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PAUL D. COVERDELL PEACE CORPS HEADQUARTERS -- (Senate - February 15, 2001)
PAUL D. COVERDELL PEACE CORPS HEADQUARTERS -- (Senate - February 15, 2001)
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Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to immediate consideration of S. 360 introduced earlier today by myself and a number of other Senators.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the bill by title.
The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:
A bill (S. 360) to honor Paul D. Coverdell.
There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the bill.
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Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent the bill be read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table, and that any statements relating to the bill be printed in the RECORD.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
The bill (S. 360) was passed, as follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. PEACE CORPS HEADQUARTERS.
(a) IN GENERAL.--Effective on the date of enactment of this Act, the headquarters offices of the Peace Corps, wherever situated, shall be referred to as the ``Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Headquarters''.
(b) REFERENCES.--Any reference before the date of enactment of this Act in any law, regulation, order, document, record, or other paper of the United States to the headquarters or headquarters offices of the Peace Corps shall, on and after such date, be considered to refer to the Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Headquarters.
SEC. 2. WORLD WISE SCHOOLS PROGRAM.
Section 603 of the Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools Act of 2000 (title VI of Public Law 106-570) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
``(c) NEW REFERENCES IN PEACE CORPS DOCUMENTS.--The Director of the Peace Corps shall ensure that any reference in any public document, record, or other paper of the Peace Corps, including any promotional material, produced on or after the date of enactment of this subsection, to the program described in subsection (a) be a reference to the `Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools Program'.''.
SEC. 3. PAUL D. COVERDELL BUILDING.
(a) AWARD.--From the amount appropriated under subsection (b) the Secretary of Education shall make an award to the University of Georgia to support the construction of the Paul D. Coverdell Building at the Institute of the Biomedical and Health Sciences at the University of Georgia.
(b) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.--There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $10,000,000 for fiscal year 2002.
Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I thank all my colleagues for their cooperation in clearing this resolution. For those Members who may want to speak on the resolution, we are providing time on Monday, February 26, and some additional time on Tuesday, February 27, if necessary.
I know that Senator Gramm and Senator Miller, perhaps Senator Reid, Senator Dodd, and others may want to speak on this resolution. I am pleased we have been able to clear this bill honoring Senator Paul Coverdell.
Mr. REID. Mr. President, if I could just briefly respond to the leader, Senator Miller and Senator Cleland wish to speak on this bill. But they have agreed that they will do it when we come back after the recess. Senator Miller wants to speak for 1 hour, and Senator Cleland wants to speak for half an hour.
Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I thank Senator Reid for making sure Members understand that these Senators would like to speak, including Senator Cleland. I thank Senator Reid, Senator DASCHLE, and again Senator Dodd for their fairness in being able to work through this. We will continue to work to make sure this whole area is properly attended to.
Mr. DODD. Mr. President, will the majority leader yield?
Mr. LOTT. Yes.
Mr. DODD. Mr. President, I don't expect the leader to stay for some remarks I will give at the conclusion of the majority leader's presentation. But I want him to know and others of my colleagues that I considered Paul Coverdell to be a very good friend of mine. We worked very closely together chairing or being ranking member on the committee that dealt with the Peace Corps during his tenure. In fact, I arranged and handled his confirmation process to become Director of the Peace Corps and feel very strongly about the relationship I had with him.
The concerns I raised over the last days have nothing whatsoever to do with my admiration and respect for Paul Coverdell. They have to do with an institution with which I have been closely identified and affiliated for 40 years, the Peace Corps. I am the only Member of this Chamber who served as a Peace Corps volunteer. In fact, I was the first Member of the U.S. Congress elected to serve in the Peace Corps as a volunteer along with Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts some 33 years ago.
My concern and my involvement with this organization are deeply felt. The remarks I will give this afternoon have to address that, as well as the larger issue to which the majority leader has referred; that is, the issue of the naming process that goes on around town for which I believe a number of my colleagues share a common concern. Maybe at some point we might draft some legislation that allows for a deliberate process to be used rather than sort of racing to the finish line as to who gets to put a label on some building or monument.
I appreciate his listening. But I want him to know that over these last several days as I raised my objection yesterday--the Senator from Nevada had an objection--I really wanted to have some time to pause and think this process through. But I appreciate and I know how closely the majority leader was to Paul Coverdell and how much his friendship meant to him. I hope he understands that what I was engaged in in no way was meant to be any disrespect at all for our former colleague but went to a deeper issue, one about which I feel strongly.
Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, let me say to the Senator from Connecticut that while they are appreciated, his assurances in that regard are not necessary. I remember quite well the speech the Senator from Connecticut gave on the floor after Senator Coverdell's death. I remember it particularly because it was so good and it was so passionate.
Second, we all know of the Senator's investment in and his commitment to the Peace Corps, and nobody would ever question that he cares about it, is interested in it, and will continue to be a supporter and guardian.
Lastly, the Senator from Connecticut, of all Senators, never has to say to us that he wouldn't be properly respectful of another colleague or a former colleague. The Senator from Connecticut has proven over and over again that when it comes to his colleagues in the Senate, his respect for them as individuals and his respect for them when they leave this institution is unwavering.
The Senator didn't have to make that statement. We never doubt it, and he was very courteous in the way he handled it. I appreciate that very much.
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, as we pass this resolution to name the Washington headquarters of one of President Kennedy's greatest legacies, the Peace Corps, after Paul Coverdell, Senators should recall that we already honored our departed friend and colleague last year. In addition to the programs that were named for Senator Coverdell last year that have already been identified by Senator DODD, we honored Senator Coverdell by placing his name on another major Government program and to the legislation that established it--the Paul Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Improvement Act of 2000.
We were all shocked and saddened last July by the untimely passing of our friend, Paul Coverdell. As I said at the time, he was one of the kindest people to grace this floor, and there was a certain peacefulness about him that was always pleasantly contagious. In a sometimes very divisive Senate, that peacefulness was so respected.
All of us who worked with Paul liked him; we missed him, and we wanted to honor his memory in an appropriate way. I think we did that. On October 26, 2000--just a few months after his sudden passing--the Paul Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Improvement Act of 2000 sailed through the Senate by unanimous consent. The House passed the bill a few months later, and President Clinton signed it into law on December 21. I worked closely with Senator SESSIONS to ensure passage of that legislation last year.
The Paul Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Improvement Act calls for an infusion of Federal funds to improve the quality of State and local crime labs. Passage of this important legislation was a fitting tribute to the former senior Senator from Georgia, who had been a leader on similar legislation in the past. Paul Coverdell was committed to ensuring that justice in this country is neither delayed nor denied, and he understood that existing backlogs in our Nation's crime labs were denying the swift administration of justice.
In his last years in the Senate, Paul Coverdell made the improvement of forensic science services one of his highest priorities. Rather than renaming
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more programs or buildings in Paul's honor, we should be funding the important legislation that he championed, and that we already passed in his memory.
Let me say a few words about this legislation, which I strongly supported.
The use of quality forensic science services is widely accepted as a key to effective crime-fighting, especially with advanced technologies such as DNA testing. Over the past decade, DNA testing has emerged as the most reliable forensic technique for identifying criminals when biological material is left at a crime scene. Because of its scientific precision, DNA testing can, in some cases, conclusively establish a suspect's guilt or innocence. In other cases, DNA testing may not conclusively establish guilt or innocence, but may have significant probative value for investigators.
While DNA's power to root out the truth has been a boon to law enforcement, it has also been the salvation of law enforcement's mistakes--those who for one reason or another, are prosecuted and convicted of crimes that they did not commit. In more than 80 cases in this country, DNA evidence has led to the exoneration of innocent men and women who were wrongfully convicted. This number includes at least 10 individuals sentenced to death, some of whom came within days of being executed. In more than a dozen cases, moreover, post-conviction DNA testing that has exonerated an innocent person has also enhanced public safety by providing evidence that led to the apprehension of the real perpetrator.
Clearly, forensic science services like DNA testing are critical to the effective administration of justice in 21st century America.
Forensic science workloads have increased significantly over the past 5 years, both in number and complexity. Since Congress established the Combined DNA Index System in the mid-1990s, States have been busy collecting DNA samples from convicted offenders for analysis and indexing. Increased Federal funding for State and local law enforcement programs has resulted in more and better trained police officers who are collecting immense amounts of evidence that can and should be subjected to crime laboratory analysis.
Funding has simply not kept pace with this increasing demand, and State crime laboratories are now seriously bottlenecked. Backlogs have impeded the use of new technologies like DNA testing in solving cases without suspects--and reexamining cases in which there are strong claims of innocence--as laboratories are required to give priority status to those cases in which a suspect is known. In some parts of the country, investigators must wait several months--and sometimes more than a year--to get DNA test results from rape and other violent crime evidence. Solely for lack of funding, critical evidence remains untested while rapists and killers remain at large, victims continue to anguish, and statutes of limitations on prosecution expire.
Let me describe the situation in my home State. The Vermont Forensics Laboratory is currently operating in an old Vermont State Hospital building in Waterbury, VT. Though it is proudly one of only two fully-accredited forensics labs in New England, it is trying to do 21st century science in a 1940's building. The lab has very limited space and no central climate control--both essential conditions for precise forensic science. It also has a large storage freezer full of untested DNA evidence from unsolved cases, for which there are no other leads besides the untested evidence. The evidence is not being processed because the lab does not have the space, equipment or manpower.
I commend the scientists and lab personnel at the Vermont Forensics Laboratory for the fine work they do everyday under difficult circumstances. But the people of the State of Vermont deserve better.
The Paul Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Improvement Act--if and when it is fully funded--will give States like Vermont the help they desperately need to handle the increased workloads placed upon their forensic science systems. It allocates $738 million over the next 6 years for grants to qualified forensic science laboratories and medical examiner's offices for laboratory accreditation, automated equipment, supplies, training, facility improvements, and staff enhancements.
We do not honor our colleague's memory by establishing a program in his name and then leaving it unfunded. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support full and immediate funding of the Paul Coverdell National Sciences Improvement Act.
Mr. GRAMM. Mr. President, I am honored to be an original cosponsor of legislation to memorialize our friend, Senator Paul Coverdell. Paul served the citizens of the State of Georgia and the United States for over three decades as a State legislator, Peace Corps director, and U.S. Senator. I believe that this bill is a fitting and appropriate way to memorialize Paul and his work.
This legislation has three components. The bill names the Washington headquarters of the Peace Corps after Paul Coverdell. The legislation reaffirms language approved at the end of last year to ensue that the Peace Corps' World Wise Schools program will carry his name as well. Paul created the program during his tenure as Peace Corps director. The World Wise Schools initiative links Peace Corps volunteers serving around the globe with classrooms here in the United States. Paul correctly saw that such an effort would promote cultural awareness and foster an appreciation for global connections. Finally, the legislation authorizes an appropriation of $10 million, to be augmented by $30 million of state and private funds, to construct the Paul D. Coverdell Building for Biomedical and Health Sciences at the University of Georgia. Paul Coverdell was a tireless supporter of education in Georgia, and this building will be a living memorial to him and an unparalleled resource for the students, researchers, and educators of his State and our Nation.
The legislation consists of measures agreed upon by a bipartisan group of Senators assigned by Senator LOTT and DASCHLE to review the many worthy ideas proposed to honor Paul. After considering many suggestions, Senators HARRY REID, ZELL MILLER, MIKE DEWINE, and I agreed on the three provisions included in the legislation which has today been introduced by the majority leader and passed by the Senate. I believe that there can be no more fitting tribute to Paul and to all he achieved for the people of Georgia and the country that he loved and served until the day he died.
Mr. MILLER. Mr. President, I am honored to rise today to speak of our dear friend and colleague, Paul Coverdell.
We were all shocked and saddened last July when Paul died so unexpectedly. Georgia had lost one of its greatest public servants--a soft-spoken workhorse who served the people first and politics second. In a public career spanning three decades--from the Georgia Senate to the Peace Corps to the U.S. Senate--Paul served with dignity and earned everybody's respect along the way.
Immediately upon his death, folks in Washington and in Georgia began to think how we could remember this great Georgian in a worthy and enduring way.
Senator LOTT, our majority leader and one of Paul's greatest admirers, appointed a four-member committee of Senators to sort through the many ideas for memorializing Senator Coverdell. There were two Republicans--PHIL GRAMM of Texas and MIKE DEWINE of Ohio--and two Democrats--Minority Whip HARRY REID of Nevada and myself.
We quickly agreed that there should be two memorials for Senator Coverdell--one in Washington and one in Georgia.
In December, in a letter to party leaders Senator LOTT and Minority Leader TOM DASCHLE, we outlined the two memorials we thought were most fitting for Senator Coverdell.
In Georgia, we have chosen to honor Paul's commitment to education, research and agriculture at the State's flagship university with The Paul D. Coverdell Building for Biomedical and Health Sciences. This state-of-the-art science center will let scientists from different fields collaborate on improving the food supply, cleaning up the environment and finding cures for disease.
This will be a joint project with the Federal Government, the State of
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Georgia and the university. We will be asking Congress to allocate $10 million for the building. Georgia Governor Roy Barnes will ask the Legislature for a $10 million appropriation. And the university will raise the remaining $20 million for the building.
I was so glad that Senator Coverdell's widow, Nancy, joined us in announcing this memorial last month.
It is my hope that the scientists who gather in this center under Senator Coverdell's name will make great discoveries to improve the quality of life in Georgia and around the world.
In Washington, we have chosen to honor Senator Coverdell's legacy at the Peace Corps, where he served as director from 1989 to 1991. Paul's appointment to the Peace Corps was met with great skepticism at first. But he quickly gained respect by demanding professionalism and by shifting the agency's focus so that more money was spent actually getting volunteers where they were needed.
When the Berlin Wall came down, Paul seized the opportunity to move the Peace Corps into Eastern Europe to promote freedom and democracy. This move not only broadened the agency's mission, but also increased its prestige around the world.
Senator Coverdell also established the widely acclaimed World Wise Schools Program. Under this program, Peace Corps volunteers who have returned to the United States visit schools to give students their impressions and lessons from their overseas service.
To honor Paul's legacy at the Peace Corps, we are recommending that the Peace Corps headquarters offices in Washington be named the ``Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Headquarters.''
We also are recommending the designation of the Peace Corps' World Wise Schools Programs as the ``Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools Programs.''
Paul's dignity and decency inspired countless young people to serve their fellow man in far-away places. It is our hope that we can honor his legacy at the Peace Corps in this lasting way.
Mr. President, I hope that my colleagues will join me in supporting this memorial for our friend Senator Paul Coverdell, and I yield the floor.
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