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Transcription of Senator Grassley's Confernce Call with Iowa Reporters


Location: Unknown

GRASSLEY: I wanted to tell you something that Senator Durbin and

I'm doing. We're introducing legislation to reform H-1B immigration

and L visa programs. H-1B would be more manager and technical people.

L visa is kind of along the lines of where people can come and go from

our country because whatever country they're coming from, they've

probably got a lot of operations in this country. They're more kind

of an executive sort of position, I believe.

And the reason for our bill is we want to root out fraud and

abuse. We want to ensure that Americans are given every consideration

when applying for jobs. The H-1B program was never meant as a

replacement for qualified American workers. It was meant to

complement American workers. It's time that we get back to the

original intent of the program.

Our legislation will help do that. This legislation works to

close loopholes employers are exploiting by requiring them to be more

transparent about their hiring. And we ensure that there is more

oversight of the H-1B program so that we get rid of the fraud and


I understand the H-1B program is important to several companies.

I want every company that can't get American workers to get workers

from wherever they can get them, but that doesn't mean that qualified

Americans should be laid off just so that they can hire cheaper H-1B


Until we make a conscious effort to deal with the fraud and abuse

within the H-1B program, it will continue to be a problem. And not

knowing specifically the details in my mind, but let me add this to

you that you -- that the Iowa press may want to do some looking into.

But I saw headlines, and I think I read the stories in three or four

Iowa newspapers.

One was some small operation of H-1B employees in Coon Rapids,

and another one that was a little larger operation in Clinton, Iowa

that people connected with these firms are under prosecution.

Exactly, I'm not sure -- I suppose just plain, old immigration abuse

problems, but I don't know all of those details now that I've read

that maybe six weeks ago. So you may want to keep that in mind as you

consider our legislation.

I'm going to start with Tom Beaumont.

QUESTION: Senator Grassley, we've got President Obama here today

talking about his energy proposal and urging a bill that move through

the Congress. What's your position on the Obama administration's

energy policy which is the cap-and-trade plus the $15 billion in

annual appropriations for R&D and stuff like that?

GRASSLEY: OK. I'm going to answer that as two questions, not as

one question.

Cap-and-trade and global warming issues, my judgment is needs to

be handled by international treaty because pollution knows -- respects

no political boundaries. China is the number one emitter of CO2.

They should be under the same obligations to clean up as the United

States is.

If we just do it by ourselves, we're going to lose a lot of

manufacturing jobs to China. We should have a level playing field.

We shouldn't hurt our own industry only the extent to which

everybody's contributing to the reduction of pollution. And China is

the number one emitter of CO2.

And then on the other issue of alternative energy, obviously,

he's visiting a wind energy component manufacturer, and none of this

wind energy would be in Iowa, none of this industry would be coming to

Iowa if we hadn't had the wind energy tax credit that I was the

sponsor of back in 1992, I believe, when it became law and, also, been

a promoter of a longer term renewals.

And it is the basis and the foundation for the wind energy that

we have in the country as a whole but, particularly, in Iowa because

we're first or second in wind energy production. And then, of course,

those component manufacturers are coming.

GRASSLEY: I would also applaud Governor Culver because since

he's been governor, he's built on the wind energy program that I got

started here in Congress with state help through what I think he calls

the Power Program or something like that. And he's also been quite an

ambassador for wind energy.

So I think we have a good federal-state component of policy to

promote wind energy. And then to answer your question about President

Clinton -- or President Obama, everything that he is doing now in

regard to pushing not just wind energy or but all alternative energy,

I'm going to be a full supporter of that.

QUESTION: And when you say "full supporter," you know, he's

talking about, on top of everything else that the government is

spending, you know, $15 billion -- an estimated $15 billion for 10

years for the -- for an energy bill. Are you -- can -- can that be


GRASSLEY: Well, the answer is probably yes because, often --

we've always had some support for alternative energy through the

Department of Energy. You know, this is kind of the quandary -- I am

not avoiding answering your question, but when somebody says we are

going to have an alternative energy program, then this brings me back

to, well, where have these -- what planet have these people been

living on for the last 30 years.

Ethanol is 30 years old. Wind energy is 15 years old. There's

been solar programs for a long period of time. There's been biomass

programs for a long period of time. We have a massive energy program

in Iowa -- or, I mean, in the nation as a whole right now.

The only thing that I can think of why they keep coming up we

need an alternative energy program or we need an energy program is

that it's been done in a piecemeal fashion over 30 years, that nobody

really sees it as a program. They obviously recognize it as separate

programs, but it adds up to an energy -- alternative energy program.

And how is it developed? It's all developed through -- through

-- it's all developed through these tax incentives. And it developed

into a very strong one.

Now, are there things we can do beyond that? Yes. Some money

that I'm sure he's got in his energy program but I don't know to what

extent it is of the $15 billion, but we've got kind of a -- how would

you say it -- kind of a stone wall right now in regard to getting rid

of our wind energy electricity. We're not using our capacity to the

greatest extent.

So we need transmissions grids. And that's going to be a part of

it. And then that will break down to stone wall that we have

separating us from getting -- generating more wind entering and making

use of it because, now, you shut it down. If it's not used in Iowa

and other parts of the Midwest, you know, it just -- you just don't

use it.

So then you -- you get this grid. And we're going to be able to

make more efficient use of our wind energy and things of that nature.

So I'm not opposed to the $15 billion, but, you know, I'm going

to be looking at what it's used for. And I don't think it should be

used as an excuse for duplicating what we've already been doing for 30


QUESTION: Thank you.

GRASSLEY: Mike Myers?

QUESTION: Senator, you voted against the Sebelius nomination in

finance. Will you support a filibuster against this nomination or

will you actually vote for the nomination on the floor?

GRASSLEY: I won't support a filibuster, and I won't vote for it

on the floor. It's going to move ahead. And if she gets 51 votes,

she is our nominee. It's mostly the abortion issue. Not just

abortion per se, but sympathy that she shows for late-term abortions

because of the abortion doctor that she has had a close affiliation

with there in Kansas.

And I think it's -- I think it would be wrong to assume that

you're going to vote against her just philosophically on the basis of

abortion because out of this administration, we're not going to a pro-

life person in this position or probably in any position.

QUESTION: What do you think of that round table discussion in

finance? Is that kind of laying the ground for census -- or is it

worthwhile to have that type of discussion?

GRASSLEY: Much more worthwhile than a hearing. Senator Baucus

and I had our weekly meeting, reviewed, discussed it. I think he

thought it was a good thing. Maybe he was waiting for me to say it

was a good thing. I applauded it.

And we're going to have at least two more and maybe three more on

other subsets. The one yesterday was on delivery system. We've got

coverage coming up. We've got financing coming up. And I think those

are the only two that are scheduled, but there could be some more.

QUESTION: Are you already racing against the clock, so to speak,

sir? I mean, we've got a break coming up here in May and another in

July. August...

GRASSLEY: We have to race against the clock. We have to get

this bill done in June, or it's not going to be on the floor in July.

And then you've heard what I said. I wouldn't want to say it couldn't

be done in the fall, but, you know, my rule of thumb over several

presidencies, if something isn't done in the first 9 months of a

presidency, it doesn't have to be done.

So I'm shooting to get this done during the summer because next

year is an election year. The third year is the beginning of a

presidential reelection. And, you know, things don't happen then. So

I think it's very important to speed it up. I'm very positive about


Now, maybe a month from now, you'll be interviewing me. I may be

pessimistic. But, you know, I'm very positive, and I have been

positive for the last four months.

QUESTION: Thank you.

GRASSLEY: Mike Glover?

Jim Boyd?

QUESTION: I'm good today, Senator. Thank you.


QUESTION: Nothing today, sir. Thank you.

GRASSLEY: All right.

Jens with the Waterloo Courier?

QUESTION: Yes. Senator, do you have any reaction to the

apparent suicide of the Freddie Mac CFO?

GRASSLEY: Oh, I think we all ought to have a negative reaction

to any suicide. And from that standpoint, we can't do anything but

have sympathy for the family. And I don't think anything beyond the

family. And I don't have the slightest reason, and maybe nobody

knows, for the purpose of it.

But you've just got to have sympathy for the family.

I've gone through the list. Maybe somebody was added after we

circled named here on a long list that we had? Is there anybody that

wants to jump in?

OK. Thank you all very much.

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