selective. We ought to get away from that.

So I hope this afternoon in conference the House and the Senate's bipartisan voice is heard. Frankly, the administration ought to view it as a gift. We are not abolishing the law that puts in that embargo. We are simply disallowing the expenditure of levying a $10,000 fine against a woman passing out Bibles because she trafficked through Canada and did not fill out the right form. That is what we are doing.

Let OFAC track down drug traffickers and terrorists and leave Ms. Scott alone. That is what we ought to be about. Somehow this has gotten very confused and very skewed.

I thank the Senator for bringing up this point. Please prevail in conference this afternoon.



Mr. CRAIG. On behalf of Senator Bond and Senators MCCONNELL, TALENT, CHAMBLISS, MILLER, and CRAIG, I send the Bond amendment to the desk.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.

The bill clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Idaho, [Mr. CRAIG], for Mr. Bond, Mr. McConnell, Mr. Talent, Mr. Chambliss, Mr. Miller, and Mr.
Craig, proposes amendment numbered 2156 to amendment No. 2150.

The amendment reads as follows:

(Purpose: Clarify the current exemption for certain nonroad agriculture and construction engines or vehicles that are smaller than 50 horsepower from air emission regulation by California and require EPA to develop a national standard)

Page 106, strike lines 16 to 20 and insert in lieu thereof the following:

"Section 209(e)(1) of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7543(e)(1)) is amended by-

(a) striking the words "either of"; and

(b) in paragraph (A), adding before the period at the end the following: ", and any new spark-ignition engines smaller than 50 horsepower".

Not later than December 1, 2004, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall propose regulations containing new standards applicable to emissions from new nonroad spark-ignition engines smaller than 50 horsepower.".

Mr. CRAIG. I will speak only briefly. I didn't think I had a dog in this fight, only a lawnmower and a weed eater.

Most of what the Senator from California said I agree with. But I also know when you have a large manufacturer that builds literally tens of thousands of engines a year spread out across the country and are allied to a variety of tools that are built by other companies, there does need to be uniformity in law.

The amendment requires EPA to establish that kind of uniformity for 50 horse and under. Of course, I can appreciate that. I have dealt with situations before, including when we had the lawsuit over Yellowstone Park. It said that snowmobiles in Yellowstone Park had to meet a certain standard. We said, wait a minute, let's build a standard so all snowmobiles meet, nationwide, both the issue of sound and air pollution.

That is exactly what is happening now. Most industries, when you can build a nationwide uniformity of standard, work obviously to meet it or they go out.

Briggs & Stratton is the last remaining large manufacturer of small engines in the country. I understand that California has made some exceptions, carving out for Honda and others to meet certain compliance issues.

I hope in this amendment we do recognize when you have a producer of this magnitude that sells worldwide and nationwide that we build or work to build uniformity across those standards. I believe that is the intent of the amendment.

The Senator is right, it has been reduced to 50 horsepower and does address EPA, requiring them to address this problem.

Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Will the Senator yield?

Mr. CRAIG. I am happy to yield.

Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Or we can go back and forth through the Chair if the Senator is in agreement. The problem is that because of the severe conditions in the State, 7 nonattainment zones, this is 17 percent of mobile sources. If we do not deal with it, we cannot meet the clean air standards and we jeopardize our highway funds.

There is the rub, so to speak. States do not have to follow. Clearly, States have followed, a large number of them. I don't know what else to do. Every State's air, as we have discussed with forests, Senator, is different. Pollution comes from different kinds of sources in every State. That is why this ability of a State, particularly one as large as California, fifth largest economic engine on Earth, should have the right to protect its people.

The concern is that EPA, (a) won't move fast enough; (b) will not do enough to severely reduce the pollution to enable California to come within its containment standards.

Mr. CRAIG. Regaining my time in trying to respond to that because I am not the expert in this area and I have not dealt with this issue per se, obviously, I recognize the need of California. Other States have that need. What this amendment does is it addresses EPA to move rapidly into that area to build a uniform national standard that meets those needs. Of course, EPA does have a broader test when it develops regulation. It does have an economic factor test involved in looking at regulations that some States are not required or simply do not have because they set their own standards.

It is a fine line between allowing States to move forward and developing uniform national standards. There have been exceptions. The Senator has spoken to those exceptions.

When a market has a magnitude of sales large enough, sometimes those exceptions are effectively made and economically companies can survive. In this instance, what we have seen in this particular market, because of costs of retooling, retrofitting, and bringing assembly lines online, oftentimes it is easier to move offshore-not that you will change the requirement-but you can, therefore, build the new plant for less cost, you drive down your costs because of labor, and that is what the Senator from Missouri is concerned about.

He is also concerned about pollution. That is why the amendment addresses EPA and says get at the business of dealing with this 50 horsepower and up issue. That is a major problem.

Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Will the Senator yield?

Mr. CRAIG. I am more than happy to yield.

Mrs. FEINSTEIN. The bulk of our problem, I am told by the Air Resources Board, otherwise I would not know, is under 50 horsepower. So it takes that right away.

Additionally, Senator, I guess what got my dander up, was the SEC filing of a company when they say this is not a financial problem. Actually, the finances drive everything in the country. We know that very well. This is not a financial problem. They will pass on added cost. California is a small part of the market. If the company is saying that is a 10(k) I would tend to believe the 10(k). Wouldn't you?

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, regaining my time, I obviously cannot address that issue. I am here for the purpose of introducing the amendment on behalf of Senator Bond. Senator Bond is in markup on surface transportation and will be back to the floor in a while to engage the Senator in these questions, I am sure, and he knows a great deal more about this issue than I.

What I would like to do at this moment, if the Senator from California would accept it, is to lay the amendment aside temporarily for the purpose of the introduction of another amendment, and when Senator Bond gets back to the floor he can bring this amendment back for the purposes of addressing it with the Senator. Would the Senator object to that?

Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Not at all.

Mr. CRAIG. I thank the Senator from California.



Mr. CRAIG. With that, I send to the desk an amendment for the Senate's consideration.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.

The bill clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Idaho, [Mr. CRAIG], for himself, Mr. Harkin, Mr. Cochran, Mr. Conrad, Mr. Chambliss, Mr. Coleman, Mr. Crapo, Mr. Lugar, Mr. Breaux, Mr. Roberts, and Mr. Fitzgerald, proposes an amendment numbered 2158 to amendment No. 2150.

(The amendment is printed in today's RECORD under "Text of Amendments.")

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I have brought an amendment to the floor today that has been worked on for a long period of time in a bipartisan way, Democrats and Republicans, VA-HUD subcommittee, Senate Agriculture Committee, and others, to deal with pesticide registration and the fees of that registration.

For the last several years, the VA-HUD appropriations bill has, on an analyzed basis, advanced these fees automatically. We have done it through the appropriating process.

The administration basically said let's resolve this issue. A broad coalition of environmental organizations and chemical companies basically came together in the past several months to reach consensus on a permanent pesticide fees package. Through several long hours, an agreement was reached late this summer through a truly bipartisan effort that produced identical legislation in both the Senate amendment I have just sent forward with the 20-plus cosponsors and House H.R. 3188. So the House and Senate are now working in tandem on this issue.

The package includes a unique cross section of support from industry, labor, farmers, and the environmental community. Such groups as the Natural Resource Defense Council, the American Farm Bureau, the Sierra Club, the CropLife America group, and the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides now fully endorse this bill.

Cumulatively, there are over 20 agricultural organizations supporting this amendment, and they have asked for "stable, effective and predictable pesticide regulation" that is explicitly created in this legislation.

The amendment guarantees long-term stable funding to EPA that provides and expedites the pesticide registration process by using a performance-based approach. Additionally, the amendment provides a protection for small business and minor use products while funding efforts to protect workers.

The legislation ensures that EPA use sound science in its evaluation of products, and that existing rigorous standards are maintained, while reducing the timelag between approval and availability of these products to farmers and retailers who sell them.

The amendment is consistent with other user fees legislation, such as the successful Prescription Drug User Fee Act.

Congress has addressed the pesticide fees issue for several years, as I have mentioned, by simply rolling it over in appropriations bills. But it is truly an issue that deserves the full consideration of all parties involved and finality brought to it. And this amendment offers that.

I had offered it in the subcommittee, but because of our consideration of not dealing with legislation in the subcommittee, we chose, and I chose, to bring it to the floor on behalf of a very broad bipartisan group of Senators.

As in the past, the House and the Senate VA-HUD bills, as I said, spoke to a temporary approach, a 1-year fix for the issue.

Now, of course, I hope we can gain acceptance of this amendment on all sides so that we have a long-term solution so Congress can fully resolve the issue.

My amendment, our amendment, has the same budget impact as the 1-year rider currently in both the House and the Senate 2004 appropriations bills. Now is the time, I do believe, to provide a long-term fix to the pesticide fee program at the EPA by including this consensus legislation on an appropriations bill moving forward.

The diverse stakeholder coalition-from the agricultural industry, environmental groups, workers, and the consumer community-has worked long and hard to forge a consensus and is fully supportive of the terms of this amendment.

So I hope when we get consideration of this-it is possible there may be others who wish to speak to it-that we can bring it on this legislation and adopt it, hopefully, by consensus of the Senate.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to add Senator Pryor as a cosponsor of my amendment.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. CRAIG. I know Senator Dorgan, who supports the initial legislation, has some concern about other issues and is on his way to the floor to speak to those.

With that, I suggest the absence of a quorum.


Mr. CRAIG. If the Senator from North Dakota will yield, Mr. President, what the Senator speaks to is a very real problem, especially in border States such as his and mine, where farmers across that line that is often invisible-economically, environmentally, and climactically, but not jurisdictionally, certainly not from a national standpoint-can't understand why a product that appears to be the same-and as the Senator from North Dakota said, there may be some slight difference because it is not licensed in this country-cannot cross the border and find a substantial savings and bring it back for application on his agricultural crops in the lower 48. Yet product raised in Canada, harvested in Canada, can be trafficked into our markets, refined, and moved into our food stream.

There does clearly need to be a resolution of this problem, from an economic standpoint, from an environmental standpoint, and from a food safety standpoint. That was spoken to in the Canadian free trade agreement, the North American Free Trade Agreement. It is something we ought to resolve.

I am pleased that the chairman of the Agriculture Committee is willing to hold hearings early next year to review it. I will certainly encourage that. I will encourage that we move the next step, to a markup, to resolve this issue once and for all. There are remnants left of difficulties between the United States and Canada in a variety of areas as a result of the free trade agreement. I didn't support that agreement initially, but it is the law of the lands involved: Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

We ought to try to resolve these kinds of difficulties that create great problems. Twenty million dollars spread across the national economy is not so much money; $20 million in a State such as North Dakota or Idaho, on individual farmers who are, at best, breaking even in some of these crops and in many years below cost of production-that savings in itself is a very substantial reduction in the overall cost of doing business.

That is what harmonization was about: Environmentally, regulatorily, and certainly as a cost of product, and for food safety and all of those things within the food chain. This is an issue that cries out for resolution. I am pleased that the Senator is willing to withdraw his second degree and that that probably then allows us, hopefully, to go forward with the other one, maybe by a voice vote or an acceptance of the chairman and the ranking member of the committee.

I thank the Senator for bringing this issue to the floor. I am certainly an advocate of his position and will work to help him resolve it.

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