Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Social Affairs, Science and Technology
Issue 9 - Evidence - December 1, 2011
OTTAWA, Thursday, December 1, 2011
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, to which was referred Bill S-201, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day, met this day at 10:31 a.m. to give consideration to the bill.
Senator Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: We are meeting today to discuss Bill S-201, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day.
We are pleased to have Senator Mercer here, the sponsor of the bill. He will be addressing us in a moment.
I think I will dispense with the usual introduction of my colleagues. I suspect that the senator is well aware of those who are at the table. We all recognize Senator Mercer.
With that, honourable senators, I propose that we move directly into the examination of the bill. I invite Senator Mercer to present to us.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer, sponsor of the bill: Thank you, Mr. Chair. First of all, I would like to thank you, personally, for your kindness last week when I had to reschedule my appearance before the committee because of some sad news for my family. I appreciate your kindness and the kindness of the committee and the clerk for rearranging this meeting.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak before you in support of this historic piece of legislation that would create the world's first nationally recognized National Philanthropy Day.
National Philanthropy Day is the special day set aside, on November 15 of each year, to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy and those people active in the philanthropic community have made to our lives, our communities, our nation and the world.
The purpose of this day is to increase public awareness of National Philanthropy Day as a time to say thank you to those who give throughout the year. It is to focus public attention on major accomplishments made possible through philanthropic contributions. It is a time to honour key local individuals and corporations for their philanthropic endeavours. It is a time to recognize local fundraisers, thanking them for their time, talent and dedication.
First held in 1986, National Philanthropy Day celebrates the endless daily contributions individuals and organizations across the world make to countless causes and missions.
This year, there were more than 100 National Philanthropy Day events and activities across North America alone, with over 50,000 people participating. Sixteen Canadian events honoured philanthropists in most major cities in Canada.
Some events attracted over 1,000 participants and some only about 200. However, in each community, the initiative was received with widespread support and appreciation for the work of the charitable organizations and the value of philanthropic giving.
Why is recognizing National Philanthropy Day important? Recent research reveals a disturbing trend. The economy has negatively impacted charitable giving, and fewer Canadians are giving to charities.
According to Statistics Canada, Canadian giving has dropped in the last three years to about $7.8 billion in 2009, down from an all-time high of $8.5 billion in 2006. Even more significant, the percentage of Canadians claiming a charitable deduction dropped from 24 per cent in 2008 to 23 per cent in 2009, leaving Canada with approximately 5.6 million donors.
This is a precarious situation. How long can we rely on a smaller number of individuals to fuel the charitable sector, especially when the economy has taken a toll on overall charitable giving? The situation is even more dire considering that the demand on charities continues to grow. We need to ensure that the donor base continues to grow to match the increasing reliance of the public on the charitable sector.
The charitable sector is significant in size and scope. It has more than $100 billion in annual revenue and possesses even more than that in net assets. The charitable sector is approximately equal in size to the economy of British Columbia.
The charitable sector in Canada is made up of more than 161,000 organizations, with over 1.2 million paid staff and 6.5 million volunteers. We all know who those volunteers are; I am sure all of you are counted amongst those 6.5 million.
Charitable and philanthropic organizations provide jobs and bridge the gap by serving those in need and our communities when budgetary constraints hinder provincial and federal governments from providing similar services.
Without adequate charitable contributions and resources, these organizations cannot continue to respond to the growing reliance upon their philanthropic missions.
We cannot allow the charitable sector to stagnate, but, with your help in passing legislation to create a government- recognized national philanthropy day, we can help reverse these trends.
National Philanthropy Day provides the opportunity not only to increase giving but also to spur more Canadians to become volunteers and donors and encourage the creation of new charities by giving each of them a day of recognition.
Through National Philanthropy Day, participants are able to show appreciation for all that has been accomplished in the name of giving, as well as to show that there is still more to do. It is our chance to step into the spotlight for a brief moment and remind our communities, our society and the country that the spirit of giving is alive and well.
As most of you know, I have been a professional fundraiser since 1978 and a volunteer since childhood. I am keenly aware that fundraising serves as the engine that drives the charitable sector by developing and maintaining relationships with donors and philanthropists who provide the necessary funding for education, social services, health care, medical research, the arts and the many other altruistic functions provided by the sector.
Think about the charities you know and volunteer for. For example, there is the Canadian Red Cross, the Canadian Cancer Society, and the University of Toronto and more local entities like Phoenix Youth Programs in Halifax, Jocelyn House Hospice in Winnipeg and Oak Bay Volunteer Services Society in Victoria, British Columbia. We could go on forever.
You can imagine how much the many millions of Canadian volunteers provide in critical community services to these organizations every day, every month and every year.
It is for these reasons and for these people that a government-recognized National Philanthropy Day is so important. It is for these reasons that I urge you to pass this important piece of legislation. I would like to thank you again for this opportunity and I look forward to any questions you may have.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Senator Mercer. We will now turn to the members of the committee. I will start with Senator Eggleton.
Senator Eggleton: Senator Mercer, you are to be congratulated for bringing this forward. This recognition of National Philanthropy Day, I hope, will help to reverse the trend that you talked about that has occurred as a result of the recession. Unfortunately, while the needs have been expanding, the donations have been reduced as a result of the recession. This, I hope, will go some distance in helping to reverse it.
National Philanthropy Day is also an opportunity to draw recognition to people who are involved in other aspects of philanthropy. For many people, the first thought that comes to mind is that it is giving money. However, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, philanthropy is defined as a desire to help others and extends beyond money. It includes gifts of time and spirit, and what is in your heart and in your spirit, not necessarily what is in your bank account. It includes people who are champions, advocates and volunteers.
Could you talk a bit more about that? It is important to expand the definition so there is not just a narrow perception of philanthropy as only involving people who have an awful lot of money and who contribute that money.
Senator Mercer: I think the honourable senator is right on. Another definition of philanthropy is the love of humankind, which broadens that definition further.
One of the things people try to do when joining National Philanthropy Day is not to focus on the major givers. We do need to recognize the major givers. They are very important people and they do help us by giving. However, there is an emphasis on the small donor, too. The young person who gives $2 is just as important as the person who gives millions of dollars. It is the commitment to the cause that is important.
For example, in Ottawa, at the National Philanthropy Day celebration, one of the award recipients was a young girl in high school, who was the best friend of a young girl whose suicide was so highly publicized. The Richardson family was so kind to come out in public and talk about their daughter's tragic death. Her young friend, who was so moved and touched by her friend's death, created a program where she was selling bracelets in memory of her and raising money for awareness of bullying and mental health.
There were many important people at the award ceremony here in Ottawa, who have given millions of dollars and raised millions of dollars. However, the person who had the most attention and the most applause at the end of the night was this young girl, who was 13 years old and was starting her philanthropic life by honouring her friend.
There are all those people and there are the others, too, Senator Eggleton, who are funding medical research in universities, colleges and labs across the country. Someday, someone will find the cure for cancer and it will probably not be because of some government grant. It will be because someone has raised the money and someone has donated the money to help them do that.
Senator Eggleton: The only other thing I want to say is that you have been patient with all this because you brought it forward several times. The only problem I see with your bill is that every time you bring it forward there is either a prorogation or an election that results in your going back to square one. I hope this time it goes all the way and that it goes into effect.
Senator Mercer: When I started this process I never realized that timing was everything. I believe this time the timing is right.
Senator Champagne: I spoke to this bill in the Senate, the first time being when Senator Grafstein introduced it. At the time, I dared to say I was against the idea. However, I have to say there were a number of us who thought there would not be enough days in the year to name a day for everything and that there would be more than 365 good causes for which we would want to name a day.
Two other times, I spoke in favour of it. It is somewhat surprising that it is today, December 1, that we are studying this bill again. December 1 is the Grande guignolée in Quebec, the day when volunteers from all over, including Montreal, Quebec City, Trois-Rivières, Sherbrooke and Chicoutimi, ask people for money or non-perishable food in the hopes of making Christmas a little more joyful for those who are really in need.
This morning, in one part of the city, a homeless man came to put 50 cents into the box. For him, that might have been more than for the next person who came and put in $100. I think volunteering is about our heart and not necessarily the size of the donation. What is important is that everyone participates, that everyone contributes.
As my colleague did earlier, I congratulate you and thank you for having taken up the torch when Senator Grafstein left the Senate. You have done a great job and I hope the third time is the charm.
Senator Mercer: I appreciate your story. The story about the homeless person is one of the primary things that people who work in the philanthropic sector really understand. You cannot assume that one's station in life limits one from becoming a philanthropist. That 50-cent donation was huge. That 50-cent donation was like someone else's $1-million donation. That 50-cent donation was probably for his or her next meal. It is important that we recognize and honour those people for donating.
Many years ago, when I first started in the business of fundraising, I put together a plan for a group of people to do some fundraising. I wanted to talk to all of the people involved and a group of people said, "Well, I don't want you to talk to my group of people because they are poor and they won't give me money." Another person, who had another group of people who were probably poorer than the first person's, said to me — and these words stuck with me ever since — "Don't assume that my people will not give money because they are poor, and don't insult them by not asking them."
I learned that from him and I have tried not to forget it. We need to ask everyone and we need to honour everyone. One of the things I enjoy about National Philanthropy Day — and I have had the privilege of attending about 25 of these events over the years — is the celebration of the small donor and the small act. They are the ones that build up into large amounts.
I also appreciate your personal support of the bill as we have evolved with this over the past number of years.
Senator Champagne: It means that on this Day of Philanthropy, we will say thank you, not only to big philanthropists, but also to those who are philanthropists at heart and to those who do what they can.
Senator Merchant: Congratulations for your patience.
The other day, when Senator Munson was speaking about autism, he said maybe this would be a good day, because sometimes it is third time lucky. If this is your third time, maybe this will be your day — and I hope it is.
I understand exactly what the senator was saying when she said that sometimes we feel that every day celebrates something — that maybe that loses the effect, because every day celebrates some cause. However, I think this is a special cause because, as you have pointed out, it is not just the gift of money; everyone can participate in this way.
I really like the emphasis on younger people and the contributions that they make. You mentioned that in your presentation. Young people seem to be inspired by such novel ideas. They pick the things that the rest of us do not.
You constantly see young people that grasp an idea and raise a lot of money; sometimes those people are noted in the news — some young boy or girl in school. I think it is great that something like this will recognize that everyone can make a contribution.
I know some of my neighbours are very dedicated. In households now where both parents are working, it is getting more difficult to get people to volunteer their time. Fewer people are doing these jobs and we must recognize this and encourage them to do it.
What is the best way to ensure that when we celebrate this day, there is something going on in every community? How will you promote this event? Maybe you are already doing it, but I am not aware of it.
Senator Mercer: There are a couple of ways. There are groups of organizations that are dedicated to this. I am very familiar with one group, because I happen to sit on the international board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in one of my volunteer hats. They are very involved in National Philanthropy Day, in promoting it and ensuring that we have it. As well, other groups across Canada are involved in other charities. Everyone tries to be involved; it should not belong necessarily to one organization because it is a celebration.
Your point about young people is extremely important as well. There were two young people in a high school in Senator Ogilvie's part of the world in Nova Scotia who saw a friend of theirs being bullied because he was gay. They got everyone in the high school to wear pink on a particular day. It is now a common thing and there is a national campaign. Two young people in a high school in rural Nova Scotia did this. They changed the whole attitude and brought bullying and homophobia to the foreground so we could talk about things that we need to change.
My wife and I had a house in Ottawa for a number of years and my son went to Hillcrest High School. I will use Hillcrest as an example of a particular program because it is the one that I am familiar with, but this happens in hundreds of high schools across the country. They take on two or three charitable programs a year.
They advertise in the neighbourhood that on a certain night, they will replace all of those people who used to go out and knock on doors and raise money. For a number of years, they did the Canadian Cancer Society in April, which is Cancer month. They raised tens of thousands of dollars over the years.
It became a social function for the young people at the high school. It also crossed some cultural barriers because there are many new Canadians who come to Canada and are not familiar with our traditions of giving. Not all peoples around the world do the same as we do. It has helped to educate new young Canadians and bring them into the philanthropic world. It is marvellous to watch.
There are people out here ready to celebrate. They are already celebrating on November 15, and this bill will help us expand it.
Senator Merchant: There are wonderful programs that are going on in schools. They get young people to visit hospitals and old people's homes to volunteer their time and spend time with them. This kind of day recognizes all those people, or people who work with immigrants on literacy, for example. I think it is a wonderful thing. Congratulations.
Senator Mercer: Thank you.
Senator Callbeck: Welcome, minister; congratulations.
Senator Cordy: You said "minister."
Senator Callbeck: That is coming down the road.
Senator Mercer: I am not sure my timing is good on that part.
Senator Cordy: He is actually speechless.
Senator Callbeck: I congratulate you and commend you on persevering to get this legislation through. I think it will bring recognition and awareness to this whole area. Hopefully, more people will donate their time, expertise and finances and help to reverse the trend that you have talked about.
Did you say that you have been a professional fundraiser since 1968?
Senator Mercer: Since 1978.
Senator Callbeck: I would be interested to hear what have been the major changes in fundraising in that period of time.
Senator Mercer: It is difficult to start. When I first began, I was the executive director of the Kidney Foundation in Nova Scotia. That sounds like a very good title; it looked good on my business card. However, it meant that was me and a part-time person who did some clerical work for me. I was the only staff person for the Kidney Foundation in all of Atlantic Canada at that time.
In those days we worked from a shoe box and from index cards; today we do not do that. The major change is that charities learned that they had to be up-to-date and modern. There was an attitude that went on for years that your brochure could not look too good because it looked like you were spending too much money to raise money. In reality, it is the opposite.
When I worked with the YMCA, there was an attitude at one time that they did not want the Y to look too clean or neat because people would think you were too flush. The reality, when you talked to the members of the Y, was that they wanted a clean, safe, modern place to go. We have learned those lessons.
Obviously, the change in technology has been the most significant difference in our ability to reach potential donors and respond to situations rapidly, but also to track people to understand better why people give. I could ask everyone at this table to give money to a particular cause and I might get donations from three of you; but if I sat down and spent a week studying all of you, I could probably change that three into nine because I would ask you differently. Today you can style how you ask the person for a donation.
When I first started in the industry, you did not have the technology that allows you to style a letter. Now I could send a letter to Senator Callbeck that said one thing and a letter to Senator Cordy that said something else, but for the same cause. I can tailor those requests — those things are there.
We also have established a donors' bill of rights, which I think is important. The most significant thing in my professional career has been the acceptance worldwide of a code of ethical practices for fundraisers.
We hear stories about people who are unethical and that is true in any profession. In the case of fundraising, we have a code. Every year I have to sign that when I renew my membership in the Association of Fundraising Professionals. They do not accept my money or my application unless I have signed off on the code of ethics, which I think is a significant change. It is professionalized from that point.
Senator Callbeck: How many members would there be in that association?
Senator Mercer: There are over 30,000 worldwide. They are in countries all over the world, including the first chapter in Africa that was started in Cairo this past year.
Senator Callbeck: How many other countries in the world are celebrating November 15?
Senator Mercer: All members are celebrating. They do not have to be members of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. For example, in Great Britain there is an association with a different name; and Germany and Holland have organizations as well. They all celebrate. The 30,000 members are with the one organization I happen to be a member of; but there are a lot more.
Senator Cordy: Thank you, Senator Mercer, for once again being before us with your bill, which is a great idea to recognize those who give of their time, talents and, of course, money, which is always needed for charitable organizations. Thank you for being persistent and coming back with your bill. Perhaps it is a good omen that you are here today when you are hosting an event tonight to help out the Ottawa Food Bank.
I believe you made reference to the reason for the November 15 date. It did not just come out of the air. The date was selected because it is celebrated around the world. Is that correct?
Senator Mercer: As Senator Champagne noted, so many days were already spoken for and November 15 did not conflict with anything else. As well, for almost all the charities in the Western world, the major giving period is from about November 15 to December 31. It comes at the beginning of the fundraising cycle period. Senator Champagne also mentioned that December 1 is a huge day for fundraising in Quebec.
Senator Cordy: People start thinking about Christmas and about income tax; so it is a good time.
Senator Mercer: That is right.
Senator Seidman: Thank you, Senator Mercer, for the work you are doing; it is admirable indeed.
I am sure you are familiar with Imagine Canada, which is the monitor for the charitable and not-for-profit sector. Earlier this year, they put out a press release in which they said that the charitable and not-for-profit sectors combined — we often forget that the not-for-profit sector is also included — employs more than two million people, representing 11 per cent of the economically active population. It is a staggering number to imagine — 11 per cent. The combined sector represents 7.1 per cent of our country's GDP, which is larger than the automotive and manufacturing industries combined. That is pretty substantial.
I am also thinking about the point raised by Senator Eggleton: The definition of "philanthropy" is not only the gift of money but also the gift of giving. I move now to the volunteerism issue as part of philanthropy and its importance in maintaining so much of what we do and are able to do in many respects in our society.
You are a fine example of volunteerism. As Senator Merchant said, people's time is much more under stress these days. There are young couples who both work. The tradition of volunteerism perhaps is held up a little less as something of enormous importance — that part of giving back to our society.
From your experiences, given your strong tradition as a volunteer, could you tell us a bit about how you think a national philanthropy day and holding up the importance of philanthropy could help in strengthening the tradition of volunteerism? What might you offer as ideas for strengthening volunteerism in our society?
Senator Mercer: None of us at this table are here without the support of volunteers. We all happen to be members of two political parties, both of which rely extremely heavily on thousands and thousands of volunteers to do the work that helps to get 308 people elected across the country. It is very close to us.
However, what I love about National Philanthropy Day is that it is a celebration of the volunteers we do not hear about. For example, I mentioned the young girl in Ottawa and also the two young boys in Nova Scotia who started the pink T-shirt campaign. There are thousands of those little stories.
The other aspect is that humans are pretty social animals. Senator Cordy and I were privileged to sit on the Special Senate Committee on Aging. As we travelled across the country doing our research, we came across a huge number of seniors who are out there volunteering. If the seniors were not volunteering, we would be in deep trouble because they are doing the bulk of the work. We need to help to bring young people along. Some of the cases we saw that were working so well were those where seniors were working with young people and vice versa.
Someone mentioned earlier about young people visiting nursing homes and meeting with seniors and helping them. That is part of philanthropy and the giving process, although there may not be a dollar amount associated with it. In the next 24 days, there will be hundreds of thousands of Canadians who will visit various places where people are shut- ins for different reasons and bring them something, whether it be a simple card, a gift, the gift of music or the gift of laughter. That is all part of the process. Those are things that we can celebrate with a National Philanthropy Day.
Senator Demers: I think it is great. Thank you for doing this. Many people forget that you do not get paid for volunteering. You put a lot of hours in and they tend to forget that. Volunteering shows a lot of character and discipline.
I am being very straightforward and I am not questioning. I have learned more about it by reading and listening to you. In my province, philanthropy is a bunch of millionaires who come together, put money forward and get a tax write-off.
It is such a great cause. Some people are fortunate who work extremely hard to achieve things at a high level. I respect those people, men or women. Would it be possible, when everything is officially said and done here, that there be more of an explanation of what philanthropy is about? When you talk about it, it is not about millionaires; it is about the people who need the help of others who have been very successful.
Senator Mercer: Senator Demers, you are right; but it is not exclusively about those people giving large amounts of money. They are very important; they help finish off a lot of work. The percentage of donations that come from those people is not usually greater than 20 per cent of any major university campaign or hospital campaign. Those major gifts do not make up the bulk of gifts. They are the big ones in the millions of dollars that make the front page of Le Devoir or the Montreal Gazette. Charities could not do what they do without those donations.
The backbone of charitable giving is the people who give $50, $100, $10 or, as Senator Champagne indicated, 50 cents. The 50 cents is important because that person gave something that was so important to them. Not that the $1 million is not important to someone giving $1 million. However, if they were giving $1 million, they could probably afford to give more, one would hope.
This is about celebrating all of those other people, while also recognizing those people who give the significant donations. In all of the National Philanthropy Day celebrations I have attended, there has never once been a celebration only for the big guys. Yes, we acknowledge the big guys and say "thank you," and we seek out leaders because they do need to be thanked and honoured. There are others who have the ability to give who have not given yet, and we want to educate them as well. It is vital, however, that we talk about the people who volunteer and who have given who are not at that same level.
Senator Demers: Thank you.
Senator Merchant: I am just curious to know — you must have some studies — for people that give money, how much out of every dollar given actually goes to the charity? That is not to take anything away anything from these people. You mentioned the pamphlets and employees. How much of each dollar goes to the charity itself?
Senator Mercer: One of the most difficult things in my profession as a fundraiser and an association manager is to determine what we commonly refer to as the cost of fundraising. If you gave me $5,000 today and I gave you $10,000 in two weeks in return, you would say that is a pretty good return. However, if I told you I was doing a direct-mail piece and only raising 50 cents on the dollar, people would criticize the charity for spending 50 cents to raise a dollar. They would not criticize you if you got a dollar back for the 50 cents you invested.
It is also difficult to judge the actual cost of raising the funds. In small charities, the cost of raising funds can be high only because the resources are so small. If you take a university or a hospital, for example, which are larger institutions, costs are usually much lower because you do not necessarily count the same way. The fact that a doctor, a professor or a university president has gone and spoken to a group to raise that money is part of his or her job, but it may not be counted in the cost of fundraising. You may not factor out a tenth of the university president's salary as an actual cost of fundraising. It is difficult.
There are guidelines. The Canada Revenue Agency has worked very closely, and they have been doing this now for at least 10 years. For years, there has been this sort of wall between the Canada Revenue Agency and the people they impose rules on. Now, there are at least two committees that I am aware of that work with the Canada Revenue Agency to talk about what works in the charitable sector and what does not work, simple things like reports that charities need to send to the Canada Revenue Agency. They asked a simple question: "How long does it take you to prepare that and at what cost?" Charities answered that question. Then the person at the Canada Revenue Agency turned around to the agency and said, "What do we do with this material?" They discovered that they really did not do much with the material; they were asking for things they did not use.
They have streamlined the things they ask for, but they are also in the midst of coming out with a whole new assessment of how they will measure this. It is very difficult to say that an arbitrary figure — 10 per cent, 20 per cent or 30 per cent — is too high or too low.
The Chair: Senator Mercer, as we bring this phase of the study of your bill to a conclusion, I would like to use our committee members to thank you on behalf not just of ourselves but also of all Canadians for your perseverance in bringing forward a recognition of this important facet of society. I think I would like to try to pull together some of the pieces that have come up today with regard to the issue of size of donation.
As you have attempted to convince us, that is not the issue; it is that philanthropy be part of our culture. It being so means that citizens are concerned about their fellow citizens and about their society, and it is that aspect that drives them to be able to contribute whatever they can to help better the society they see around them.
I think we should never focus on the size of the donation because, in actual fact, while those individuals who are capable of large contributions make an enormous impact, they are doing so because it is part of their culture and their desire to make a contribution to our society in the same way as it is for all of us.
Therefore, I think it is extremely important to focus on what you have tried to convey to us today, that it is that cultural aspect, that part of our social conscience and social behaviour that wants us all to help make a better society and help those who are in different circumstances to go forward. Perhaps each person can take away with their contribution the feeling that they have helped make society better in that regard. That is the critical issue in the end.
We thank you for your perseverance. You are perfectly welcome to stay through the next phase of this, which I will now draw our committee to.
I will ask the committee, is it agreed that the committee proceed to clause-by-clause consideration of Bill S-201, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Thank you. Shall the title stand postponed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Shall the preamble stand postponed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Shall clause 1 stand postponed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Shall clause 2 carry?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Shall clause 1 carry?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Shall the preamble carry?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Shall the title carry?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Shall the bill carry?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Does the committee wish to consider appending observations to the report?
Senator Champagne: Well, we can say it is about time.
The Chair: Perhaps we can express that. Is it agreed that I report this bill to the Senate?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Thank you, honourable senators. I think we have taken a giant step for a very important effort here. Once again, I acknowledge the role of Senator Mercer. We will attempt to move this through the Senate as expeditiously as possible, and I will so report this afternoon.
(The committee adjourned.)