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Patrick L.
Democrat VT

About Sen. Patrick
  • Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act—Motion to Proceed

    by Senator Patrick J. Leahy

    Posted on 2014-01-08

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    LEAHY. While the distinguished Senator from Nebraska is still on the floor, I found much to agree with in her comments.

    I hope that after we introduce the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act she may wish to become a cosponsor. This would better protect Americans from the growing threat of data breaches and identity theft.

    Last year, according to Verizon's report, there were more than 600 publicly disclosed data breaches all over the country.

    The recent breach of Target involved debit and credit card data of as many as 14 million customers. That is a reminder that developing a comprehensive national strategy to protect data privacy and cyber security remains one of the most challenging and important issues facing our Nation.

    The Personal Data Privacy and Security Act will help meet this challenge, by better protecting Americans from the growing threat of data breaches and identity theft. I thank Senators Franken, Schumer, and Blumenthal for cosponsoring it.

    When I first introduced this bill 9 years ago, I thought we very urgently needed privacy reforms for the American people. At that time, the threat to the American people was nowhere near as extensive as it is today.

    The Judiciary Committee has favorably reported this bill in the past--Republicans and Democrats have joined together numerous times-- but it has languished on the Senate calendar.

    I wish to point out some of the dangers to Americans' privacy and our national security posed by data breaches that have not gone away. According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, more than 662 million records have been involved in data security breaches since 2005. In Verizon's ``2013 Data Breach Investigations Report,'' there were more than 600 publicly disclosed data breaches.

    These are just the ones that are publicly disclosed.

    The Personal Data Privacy and Security Act requires companies that have databases with sensitive personal information on Americans to establish and implement data privacy and security programs. The bill would also establish a single nationwide standard for data breach notification and require notice to consumers when their sensitive personal information has been compromised. It provides for tough criminal penalties for anyone who would intentionally and willfully conceal the fact that a data breach has occurred when the breach causes economic damage to consumers. The requirement for companies to publicly disclose a breach will also encourage them to implement far better security than many have today.

    Protecting privacy rights is of critical importance to all of us, regardless of party or ideology. I hope all Senators will join with this.

    Retirement of Barry Meyer Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, I would like to speak for a few minutes on a personal matter. It is about a dear friend of mine, Barry Meyer. I would like to recognize his remarkable career. He is retiring this month from Warner Brothers after 42 years with the company.

    We know that Warner Brothers is one of America's most legendary entertainment companies. It is a household name for families around the Nation. I think of the times I have walked through the company's grounds with Barry Meyer. We would talk about his coming there as a young lawyer and about the history of the company that he eventually came to lead. He showed an impressive sense of history, and it is gratifying to see somebody who takes such pride in his work.

    We have all heard of Warner Brothers, but far fewer Americans have heard about the man behind the magic for the past 14 years. It is a testament to his leadership as chairman and CEO that he allowed the company and its properties to shine in the spotlight.

    Despite his quiet style, Barry stood at the forefront of pop culture during his tenure at Warner Brothers. Think of movies and television shows such as ``Harry Potter,'' ``The Big Bang Theory,'' ``The Blind Side,'' and ``The Dark Knight'' trilogy. They made people laugh, cry, or simply marvel at the memorable productions that have sprung from his tenure at this company.

    I would also note as a lifelong Batman fan that I have had the opportunity to see two of Barry's productions from the inside while they were filming. I can speak firsthand to the culture he fostered at Warner Brothers that brought people together and allowed creativity to flourish.

    [[Page S101]] Barry first joined Warner Brothers in 1971--before I was in the Senate, I might add--as director of business affairs for the television division. In 1999 he became chairman and CEO. His steady leadership of the company came at a time when the entertainment industry was beginning to face new challenges. The industry was facing the rise of the Internet as well as the tremendous challenge of online piracy. Barry pushed the company to innovate, but he also became an important voice about the impact online piracy has on our economy and on industries that are a vibrant part of American life. His counsel has been invaluable to me as Congress has looked for solutions to address this issue. He has always been available to give advice--solid advice based on knowledge, not on emotion.

    Warner Brothers has been one of the world's most successful entertainment companies under Barry's tenure, but he has also focused on humanitarian and charitable pursuits. He is a member of the board of directors for Human Rights Watch and the advisory board of the National Museum of American History here at the Smithsonian.

    He was also recognized in 2006 with the American Jewish Committee's Dorothy and Sherrill C. Corwin Human Relations Award for his humanitarian efforts. I know that when he was given that award, his request was that the speakers not praise him but instead praise things of importance to all Americans. This is typical of Barry Meyer as a person.

    Among these efforts was joining with his wife Wendy to establish scholarships at the University of Southern California to support students who have been in foster care. Barry and Wendy have wonderful children and grandchildren. They have a loving family with them. Visitors to their home find that it is a welcoming place that feels lived in, a place where children and grandchildren can feel comfortable and play. Barry and Wendy are fortunate to have that family. What they have done is they have worked to help those who have not necessarily had that advantage.

    My wife Marcelle and I have gotten to know Barry and Wendy. They have been together with us in Vermont, here in Washington, and out in California. Some people who have the position he does might make sure everybody knows that they are important--not so with either one of them. They are down-to-earth and quiet. When we get together, we pick up the conversation we had months before. They make you feel as if you are a member of the family.

    So this remarkable couple is going to be working in other endeavors.

    There have been some great articles about Barry, as he looks back on his career and the work he has done to make sure the company remains in good hands with his successor. As he begins this next chapter of his life, I wish Barry all the best. I congratulate him on a wonderful and distinguished career. Warner Brothers and the entertainment industry are not going to be quite the same without him, but he leaves behind a legacy, an example for the next generation to follow. I know his successor, and I wish Kevin Tsujihara the very best in following him.

    Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record a December 29, 2013, article from The Wrap, which my daughter Alicia showed me.

    There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: [From TheWrap, Dec. 29, 2013] Barry Meyer Ends 42-Year Tenure at Warner Bros.--A Modest Mogul Who Shunned the Spotlight (By Brent Lang and Lucas Shaw) This year was Meyer's last at Warner Bros. after more than four decades at the studio.

    One of the most low-key moguls in Hollywood, Barry Meyer will slip from the stage this January, when he relinquishes his title as chairman of Warner Bros.

    But Meyer's 42-year tenure at the studio--a remarkable record in its own right, including 14 years at the helm--is notable for being one of the most effective in the studio's history.

    Under his stewardship, Warner Bros. has consistently ranked among the industry leaders in box office, syndication sales and television ratings, launching franchises like ``Harry Potter,'' driving the international success of shows like ``Two and a Half Men'' all while managing the company during a rocky corporate merger with AOL, the rise of digital piracy and the steep decline of home entertainment.

    And yet, Meyer, 69, is someone you rarely saw quoted in the media or taking victory laps with stars of the big or small screen--he generally left that to others.

    Meyer gave up the CEO title to Kevin Tsujihara last March, but has remained as chairman to ease the transition. Next month, Tsujihara will succeed Meyer in that title as well.

    Typical of Meyer's effectiveness behind-the-scenes came when the studios were trying to convince Chris Dodd, the former U.S. senator from Connecticut, to take the job as the movie industry's top lobbyist.

    Meyer and Walt Disney Company Chairman Bob Iger took Dodd to dinner and suggested his reservations about becoming the Motion Picture Association of America's new chairman and CEO were unwarranted.

    ``He said `Be a leader,' and that sounds like a simple enough thing to say--but that's what he was at Warner Bros.,'' Dodd told TheWrap. ``He was not a grandstander at all and he does not seek the spotlight. He was not worried if his name was in the press.'' Dodd also recalled that at a screening of ``Argo'' by the Motion Picture Association of America, Meyer stood in the back of the room as the audience applauded director Ben Affleck and the real life CIA agent Tony Mendez, whose heroism inspired the hit film. He waved off Dodd's attempts to take the stage and share in the adulation.

    ``That was a quintessential moment and that's why he got listened to every time he talked,'' Dodd said. ``People knew he never had agenda.'' Even Meyer's rivals agree that the mogul's style was one of unusual discretion (he declined to be interviewed for this piece). ``He never looked for recognition,'' Ron Meyer, vice chairman of NBCUniversal, told TheWrap (no relation). ``He never looked to have his name out there.'' Meyer's accomplishments came at a time when the entertainment industry was beset by tectonic changes in how people consume, distribute and pay for entertainment.

    ``He was a source of stability in a choppy sea,'' Hal Vogel, CEO of Vogel Capital Management, told TheWrap.

    Warren Lieberfarb, the former head of home video at the studio, recalled that shortly after Meyer assumed his leadership role, Time Warner's rank and file became dismayed that the merger with AOL had sent the company's share price plummeting.

    ``There was a lot of discontent and agitation in the organization,'' Lieberfarb recalled. ``Barry brought stability to the company and boosted morale at a critical juncture in the post-AOL period and throughout the decade.'' Bob Daly, Meyer's predecessor as chairman, said his one hesitation in recommending him for the job was that he lacked experience on the film side of the business, but noted that his reservations were ultimately unfounded.

    ``He was a terrific executive and a good negotiator, but he wasn't a movie guy,'' Daly said. ``What he did do was hire great people and put them in a position to succeed.'' Meyer's partnership with Alan Horn, who oversaw the movie side of Warner Bros., and later with Horn's successor Jeff Robinov, yielded a string of hits such as the ``Harry Potter'' and ``The Dark Knight'' franchises and critical and commercial successes such as ``Argo,'' ``Mystic River'' and ``The Blind Side.'' ``The biggest part of his management style was in his selection of people he would have run his divisions,'' Charles Roven, producer of ``Man of Steel'' and ``The Dark Knight Rises,'' told TheWrap. ``He had the ability to pick excellent people and to trust that they were doing a good job.'' Under Meyer, the television side of the business produced a stream of hits such as ``The Big Bang Theory'' and ``Two and a Half Men'' that made it an even bigger source of profits than the film business. Warner Bros. remains one of the most prodigious producers of television series in the world.

    Meyer also was instrumental in turning the CW into a destination for younger female viewers with shows such as ``The Vampire Diaries'' and ``Gossip Girl.'' ``In the syndication arena they've had great success and they've been able to establish some first rate shows,'' Bill Carroll, a television industry analyst for Katz Media Group, said. ``They have a diverse lineup and they have had success each season in introducing new shows.'' Facing a challenge from digital disrupters, under Meyer's tenure the studio pushed back against Netflix by limiting its access to new releases, while also signing deals with the streaming giants such as Amazon, that licensed television programs and other content. Warner Bros. has also been a key booster of UltraViolet, the studio backed cloud service that has helped bolster digital sales of films.

    ``Barry saw what was happening in the world,'' Les Moonves, chairman and CEO of CBS Corp., told TheWrap. ``And he encouraged his executives to experiment and figure things out.'' Not surprisingly, Tsujihara, the winner of a year-long executive bake-off that ultimately led to the departures of Robinov and TV chief Bruce Rosenblum, comes from the world of online distribution. Now he faces the challenge of maintaining Warners' success in the face of myriad technological and social challenges.

    ``Kevin is a really terrific guy,'' Daly said. ``He knows so much about the technology [[Page S102]] and he's a good administrator. When you look at Warner Bros.' 90 years, it's an unusual company in that there's been a remarkable continuity of management . . . Kevin is the right man at this time to run this company, but the challenges that he faces will be completely different now than when I ran it or Barry ran it.'' ``Barry continued the Warner Bros. tradition--you always groom your replacement,'' Daly added.

    Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, I know I look forward to the next time Marcelle and I have an opportunity to be with Barry and Wendy, and while he may be retired, neither one of them is going to be sitting back doing nothing. I know them too well for that.

    With that, Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

    The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.

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