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Senate GOP Stakeout Following Policy Luncheons

Location: Washington, DC

Federal News Service






SEN. SANTORUM: Good afternoon, everybody.

Let me say that we're going to have our stakeout today talking about two issues that we believe that we'll be debating here in the next week. Obviously, the one that's on the floor right now is the jumpstart bill, the bill to create a better playing field for our manufacturers to be able to compete in this global economy. And the second-which obviously is about job creation and it's about creating a better playing field for our manufacturers and for those manufacturing workers.

Second is about making our country safer, and it's the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. And that's a high priority for us. It's a bill that we have, unlike the JOBS bill, gotten an agreement on. And we're hopeful that we can get that done here in the next week to get that bill directly off to the president.

To give you the details of what our plans are here on the floor this week is our assistant majority leader, Mitch McConnell. Mitch.

SEN. MCCONNELL: Thank you, Rick.

As Senator Santorum indicated, we'll be handing the ball off here in a minute to Chairman Grassley of the Finance Committee, who's handling the JOBS bill on the floor. As you know, we filed cloture on that bill yesterday. That cloture will ripen tomorrow. It is our hope that we can invoke cloture on this bill and get it on out of the Senate because, as most of you know, the WTO tariffs were levied against American businesses, 89 percent of which are in manufacturing, at a level of 5 percent beginning March the 1st, and it escalates a percent a year-a percent a month over the next period of time until it gets up to 17 percent next March.

This is a bill that has wide bipartisan support. It should not be a bill that the other side of the aisle dumps their outbasket of favorite initiatives on. We're all concerned about jobs, particularly manufacturing jobs, and we want to move this bill along.

The second issue that will be discussed today will be the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which will be coming up-the majority leader has indicated that will be coming up after the completion of the jobs bill currently on the floor.

Our expert on the jobs bill on the floor is Chairman Grassley, and I want to now call on him.

SEN. GRASSLEY: My two colleagues have made very clear the reason for this legislation. But I see this legislation as an opportunity for every member of the Senate who has been concerned about the loss of jobs in manufacturing, which started way back in the middle of 2000, the year 2000, and also for my colleagues who have been talking about outsourcing, that this is an opportunity to put your vote where your mouth is, because this legislation is all about preserving jobs, all about creating jobs because this bill gives impetus to domestic manufacturing. American companies and individuals and sub-Chapter S's and individuals, small business as well as large business is going to get a tax reduction for their manufacturing that's done in the United States, or companies from overseas that will come and build plants and hire Americans here. It's an opportunity to create jobs. More importantly, it's an opportunity to save jobs that would otherwise be lost.

Now here's the problem. The problem is that while this bill is not being passed, as Senator McConnell says, we've got a surtax on exports that's going to make our industry even more uncompetitive. So while this bill is being played by politics with the other side, we're stopping the chances of creating jobs in America moving this bill forward. If this bill doesn't move forward, people that say they want to do something about unemployment in America are in fact helping the Europeans solve their unemployment jobs because jobs that are not created in America are going to be created in Europe as a result of our industry being uncompetitive because of this surcharge.

SEN. SANTORUM: Chairman Grassley has to leave, so if anybody has a-we'll take a couple of questions for the chairman, and then we'll move on to the rest of our speakers.

Go ahead.

Q Senator Grassley, any chance that tax provisions in the energy bill will be attached to FSC/ETI?

SEN. GRASSLEY: There are some aspects for one year only of the energy bill. Most of the features of the energy bill that came out of my committee last summer-not exactly what was in the conference agreement last fall-are going to be a part of this legislation, yes.

Q Why can't you accept a vote on the Harkin overtime amendment?

SEN. GRASSLEY: The reason why is because we've already voted on that. And that bill is supposedly to preserve overtime for makers-for our workers. What I'm interested doing is preserving jobs and creating jobs so that workers will have a job first, because you have to have a job first before you worry about overtime.

Q What if it brings down your bill, Senator? You haven't done anything then.

SEN. GRASSLEY: Next question.

Q With all of the -- (word inaudible) -- obstacles in front of it, what is the soonest now we can have a final vote on 1637?

SEN. GRASSLEY: Well, it will be getting to cloture and then move-that should move us to final passage very quickly.

Now I'm hoping, just so we don't emphasize too much confrontation here, there are going to be some meetings today where we hope that we can work out some procedural agreements to get over these hurdles. But --

Q (Off mike) -- go through the 48-hour process?

SEN. GRASSLEY: Yes, yes, yes, that's a --

Q So that means Friday will be the soonest --

SEN. GRASSLEY: That's a possibility, yes.

Q Senator, if you don't get cloture and the bill has to be pulled, at what point does it go back on the floor, or is that it?

SEN. GRASSLEY: It's going to-listen, this bill is eventually going to pass, because Americans-senators can't sit around and wait until people are unemployed because their jobs are becoming uncompetitive because of first the 5 percent and then next month at 6 percent, the next month at 7 percent, over the course of a year, a 17 percent tariff put on our exports going into Europe, because this-so when the-when senators find out that their factory people are losing jobs, they'll soon get the pressure to get this passed. So it's going to be sooner or later. Why not sooner?

SEN. SANTORUM: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Now I'm going to have Mike DeWine start our discussion on the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. Mike?

SEN. DEWINE: Well, later this week the Senate will take up the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. This is the same bill that the House has already passed. Really, this is a question of simple justice. The bill will recognize that when a pregnant woman is assaulted, there is in fact a second victim. So for the first time, the federal government will recognize what now over half the states already recognize. As I said, this is a question really of simple justice, that there is in fact this second victim.

The key vote, frankly, is going to come on the Feinstein amendment. The Feinstein amendment is a gutting amendment. It's a killer amendment to this bill.

I think it's important to understand what this amendment would do. And to really understand it, you only have to look at the tragic case that is occurring right now in California, the Laci Peterson case. If the California legislature had passed a bill or an amendment like the Feinstein amendment, they would not be able to proceed in California in that case as they are now. There would not have been that-the ability to proceed on the second victim, as well as on the mother as the victim. So we are just-we will proceed, recognizing that this-there are in fact two victims.

The reality is that all too often in this country today, a mother-a pregnant woman is in fact assaulted, and many times this does happen while there-this is-occurs on federal property. When it does in fact occur on federal property, there is no state law that will cover-and so you have the ridiculous situation of a pregnant woman being assaulted, savagely beaten, many times losing her child, the child dies; and the federal prosecutor is-the only thing that they can charge is the assault against the mother; and that the fact that the child is dead, that child has been victimized-there can be no charge to reflect that fact.

What our bill will do will change that and bring about some justice.

Let me at this point turn to Lindsey Graham. Lindsey was the prime sponsor of this bill when he was in the House of Representatives and saw this bill pass on several different occasions in the House. He is also one of the prime sponsors of this bill in the United States Senate.


SEN. GRAHAM: Thank you, Mike.

One, this has been a long journey for me. We've been working on this bill for about four years; it's passed the House three times. I want to thank our Senate leadership for getting an agreement with our Democratic friends to allow this vote to occur on the floor of the Senate. Mike has been pushing this bill for several terms now. But it's historic. What's going to happen, hopefully sooner rather than later, in the Senate is historic, it's long overdue, and Senator Frist and McConnell and Rick, I appreciate y'all bringing this bill forward.

Simply put, most Americans believe that if a criminal attacks a pregnant woman who chooses to have a child, and that criminal does damage to the mother and the child, they should be prosecuted twice. It's no more complicated than that. Sixteen states have a statute just like we're proposing at the federal level, 13 states have statutes very similar, California being one of them. About 75 to 80 percent of Americans believe that if a woman chooses to have a child, no third party criminal misconduct should take that right away from her.

This is not about abortion. Under no circumstances can you prosecute the mother. Under no circumstances can you prosecute anyone for performing a lawful abortion. California's had a statute similar to this for 30 years. The best way to explain this bill is through a real life incident that most Americans relate to.

Unfortunately, as Mike DeWine indicated, this happens more than you would ever believe. Pregnant women are victimized in this country more than you would ever believe, a lot of times by people very close to them, as a way of punishing. I've been told that the number one cause of death among pregnant women in the District of Columbia is the crime of murder. So this bill would allow federal prosecutors to go after those who assault pregnant women where federal jurisdiction exists in the hardest way possible.

And Senator Feinstein is a very good senator and nice person, but her amendment totally misses the point. She tries to limit sentence enhancement as the solution when a pregnant woman is attacked by a criminal. If that were the case, there would be no-there would not be two charges in California in the Laci Peterson case.

And I can't describe to you what that would feel like, but I know somebody that can. And we have here today the mother of Laci Peterson, Sharon Rocha, who is going to tell you why she's for this bill. She can articulate from a personal point of view what this bill is about better than any political figure I know. So I'm pleased to have her support and honored that she would come here and talk about this under very difficult circumstances.

Ms. Rocha.

SHARON ROCHA (mother of Laci Peterson): Thank you.

Well, as you know, I am the mother of Laci Peterson and the grandmother of Conner Peterson. And that's the main reason we're here to support this bill, because at least in California we're fortunate enough to have this bill already passed, that they can prosecute for both murders and not just one because there are definitely two people here. There were two people who washed up on the beach at that time, and one was Laci and the other was her son, Conner.

We're hoping that the Senate will pass this bill without any of the attachments just as the House did, so it can be signed immediately by the president and so that nobody else has to go through this. Anybody else who loses their daughter or their grandchild through a violent crime, they should not have to go and listen to anybody tell them that there was only one loss and not two because there are two victims.

Thank you.

SEN. GRAHAM: Questions?

SEN. BROWNBACK: (Inaudible) -- here. We have two other families, if we could. If I could, there's two other families. This isn't just a situation in California. We have Buford and Carol Lyons from Kentucky. They lost their daughter, Ashley, and their grandson, Landon, in a similar situation earlier this year, 2004. And Tracy Seavers (sp), who's a surviving mother, lost an unborn son, Zachary, nine months-nearly nine months of age in 1992 in Wisconsin. And I wonder if they might just step up briefly and describe briefly. This is Mrs. Lyons.

CAROL LYONS (mother of Ashley Lyons): I'm Carol Lyons. This is my daughter Ashley. This is her father. We can relate to why this bill needs to be passed on a federal level. My daughter was 18 years old. She was taken from us in January of this year, five months pregnant. In the eyes of Kentucky law, the person that murdered my daughter will not be charged for this baby's murder. I lost a grandchild and this person will not be charged for the baby's murder when they are brought to prosecution. And we feel this, you know, this really needs to be-it is across the United States. It is not in one state. It is in every state that pregnant women are being killed, abused, and we have no jurisdiction there to do anything to these people.

A lot of the states do not have a law, and we need this on federal level so that we can get this prosecuted.

SEN. BROWNBACK: Tracy? Do you want to step up? This is Tracy Seavers (sp). Introduce yourself.

TRACY SEAVERS (sp): My name is Tracy Seavers (sp) and this was my son Zachariah. It happened to me in '92 in Wisconsin. And Wisconsin police told me that my son's death meant nothing. His own father got away with murdering him and didn't get charged with nothing for the death of his son. It's time that the senators start listening to what the people that put them in office want and we want this bill to be passed. It's long overdue. We want the bill to recognize our unborn children. There's two victims in this picture and that's what we want heard-two victims. That's all we ask.

SEN. SANTORUM: Any questions?

Q Senator, given the best-case scenario, when do you expect to see this on the floor?

SEN. SANTORUM: Well, we hope it will be on the floor after the FSC/ETI, the jump-start jobs bill that is now being debated. And you heard Senator Grassley, we're trying to work out an agreement that we can get this bill to final passage. And it has brought support on both sides, and if we can work on that in the next couple of days, hopefully we'll have this by the end of the week.

Okay? Thank you all very much.

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