Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013—Motion to Proceedby Senator Harry Reid
Posted on 2014-01-14
REID. Mr. President, I move to proceed to Calendar No. 266.
The PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will report.
The legislative clerk read as follows: Motion to proceed to Calendar No. 266, S. 1846, a bill to delay the implementation of certain provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, and for other purposes.
Mr. REID. Mr. President, we will have further discussion on this matter today; that is, the matter I moved to. On our side, we have cleared the bill. We could complete it quickly. We are waiting to hear from the Republicans. This is one of the bills where, if we need to do some amendments on it, we can do some amendments on it.
The point is, I think we should try to get this done. We have been waiting for a long time to get this done. This is truly a bipartisan bill. As I explained to the Republican leader yesterday, I have had a number of Republicans come to me to see if there is a way this bill could be moved quickly. It has become a desperate situation, with so many problems. Construction has been, in some areas, brought to a halt. So hopefully we can work something out on this in the immediate future.
Schedule Mr. President, following my remarks and those of the Republican leader, the Senate will resume consideration of the unemployment insurance extension. The time until 12:30 will be equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees, with the majority controlling the first 30 minutes and the Republicans the second 30 minutes. The Senate will then recess from 12:30 until 2:15, as we do every Tuesday, for our caucus meetings. At 2:30, there will be up to two rollcall votes; first, a cloture vote on the Reed of Rhode Island substitute amendment. If cloture is not invoked, there will be a second cloture vote on the underlying bill.
We have had some good discussions, and I am going to--as I know the Republican leader will--discuss if there is a way to move forward on unemployment insurance. I hope there is. At 2:30 today, after our caucuses, we will come out and see if there is a consent agreement we can present to the Senate to move forward with the legislation. I hope that is possible, and we are certainly trying.
Unemployment Insurance Mr. President, each day Bloomberg releases a list of the 300 richest individuals in the world--the Bloomberg Billionaires index. The list includes 67 fortunate and really fabulously wealthy Americans. More than any other country in the world, we have 67 of the 300. Last year, the members of the billionaire index added $524 billion in new wealth to their net worth.
Listen to that, Mr. President: Last year, the billionaire's index-- these 67 people--added $524 billion of new wealth. Not million but billion--$2 billion per person last year.
These are 300 fortunate individuals, flooded with their already flush coffers, with another $2 billion each, while millions of American families struggle to pay their rent. I don't begrudge these people at their making a lot of money. Their good fortune is something that speaks well of our country. We are truly a land of opportunity. But I do believe it is time for average Americans to share in that prosperity, particularly as the economy recovers.
If this were just a quirk in the indexes of how rich people are, that would be one thing, but in the last 30 years this same top 1 percent have seen their wealth increase--their incomes triple--while the middle class has gone down 10 percent in the same 30 years. It is time for average Americans--and I believe this so sincerely--to share in that prosperity in some way, especially as the economy is now recovering.
For most Americans, hard work isn't paying off the way it does for the top 1 percent. For many it has been impossible to even find steady full-time work since the recession began. That is why we must not abandon the 1.4 million Americans who are out there struggling-- unemployed people who have been cut off from these crucial benefits now for the last 2 weeks, and they are looking forward to maybe being cut off forever.
This small stipend--an average of $300 per week--is helping them keep [[Page S300]] food on the table and, literally, roofs over their heads while they look for work. I read here on the floor a letter from someone in Nevada, a woman, who said she doesn't know where she is going to go, what she is going to do. She, as have many people, has looked for work so very hard. As part of the unemployment compensation, an individual has to have been fired or laid off through no fault of their own and then they have to look for work every week.
Americans do want to go back to work. They do not want to set a bad example for their kids. They do not want to live off the system-- whatever that means. But there is still only one job for every three people searching all over America. Some places are worse off than others. In Nevada, a man wrote to me--1 of almost 20,000 Nevadans who lost unemployment benefits last month--and he said he had applied for 700 jobs in the last 10 months--not 70, not 7, but 700. He has been able to get a dozen interviews but still can't find work.
But he hasn't given up hope. He hasn't given up the hope of finding a good-paying job, and he hasn't given up hope that Congress will restore emergency unemployment benefits until he does find a job. Neither have the 200 Nevada veterans who attended a job fair I put on last week. It was held at the University of Nevada over the weekend. It is shameful that tens of thousands of veterans of this Nation's armed forces lost their unemployment benefits last year.
It is inspiring to hear the stories of hard-working Americans who simply won't give up until they find a job. So I hope Senators will remember the perseverance of these brave individuals as they continue to seek a compromise here in this body that would restore emergency unemployment benefits to 1.4 million Americans.
This says it all: 67 of the richest people in the world living in America got a $2 billion tip last year. For 1.4 million Americans, they lost $300 on average per week. That is not fair. This is America, the land of opportunity. People who work hard are supposed to be rewarded-- but not during the last 30 years.
The middle class has lost 10 percent of their income, and that doesn't take into consideration the poor--the poor. There are more poor than ever in America. The middle class, we know, is being squeezed out of existence. It is time for us to take care of these people who are desperate for help. That is what the government is all about.
Looking back at my home life, I feel government has been good for the people who live in my little town of Searchlight. It is a town mostly of old people. Many of them are getting pensions from wherever they worked. They get Social Security. But the government has done so many good things. Let us not denigrate government. This is a time when people have no opportunity. They need government help. They are desperate. All they want is one job, but they know if there is a vacancy over here, there are going to be scores--and we have seen this in the news accounts of job opportunities--thousands of people showing up for sometimes just a handful of jobs.
Recognition of the Minority Leader The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Republican leader is recognized.
Unemployment Insurance Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, on the unemployment insurance bill, there have been productive conversations between the majority leader and several Members on this side. The Republicans have offered numerous commonsense proposals to get to a conclusion. Ideally, we would have spent the past week voting on those proposals, so there is really no good reason for us to be in the position that we are in right now.