WASHINGTON, D.C. - May 20, 2010 - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) tonight issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate passed the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 by a vote of 59 to 39.

"I voted for this measure because it is a step in the right direction. This bill will create a strong consumer financial protection bureau that will put a stop to a whole range of predatory financial practices targeting ordinary Americans.

"I am particularly pleased that language requiring commercial banks to spin off their derivatives operations remained in the bill in its original form as reported from the Senate Agriculture Committee. This is a very important part of the bill and I hope it remains in the conference-reported bill.

"I am disappointed, however, that other amendments in line with Chairman Lincoln's provision were not included. In particular, Senator Cantwell's proposal to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act was not even considered. I was one of eight senators to vote against financial deregulation in 1999 that did away with Glass-Steagall. Reconsidering this issue had a place in this debate. Also, Senators Brown and Kaufman offered an amendment that would have dramatically reduced the size of the largest financial institutions. Unfortunately, the amendment was defeated.

"The problem in the financial sector, as with so many areas of our economy, is that the ground rules and oversight have been lax. Too many in the financial industry put profits ahead of people. As a direct consequence, tens of millions of ordinary Americans have lost their jobs, their homes, and, their livelihoods. This legislation will help restore some balance to our financial sector."

WASHINGTON, D.C. - May 18, 2010 - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that a total of $1,091,930 ($565,965 in loans and $525,965 in grants) will be coming to 12 operations across Iowa to assist farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses in developing renewable energy systems, and in making energy-efficiency improvements to their operation.  The funding will benefit farms and businesses located in the following counties: Benton, Boone, Hancock, Jones, Marshall, Plymouth, Pocahontas, Scott, Tama, Union and Wapello.

"Making energy efficiency investments in farms and small businesses benefits these operations, and our state as a whole," said Harkin.  "These steps will help to continue to put us on a path of energy independence, which will lower energy costs, reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign fuel and protect our natural resources."

Today's grants and loans come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Energy for America Program.  Harkin is a senior member of the panel that funds rural development and energy initiatives.

Harkin Statement on the Clean Energy Legislation Introduced Today

(May 12, 2010) ? Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released the following statement today in reaction to clean energy legislation introduced by Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) this afternoon.

"I applaud Senators Kerry and Lieberman for their tireless and resolute campaign to bring us an approach to addressing our climate change challenge.  It is important that we pass legislation to reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign energy sources- an addiction that sends money to unfriendly nations rather than invests it in America.  We must, as the most recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico reminds us, protect our natural treasures, our sources of food and the air we breathe.  And we must make investments in clean energy technology in the United States to make us a true competitor in the global economy and create jobs here at home.  The bill proposed today is a great start towards these goals and as we move forward with this legislation, we must ensure that it includes even more provisions to promote the production and use of renewable sources of energy, as well as promote energy efficiency.

"With this new draft in hand, we'll now have to evaluate whether we can garner sufficient support to pass this, as well as whether there will be sufficient time yet this year to give it full consideration on the Senate floor.  It is my hope that we can pass a bill that will address our energy and climate issues in the near future."

By Senator Tom Harkin

Iowa's farmers and landowners have a deep connection, commitment and respect for our state's land, water and resources.  To help them meet the challenges of conserving Iowa's rich natural heritage for future generations, I have long believed that our U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs should reward agricultural producers not just for what they grow, but for how they grow it.

That is why as Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I worked so hard to author the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) in the 2002 farm bill and then to improve and strengthen it in the current farm bill, the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008.  In order to protect the environment and conserve productive farm land for years to come, CSP provides financial incentives to farmers and ranchers who maintain and adopt sound conservation practices.  Earlier this week, USDA announced that the signup period for CSP will begin June 11, 2010 and I encourage producers in Iowa - and across the country - to consider applying for this program.

What is CSP?

CSP is a voluntary program delivered by the USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) that financially rewards producers who conserve resources in a comprehensive manner by:

•    Adopting and carrying out new, additional conservation activities; and
•    Improving, maintaining and managing existing conservation activities.

The program is designed to recognize and reward producers for adopting and maintaining sound stewardship on their land and to provide financial incentives for increasing conservation efforts.

CSP is offered to support conservation on private and tribal agricultural land and non-industrial private forest land in all 50 states and the Caribbean and Pacific Islands areas.  The program provides equitable access to all producers, regardless of operation size, crops produced or geographic location.

What are the basic features of CSP?

CSP offers participants five-year contracts that provide annual payments to producers who install and adopt additional conservation activities and improve, maintain and manage existing conservation activities as specified in the CSP contract and conservation stewardship plan.

How do I apply for CSP?

Potential applicants are encouraged to use the CSP self-screening checklist to determine if the new program is suitable for their operation.  The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, contract obligations and potential payments.  It is available from local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service offices or on the NRCS web site at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/new_csp/csp.html.

If the program seems right for you and your operation, download and fill out the Conservation Stewardship Program Application  (available at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/new_csp/special_pdfs/Blank_CSP_CCC1200.pdf), and deliver it in to your local NRCS office.  To find your nearest office please visit http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app.

For more information on enrolling in CSP please visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/new_csp/csp.html.


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement on news that the economy had added 290,000 jobs in April, the largest job growth in four years.  Harkin is Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Labor Appropriations Subcommittee.

"Today's employment report is welcome news across all sectors of our economy - not only is our economy adding jobs in manufacturing, construction and health care, but Americans are starting to feel more confident in this economic growth.  In recent months we saw real signs of improvement, but with this best month of progress, Americans should start to feel that we are on more solid economic ground.

"This growth is due largely to actions taken by the Federal government.  The Recovery Act continues to send much-needed dollars to states, without which we would have seen an even deeper recession.   Unfortunately, there are still dangers ahead for those still looking for work, so additional efforts to move the country forward are needed. 

"In particular, Congress must pass an extension of unemployment insurance through the end of the year so that families can access this critical safety net.  Unfortunately, Republicans have exploited every opportunity to delay and obstruct this important legislation.  In addition, we must take immediate action to prevent job losses among our nation's educators - to protect the quality of education - and we need to pass additional job-creating legislation to assure that the economy is on solid footing.  I intend to continue to advocate for those efforts in this Congress."

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) issued the following statement after the Senate voted down an amendment to the financial reform effort that would have protected Wall Street businesses, allowing banks to continue to take advantage of consumers.  In recent days, such national organizations as the AFL-CIO, AARP and Americans for Financial Reform have come out against the amendment. It failed by a vote of 38 to 61.

"One of the key causes of the financial crisis was the complete lack of adequate consumer protection, especially in the area of mortgages.  To help prevent this from happening again, Senator Dodd drafted a bill that includes real protections from unfair and abusive financial products ranging from credit cards, to mortgages, to high interest pay day loans.  The amendment just voted down would have gutted those improvements by keeping those who failed to protect consumers in the run up to the financial meltdown in charge of consumer protection. This is nothing more than a case of the fox guarding the henhouse," said Harkin.

"We must restore a balance between the financial industry and consumers in this country. For too long, our financial system and its regulators have fundamentally failed to protect the hardworking families on Main Street from unfair and abusive practices.  This amendment would have tipped the scales even farther toward the financial sector.  I will continue to oppose all efforts to weaken the protections like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."

WASHINGTON, D.C. - May 4, 2010 - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement as the United States Senate began debate on a financial services reform bill.  Consideration of the measure comes after Senate Republicans obstructed the bill for a full week by voting three times to block the bill from coming up for debate.

"Over the last decade, our economy has fundamentally failed to serve the hard-working families on Main Street, while Wall Street has rewarded itself with multi-million dollar bonuses.  For far too long, their mentality has been 'heads we win and tails the whole nation loses.'  Well, the nation lost.  Those giant institutions and their allies are now claiming they learned their lesson and asking that we trust them.  But we must not risk the nation's economic health again. 

"Millions of taxpayers have seen their retirement savings washed away, their homes foreclosed and many small businesses have had to close their doors.  According to a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the financial meltdown and recession have cost the average American family $100,000 in lost wealth and income.

"The financial regulatory reform bill is a strong proposal that will help make our financial system work for all Americans - not just Wall Street.  These reforms will help to put our economy back on solid ground by creating a stable financial sector by helping families and business owners, rather than speculating and gambling with taxpayer money.  It will also provide protection for consumers and will restore a fair playing field for community banks in Iowa. 

"Specifically, the legislation includes a number of provisions that will help make sure we never find ourselves in this situation again.  Among others, it includes the creation of a systemic risk overseer to provide comprehensive oversight to our financial sector; much higher capital standards on the largest financial institutions; strong regulation that would restore transparency and integrity to the derivatives market; the creation of a resolution process akin to bankruptcy that will wind-down the largest financial institutions without the use of taxpayer funds; consolidation of banking regulators to prevent institutions from shopping for the weakest regulation; and a consumer protection bureau devoted to protecting consumers from unfair and abusive practices.

"As this debate moves forward, I will work to ensure that this legislation is not watered down with special carve-outs or weakened in ways that will make taxpayer bailouts more likely in the future.  I will also work to further strengthen the measure by providing additional consumer protections from excessive bank and credit card charges.  Iowans deserve strong reform that protects consumer and holds big banks accountable for their actions, and I will work to make sure that Congress delivers that reform."
Residents invited to attend meeting and share their concerns

DES MOINES- Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) announced today that his aide, Alison Hart, will host a "listening post" for local residents in Scott County, May 13, 2010. Iowans are invited to come and learn about how Harkin's new Chairmanship of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will benefit the state. 

Harkin staff members will hold the listening posts at area community colleges, private colleges and universities and community school districts to supplement the regular office hours at Harkin's five regional offices in Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines, Dubuque, and Sioux City.  These meetings ensure all Iowans have easy access to constituent services and information from the Harkin office.

"In order to better serve Iowa in the Senate, my office must hear firsthand from Iowans about how current laws impact them and their families," said Harkin. "This mobile office tour expands the reach of my state offices to connect us with residents and bringing information and assistance to the people of Iowa."

Each meeting will focus on the priorities for the Committee in the coming months, including efforts to strengthen K-12 education policy as well as higher education.  Last month, Harkin traveled across Iowa with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to hear from local education leaders, parents, students, business and community leaders on their ideas for a revised Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). 

Scott County Tour Details - May 13, 2010

7:30 am       
JB Young Intermediate School
1709 Harrison Street
3rd Floor Conference Room
Davenport, IA

9:00 am       
St. Ambrose
518 West Locust Street
Ambrose Room
Davenport, IA

10:30 am       
Scott Community College
500 Belmond Road
Student Life Center
Davenport, IA

April 28, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) spoke on the Senate floor today before the third scheduled procedural vote to bring financial reform legislation up for consideration.  The previous two attempts Monday and Tuesday failed due to Republican obstructionism.  Harkin's full remarks follow. 

"Mr. President, yesterday in the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, we learned more about the reckless actions of traders and executives at Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs was hardly the only bad actor in bringing our financial system to the brink of collapse in 2008.  Traders and executives at many other financial institutions got fabulously wealthy by gaming the unregulated casinos on Wall Street.  They walked away with fortunes, even as millions of Americans lost their jobs, their savings, and/or their homes. 

"Yet, as we witnessed in yesterday's hearing, Wall Street remains arrogant and unrepentant.  And it has the gall to believe that it should remain free to continue business as usual.  To that end, it has mobilized a legion of lobbyists - an estimated 1,500 of them . . . 15 lobbyists for every Senator - to try to kill or water down financial reform legislation. 

"It is deeply unfortunate that every one of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have joined with Wall Street in obstructing this legislation - every one of them is not just filibustering the bill, but even preventing it from coming to the floor for debate. 

"I say to my Republican colleagues:  Senator Dodd and Senator Lincoln have bent over backward to consult with Republicans and invite bipartisan cooperation.  Their good-faith efforts have produced solid, common-sense legislation.  Can it be improved?  Of course.  But we can only amend and improve this legislation if the Republican filibuster ends and the bill is brought to the floor.

"Mr. President, it is a bitter irony that, even as we spent a fortune in taxpayer dollars to rescue the global financial system, the self-appointed masters of the universe on Wall Street rewarded themselves with billions in bonuses and geared up to fight efforts by Congress to prevent a replay of the 2008 meltdown.

"Wall Street is all too used to living a different life - and playing by different rules - from Main Street.  And nowhere is this disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street more stark than in the area of compensation.  Over the last decades, compensation in the financial sector has skyrocketed, with some executives walking away with annual compensation of hundreds of millions of dollars, even as the inflation-adjusted incomes of ordinary working Americans have failed to rise. 

"Mr. President, I am dwelling on this matter of compensation because it points to a larger issue.  In my view, a big reason for the financial collapse of 2008 is that things got seriously out of balance and out of whack.  As Glass-Steagall was repealed, as special interests attacked the very idea of government regulation, and as the SEC and other watchdog agencies turned into permissive poodles, bad actors on Wall Street stepped into the void. 

"Pursuing fabulous riches, they drove our economy off a cliff.  And it is ordinary Americans, the ones who work hard and play by the rules, who have paid such a terrible price for Wall Street's recklessness.

"And that is exactly why we need financial reform legislation.  As others have noted, financial crises should not be things that happen every five to seven, much like periodic floods.  Just as we can build dikes to prevent floods, we can take common-sense steps to prevent future financial meltdowns.

"This legislation will protect consumers in their everyday transactions involving everything from mortgages to credit cards to payday loans.  It will safeguard families whose life savings and pensions can be devastated when a financial system collapses.  And it will guard against future massive meltdowns in the financial system that almost always cause collateral damage to millions of innocent bystanders and to the broader economy.

"By all means, strong financial reform must include regulation of the derivatives market.  I am very pleased that the basis for this regulation is the provision passed out of the Agriculture Committee under the leadership of Chairman Lincoln.

"Derivatives contracts have been at the heart of Wall Street's financial manipulation. From December 2000 to June 2008, the height of Wall Street's boom, the face-value of over-the-counter derivatives grew from $95 billion to $683 trillion.

"Now, I have no objection to derivatives as financial instruments. Many manufacturing companies use these financial instruments legitimately to hedge their risks.  But, we also know that many parts of this market amount to nothing more than pure-and-simple gambling. So, despite derivatives' usefulness in many circumstances, we also know that the current structure of the market is in dire need of fundamental reform.

"The derivatives legislation reported out of the Agriculture Committee, last week, is now a component of the larger reform bill that we hope will soon be before the Senate. This proposal would bring these transactions into the light of day by requiring that all transactions be reported to regulators in real-time. It would also bring the vast majorities of these contracts into clearinghouses and exchanges. These market mechanisms help to reduce the concentration of risk in the system and bolster public transparency.  This legislation also gets to the heart of the 'too big to fail' problem by prohibiting swaps entities from also being commercial banks. Commercial banks that are backed by the government should not be able to use that government backing to support their high-stakes gambling.  That only magnifies the level of risk in the banking system. It is unfair to taxpayers, and also to bank customers and community banks. 

"Mr. President, in addition to regulating derivatives, we also need a strong, truly independent financial consumer protection agency to guard against rip-offs and abuses in mortgages, credit cards, payday loans, and other financial products.

"We also need to slam the door on any future taxpayer bailouts of so-called 'too big to fail' financial institutions.  No more AIGs or Citigroups.  When companies make huge bets and lose, we need an orderly process for liquidating those companies.  Period.

"To further improve the bill, I am a cosponsor of legislation offered by Senator Cantwell that would re-create the Great Depression-era regulation that prohibited the mixing of commercial banks, investment banks, and insurance companies. I am also a cosponsor of the SAFE Banking Act offered by Senators Brown and Kaufman that would limit the size of the largest institutions.

"In addition, I am supportive of legislation by Senators Merkley and Levin that blocks institutions that are insured by the FDIC from proprietary trading with their own funds.  We can't have high-risk gambling with the government standing as the backstop if there are large losses.  

"Mr. President, America has been through financial collapses and deep economic downturns before. In charting the way forward, we can learn important lessons from the financial crash of 1929 that led to the Great Depression.  FDR answered that crisis by implementing tough new regulations to stabilize the financial system, to rein in risk-taking and recklessness on Wall Street, and to make the economy work for ordinary Americans.  This led to decades of shared economic prosperity unprecedented in our nation's history. 

"That needs to be our model as we shape today's financial reform legislation.  Our aim should be a Wall Street that serves the interests of Main Street.  Our aim should be a financial system that makes possible a new era of economic stability and shared prosperity."
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) decision to award $2,712,118 in disaster relief funds to Iowa, and to provide an $18.9 million loan to construct a 19-bed critical access hospital in Clarinda.  The funding was competitively awarded through the USDA's Rural Development Community Facilities Program, and goes to parts of the state that have been declared national disaster areas by President Obama.  As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations committee, Harkin worked to help appropriate these funds.

"2008 is still fresh in the minds of thousands of Iowans whose communities were damaged by floods and storms," Harkin said. "These funds will help communities recover, increase disaster readiness and improve medical care.  I congratulate those who went through the competitive application process to receive these funds, and hope this gives our rural areas some much needed relief."