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Public Statements

Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed--Resumed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COONS. Mr. President, I am honored to join with the good Senator from Kansas, the Senator from Missouri, and my friend from Virginia in speaking today in a bipartisan colloquy that is also part of a bicameral process that is trying to send a signal to the American people, to our markets, and to our competitors, that we understand that just because we happen to be in an election year does not mean our competitors in China, in India, and Russia, in Europe and other parts of world--in Africa and in other places where there are emerging markets or in places where we have well-developed competitors--we do not take this year off.

The American people expect since we are still drawing a salary, we should still be making progress. We should still be trying to meet the needs of a growing economy that needs to grow faster. So as Senator Moran referenced previously, last November Senator Rubio of Florida and I came together to put a package called the AGREE Act before the Senate.

We were pleased that a number of the provisions in that first AGREE Act actually have subsequently become law: One, to ease the path for IPOs, initial public offerings, for high-potential, high-growth companies; another through Executive order to strengthen intellectual property protection. We are hopeful the Senate will consider another provision that dealt with bonus depreciation, which is another way to help make investments in equipment for small businesses.

On top of that, Senator Rubio and I have now teamed up with Senator Moran and Senator Warner to take some of the remaining provisions of the AGREE Act and add them in with your Startup Act and now make an improved and broader and stronger Startup 2.0.

The pieces that we brought to the party were eliminating the per-country caps for employment-based immigrant visas and making permanent the exemption of certain capital gains so investors can provide financial stability to qualified startups. There are a lot of good ideas in this bill. There are a lot of different ways in which it tackles the issues that my colleagues have already spoken to: immigration; retaining high-promise, entrepreneurial folks who come and learn in the United States; moving the inventions and innovations on American college campuses to the marketplace more predictably, more swiftly; providing tax incentives for startup businesses and putting provisions in the Tax Code that strengthen our welcoming environment for entrepreneurship and regulatory relief.

Senator Moran took the lead in making possible a provision in this bill that provides some regulatory relief for startup businesses. In all I think these provisions make for a terrific package, thus the moniker ``2.0.'' It has already attracted some other folks to join us.

Before I hand the floor over to the Senator from Missouri, I just want to comment on what I think that means.

There are trillions of dollars in capital sitting on the sidelines. American corporations have more money sitting on their balance sheets, not invested and moving our economy forward, than at almost anytime in modern history. That is because they are not sure this body, the Congress of the United States, can tackle the very real financial and competitiveness challenges in front of us.

There is something about the symbolism of what is on the Senate floor today: the Agriculture bill, the farm bill, and a bill we took up and passed just a few weeks ago, the

Transportation bill. I think that is at times lost. The average American sees in the news the fighting, the disagreement, the inability to come together, when, in fact, two fairly broad, strong important bills--the farm bill and the Transportation bill--were passed through committee by strong votes.

Senator Boxer of California, Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma, Senator Stabenow of Michigan, and Senator Roberts of Kansas--these are folks from both parties with significant differences in their views. But they managed to hammer out these bills, the Transportation and farm bills.

I want to thank Senators Moran and Warner and Rubio for joining with me and the four of us being able to put this together and putting it on the floor of the Senate today.

To the good Senator from Missouri, a freshman in the Senate but a man of great seasoning and experience in the House and in public service, we are grateful he has joined us as a cosponsor of this bill. I welcome him to speak for a few minutes about how he sees this contributing to positive progress for our recovery.


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