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[Congressional Record: October 27, 2000 (Senate)]
[Page S11279-S11281]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []


Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, earlier today I voted for the conference 

[[Page S11280]]

on the Commerce-Justice-State bill, which was included with the D.C. 
appropriations bill. Both those bills were in the same conference 
report. I voted in favor of those measures. But the CJS measure was, in 
actuality, a seriously flawed piece of legislation with a number of 
problems attendant to it.
  The first problem that I had with it was that it was a conference 
report, and thus it was not subject to amendment. The underlying 
appropriations bills went straight from the Senate Appropriations 
Committee to the conference committee, totally bypassing the Senate 
floor. The full Senate was afforded no opportunity to debate or amend 
these two appropriations bills. These are not the first appropriations 
bills to be herded through Congress in this fashion this year, but that 
fact does not make the practice any less objectionable. It is a simple 
case of cutting corners in the name of political expediency, a 
practice in which the United States Senate should not engage.

  Second, the Commerce, Justice, State bill includes a controversial 
immigration rider, the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act, a scaled 
down spinoff of the Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act. The Senate dealt 
with this issue last month during consideration of the H-1B visa bill, 
when it refused to consider the Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act. I 
opposed suspending the rules to allow that measure to be offered as an 
amendment to the H-1B visa bill because I believe that such legislation 
sends the wrong message to those who might consider entering this 
country illegally. I believed then, as I believe today, that granting 
amnesty to aliens who are in this country illegally simply encourages 
others to enter the country illegally.
  Although the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act would grant amnesty 
to a smaller group of illegal aliens, it creates the same problems as 
the Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act by rewarding illegal aliens for 
breaking U.S. law. It should make no difference whether we grant 
amnesty to one million illegal aliens or only a handful of that number. 
The principle is the same. Amnesty for illegal immigration sends the 
wrong message, period. Worse, these bills are an affront to those 
immigrants who have played by the rules, often waiting many years 
before being allowed to settle here legally.
  I am opposed to the sending of these mixed signals by Congress. It is 
counterproductive for the United States to vigorously protect its long 
and porous borders from illegal aliens--at great expense to the 
taxpayers, I might add--while at the same time granting amnesty to 
selected groups of those aliens who manage to cross the border 
undetected or otherwise enter the country under false pretenses. The 
Senate should not endorse an immigration policy that rewards aliens who 
violate the law.
  I realize that my views are at odds with a number of my colleagues, 
and I respect their position. I respect their viewpoints, and I would 
be very happy to debate the merits of new immigration legislation with 
them at the proper time and on the proper vehicle. This was not the 
proper time, and this conference report was not the proper vehicle. 
Neither the Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act nor the Legal Immigration 
Family Equity Act has been considered by the Senate Judiciary 
Committee, which has jurisdiction over immigration issues. No hearings 
have been held. No report has been issued by the Committee so that 
other senators can better understand the implication of these bills. No 
full scale debate has been aired.
  The Commerce-Justice-State conference report could not be amended. It 
was a take-it-or-leave-it-package. Controversial immigration 
legislation that the Senate refused to consider once this year as an 
amendment to an immigration bill should not be resurrected under any 
guise as a legislative rider on an unamendable appropriations 
conference report.
  Finally, I am concerned with executive branch meddling on this 
conference report. The President has said he will veto the conference 
report because the immigration rider does not go far enough. He wants 
the broader Latino and Immigrant Fairness legislation on this 
appropriations bill. This is the same President who has been 
complaining bitterly about legislative riders on other appropriations 
bills. This is the same President who vetoed the Energy and Water 
appropriations conference report because it contained an environmental 
rider to which he objected. This is the same President who berated 
Congress for including legislative riders along with supplemental 
funding provisions attached to the Military Construction appropriations 
bill. This is a President who has made it clear time and again that he 
objects to legislative riders on appropriations bill, and yet he has 
vowed to veto this conference report because the legislative rider it 
contains does not go far enough to suit him.
  Mr. President, the Senate has a responsibility to complete its work--
not avoid its work or compromise its work, but complete its work. This 
conference report is an example of how not to complete the Senate's 
business. The Commerce-Justice-State bill funds many vitally important 
programs, and that is why I voted for it. It is a bill that can and 
should stand on its own merits. It should not be hamstrung by 
legislative riders or election year politics.
  Mr. President, the problems that I have cited with this conference 
report are not a reflection on the Senate Appropriations Committee. 
Chairman Ted Stevens has done yeoman's work this year to shield the 
appropriations process from both the Democratic and Republican 
political agendas.
  I can compliment equally all of the members of the Appropriations 
Committee in this respect--the Republicans who chaired the 
subcommittees and the Democrats who were the ranking members. They all 
worked together, as they always do. There is no partisanship when it 
comes to the Appropriations Committee. Republicans and Democrats work 
together and politics is off the table. That was the case when I was 
chairman of that committee, and that has been the case since when 
former Senator Hatfield was chairman and now Senator Ted Stevens of 
Alaska. Senator Stevens and I resisted mightily the sledgehammer 
approach that was used to bring this and other appropriations 
conference reports to the floor. Senator Gregg and Senator Hollings, 
the chairman and ranking member of the Commerce-Justice-State 
Subcommittee, labored diligently to complete work on their bill and 
bring it to the floor under its own steam. No, the problem with this 
conference report is not the fault of the Committee but is the result 
of a breakdown in the legislative system that has seeped--seeped--
through the appropriations process this year. The appropriations bills 
are the victims of this breakdown, not the cause of it.
  It does not have to be this way, and it should not be this way. The 
Senate is fully capable of doing its work in an orderly and disciplined 
manner, capable of drafting, debating, and passing 13 individual 
appropriations bills, and of completing a separate legislative agenda.
  Sadly, that is not to be the case this year. Congress is limping 
slowly toward a long overdue adjournment, leaving behind a trail of 
unfinished business and the wreckage of the appropriations process. Mr. 
President, I hope this sorry spectacle will never be repeated. I hope 
that the clean slate of a new Congress will bring a fresh perspective 
to next year's appropriations process. I hope and I pray that next year 
will be different.
  Mr. President, I thank the distinguished minority whip, Mr. Reid, for 
his never-failing attendance to the business of the Senate.
  The Bible says: ``Seest now a man diligent in his business? He will 
stand before kings.'' Senator Reid is always diligent in his business. 
I appreciate his arranging for me to have this time. He is thoroughly 
dependable and always courteous and considerate to me and to all other 
Senators. I commend him for it. The people of his State have every 
right to be proud of him as their senior Senator. And we on our side of 
the aisle have every right to be proud of him as the minority whip.
  Mr. REID. If I could say to my friend, before he leaves the floor, I 
just came from the studio where I did a little TV thing because we are 
now not going to be able to be in Nevada next week. Senator Bryan and I 
joined together to name a hospital for the most decorated soldier from 
Nevada who served in

[[Page S11281]]

World War II, a man by the name of Jack Streeter, who is alive.
  It is amazing, as I went through this American hero's record--seven 
Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars, five Purple Hearts--now, I know that 
the Senator from West Virginia, his medals have not been on the field 
of battle in Germany like my friend Jack Streeter, but I was thinking, 
as the Senator was talking to me--I am the minority whip. Of course, 
this is one of the lesser positions the Senator from West Virginia has 
  The Senator from West Virginia has been whip, majority leader, 
minority leader more than once, and in addition to that, the honor that 
most people would feel they had fulfilled their career with, of being 
chairman of the Appropriations Committee.
  So I say to my friend publicly, as I have said privately, what an 
honor it is to be able to serve with one of the legends, in his own 
time, of the Senate: Robert Byrd. There are not many Senators that you 
think of as being so closely connected with the Senate as Robert Byrd. 
We have the Calhouns and we have a few people whose names come to our 
mind, but Robert Byrd is someone, when the history books are written, 
will always be mentioned as one of the all-time leaders of the 
congressional process. What a great honor it is to be able to serve 
with the Senator from West Virginia.
  Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, Mark Twain said he could live for 2 weeks on 
a good compliment. The compliment that the distinguished Senator from 
Nevada, Mr. Reid, has just paid me can help me to survive for quite a 
long time. I shall not forget it. His words are a bit embellished, but 
I am deeply appreciative of what he has said.
  I appreciate it very much. I thank him again for his good work every 
day on the floor of the Senate. Having been whip, I know when we have a 
good one. And Senator Reid is here, looking after the Senate's 
business, and always very attendant upon our every need. I am ready to 
vote for him again any time. He does not have to look me up and find 
out if I am still for him.
  Mr. President, I thank the Senator.
  Mr. REID. Just one last comment while we are throwing compliments 
around this late Friday afternoon.
  I can remember when I went and spoke to Senator Byrd, and he 
indicated he would support me 2 years ago for this job. And I wrote him 
a letter. I can very clearly remember writing it. It took a little time 
in thinking of what I wanted to say. In that letter I said that as far 
as I was concerned he was the Babe Ruth of the Senate. I don't know if 
you remember that letter, but that is what I said.
  Mr. BYRD. Yes, I remember that letter.
  Mr. REID. With Babe Ruth, you always think of the best baseball 
player. And when you think of Robert Byrd, you think of the best player 
in the Senate. Thank you.

  Mr. BYRD. Yes. I believe it was September, in 1927, when Babe Ruth 
beat his own former record of 59 home runs. In 1927, he swatted 60 home 
  Mr. REID. Senator Byrd, I can remember, as if it were yesterday, you 
asked me one weekend--
  Mr. BYRD. I believe that was September 30, 1927. And I believe it was 
on the 22nd of September 1927 that Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney fought 
a fight in which--we who lived in the coalfields hoped Jack Dempsey 
would win back his title, but he did not win it back. That was the 
occasion of the ``long count.''
  It was in May of that year that Lindbergh flew across the ocean in 
the Spirit of St. Louis. Sometimes he was 10 feet above the water; 
sometimes he was 10,000 feet above the water. And his plane had a load, 
which I remember, of about 500 pounds. He carried five sandwiches, and 
ate one-half of a sandwich.
  I remember reading in the New York Times about that historic flight. 
He said he flew over, I believe, what was Newfoundland, at the great 
speed of 100 miles per hour--at a great speed, 1927.
  Mr. REID. Senator Byrd, I do not want to put you on the spot here, 
but I can remember returning from one of my trips in Nevada, and we had 
a conversation. You asked me what I had done, and I said, I hadn't read 
a particular book in 25 years. And I picked up the book ``Robinson 
Crusoe'' to read about Robinson Crusoe. You said to me: I know how long 
he was on that island. I just read the book, and you told me. And I had 
to go home and check to see if you were right, and you were right, to 
the day.
  Mr. BYRD. I believe that was 28 years, 2 months, and 19 days.
  Mr. REID. Yes. I have not forgotten that.
  Mr. BYRD. I believe that is right.
  Mr. REID. I went home and checked, and I will do it again. I am 
confident you are right.
  Mr. BYRD. All right. I thank the Senator.
  Mr. REID addressed the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nevada.