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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  February 7, 2011 5:00pm-8:00pm EST

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michigan with these investments. we all know that new technologies are always the most expensive, which is why we passed a tax credit of up t to $7,500 on the purchase of a new electric vehicle. my bill makes that work even better for consumers. it turns that credit into a rebate that can be used at the time of purchase so that when you buy a car, you would get up to the $7,500 off at the beginning, at the dealership, rather than waiting until you fill out your tax forms the next year. right now, there's a cap on how many people can take advantage of these credits so my bill would double that so more people can get the savings from these particular exprit credits and be new great vehicles. and right now, when we see gas prices anticipating rising like crazy on through the summer, wouldn't it be great if you had
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an automobile that went 200 or 300 miles on a gallon of gas or maybe didn't need any gas at all? that's what this is really about. the bill also increases investments in battery technology and innovation. we know that by supporting american innovation and manufacturing, we can bring jobs back. in fact, we are bringing jobs back from other countries because of what we have been doing through our investment efforts in the recovery act and we can continue to create jobs in manufacturing here in america. we invested $2 billion in the recovery act towards advanced battery innovation and manufacturing, the kind of batteries that power these electric vehicles. before we made it investment, the united states made 2% of the world's advanced batteries. 2%. in just four years, because of that investment, we will be making 40% of the world's advanced batteries.
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that's a big deal. that's an effective investment. my bill calls for doubling this smart investment and building on the partnerships to create even more jobs. we want to make our country the undisputed leader in advanced battery technology, manufacturing and development. we're on the way to doing that. we need to just keep focused and we will get there. the charging america forward act also extends a tax credit for businesses who purchase hybrid, medium and heavy duty trucks. this will help make those technologies more affordable for our companies and job creators, and in addition to the savings they'll get from better fuel efficiency. the bill extends an important tax credit to support charging stations so we have the infrastructure at our homes, in our garage, or downtown or at our business that's needed to be able to power the electric vehicles.
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mr. president, innovation is the reason america has the strongest economy in the world, even with our challenges. we have always been the leaders. to compete in a 21st century economy, we need a strong, vibrant investment strategy, an economy that looks to the future, not the best. that's what charging mrk forward is all about -- america forward is all about. with the right investments, we can create jobs they'd will last for years -- create jobs today that will last for years and years to come. we are in a race for the future. we need to outcompete our global competitors around the world. we can do that. we will do that if we out innovate, outeducate, and outbuild. and that's what this legislation is about, investing in the future to win that race, investing in advanced vehicles
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so that we can get there. that future that we all want, mr. president. thank you. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that my statement be considered made in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. stabenow: mr. president, i ask that the time used during the quorum call be charged equally to both sides. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. stabenow: and i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: mr. president, in addition to my support for judge saldana and mr. holmes, i rise in support of marco a. hernandez to be u.s. district judge for the district of oregon. this is the third congress to consider mr. hernandez' nomination. president bush nominated judge hernandez to the seat in the 110th congress. unfortunately, his nomination stalled in the judiciary committee, although he had the full support of every republican on the committee. after pending for over five
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months with no action, his nomination at that time was returned to the president. this vacancy has been designated a judicial emergency. therefore, i would have expected his nomination to have been made very early in the 111th congress. however, he was not sent to the senate until july of last year. because of that delayed nomination, the senate was unable to complete action on the nomination in that congress. so, at the close of the 111th congress, the nomination was again returned to the president. mr. hernandez has been rated qualified by the american bar association. he received his b.a. from western oregon state college and his j.d. from the university of washington school of law. after graduating from law school, he served as an attorney for oregon legal services where he represented migrant farm
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workers. he later joined the washington county's district attorney's office as a deputy district attorney. mr. hernandez is a fine nominee under president bush's standards, but also a fine nominee under president obama's standards. so i am pleased that this nomination is finally before the senate. i am, however, disappointed that we have a vacancy that could have been filled over two years ago. with our vote today, the president can fill this judicial emergency seat with a qualified nominee. i ask unanimous consent to put a statement in the record for two other nominees before the senate thank you. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: i rise to support the nomination of judge marco
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hernandez of oregon to the united states district court. judge hernandez is unquestionably qualified to serve on this court. he has built his career through hard work and determination. as a young man, he attended night classes at a low cool community -- local community college before enrolling at oregon state college. he proceeded to get a law degree at the university of washington school of law. as a young man, he picked crops. after he graduated from law school at the university of washington, he returned to oregon to join legal aid services and represent farm workers. he went on to serve as deputy district attorney in washington county and was later appointed to be a state court judge, a position that he has held since 1995. as a state court judge, he established an innovative domestic violence program designed to aggressively pursue
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offenders. he established a new program to assist mentally ill defendants, a program he continues to oversee. judge hernandez was first nominated to the district court by president bush in 2008. although congress did not act on his nomination, he has again been nominated by president obama and has the support of republicans, democrats and organizations representing the spectrum of the legal community. he also has strong support from the hispanic national bar association. and if confirmed would be the first hispanic article 3 judge in the state of oregon. i urge my colleagues to support judge hernandez' confirmation, and i look forward to his contributions based on the depth and breadth of his life experience to the united states district court. thank you, mr. president. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. rockefeller: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. rockefeller: i ask that the order for the quorum be reunderstand is. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rockefeller: i ask that all time be yielded back so we can proceed to our votes. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, all time having been yielded back, the nomination of marco a. hernandez is confirmed and the senate will proceed to vote on the nomination of diana saldana
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to be united states district judge for the southern district of texas. mr. rockefeller: i ask nor the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be a sufficient second. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators who wish to vote or wish to change their vote? hearing none, the yeas are 4, there are no nays. the -- the yeas are 94, there are no nays. the nomination is confirmed. the majority leader. mr. reid: mr. president, we're going to have one more vote tonight. senator mcconnell and i have spoken earlier today. we'll have one or two votes in the morning that will terminate before 11:00. so we have to have a vote around 10:00, 10:15 in the morning, maybe two. on the f.a.a. bill. mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the question -- the senator from vermont.
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[inaudible] mr. leahy: i request two minutes equally divided on the arkansas vote and i'd yield my time to the distinguished senator from arkansas. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. pryor: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. pryor: mr. president? mr. president, i rise today to support the nomination of paul holmes. in arkansas we call him p.k. holmes. he's -- a senator: may we have order. a senator: order. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. pryor: mr. president, i rise today in support of paul holmes, or as we call him in arkansas, p.k. holmes, for the district courtship in western arkansas. a lot of times when you stand up here at this moment in a nomination, it's like making a closing argument. but in this particular case, there is no argument.
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everybody is for him. the american bar association, democrats, republicans, plaintiffs, defendants. everybody in arkansas is for him. a senator: mr. president, the senate is not in order. we can't hear the gentleman. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. a senator: he's been the western district u.s. attorney, he's a partner in warner, smith and harris. p.k. holmes has an outstanding record, an outstanding reputation. and he likes to talk about the fact that he has a small town general practice and that's true, he's handled a little bit of everything. he's always done it with integrity. he has an outstanding reputation in arkansas as a lawyer and great member of the community. prior priomr. pryor: i would hoy colleagues would support this nomination. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: all time is -- if all time is yielded back, the question occurs on the nomination of paul kinloch holmes to be united states district judge -- is there a sufficient second? there is. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators who wish to vote or change their vote? if not, the yeas are 95. no nays. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider are considered made and laid upon the table. the president shall be immediately notified about the senate's action and the senate
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shall resume legislative session. the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: mr. president. mr. president, i first ask unanimous consent is that ashley wadell, david karim and brian boroughs of my staff be granted floor privileges during today's proceedings. proeups without objection. mr. harkin: -- the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: last december i came to the floor to talk about an investigation into online for-profit colleges and universities. an investigation has been going on for almost a year and it's an investigation with profound
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consequences for the taxpayers of this country. for-profit colleges, mostly on line, receive more than $26 billion in federal student aid each year. while some of these schools may be doing a good job, taxpayers deserve to know that their education dollars are being well spent. it is also an investigation with profound consequences for students. according to data released last week by the department of education, 25% of for-profit college student loan borrowers default within three years of leaving school. let me repeat that. one out of every four student loan borrowers that go to these for-profit schools default within three years of leaving school. for-profit colleges have correctly pointed out that they educate a disproportionate number of low-income and minority students and they argue that if they weren't doing a good job, students would not
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continue to enroll. how then is it possible that schools with very high rates of withdrawal, high rates of loan debt and high rates of default continue to enroll more and more students each year? the answer, according to my committee's investigation, lies in the enormous expenditure of money and effort that the for-profit colleges put into their recruitment process. there have been many stories about abusive recruitment practices in newspaper and television programs across the country. last august the government accountability office documented many of those abuseness undercover videos at a committee hearing. the industry argued these misleading and deceptive practices were the work of a few rogue actors. but the overwhelming evidence of
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misleading, deceptive and even fraudulent conduct documented by g.a.o. cannot be attributed to anything but a systemic effort to enroll students at any cost. for anyone who questions that this is a systemic effort to pressure, deceive and mislead, i want to take a few minutes this evening to explore the details of the training practices that led directly to the g.a.o. findings. i hope that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the capitol find this a useful window into the training tactics used by these companies. one of the most common words in the proprietary school industry's recruiting documents is the word "pain." pain. it's not the first word that might come to someone's mind when they think about enrolling in college. but when you might think of your
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son or your daughter enrolling in college, you wouldn't think of pain as the first word. however, perhaps nothing worthwhile was ever accomplished without effort, so you might be thinking that schools are talking about preparing students for the hard work and the pain of excelling in college. the reality is quite the opposite. proprietary higher education companies want to make college seem easy. the reason they're focusing on pain is to try to get students to enroll. let me go on with this. consider this quote from a memo written by a director of recruitment at a campus of i.t.t., one of the largest of the for-profit schools. after falling short of the required quota of starts -- put that in quotation. after falling short of the
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required quota of "starts" that's the industry term for new students, the recruiter writes: "the department needs to focus on the selling of the appointment by digging in and getting to the pain of each and every prospective student. by getting to the pain, the representatives will be able to solidify the appointments and have a better show rate for the actual conducts." another example from an i.t.t. document about what recruiters should do to keep students in class -- and i'm tpraoegd one -- i'm reading from one which i will put in the record. it says, "remind them -- remind them of what things will be like if they don't continue forward and earn their degrees.
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poke the pain a bit. poke the pain a bit and remind them who else is depending on them and their commitment to a better future. poke the pain." in their training, i.t.t. went beyond rhetoric and created what they call a pain fund. it's probably hard to see it on this piece of paper. i'll try to get this inserted in the record, but it is a picture of a funnel. it's called the pain funnel and pain puzzle. it illustrates four levels of pain with questions that are supposed to get progressively more hurtful to the student, the prospective student. level one starts off with questions like: tell me more about that. can you be more specific? how long has it been a problem? level two: what have you tried
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to do about that? what have you done to fix it? level three pain, level three pain: how do you feel about that? then it gets down to level four, the recruiters asking questions like: have you given up trying to deal with the problem? a different document from i.t.t. goes to the same levels of pain. the level four question is once again: what are you willing to change now? or have you given up trying to deal with the problem? the problem. what's the problem? the problem is this young person is out of work. they have no future. they probably have a high school degree, maybe a "d" average high school, "c" average at the most. they've answered an ad. the recruiter's talking to them, and they're stoking the pain. the last thing, they say, okay, what are you willing to do to change it or are you just going
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to give up on it? well, that's a question i'd like to ask the executives who believe that preying on past failures is a sound method for enrolling students or a reasonable way to run a college. according to the department of education, 30% of student loan borrowers at i.t.t. -- the one i just quoted -- default within three years of leaving school. and most before they get any kind of a degree. they're there for a few weeks, maybe a few months. but get this, when they drop out and when they default, i.t.t. keeps the money. i.t.t. keeps the money. kaplan university also encourages its recruiters to focus on pain and fear. in a page from a manual dated july 8 of 2009, side notes about advisor caller control and maintaining rapport with the
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prospect. the document is similar to i.t. it's with questions to uncover the pain and the fear. uncover the pain and the fear. it at the bottom in big capital letters -- at the bottom in big capital letters, "it's all about uncovering their pain and fears" -- underline. "once they're reminded of how bad things are, this will create a sense of urgency to make this change." 16 pages of sales tactics. later the recruit certificate taught to "restate back word for word the better you restate the dream." another kaplan document says, keep digging until you uncover their pains and their fears." "keep digging until you uncover their pain, their fears, their dreams." "if you get the prospect to
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think about how tough their situation is right niewndz if they discuss the life they can't give their family because dhee have a degree, you will dramatically increase your chances of gaining a commitment from the student." quote -- "get to their emotions and you will create the urgenc urgency." "get to their meigss and you will create the urgency." is that the way we ought to be enticing young a people to go to school? stoke the pain, stoke the fear? and again, according to the department of education, 30% of student loan borrowers at kaplan dwawt within three years of leaving school and, guess what? kaplan keeps the money. let me cite just one more example. correspondent ridgeian colleges. they are taught to teach students that their lives are bad and can be improved only by enrolling at the school. mr. shayler white testified
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against exstudents. "the ultimate goal was to make prospective students wallow in their grief, feel that paven having accomplished nothing in life and then use that pain to pressure them to enroll. i focused on the blatant exploitation of pain to demonstrate the terrible sin tism that pervades these -- the terrible cynicism that pervades these recruiting companies. but they are also rife with misrepresentations. from a brochure for ashford university it says it's established in 1919." i'm sorry. established in 1918. quote -- "traditional four-year campus with sports teams, dormitories, regionally accredited since 1950. what it means to you is that your degree will be recognized both professionally and academically." that's from bridgepoint. ashford, university. what it doesn't till is that up until 2005, ashford was a small
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religious school with 350 students. they were purchased by bridgepoint, renamed "ashford." 350 students in -- the end of 2005. today they have 70,000 students. 70,000 online students. with astronomical dropout rates. 67% of bridgepoint is owned by investment bank and private equity fund warbur g pinkus. a private equity firm owns bridgbridgepoint. you can go to the school, a great campus and all that but you are going to school online. now they have 70,000 students. according to the department of education, 21% of student loan borrowers at ashford's parent company bridgepoint default within three years of leaving school. that's a 17% increase in just
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one year. the "help" committee has heard testimony from expert experts in counseling. this testimony details the detrimental effects that such overly aggressive and misleading recruitment can have on the lives of students. when students are enrolled through deception or fear, they are less prepared to meet the challenges of college. rather than offering students a better life, these types of strong-arm, emotional a busive tactics are all too typical of schools that have little or no interest in providing the students of academic help and the support they need to succeed, for the students to succeed. perhaps the attitude of these schools towards students is best exposed in a document provided by vatterott, a privately held for-profit school. under the heading of "emotion,"
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it notes, "we deal with people that live in the moment and for the moment. that's who they're going after. "their decision is start, stay in school, or quit school is based more on emotion than logic. pang is the greater motivator in the short term." think about the schools that you're familiar with in your own states, your private nonprofit schools, some religious-based, then your public schools and your universities. are they recruiting students like this? you won't find this in any of theirs. they're not going after pain and fear. they're going after students to help and support them when they go through school, so that they can have a better life. we will, if this is the attitude -- well, if this is the attitude, if this is the attitude, to stoke the fear, to stoke the pain, if that's the
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attitude of these for-profit colleges, what does it say about its students' chances for success? is it any wonder that outcomes are appalling, defaults are skyrocketing, accounting for nearly 47% of all student defaults? once again, i have to point out, the for-profit schools enroll about 10% of higher education students in america. but they account for 47% of the defaults. 10% of the students, 47% of the defaults. mr. president, the bottom line finding of my committee's investigation is that, number one, these schools are very expensive; number two, they are exploitative; number three, these documents show they are focused on their own success, paying their shareholders if they're publicly held or paying back their equity investors if they're equity-owned; they're not focused on the success of their students.
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mr. president, the bottom line is, what we are confronting here today with this tremendous explosion in for-profit schools, this tremendous explosion in their enrollment of students, as i said ashford 2005, 350 stiewrchtses, today 70,000 students. the tremendous churning of students that's going on every year. this has a striking resemblance to the subprime crisis that confronted america. a striking resemblance to the subprime crisis. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the documents i referred to be printed at the appropriate place in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. rockefeller: mr. president? the presiding officer: it is
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my pleasure to recognize the senator from best virginia. mr. rockefeller: i ask unanimous consent that at the 10:20 a.m. the senate proceed to consideration of the pending nelson of florida amendment, that being number 34; that there be ten minutes of debate equally divided between senator nelson of florida and senator hutchison or their designees; that upon the use or yielding back of time, the senate proceed to a vote in relation to the amendment, with no intervening action or debate; that there be no amendments, motions, or points of order to the amendment prior to the vote, and that the the motion to reconsider be laid on the table. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. rockefeller: yes, from me. yes, it's 10:20 on tuesday. i ask unanimous consent that at 10:20 on tuesday, february 8, the senate proceed and then the rest is --
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the presiding officer: is there objection? hearing no objection, it is so ordered. mr. rockefeller: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to enter into a colloquy with my colleague, the senator from south carolina, senator graham. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: i thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i come today to the senate floor as a physician who's practiced medicine in wyoming for a quarter of a century, taken care of the families of wyoming and to do what i've done throughout the past year, provide a doctor's second opinion on this health care law that people across the crun now coming to grips with, as they finally are realizing what's in the bill or as the
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speaker of the house, nancy pelosi has once said -- former speaker of the house, mr. president, said, "first you have to pass it before you get to find out what's in it." people are finding out what's in it and people all across the crun not happy. they -- you know what the people of america want. i know what the people of wyoming want in terms of health care. they want the care they need from the doctor they want at a cost they can afford. and that was a goal that many of us had over a year ago when we started this discussion and debate on the senate floor. and what ultimately got passed -- and many people believe crammed down the throats of the american people -- was now a health care law where people are at risk of losing what they want and what they had and the promises made by the president are such that they've turned to be in many ways unfulfilled. the president sthaid would actually drive down the cost of care, the health care law, that insurance rates would go down $2,500 per family and what
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people have seen all across the country is the cost of their health insurance rates going up instead of down. the president said if you like the care that you have, you can keep t now we know that a majority of people who get their health insurance through their work are not going to be able to keep the coverage that they have liked. so i come to the floor with my colleague, senator graham, because we're introducing a bill, senate 2 had 44, the state health care choice act, which allows states to make a decision to say, is this something that we want in our state? and i know i've turned to my colleague from south carolina before getting into the specifics of this. i know you visited with your governor about the concerns that your governor has, newly elected governor, who had concerns and actually addressed those concerns with the president about the health care law and the mandates on the people of south carolina. so i'd ask my friend and colleague, are there things that
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we as a body ought to be considering to make life earlier for the people of your home state of south carried and i could talk of things about wyoming as we will. mr. graham: yes, if i may respooned to my colleague. number one, to senator barrasso, you have been a great addition to the republican caucus but to the senate as a whole. you are a doctor. you have been practicing medicine longer thawfn been in plirks i'm sure. and you see this problem from a physician's point of view, from the patient's point of view, and our presiding officer, recently a governor. here is what my governor is telling me, that medicaid is a program that needs to be reformed, not expanded the way we're doing it. the second-largest expense to the state budget in south exearl is medicaid matching money. for those that are home and may be ratching, medicaid is a program who are lowe low-income americans. it is a federal program and a state program. but it is a federal government mandate that if you reach a certain income level, you're
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eligible for medicaid services to be administered by the states. but quite frankly, the flexibility that the states have is very limited and this bill, the become health care bill, expands medicaid eligibility to the point that 29% of the people in south carolina would be medicaid-eligible. our state has an $850 million shortfall in our budget. i think wyoming is in pretty good shaivment but i think we're probably closer to the average state. we've had a dramatically decrease in revenues, and the cost of complying with the medicaid expansion in this bill would be $1 billion to a state that can't afford it. i'm sure west virginia is very similar. so here's my commitment to the body: i would like to give the states an opportunity to speak as to whether or not they want the individual mandate, the medicaid expansion and employer mandate that i think adds a lot of cost to business that would decrease job students at a time when south carolina needs every job it can get.
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but one thing we could do by passing this legislation is get this debate out of washington where everybody has kind of dug their heels in and listen to the 350e78. that's the one thing we haven't been able to do. this bill passed under the cover of darkness on christmas eve in a process that is not reflective of the hope and change we all would like to have. it was the worst of washington. it's not like the republican party has never done behind-closed-doors passing bills on a party line. but we're all trying to break that formula and this bill passed 0en a party-line vote on christmas eve to get the 60 votes quite frankly, was unseemly. so what i'm hearing from my governor is, please give me some relief from a medicaid program that's drowning my state, so after this opportunity comes to take the debate to the state level, i'd like to join with senator brar so and the plfer and anyone else in this body who wants to come up with a way to
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fix medicaid before it bankrupts all states. so this opt-out approach, i think, would make the debate more meaningful. it's not just about what people in washington think. it's about what america wants. and what americans think and the best way to get their opinion is to allow them to speak at the state level. so to my colleagues on the other side, if you believe this is a great bill, then give other people a chance to validate what you think. we may be wrong. senator barrasso and i may be wrong. we may be hearing criticism from this bill that's very limited, unique to wyoming and south carolina. i don't think so but we'll never know until we give the chance to people to speak, and that's what this bill does, it allows states, if they choose, to opt out of the individual mandate, the employer man dade, and med -- mandate, and medicaid expansion. so to my colleague from wyoming, what are you hearing about the
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effect of this bill on the state of wyoming and where do you think we should go as a nation? mr. barrasso: well, the people of wyoming overwhelmingly want an opportunity to -- to remove themselves from the heavy burden of the obama-passed supported health care law. huge expenses. the medicaid mandate is huge. the expenses -- mr. graham: if i could interrupt, waivers have been given, what -- can you tell us a little bit about the waivers that have been granted and -- and aren't we basically allowing a state to request a waiver by our bill? could you comment on that? mr. barrasso: well, we are doing exactly that, i say to my colleague from south carolina. you know, as of last week, the secretary of health and human services has given just last week 500 new waivers to allow individuals through -- who get their insurance through work, and now a total of 729 waivers affecting 2.2 million people, to
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opt out, individually to opt out of several -- of the specific requirement. i think and states ought to have the right to make decisions about the medicaid mandate, about the individual mandate that requires everyone to buy government-approved health insurance. the mandate that the congress is telling people they have to buy government-approved health insurance. i think it's unconstitutional. the supreme court will ultimately decide. and they're -- they get -- people get penalized. there are going to be i.r.s. agents checking to make sure people have bought this government mandated and government-approved health insurance. i think people ought to be able to -- the state ought to decide if they're going to make every employer in the state, the business creators, the -- the people that hire people, the small businesses, the job creators, i think a state ought to have a right to make a decision to say are we going to make those individuals, force them to provide
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government-approved health insurance? it's a big cost for businesses who are trying to hire people. and i think states ought to be able to opt out of the benefit mandate which defines how much insurance somebody has to have. and in many cases, it's overinsurance, more than they need, more than they want, more than they can afford. mr. graham: what percentage of the waivers have involved union plans? mr. barrasso: well, of the 2.2 million people in have gotten waivers by the secretary of health and human services -- and as i say, you need to have friends in high places if you want a waiver, because i know the small business owners in my state and probably in your state as well couldn't just get to the secretary of health and human services to get these waivers -- but 860,000 waivers have gone to members of 166 different unions, benefit unions, unions' benefit programs. and it's interesting, because
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cross the country, unions have received 40% of the waivers but yet union members only -- are only 7% of the work force. so it seems a disproportionate number of these waivers have been given to members of the unions. and the thing that i find so intriguing is that these are the same people from the same unions that lobbied so hard to get this health care law passed. well, now that they know what's in it, they don't want it to apply to them. and that, mr. president, is -- is a concern that i think the american people say well, if all these different union members can get away with it, why can't i, why can't the state get -- why can't states be able to opt out as well? a state -- in a national poll last friday, friday, february 4, the majority of americans say that states ought to have the right to opt out of the health care law.
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you know, a majority of americans believe that -- that their state ought to have a right to opt out. we now know that seven states -- arizona, georgia, idaho, louisiana, missouri, oklahoma, and virginia -- have already passed laws or constitutional amendments making it illegal to force anyone to buy health insurance. they -- their state legislatures -- i mean, to me, that's how i'm reading it, they say we're going to opt out whether or not this law passes or not. mr. graham: so to my colleague, mr. president, if i could pose a question, how many states have join the lawsuit saying the individual mandate is unconstitutional, if you know that number? and you've just indicated that how many states have passed state laws saying we shouldn't be required to comply with the individual mandate? mr. barrasso: seven states have already passed laws or constitutional amendments making it illegal to force someone to buy health insurance. mr. graham: do you know how many states have joined the lawsuit?
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mr. barrasso: 26 states have joined the lawsuit, including my home state of wyoming, which recently joined. you know, new governors have been elected and swarn into office in -- sworn into office in january and so there are five new that have joined the lawsuit saying that law isn't constitutional. the people from congress shouldn't be able to go into your home and make you buy a government-approved product if you don't want to buy it. and would there -- there have been rulings, and your back ground superior to mine in th the -- in the legal field of the -- of the courts, but it sure sounds to me like rulings from virginia and florida uphold my firm beliefs that congress can't make people buy products. mr. graham: well, if i may, i think you're going to find this case going to the supreme court in a year or two, the sooner the better, as far as i'm concerned. i don't know how the court will rule but i can understand why attorney generals would be arguing that requiring someone to do something, to creativity is probably a real stretch of
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the commerce clause. where does it end? so there's two sides to that legal coin. but my point is, i doubt if the attorney generals of these states, who are most elected -- i'm sure yo all of them are elected, would bring a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality if they believe their constituents were really for the bill. does that make sense to you, that 26 attorney generals would be suing the federal government in court if they believed their own citizens felt like this was the right way to go? mr. barrasso: well, i think that the attorney general -- the attorneys general are making decisions based on what they believe is in the best interests of the citizens of their state and are saying, people of our state have -- have rights and -- and we have a constitution and that constitution should trump the 2,700-page health care law. mr. graham: and if i could make this point to my colleague. no judge is going to ask the
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average person what they think nor should they. this is a legal question, and i really don't know how it's going to come out. you know, i think it's probably 50-50. but what we're doing different, to my friend from wyoming, is that we're not saying you need to pass it all from washington or repeal it all from washington. we're saying, allow people to comment on the product that was created on a party-line vote on christmas eve, in an unseemly fashion by allowing people at the state level, through their elected representative, to have a say. that's different than a court challenge. that's different than a washington debate. and, quite frankly, if you're going to turn one-fifth of the economy upside-down, i think it would be very help fowl this -- very helpful to this country to involve our fellow citizens. this will be a constitutional academic decision made on the law. what we're trying to do, to my good friend wyoming, is toic t o take the debate on health care
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to the state sloafl the people can speak up before -- state level so the people can speak up before we lock the country into a plan that i think is going to ruin the viability of the states' budgets by expanding medicaid to 150% above poverty. and is that not the purpose, is to get people to speak, a chance they've never had to this point? mr. barrasso: well, what do people want, what do states want? flexibility, freedom, and choicement flexibility, freedom, and -- choice. flexibility, freedom and choice. you know that's what the people of wyoming want. rugged individuals, we want flexibility, freedom and choice. and i think every state ought to have that opportunity to make that decision, and that's why this bill is on the floor of the senate. now, last week i did vote to repeal the entire obama health care law because i think it's bad for patients, i think it's bad for providers -- the nurses and the doctors that take care of those patients -- and i think it's -- it's bad for the taxpayers. i think it's going to bankrupt the nation.
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what is now happening is it's also bankrupting the states and governors having to deal with this medicare -- i'm sorry, medicaid mandate are realizing that to -- to -- to listen to washington, they're going to have to take money away from education, they're going to have to take money away from public services, and they ought to have a right to make a decision at the state level as to what they want to do. what laws ought to apply. one size doesn't fit all. one size does not fit all, mr. chairman -- mr. president. and i know what works is wyoming and it's not necessarily what works in south carolina or west virginia and certainly not works in california or new york. and that's why states ought to make a decision about ways to help people in their own state get the care they need, from the doctors they want at prices they can afford. this -- this massive health care law does not accomplish that. mr. graham graham: one final qu, and di i do appreciate the chais indulge. the whole idea --
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chair's indulgence. the whole idea of the status quo is not what we're talking about. none of us believe that the current health care situation is sustainable. medicare and medicaid need to be reformed but so does private health care cost increases. there are monopolies out there by insurance companies. be able to buy across state lines makes a lot of sense to me. so briefly if you could, what do you see -- i mean, i want to repeal the bill, not just to maintain the status quo but to replace it with a bipartisan product that really does improve quality and lowers cost. is that your position, and how can we do that? mr. barrasso: well, there are things we absolutely must do to make it ease ier and cheaper for people to -- easier and cheaper for tomorrow pooh goat health care they need from the -- cheaper for people to get health care they need, from doctors they want at a price they can afford. make it cheaper for people to buy insurance across state lines. can't do that right now in this country. this itself, stud studies show,
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would result in over 10 million americans today who don't have insurance get insurance. most people get their insurance through work for the simple reason that it's -- it's a tax deduction to the company that they get their insurance through. but if they buy insurance personally, individually, they have to pay taxes that money before they pay for the insurance. so i think people who end up buying their health insurance individually ought to get the same tax benefits that those who get it through work. and that would make a big difference, bring down the specific cost to those folks. and i think we need to have incentives in this that help people actual stay healthy. -- actually stay healthy. i ran a program in wyoming as a volunteer called the wyoming health fairs, bringing low-cost health screenings to people. i did health reports on television called "helping you care for yourself," giving people information they could use to stay healthy. this health care law has money in it aimed at prevention but it basically has money for jungle
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gyms and street lamps and pathways but nothing to actually -- nothing, actually no incentive for snob get up and exercise and get their -- somebody to get up and exercise and get their weight under control, their blood pressure under control, et cetera. and i think you have to do something about lawsuit abuse, which requires doctors to offer tests and things, but that significantly adds to the cost of care. and to the billions and billions of dollars every year. mr. graham: well, on that note, i would just say to the president and to my friend from wyoming, there seems to be a lot of ways to lower cost and the status quo is not acceptable but the solution we have chose then in a very partisan way i think is going to drive up the budget deficit, is going to eventually lead to more people being in government-run health care at a time when the government is broke and is, quite frankly, going to take the state budget problems and make them unsustainable just by expanding medicaid. and our bill is pretty simple. if you think this is a very good
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idea, let's it be tested by your fellow citizens through an opt-out provision. if you think this is a bill that most people would opt out of, on our side, give them a chance. the lawsuit is important but this is a decision the nation needs to make and the lawsuit is one way to approach this. but the best way to come up with health care solutions i think is not going to court but to have the congress and the states and the people of america work together in a partnership. and that's what we have not been able to achieve, a partnership where we listen to the states and to the people and from their input we pass laws. in a bipartisan fashion. that is what i hope will happen. mr. barrasso: and that's why today we come to the floor to discuss s. 244. the state is "state health care choice act." that's what it really is, state,
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health care and choice. a choice to be made by the states about health care, because if the american people want anything, it's flexibility, freedom, and choice. mr. graham: mr. president, thank you for the time. and to my colleague, i enjoyed the discussion. to be continued and i will yield the floor. mr. barrasso: thank you.
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the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. manchin: i ask unanimous consent that the "help" committee be discharged from further consideration of s. 248 and the bill be referred to the committee on finance. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. manchin: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. on tuesday, february the 8th. following the prayer and pledge, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the morning hour be deemed expired, the time for the two leaders be reserved until later in the day, and the following -- that following any leader remarks the senate resume
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consideration of s. 223, the federal aviation administration authorization bill as provided for under the previous order. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. manchin: mr. president, senators should expect a roll call vote at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in relation to the nelson, the senator from florida, amendment 34 to the f.a.a. authorization bill. that will be the only vote of the day. if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it adjourn under the previous order. the presiding officer: the the presiding officer: the
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>> during a state department briefing today tapas included the successful conclusion of the independence referendum in
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southern sudan. spokesman t.j. crowley announced the u.s. had begun the process of removing sudan from the state sponsors of terror list. we will also hear about talks in egypt. this is about 50 minutes. >> is everyone happy with the packers? good afternoon and welcome to the department of state. a few things to mention before taking your questions. the united states congratulates the government of sudan for the announcement of the southern sudan referendum results. as secretary clinton said in a statement that we just release we congratulate the northern and southern leaders for facilitating a peaceful and orderly vote and now that the people of southern sudan have made this compelling statement we commend the government for accepting its outcome and we
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look forward to working with southern leaders as they undertake a tremendous amount of work to prepare for independence in july and ensure the creation of two viable states living side-by-side in peace. >> just on that -- when does the the -- do you wait until july before you recognize the country or do you do that now? >> that is a very good question. i think they actually have to you know -- i think it would be july would be my guess. if that is wrong i will let you know but i think now there is a process that leads to a formal step of independence. i would suspect that they would petition to be recognized by the united nations and at that point we would recognize them. >> and just one other thing on sudan. there are apparently 282,000 southern sudanese who are stuck in the north. do you know anything about that? >> this is something we anticipated as part of the process that citizenship issues
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could become a part. we have had discussions between north and south over how to resolve these kinds of issues and i think we will be working with both sides. as we laid out in our plan, there will be extensive post-referendum work done. citizenship is one of those issues. >> i am talking about -- meaning physically stuck, like unable to get back to the south, not an issue of passport. >> i don't know that we are aware and i don't think we are surprised. >> p.j. also on sudan, there have been suggestions that at the african union summit there was a proposal that bashir be given a one-year reprieve on the icc staff. that is actually not true. our delegation in addis ababa led by deputy secretary feinberg had no such discussion. >> p.j. the same subject, the statement says that the u.s. is initiating the process of taking sudan off the terrorist list.
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is that something happening today or is that just sort of an active tense sort of thing? >> now that the referendum results are final and now that it is clear that the government of sudan has recognized those results, we will begin the process of removing sudan from the state sponsor of terrorism list with the obvious qualification that sudan has to meet the criteria under law before that action could be taken. so we will begin the process now that the referendum results are final. >> just one thing on that. i just guess i don't understand what recognizing their robes -- results of an election has to do with not sponsoring terrorism. >> in fact under the law there are particular stipulations about --. >> why is this a particular trigger for the review? i mean, shouldn't they be taken off the list on their own merit?
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i mean regardless of whether they recognize the result of an election are not? >> in our dialogue with the government of sudan where sudan has made clear it wants more normal relations with the united states, this is one of the issues that is an issue between our two countries. and we have indicated that going forward we are willing to work to resolve this with the caveat again that there are particular legal requirements that have to be satisfied before this action can be taken. moving on, the deputy secretary of state, knives is visiting iraq this week to discuss transition issues and the future of the u.s. iraqi partnership under the auspices of the strategic framework agreement. he will meet a series of leaders this week led by foreign minister zebari. just a couple of quick travel announcements. under secretary for democracy and global affairs maria or taro
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will travel to southern india and to delhi later this week. she will desk that -- discuss bilateral coordination on global issues, visit tibetan refugee settlements, explore cooperation to strengthen election organizations in third countries and consult on regional disaster management. and assistant secretary for political military affairs, andrew schapiro will be in india this week. he will be accompanying commerce secretary gary locke and he will build on the achievements of president obama's november trip. the united states is seeking to increase significantly the volume and technical sophistication of u.s. defense sales to india. and finally since you have been tracking the flow of u.s. citizens from egypt, we had one flight over the weekend. and at this point it is our assessment that those americans, either official or private, who felt the need to -- or are part
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of the ordered departure have in fact left egypt. at this point, we are reducing our consular activity at the airport. american citizens that wish to travel to or travel from egypt now, we believe there are sufficient commercial opportunities for them to do that. >> just on that last point. the uss secure sarge had moved into the red sea and there was some discussion that it was for the purpose of evacuating americans from the embassy or had something to do with with the state department evacuation efforts. is that not the case? >> actually i believe we routinely have ships on station in the region. there are a friday of challenges in the region at this point, whether it is gehman or somalia or egypt or other things. it is in the red sea i believe, but it has not been placed there at the request of the state
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department. >> without repeating the well-worn talking points which i'm sure you would love to do, without repeating them though, about orderly transition etc. etc., free elections, does the administration believe that labarga's departure at this point would be unhelpful and might complicate the reforms? >> well, we believe they should be an orderly transition. hang on that. and to place what role in that transition is up to the people of egypt. >> i'm asking if are you recognizing you are not telling the egyptians is the administration's view that his hasty departure could actually complicate matters? >> again, we are not focused on personalities.
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and i'm trying to answer your question. there are things that have to be done to get to a free and fair credible and competitive election. there is more than one path to get there. there is plenty of room in this process process for a friday of players. we want to have an inclusive process. the role that president mubarak plays in the role that others play in this those are decisions to be made inside of each of. >> i'm not asking what role he should play. i am not asking that at all and i'm not suggesting that this has anything to do with broad inclusive dialogue. i am just asking if the administration itself thinks that a hasty departure by mubarak would complicate things? >> i know you are focused on president mubarak. no, no, but let me move beyond president mubarak for a second. >> let me attempt to be
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responsive to your answer. >> from what i've gotten so far i'm not sure that is possible. [laughing] >> thank you so much. if resident mubarak step down today under the existing constitution as i understand it, there would have to be an election within 60 days. a question that would pose is whether egypt today is prepared to have a competitive, open election, given the recent past where quite honestly elections were less than free and fair. so there is a lot of work that has to be done to get to a point way you can have free and fair elections, whether the focus is the parliament or the focus is the presidency. there is a clear opportunity here. we want to have egypt take advantage of this opportunity. it is why we are encouraging a rod, serious set of discussions. and there is clearly commitments
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that have been advanced in the last 24 hours by the government of egypt. it will be up to the egyptian people and those who are in tahrir square and others to determine whether those commitments translate into real actions and whether that process is credible. again, what role president mubarak plays in this is up to him and up to the people of egypt. >> okay if you say that weiss is so so hard for you to say that yes you think it would confiscate things? do you think you would be ready if mubarak stepped down today? could egypt he ready for a free and fair and credible election in 60 days? >> i think that would be a challenging undertaking. >> okay so why is it that difficult to get that out of you? you should have said that for the first answer. >> alright, go ahead. >> could you tell us where resident mubarak is? >> it's entirely possible the embassy knows where he is. i did not. >> p.j. could you talk about ambassador wiesner, to clarify
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his role. because there is a lot out there today about exactly what he is trying to do. but something pretty simple if the conflict of interest charges that he works for patton boggs, a company which represents the egyptian government. so in other words the person who is representing the united states is actually working for a law firm that represents egypt. and is that not a conflict of interest? >> well, but you tackle that in two blocks. first, frank wisner made some comments on saturday to the munich conference. he did so as a private citizen and those views are his own and they do not reflect the views of the united states government. in terms of what he did last week, you know he is a private citizen. he gave generously of his time. we asked him to undertake a onetime mission. and during the course of that
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mission, he delivered a blunt in candid private message. and we feel he was uniquely positioned to deliver this message and have it heard by president mubarak. when he came back, he briefed the secretary on his discussions in egypt. at that point, his mission was completed. >> p.j. do you know if he was the lobbyist at the time when you had dispatched him? >> we are aware of his employer. by the same token we are aware he is a distinguished diplomat, former ambassador to egypt and we felt that he was uniquely positioned to have the kind of conversation that we felt needed to be done in egypt. >> when you say you were aware of his employer, you mean patton boggs, right? >> so you think that perhaps, could i adjust follow-up please? you didn't feel that perhaps this confident interest could discolor his position? >> again i have given you the
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answer i'm going to give you. >> you say you were aware of his employer. and when you say that we sent him over, is we, the senate -- state department or the white house specifically? >> i mean the united states government did. everything we are doing in the context of egypt we do as an interagency. so the united states government dispatched him and asked him to go and he did what we asked them to do. >> and then back on his comments that he made as a private citizen do you think those comments were helpful? >> again they are his own comments and they don't reflect the views of the united states government. >> you say they don't reflect the views of the administration but in answer to my question, finally, they seem pretty close to the administration's view. wisner told a conference that mubarak was critical to the transition process and that he shouldn't step down, that if he stepped down it would be right now automatic. hees cited the same
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constitutional concerns that you just did. you said that it would be challenging. you said an election in 60 days would be challenging. >> that is a church statement. >> exactly but it does seem that wisner does reflect the views. maybe you are not so whole hog supportive of mubarak and you wouldn't consider him utterly critical but you certainly think his departure would be a problem. >> again you are focused on personalities. we are focused on an orderly transition and the process of making commitments, translating those commitments into specific actions, opening of egypt for an open political dialogue -- open political process, and the end result being a free and fair election. there is a lot of work to be done to get from where we are today to what we support for the people of egypt. >> p.j. on the process issue president obama said this morning that he believed they
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were making progress in these transition talks. i am wondering if you share that view, what evidence the u.s. has that there is progress being made given that the opposition seem to come away saying nothing had been achieved. >> there are discussions underway and the last night for example vice presidents to le monde put forward at the end of a particular meeting some commitments that can be part of this process. the egyptian government needs to translate those commitments into specific actions and it still has to find ways to make these meetings and these discussions more broadly representative. there is an expanding group of distinguished people that are included in this process but there are also some people who either have not been invited in or have chosen to keep the process at arms length.
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at the end of this it will be the egyptian people who judge whether this is a credible process and that fulfills their aspirations. we believe the broader the process the more inclusive the process, the more likely the results will be an open political campaign and free and fair elections. >> have you had any contact with the ones who were involved in the talks are once award and what kind of feedback are they giving? >> again, every day from the embassy starting with ambassador scobee on out we are having active outreach to a variety of players within egyptian society. i don't want to get into a discussion on any given day as to -- today we talked to this person then yesterday we talked about person. this is a broad outreach and we are encouraging them to test of this process and make sure it delivers for the benefit of the egyptian people.
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>> p.j., will the egyptians be able to conduct free and fair elections of president mubarak and his regime stay in power? >> again, the egyptian people will be the judge of the process and then who plays a role in this process. there is a great opportunity here for the egyptian people. they are standing up and demanding more of their government. to get to that point they need a government that broadly represent a cross-section of the egyptian society. they need to seize this opportunity. how they do that is truly up to them. there is not one way to accomplish this. >> p.j. when you set a blunt in candid message, what was that message? and isn't there anybody in this building who could deliver it pretty adequately as opposed to mr. wisner? >> jill, we are going to keep the messages that we have provided to president mubarak and others, we'll keep private. >> were you pleased with the message that he delivered?
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i mean was the administration happy with the message in the way he delivered a? >> he delivered the message that we asked them to deliver. >> you mentioned the meeting that suleiman had. who did he meet with? where they u.s. officials, locals? who were they? >> the meetings were with various opposition figures, the elders. >> are you speaking for suleiman? >> i am not. i'm not aware there was anybody in a brown. this is not our process. this is the egyptian led process. >> you said that wisner delivered the message that you asked him and to deliver to mubarak and you were pleased with that. >> no i just said he delivered the message that we asked him to deliver. >> well, the message that he delivered to the security conference on saturday, were you happy with that? >> i have plowed the ground. >> welfare enough but here is a private citizen making some comments and yet you felt compelled in the middle of the night where we were in munich,
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to put out a statement disassociating herself from him. >> depending on where you are they got to be. >> the point is not when they came out but there was a beastly some --. >> always there was a point. this is the middle of the thing. >> obviously it cause some consultation and you made. >> i'm not concerned about the timing. why did you feel the need to remind the world that frank wisner is not an employee at the government and its views don't reflect the views of the administration even though they clearly do? >> well, that is what you say. i mean clearly having just done a specific mission on behalf of the united states government we wanted to be clear that there was separation between the mission we asked them to do and is on views of how the situation was perceived. >> so you were concerned that
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people would perceive his comments as those reflective of. >> we wanted to make sure that his appearance to the munich conference was his own and differentiate from formal u.s. participants. james. >> secretary clinton, not this past weekend at the weekend before, told candy crowley, look what we have. we have an event on the calendar and she made reference to the upcoming presidential elections in egypt. and ambassador wisner's remark seemed aligned with those remarks in the sense that both are saying in essence let's keep who the president is now president tell those elections arrive. is it still the view of secretary clinton that we should wait for that calendar event to remain where it is? >> again, these are decisions for the egyptian people. what she was saying was there already is one action forcing event on the calendar and that
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can be helpful in driving the process forward. now, there are many many steps that have to happen as we go through, or or as egypt goes through this transition. judgments have to be made on the emergency law. and we have called repeatedly over the years for the emergency law to be rescinded. that is one issue that airs on the environment through which this election campaign will take place. there are constitutional adjustments that have to be made to enable an open political campaign to occur. there may be judgments about what to do about a sitting parliament which came into being through an election process that was less than free and fair. the opposition figures have to decide how they are going to participate in this political
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process, how they coalesce around particular segments of the egyptian society. it is not for us to have a list that says you must do 1-800-bc and d at this particular date. these are judgments to be made by the egyptian people if they want to hold to the existing schedule. that is their decision. if they want to advance a schedule that is their decision but we want to make sure there is a real transition that leads to the fundamental change and a political process that produces a credible, free and fair election. >> but implicit in secretary clinton's remark, implicit in secretary clinton's remark was a suggestion that the kind of elections you would like to see happen could conceivably be conducted in the period of time between the time she set it to candy crowley and the date of the election. she would hold it out there is a useful or potentially helpful event on the calendar if she
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didn't think that would be a suitable period of time in which to hold the kind of elections you imagine, yes? >> just to reinforce what i said a moment ago. there is a great opportunity here for the egyptian people to have a greater say in who will lead their country in the future. they need to seize this opportunity. they need to join this transition process. they need to test the of the seriousness of the government and others that they will participate in a peaceful democratic process. the sooner this can happen, the better. the egyptian people, including those who are even as we speak standing in tahrir square, they are crying for change. they are crying for a government that is more responsive to their aspirations. we identify with those aspirations. now there has to be the hard work of building a process in making the fundamental changes necessary to produce free and fair elections. >> doable within eight months he
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suggested. correct? >> it is doable within eight months but a lot depends on what happens from this point forward. >> the administration as a whole, doesn't seem there is that urgency there we heard last week when we kept hearing change has to begin now. the process has to begin now. was their concern was moving too fast? >> no, but there are steps being taken. and our concern is that so far, the discussions that are happening are not rod-based enough. and this does have an issue ultimately as to whether the people of egypt will see this as a credible process. there are people who have not been invited in. and this needs to be inclusive. there are people who are holding the transition process at arms length because they don't believe it's going to be credible. and our advice would be, at test the seriousness of the
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government and those who are participating to see if it can deliver. and from this, people have confidence that change is actually going to occur. >> so it was moving too fast? you think it was moving too fast >> we want to see this move as expeditiously as the secretary stressed and her various interviews yesterday. >> who is being excluded? who is not being invited? >> they there are major figures in egyptian society that we think should be able to play a role in this and so far they have not been invited. >> can you tell us who are they exactly? >> president mubarak held his first cabinet meeting today. how do you see this? is this a step to consolidate his power or is it a step in the right direction? >> again our eyes to any government anywhere in the world is to fight corruption, reduce corruption, challenge corruption wherever it occurs. it undermined effective governance.
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any government that embraces a need for full accountability has our support. >> but the fact he was presiding over a meeting today publicly, there's pictures of him, doesn't give an impression that is going to leave anytime soon. >> these are decisions made by president mubarak and by the people of egypt. it is not for us to dig tate what happens in egypt. you know, but this has to be a real process. i mean we do have a sense of urgency, not so much in the timeline as and where this process is actually seen as credible and seen as delivering change as the people of egypt have embraced. >> we are still sing a crackdown on journalists a hug and people believe in the changes of this government? >> and this is one of the ongoing concerns that we have.
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there are some elements elements within egyptian society that are cracking down on journalists even as we speak. they are cracking down on other figures within civil society, and this undercuts the ability to demonstrate that real change is forthcoming. >> but does that mean that the government is responsible for this crackdown? >> well, we are concerned about the crackdown on journalists or the crackdown on democracy advocates or the crackdown on bloggers are the crackdown on ordinary citizens by whatever authority dictated it. clearly there seemed last week to us to be a campaign, concerted effort to interfere with the work of journalists. your colleagues that have been released, we fully anticipate will be sharing their experiences and who they feel are responsible. we have made that clear. the secretary and her discussion with the prime minister over the weekend -- for these actions
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need to stop. >> on the google executive who was released, do you have the reaction? >> p.j. on the meetings of the opposition, when you say that there are actually people who are not being invited in, major figures, does the u.s. of confidence have confidence and vice president suleiman that he is legitimately carrying out a credible process? i mean right from the get-go they're not inviting people and? >> well, that is something that we will be watching very carefully as it unfolds. >> on the google executive to you have any reaction to his release? >> well, as i just said secretary clinton delivered a firm message to prime minister this weekend that these actions are counterproductive and they need to stop. and so, we of course for anyone whether it is a journalist, an activist, or anyone else that has been unjustly detained, we are gratified that they have
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been released. but we have made clear to the egyptian government that these actions should stop. >> is the department hearing from corporations, u.s. corporations that do business overseas in the middle east and particularly in egypt about threats to their employees, their personnel and their executives? >> again it is contrary to wear egyptian society needs to go. go back to the secretary's comments this weekend. >> are you hearing from corporations to that affect? >> i can't give you a catalog of conversations that we have had. i would say that certainly it calls into question the pledge of the political and economic reform that president mubarak himself made last week, and again, it is not just for us to judge this. is really for those who seek to open up the egyptian society for more political activity, more
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economic activity to be able to meet the needs of a young population. to generate job growth and economic opportunity, you need to have significant investment by the private sector. anytime you have a situation where corporate representatives or other members of civil society are being shaken down, detained, or attacked it is going to have an impact. capital is going to go where it is comfortable and if you don't have the right dynamic insider society chances are you are not going to achieve the economic growth that your population desperately needs. >> p.j. related -- no, no, no, we are not nearly done with this. can i broaden this out a little bit? what if any special efforts are you making to explain your position or your policy or the administration's policy to other arab leaders in the region? have there have been any adverse? >> i believe as the secretary said on the airplane, you may
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have heard her say within the state department and the white house and dod, were in touch with almost everybody around the world that we can touch base with. so we have tried contacts in the region, and we are encouraging governments to understand what is happening. the people of the region are standing up. they are demanding more of their government. they are demanding a greater role in determining the direction of their government. and it is important for these countries to respond to these aspirations. >> so there's no special effort that you are aware of? >> we are in touch on a continual basis with our friends in the region. >> i understand that there's an emissary of some sort meeting with the king of saudi arabia who is currently in morocco. is that not the case? >> i do not know. >> do you deal with that is a
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regionwide issue or are you waiting to deal with each country as it goes through its own upheaval? >> those are not mutually exclusive. as the secretary said in doha there is a broad regional challenge from the gulf to north africa, that you have got young populations highly educated, and country by country they are not generating the economic opportunity or political opportunity that the young people in the region want and deserve. how that unfolds will bury country to country. the challenge in morocco is not the same as the challenge in yemen. tanisha is a country with a fairly significant middle-class. yemen is the poorest country in the region. so the solutions will differ from one to the other. but it is vitally important for governments to respond to this new dynamic in the region. >> p.j. iran has considered itself winning in the region.
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>> iran what? >> considered itself winning in the region and the u.s. is failing they said. do you have anything? >> i think we want to see democracy when in the region. and clearly what iran did in june of 2009 undercuts any democratic russ is that we are familiar with. >> speaking of iran do you have anything on the trial of the hikers? >> josh. >> many of the activist and journalist released over the weekend said that the egyptian military was directly involved in their rest, dan shenzhen and interrogation. last week from this podium you praised the stance of the egyptian military is being neutral arbitrators. i'm wondering if you revise this assessment and whether or not you condemn their direct involvement in these activities? >> as i said josh we condemn any authority that was responsible for the detention, interference and abuse of journalists,
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loggers, activists whoever was caught up in this activity last week. we have heard those same reports that perhaps there were military police involved at some point in time. now, having said that, we also recognize that it was military units that responded. i think to the hilton was it? where there were concerns about security there and many of your colleagues were residing there. you look at the military performance and tahrir square. it was very constructive. so i would say that to the extent that there were elements within the military that participated in these abuses of journalists and others last week, they should be held fully accountable. by the same token when you look at the streets of cairo over the past several days since the violence on wednesday, the military did play a constructive role. >> and you have braces in your contacts with egyptian military
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representatives which are obviously ongoing? >> yes. >> and you thought that it was important friday. >> on the hiker trial. >> we are aware that the trial is proceeding. i think it is underway but i believe there has been a continuance. and we continue to call on the government of iran to release the two hikers. they have been in custody for far too long. >> there is a report that says says -- iraq or iran? >> just one more quick thing on iran. was anyone from the protective authority, the swiss allowed in the courtroom? are you aware? >> i don't know. the swiss are trying to find out the status of the ongoing proceeding. i'm not aware they were in the courtroom. >> there was a poor -- report on iraq over the weekend that ambassador james jeffrey had said that the u.s. troops might
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stay in iraq beyond 2011 and there is a new threat to regional stability. can you confirm that? >> i'm not familiar with ambassador jeffrey. he was here last weekend testified before the hill. he might've been responding to questions that were posed to him from senators who have asked questions about military presence. look we are proceeding based on existing strategic framework agreement and status of forces agreement which says that all military forces will be out of iraq by the end of this year. we are working on that transition where many of the activities that have been performed by military personnel will be performed by the state department personnel. so we are proceeding on the current strategy. we are going to have a long-term partnership between the united states and iraq. and we will define with iraq going forward the nature of that
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relationship. to the extent that we have military cooperation going forward, we will be happy to have that discussion with the government of iraq. >> on pakistan, the widow of one of the two individuals that was killed and lahore last month by the americans there has apparently committed suicide. i trust you have some reaction to that. >> well, we are aware of this. and it is clearly a tragedy for that family. the matter of the deaths of three individuals involving our diplomats is still under investigation. but that said, we continue to make clear to the government of pakistan that our diplomats has diplomatic immunity, and our view was acting in self-defense and should be released.
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pakistan should fulfill its international obligations under the vienna convention. ambassador munter met today with president zardari to continue to make that point. >> to follow-up on that to the secretary bring that up with kayani when they met in munich and there has been some suggestion that this whole incident has kind of slowed down u.s.-pakistan contacts, some meetings may have been canceled or postponed because the situation has been resolved. has there been any sort of effect like that? >> the secretary had a discussion with general kayani on the margins of the munich secretary. conference. ambassador munter talked to president zardari today. the secretary talked to president zardari last week so we continue to have contact with their pakistani counterparts and we continue continue to emphasize the importance of resolving this case. >> how about further down the line though? has there have been any slowdown on the sorts of contacts at a lower level because the issue
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remains unresolved? >> we continue to have contact with the pakistani government. we continue to express to them the importance of resolving this and continue to express to them the fact that our u.s. diplomatic commit -- in manatee and should be released. >> the secretary had mentioned this to general kayani? >> yes. >> she did. >> and she mentioned on the phonecall with zardari? >> yes. the phonecall with president zardari was largely on this issue. >> hold on the second. i want to follow-up on something real quick. there several pakistani officials now who are challenging the u.s. government's take on what happened, saying the two individuals who were pursuing him were not robbers. they were actually members of the isi. do you have anything to say about that? you stand by your version of that? >> yes. >> that they were robbers? >> yes. >> you where the robbers isi as well? >> again, we have heard those
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media stories. i don't think we have information on that. >> you don't have information to support that or you don't find it credible? >> we don't find it credible. >> there is also report that three more consular officials are now not allowed to leave the country because of the ensuing chaos where they allegedly hit a civilian? >> i'm not aware that. >> on cuba allen gross the american has been detained there. the cuban government is saying that they are going to seek a 20 year sentence. have you gotten any confirmation on that and did allen gross in fact rick for the department in any capacity in cuba? >> we have released a statement on friday that make clear he was in international development worker in cuba, providing support to members of the cuban jewish community and that we are
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disappointed in the intent to seek a 20 year sentence. >> new topic. thailand and cambodia. i know there was a statement put out friday calling for restraint. has the u.s. been in contact? the clashes been going for number of days now. >> we have raised her concerns with senior officials in thailand and come bodde a. we continue to urge both sides to exercise maximum restraint and take all necessary steps to reduce tensions and avoid further conflict. >> follow-up on that. cambodia appears to have gone to the united nations seeking some sort of u.n. role in thailand. does the u.s. have a position on whether there should be an international. >> we do understand brazil the current president of the u.n. security council will submit this issue for consideration to the council under the u.n. charter. council canopy request of u.n. member states consider any threat to international peace and security.
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>> does the u.s. support than? >> that is the matter we are discussing within the council. >> but what's the u.s. position on a? >> we are discussing it with the council. we are discussing the best way forward with the council. >> what do you think is the best way forward? >> don't think we have made a decision yet. >> so in other words u.s. policy is going to be guided by what brazil thinks? >> as i said in a country has a right to bring the matter before the security council. we will as we always do, evaluate prospective options and whether we think that bringing this forward that will help first and foremost resolve that. >> so the u.s. is not yet decided on what his position will be. is that correct? >> we have not decided yet, that is correct. >> on the quartet, is there a particular position of the united states that is more important than other positions
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that will be discuss? >> i'm not sure i understand the question. >> let me rephrase that. do you have a particular point that you want to raise in these meetings? is there any particular point? >> i missed the predicate. >> the predicate was the quartet meeting. >> what about the quartet meeting? >> about the quartet meeting. because the palestinians are saying they are disappointed in the quartet quartet in the cortex is not delivered on its framework and so on. so is there any particular point that you want to raise in the meeting? >> well we haven't changed our view that we do want to see a framework agreement. we will continue to work with the parties on particular issues. we recognize that in order to reach a framework agreement at some point there has to be a return to direct negotiations. we do recognize that it was a
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challenging situation before recent events in the regions, become perhaps more complex as a result of recent events and we will continue to engage in work through these issues. >> okay so you see the quartet is a place where you can push for direct negotiations? >> we continue to believe the quartet has a constructive role to play, yes. >> korea. ambassador kang is in seoul. is the food situation in north korea one of the issues to be discussed seriously there? >> i do not know what to extent he will discuss the food issue. it is something that we are watching carefully. as you know he is abroad human rights portfolio but i don't know if that will. >> also on asia, there has been a worsening of relations it appears between japan and russia over the creoles northern territories issue, some statements between the russian foreign ministry. does the the u.s. position on we this is going? >> we do have a position which
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we have stated before and i can get that for you if you need a. >> can i follow-up on the story from last week? another's statement from the embassy. >> which store a? >> the ban that went to the city and plowed into people. it looked like an embassy fan in the state department said, or the embassy said that bans have been stolen and damaged. and i wanted to find out, that point they said it was absolutely categorically not correct that there were any u.s. employees involved. could there have been any local higher u.s. embassy employees? and also, is there any better explanation as to how that many fans were either taken or damaged? 20 seems like a lot. >> i don't have an explanation as to how that happened other than someone broke into our
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facility. >> just one more. senator lugar said today. >> but again, there was no u.s. personnel driving that van at the time of what was filmed. >> but did the u.s. personnel mating. >> our own or hired staff. >> driving or even in? >> not driving. >> a different issue perhaps somewhat obscure but senator lugar was issued a report today calling for the u.s. to be more active about transhistory a the breakaway region of moldova. >> i will take that question. [laughter] >> are you aware that the department has had with your former ambassador to luxembourg in the last -- since thursday? >> she resigned. beyond that -- what kind of contact? >> she said she has written a
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rebuttal to the ig report. >> to the ig? >> i am just wondering if you are aware of that. >> well of her rebuttal has been received by the ig i'm sure the i see is aware of -- ig is aware of that. she resigned from her office. she has returned to the united states and she has resumed her private life. >> it follow-up on gross again, there's a sense of the cuban government wants a quid pro quo with the so-called five spies. your reaction to that, please? >> look, we want to see mr. gross gross return to the united states. what he did was not a crime. you know, we are not negotiating on his -- we would like to see them release. his case should not be attached to any other. thank you.
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>> during british prime minister david cameron statement to members the british house of commons today he talked about the unrest in egypt. this is part of his remarks. you can watch his entire speech at 910 to 10 eastern time on c-span. >> thank you mr. speaker. several of the key moderate figures in egypt have made pledges to have a referendum on the long-standing peace treaty with israel. with my right honorable friend adhere to the earlier answer he gave to members to the exchequer agree that one of the key factors in determining whether
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not beget a good outcome in egypt is whether or not a currency rated government is willing to stop building more settlements and be serious about coming to the peace table? >> my honorable friend makes a good point that we should also be clear with reformers and opposition figures in egypt that we see progress on the peace process as absolutely vital for the stability and prosperity of that region and frankly again this is where the european union does have some leverage because in those association agreements we should be making sure that justice money is in return for progress on those things we care about internally, should also be standing by agreements that have been entered into including a peace process. >> mr. angus robertson. >> mr. speaker i'm grateful for the copy of the statement. the premise or has long taken different view on release to the scottish government or indeed international observers like nelson mandela but what is new however is these official u.k. documents proved in 2008, uk's
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labour minister supporters, being released olyvia said they were saying one thing in public and something completely the opposite and private. is that not rank hypocrisy? >> i made my views clear and i tried to stated in a calm and reasonable way because i don't believe there was some conspiracy cooked up between an s&p government of the labour government. i think they find it hard not to commit a each other most of the times. i can see prominent scottish mp's knotting. a look back at what they said, could i set forth to give them a brief picture? >> thank you mr. speaker. i welcome council strong position of support for the egyptian people particularly with regard to the assistance of the transition to democracy however building new government structures is not straightforward and shouldn't be rushed. at that point start now. can i asked the prime minister
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to draw from the expertise of organizations like the western foundations of democracy who have got a wealth of expertise in supporting democracies and indeed in egypt? >> i think the honorable lady makes a good point about civil society organizations here that can work with civil society organizations in egypt. the point i would make about transition starting now is precisely because the egyptians say there are all sorts of problems with amending their constitution and doing it quickly, precisely because of that they should be examining what can they do to build confidence with people on the streets of cairo that they are generally changing? that is why i think looking at and including opposition members in a transitional government and giving some physical clear and irreversible signs of what their intentions are what make a big difference. >> denna shane. >> i think they are two statements frankly we have heard today that should've been separated. many of us had to hold their
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noses i are up -- air killers and terrorists were led out. can he say something about tunisia? in that small country 10 people are looking to europe for help and ask them to us the form officer to open the door to see what we can do with economic and political investments to bring and particularly manage fully much more -- make egypt closer to europe. >> i think the honorable gentleman makes a good point and that is one of the reasons going to tunisia. frankly talking about helping and putting in place the building blocks of a free and open society. one of the problems in these countries of the massive level of corruption. and we need to work with them. all i would say going back to the issue of libya and northern ireland, of course everyone had to hold their nose and talk to people that we didn't want to talk to and deal with people we
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didn't want to deal with but actually on that, governments are pretty frank about what it was we were doing and why we were doing it and that is my point. >> it is important that we do nothing to -- the prospect of wider instability in north africa and the mcgrath. does my right honorable friend share my dismay at reports in the western threats -- unstable countries like egypt and tunisia with countries like morocco that have a far more enlightened order economically, socially and and -- politically? >> i think my honorable friend makes an important point. we shouldn't treat every country and assume they are all the same. the point i would take the list this. genuine stability should be based on the progressive realization of the goal of a more open society and the building blocks of the civil society that we recognize.
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i don't think you can pretend that you solve these problems simply by holding an election but i think we should be clear as people who believe in these rights at home that there are things that progressively we should be trying to achieve elsewhere. >> thank you mr. speaker. the prime minister referred quite rightly to the efforts and the work of -- and he also said he has had discussions with henry clayton. in that context, what is his understanding of the united states attitude to the changes going on in egypt? is that u.s. policy to support the view that president mubarak should stay or is it to support the e.u. you that there should be an early transition? speak very well put question. the u.s. and u.k. are absolutely aligned on this. i spoke to president obama over the weekend and we are pushing for the same thing


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