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tv   Today in Washington  CSPAN  May 10, 2011 6:00am-9:00am EDT

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made questionable choices -- seem to be questionable choices for the key post at the agency that's charged with defending our national security, given their previous efforts to defend those involved in attacking the united states or killing americans. according to press reports, at least 13 to 16 current obama administration political appoint eedz, including the -- appointees, including the current solicitor general nominee, who represented jose pedilla, the shoe bomber, or suspected terrorists or enemy combatants being held in detention or to left-wing organizations who actively sought to reverse bush administration antiterrorist and
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detainee policies, policies th that, i might add, were a contributing factor to the elimination of bin laden and many other terrorists through this past decade. i'm curious to know if they've appointed anyone to key posts in the department of justice who's ever prosecuted a terrorist. i'd like to know that. maybe they have. surely somebody has. but it looks odd to me that so many of those who've been on the other side have been given top appointments. and i'm very disappointed in another subject with this administration's abdication of its duty to defend congressionally enacted laws. specifically, the defense of marriage act. the attorney general has stated that the president decided --
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attorney general holder -- that the president had decided that he would no longer defend this law. review the -- after reviewing the attorney general's recommendation that doma falls under the exception in which -- quote -- "the department of justice cannot offer a reasonable argument in defense of the statute's constitutionality." well, it's been defended and upheld by a number of courts. how do we just waltz in now and decide we're not going to defend a congressionally enacted statute signed into law by president clinton because they don't like it? that's what it appears to me. the administration apparently came to this conclusion after unilaterally deciding that -- quote -- "classifications based on sexual orientation warrant heightened scrutiny."
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in the face of precedent from 11 circuit courts of appeals holding that such classifications should be reviewed under the much lower normal rational basis standard. there's a very big difference between refusing to defend the law that the administration regards as unconstitutional and refusing to defend a law that the administration opposes on policy grounds. the presiding officer: 15 minutes. mr. sessions: mr. president, i would ask for one additional -- ask unanimous consent to speak for one additional minute. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: mr. president, the department of justice is a great department and they have some very, very fine people there. i know mr. cole has some good qualities. i supported mr. holder for attorney general. but i'm very uneasy about the direction the department is
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taking on a large number of issues, and i believe one of the reasons this is happening is because they've surrounded themselves with a group of leftist lawyers, activist lawyers who don't operate according to the more traditional views of law and justice in america. that's my view. other senators may disagree. that's my view. and i would just say that i'm not able to support mr. cole for that and the reasons i've stated and i hope in the future that the administration will appoint more nominees that have proven records of independence, effective prosecution and commitment to law. i thank the chair and would yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. a senator: mr. president, i greatly respect my friend from
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alabama, senator sessions, and i simply have come to a different conclusion with regard to jim cole. i worked with jim cole. i was part of a legislative committee in the house of representatives that had to do some very difficult work on an ethics issue involving a former speaker of the house of representatives. mr. cardin: it was a tough decision to bring together six members of the house, three democrats, three republicans, and to do it in a way that would maintain the nonpartisan requirements of an ethics investigation. the atmosphere was very partisanly charged around the work that we were doing. i know this sounds familiar because people in maryland and connecticut and around the nation understand that we're working in a very partisan environment here and they expect the people that are charged with the department of justice to work in a nonpartisan manner. this is not a partisan position,
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the deputy attorney general. this is a person who is working with the attorney general as the nation's lawyer. and we want somebody who has the experience, someone who has th the -- the character and commitment to carry out this very important position. as i said, i've known jim cole. he has 13 years experience within the department of justice as a public interest attorney. that's been the largest part of his professional career has been the service of public interest. and he's always followed policy, not politics. he has a very distinguished career in law and he's the type of person that we would like to see within the department of justice. as i pointed out, i worked with jim cole when i was in the house of representatives. we worked on a very difficult investigation involving the
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former speaker of the house of representatives who at the time was speaker. the ranking republican, actually the chairman of the committee, was porter goss, a republican from florida. porter goss's observations of jim cole was that he was a brilliant prosecutor, extraordinarily talented. and then mr. goss goes on to say that over time he brought our committee to a bipartisan cooperation, which was desperately needed in order to successfully complete that matter. at the end of the day, the six of us came together in a unanimous recommendation. that's the type of person that jim cole is. he was professional and put policy ahead of politics. senator -- former senator john danforth evidence is at jim cole's confirmation hearing.
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a former republican member of the united states senate. he called jim cole a lawyer's lawyer. jim cole has support from democrats and republicans, former high officials within the department of justice have all recommended -- we have former deputy attorney generals appointed by both republicans and democrats supporting jim cole's nomination for deputy attorney general. let me just quote one other person i'd hope would be greatly respected on both sides of the aisle and that's fred fielding, the white house counsel for george -- for former president george w. bush. he said that mr. cole combines all the qualities you want in a citizen public servant. he understands both sides of the street and is smart and tenacious and is a person of unquestioned honor and integri integrity.
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that's what fred fielding, the former white house counsel to president bush, said about jim cole. jim cole is supported by former r.n.c. officials and d.n.c. officials because he's not partisan. he's a nonpartisan person who's put public interest law as his top priority. i was listening to senator sessions talk about terrorism. we've had a spirited political debate that's taking place in this country over the best way to bring terrorists to justice. mr. cole, however, will always put principle over politics and he is committed to evaluating each case and manner that comes before him based on the facts and the law. that's what you'd want from the department of justice. they're the values and the character that we want in our nation's department of justice. and jim cole will bring that to the department of justice, already brought it to the department of justice. the bottom line about mr. cole's
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approach on fighting terrorists is one i believe we all believe in. we're a nation at war with al qaeda and taliban and their associated forces. we need a tough, aggressive and flexible policies that recognize the paramount importance of providing the president with the ability to use all of the lawful tools, all of the lawful tools of our national power to protect american people and bring terrorists to justice. jim cole believes in that. he's committed to working with the congress, so that we use all available tools, we make the judgment in each individual case as to where it's the most effective way to bring a terrorist or criminal to justice. he not only has expertise in handling terrorists and bringing them to justice, he's had very important positions in the
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department of justice supervising the criminal prosecution of white-collar crimes. he understands the full breadth of the department of justice, and it i is a very valuable plan making sure the department of justice follows in the fine tradition of that agency. i just urge my colleagues to vote to move forward. at least vote to allow that this nomination get an up-or-down vote. this is a very important position, the department attorney general. we talk about we were sent here to washington to make tough votes. okay. i don't think this is a tough voavment i think jim cole is the best person for this critically important job, and i don't think he is at all a partisan person. i know him well. i know him to be a career-type
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individual who is interested in doing the right policy. but this is not a nominee where you should be using a filibuster to prevent an up-or-down vote. this is a very important position for our country. the di dignity of the senate and the department of justice and the deancy of jim cole, i urge my colleagues to allow us to go forward with an up-or-down vote on his confirmation, and i urge my colleagues to support this confirmation to be deputy attorney general of the united states.
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we have 11 farmers' market and we're three state and one of the questions we always get our about the prices of the food at our markets, why the prices are higher than the supermarket or wide to the farmers charge what they charge. our farmers are not subsidized
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in any way. my response has always been they charge what they need to charge in order to be viable businesses. i have seen a lot of growth in those businesses but it seems to me that -- it is a very frustrating area of if you think farm income is a national security issue, it is so i will see a little growth in terms of new farmers and new young people starting to farm, but most americans don't want to farm because they can't make enough money farming. i look at it from the producer point of view. the question is how do we deal with the issue of price versus value?
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at actual productivity, capacity to produce food? [talking over each other] >> locally in the united states, we are all trying to encourage more local agriculture and more -- i will give you an example. massachusetts, one thing that has helped our local farmers what can be used to purchase items at farmers' markets. we are doing this thing in worse there were we are comparing health care doctors for rental food prescriptions that can be used in farmers' markets. basically the more people who buy the more you control the price. i want more local farmers to be successful in the united states. but i think to the extent we can make it more affordable for
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people through the programs are just mentioned the more you will be able to address the economic security of those farmers. one of my challenges is you go to a supermarket to try to find what is grown locally, you can't always get the answer for the person who works the supermarket there's a tendency to want to support local farmers. they don't know how to do it because there's another challenge. these small farmers par not the farmers that are receiving these big subsidies and the ones we are relying on. >> they are in the community bringing the farmers' markets, washington -- but also in this spectrum, representing more farmers, all the way off of spectrum companies and the issue
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with smaller bonet, family-owned. they only control 20% of the grain exports of south america. they control all the chicken production -- coming up on a possibility, for me it is amazing to see how we make those producers sustainable. that they have prices that not only meet -- some people making big bucks so we have small farmers that some producers out source. the lower segment can afford it and this is a big issue. on a national security issue we saw what happened with the bank industry. we saw a few banks put as very much on the edge of an economic meltdown. i have no clue what happened.
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>> i am american now. very important, talking about national security. we don't have to regulate everything. target is very successful under investors but also big companies like this controlled sources on the other side which is food for thought. i would never allow such a company to grow so big because now you are happy feeding your children. i don't know what it is. but sooner or later we are going to see that having food production in the hands of the very few is not good business for america and it won't be good business for the world.
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that is food for thought issue we need to be talking about. >> we are going to have to wrap things up. i would like to thank our panel for joining us. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> coming up on c-span2 and look at the role of the effectiveness of the congressional research service. then vice president joe biden, hillary clinton and treasury secretary timothy geithner give remarks at the opening session of the u.s.-china strategic economic dialogue. later oral arguments before the ninth circuit appeals court on whether teacher's first amendment free-speech rights were violated when the school board made san diego a high school math teacher bradley
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johnson takedown classroom banners which included such phrases as in god we trust and god bless america. several live events to tongue you about. officials from the justice department and federal trade commission testified on capitol hill about protecting privacy of smart phones and other mobile technology. witnesses will include representatives of google and apple. that is on c-span at 10:00 eastern. also at 10:00 eastern on c-span3 admiral robert papp talk about the coast guard budget request for the next year. he is before the senate appropriations subcommittee on homeland security. later on c-span3 at 3:30 p.m. eastern president obama will be in el paso. the texas talking about immigration, the economy and security. next a discussion of the state
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of the congressional research service. crs is a nonpartisan government agency that is part of the library of congress that provides policy and legal analysis to members of congress on a range of issues. panelists examined the expertise of the crs analysts and accuracy and relevancy of its report and prospects for improving public access to non confidential public education -- applications. this is an hour and a half. >> good afternoon, everyone. welcome to a discussion of the future of the congressional research service. and with the sunlight foundation and director of the committee and transparency which helped organize today's event. by way of background, looking at
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you in the audience many of you are aware of crs's operations. crs is $100 million a year think tank with 700 employees. it is an administrative unit of the library of congress which has played a public role which includes policing legislative summaries, updating@treaties of the constitution of the united states and analysis and contribution and as conan and exchanging details with scholars and other interested parties and we look for writing reports that become publicly available. bribery of congress is one of several legislative agencies which includes the government accountability office, government printing office. crs product help frame public debate on important issues. the last two years alone major newspapers cited crs reports 700 times including 70 mentioned the
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washington post and 55 in the new york times. federal courts have made use of crs analyses in the last decade. federal courts, 130 times. the supreme court since the founding of crs has cited crs report several times. april 2nd saw the retirement of longtime crs director daniel mulholland after 20 years and his departure has brought questions about the future of crs and many concerns beneath the surface that seems to be coming to a boil. today's events are posted by the advisory committee on transparency which is an 18 member association of organizations that shared members of the congressional transparency pockets and educate policymakers on transparency related issues. the advisory committee is organized as a product of the sun life foundation and more information is available at i would like to thank the
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cochairs of the caucus, representative beryl eisa --d y --daryl issa helping these conversations take place. we are going to have a very brief history of crs and by brief i mean quite brief. i will introduce our speakers, follow up with one or two questions that are interesting to me since i always get to ask the first question and all of you have the opportunity to ask questions and engage in conversation. there are a number of open questions to address today. the crs meeting the needs of congress, has a analytical expertise eroded over time, are crs products and report as relevant, accurate and understandable as they need to be? should crs reports be available for the general public and to some extent they are but should they be available to the general
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public and my organization has called for public access to crs general distribution reports and finally, what does the twenty-first century congressional research service look like? what do we expect crs to do? when they go to cornell to look at the constitution annotated, when they search youtube for changes in federal law and links to crs reports? so with that i will engage in a very brief history of crs. as we come up almost on its 100th birth day was organized for but the appropriation in 1914 but received permanent status in 1946. in legislative organization act of that time it wasn't crs. it was the legislative reference service and focused on providing reference services to members of congress though it did analytical work at that time.
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it wasn't until 1970 and the legislative reorganization act that crs emerged. almost simultaneous with the reorganization were concerns raised. one concern was ties between crs and the larger knowledge community research and judgment community and also there are not subject to peer review but when we talk about that your assistance, also changing views on the roles of senior specialists that did crs work over history. there was a -- between 1977 to 1993 with particular crs directors. in response to criticism they took some steps. they supported crs staff reaching out to members of the knowledge community and the press. they encourage staff attendance at conferences to engage with their peers. they may crs reports and products available to interested parties outside of crs.
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in 1980 the research and service review was launched. with a publication for a decade that contained the original analytical articles, summaries relating to crs research projects and more. this was a product that was available to the public. in 1990 for the most recent and recently departed director of crs, daniel left by his own decision. and engaged in a number of decisions with crs. i will paraphrase them. he limited staff ability to speak out side of crs. he interpreted the statutory requirement provided by congress with no partisan bias to also require staff to be neutral and the hope we will discuss what that change means. he worked to limit public distribution products, create a
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more -- bureaucratic structure and eliminated a number of departments. with that very brief, hopefully very brief overview of crs, i am pleased to have a distinguished body joining me today. these experts on congress and crs. i will start -- i should have organized this better. i will start with nye stevens, government director from 2000 to 2006. he previously served as director of federal management and workforce issues at gao from 1982 to 2,000 and was director of special projects of omb from 1977 to 1982. did not yet his youthful appearance to see if you. he has seen different congressional agency's work. to my right is mike stern of the house of representatives from 1996 to 2004. he served as co-chair of the
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administrative law agency and administrative law and agency practice action and encourages everyone to check out his blog at point to my left is robyn russell with representative mike quigley represents the fifth district in illinois. in the last congress mike quigley introduce the transparency in government act which would have made crs publicly available among other things. finally all the way on my left is steve aftergood, senior research analyst of american scientist and director of public secrecy. the federation of scientists among many other things maintains and archives crs reports. i am going to turn to nye stevens if you wouldn't mind making some opening remarks. >> asking me to appear at this conference, he would like me to speak about the role i had.
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[talking over each other] >> for roll on had in the congressional research service, how crs is organized and to draw comparisons between that and other legislative support agency i work for for in number of years, government accountability office. in april of 2006 that the position as deputy director of the government finance division of the congressional research service and i spent six years, retired in 2006 and that is an important qualification because i am not speaking for the institution in any way. i haven't talked to anybody at the institution. i understand they were invited to participate and declined to do so. the only reason i am here. i am speaking only for myself and not for anyone else. the government finance division
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is one of four program divisions at crs that basically divide the government into four pieces that oversee all of the activities of the government. there are three other divisions. one is human-resources which deals with the question of health. the welfare, education and that sort of thing. another is international affairs division and the third is called resources conservation economic development which has transportation and that sort of thing. within the government finance division which was probably the most disparate there were six sections dividing the work. two of them were basically economists focused. local economists dealt with tax and public finance issues.
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on the other where financial institutions and market issues. a third section dealt with the executive branch and government wide issues such as government information, regulation, silver service appointments and that sort of thing. two deal with the legislative process and parliamentary question, questions of congressional organizations. and a final one in government and finance dealt with relationships with federal issue programs, a component of state administration. government finance had 80 analysts. most of them at the g s 15 level which for those of you who have not been in government, is the top of regular civil service, the pay scale runs from $125,000
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or so to $150,000 for people who have been very few years. i think that is the majority of the analysts crs. if you are fired at the junior level you expect to become with good performance -- five to seven years i'd believe. these are very good jobs by government standards. they pay much better than most of the congressional staff to which crs reports. also it is interesting that crs analysts are represented by unions which is unusual for professionals and as a former manager, and get into the implications of that as well. let me draw some contrast with gao. they're both congressional support agencies.
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they're quite productive between them. one major difference is crs sees itself as only a congressional support agency with a confidential relationship between crs and its customers on the hill. gao actively seeks to promote its research products to the public. it have the press office of its own, has a user-friendly web site designed to get its products out as publicly as possible, trains its executives and tv appearances and public presentations and is very conscious of the public as opposed to crs which is totally oriented towards congress. another difference is gee a 0 product are institutional with lots of participation by management in their planning and execution and reporting and checking process takes months.
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crs products are almost all individual. analysts name on them and the review process which i was a major part of in the government finance division which is cursory at best and often limited to and our source of, the total contrast with the gao and that respect. responsiveness is another major difference. crs aims to meet short deadlines. they will do their best and usually succeed to make a deadline. gao typically took well over a year to respond to congressional request. a lot of crs's work is behind-the-scenes, goes well beyond what is publicly reported and gao, that is not the case. the gao report is what gao is limited to telling the public
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and its customers. a weakness of crs is it doesn't have any access to the executive branch agencies unlike gao. gao can flash credentials and demand records at usually succeed in getting their attention. crs is limited to personal contacts and congressional liaison offices and as a result its role in oversight of the executive branch is minimal compared to gao. there's less training of staff in public policy analysts. most are experts and are good at it. not well-trained or school in public policy analysis which limits their engagement in the legislative process similar to the distress of management. despite the fact that crs
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academic credentials, at the gao it doesn't have the same academic credentials. they have smart people but from there -- trained in public analysis. the final difference is gao discourages working with individual members, doing it -- doing everything it can to deflect contact between individual members of staff and gao crs response to people on the hill and seeks them out and it is -- its primary occupation. crs aspires to be influential. committee staff are more informed and knowledgeable about the legislative new oness and status of legislation. i don't think very many crs people of very active at the committee level. the neutrality you mentioned are
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neutral. therefore a lot of highly paid crs analysts dealing with those on the hill who don't know anything about the subject at hand in order -- to ask for information with poor constituents but it is not the experts who were calling but primarily people who need a brief but they're not the ones who were writing it. there are in number of other differences but i don't want to hog all your time today. >> thank you very much. i want to confirm one thing nye stevens said which was i did invite crs to participate today both by phone and by e-mail and they declined. with that happy note and will send it to mike stern.
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>> thank you. i should start off by mentioning i am not stan brand against the right a him on tv but i spent a number of years in the house of general counsel's office though at a different time than he did. among other things we dealt with requests for information from legislative support agencies like gao, crs, cbo and things like that. but as i will mention, the vast majority were related to gao. only one occasion i can think of where there was a request for information related to crs. that is important because what i have been asked to address deals with the legal issues relating to putting crs reports out into
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the public domain and whether there would be legal risks involved in that. various people crs and elsewhere have raised three different issues related to widespread publication of crs products. the first i would describe as a general burdensome argument. that is to say crs products, general issue reports are placed out into the public domain. the thaw is more people will be aware of them. more people will be interested in finding out more about them. litigants will be tempted to try to get the work products underline of those reports.
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perhaps even soo crs. regardless of the merits of these claims there is going to be a burden in responding to them. i think this is a pre internet mindset that has that concern. the fact that as daniel mentioned, most crs reports at some point it usually not long after they are published do make their way into the public domain. you can find most of them at places like open crs. the fact that crs may have at one time been an anonymous agency that most people didn't know about, anyone can do crs and find out many of their reports and the ship had sailed
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to the extent that that was a serious concern. it is also the case that even apart from that how much of a burden it really is likely to be. i mentioned in my time in the council's office we not infrequently got subpoenas where gao received a subpoenas for documents underlying their investigation. they would come to the council's office and ask for a committee that sponsored the particular it requested report wanted to assert a speech or debate privilege with respect to those materials but really did not rise with respect to crs. the only occasion it ever did had to do with the tobacco companies. there was a major lawsuit by the government against the tobacco
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company. they issued a very sweeping request for documents that basically asked for everything that the u.s. kevin and including the legislative branch and every agency in the legislative branch had ever known about the dangers of tobacco. that is the only occasion i can recall of going to crs with these documents and we didn't produce anything for anyone. the nature of crs in that report, usually policy focused. they are not fact intensive like gao reports and don't include investigation. crs doesn't have the authority to go to the executive branch and take testimony so the chances of litigants being interested in the underlying
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materials is fairly remote. it can happen sometimes but not likely to be a substantial burden to crs. from the perspective of someone who worked in the council's office i can tell you members of congress and house of representatives certainly had exponentially higher profile than crs does and on occasion received nuisance lawsuits, nuisance subpoenas and and the like but the burden while not insignificant from the perspective of the council's office is not major with respect to the institution as a whole and even the council's office doesn't take up the time of a single layer to deal with over the course of the year. so i don't think that big of a burden. the second issue would be if they publish a particular crs
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report, this would expose the underlying material i mentioned. this occasionally happens with respect to gao. someone sees an gao report published and they say we want the underlying work process. but the fact is as a legislative agency of crs and gao, have the right to a certain debate which is a privilege that covers legislative activity under the u.s. constitution. the idea that publishing the report will expose the underlying work product is not an accurate understanding of how the debate privilege works. unlike other privileges it is not based on whether or not something is confidential. the member has the privilege
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with respect to statements made on the floor. the with respect to published congressional reports and it doesn't matter if the public knows about it. they cannot be questioned about those materials so as long as the materials in question were within the legislative sphere and involve legislative activity the material should remain protected by speech or debate. a slightly more realistic aspect of the concern there is that if crs routinely publishes its reports and the general public comes to understand that they can go to a member of congress and ask crs to do a study of anything they might be interested in and those reports would be publicly available it might encourage people to think
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of crs's support for congress which is clearly its mission and more the general research agency for the public at large. and the concern goes over time that could lead to an erosion of the speech or debate privilege because there would no longer be this close connection between crs and the congress and the reason crs is in titled to the privilege is it supports the legislative branch. that is somewhat more serious concern but i don't think it is necessary or sufficient to keep crs reports out of the public domain in order to deal with that. it is not necessary because the fact is as long as -- no one is suggesting crs is going to stop
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being a legislative branch agency or that it is going to stop responding to members of congress. the only thing that crs will do is remain responding to requests by congress and presumably the members will be asking for things that are relevant to the legislative process. it is possible that members even today made on some occasion asked for reports not so much because they want to use them but some interest groups wants that report. that does happen from time to time. to the extent that that is the concern i think crs needs to deal with that independently of the issue of publishing their report because the fact is if there were -- if a particular report was not in fact within
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the legislative sphere than it is not necessarily entitled to privilege protection whether it is published or not. i don't really know about what kinds of mechanisms crs uses now but i would assume they do and certainly they could make sure there are only responding to issues that have some relationship to the legislative process, they prioritize those things that are most important to congress as a whole. to the extent that they do provide members specific reports, those are not the kind of reports we are talking about. we are talking about the issue brief the and for general circulation in the conference. those are the ones that would be available to the public.
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and by and large those should be legislative in nature and they should be entitled to the privilege with respect to anything underlying those reports. the final concern that has been raised has to do with the possibility that crs could face direct liability for reports that it puts out to the public. the argument is the publication itself, not the preparation of the report, not the work that underlies this, but putting it out to the public, is in itself an activity that is not protected by the debate clause. with respect to that, the question one might ask is what kind of liability would crs possibly have with respect to publishing reports.
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as far as i know all the two have been identified. one would have to do with defamation or libel. with respect to that and make a couple observations. anyone who is familiar and you are familiar with crs reports, not a lot of things are likely to lead to a defamation or libel suit. there is a fundamental difference that crs normally does for academic policy oriented reports and the gao report which might be fact intensive and involve statements of witnesseses and could lead to someone suing for defamation. that is not a likely thing in the crs report. even considering the possibility
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that it might happen, it is conceivable that there is an argument to protect that activity and i will get into the details of the legal issue but i point out congressional reports are made available to the public and clearly there's not a wave of lawsuits against congressional committees for libel or defamation and one of the reasons for that is even a speech or debate does not apply, members of congress and employees are protected by the federal tort claims act which makes it almost impossible to sue anyone in the government for defamation. i don't think that it is a very serious risk.
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let me just finish with the last liability to mention potential liability and that has to do with copyright infringement. i am not an expert on copyright infringement i have to say. i will say it did come up from time to time in council's office because members of congress occasionally have questions about can i use this particular copyrighted material, what are my risks, and the fact is if you use basic common sense the risks are not too great. the house counsel and senate counsel wouldn't allow members of congress to report everything on their web sites if they thought they taking the huge legal risk by doing so and i don't think crs would be doing
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so either. finally i am sure crs does not make a habit of wholesale copying of copyrighted material. but if they do i think they should stop. with that -- >> thanks. one thing we will get back to if folks are interested. almost everyone in this room is familiar with the process by which crs prints reports. it is not some long-range person who decides to issue such -- a review process goes through the reports that are issued. and with that, robyn russell. >> thanks for coming out today. i will keep my comments fairly brief. i am here to give a different perspective. i work for congressman mike
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quigley in chicago. my boss introduced a bill, transparency in government act and a long list of pro transparency elements. one of them is making crs reports public. so first i want to start by saying thank you to everyone who works at crs. as a staffer of find the information you provide invaluable. our purpose is to share that with the public. our logic is fairly simple. it is that u.s. tax dollars pay for crs. they should have access to most of the report. the language in the bill is crafted very carefully because we are not arguing for the altering rights for same access members of congress have. we think the relationship crs has with congress and staff is hugely important. it wouldn't allow members of the public to request reports or
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have access to personal information. any of that. it would be strictly reports that already exist. nothing confidential would be available. and we already established today that most of them are already as we know and often times people are being charged instead of getting them for free. which they really should. to as it is about an evolution of a process. when crs originally came about it might have been significantly more difficult to get those reports out to the public. it is not any more. everything is on line and the fact that crs reports are available to the public for free from crs to me, this is low hanging fruit. this is a long time coming. i know there are concerns from
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leadership within crs. as someone working on legislation i want to offer to work with you guys. if there are any additional changes or things you think need to be addressed to make sure crs continues to do the great job it does now, that is where we stand. and touch really briefly on how we use crs reports and how we use them with our constituents. i use crs almost every other day either citing crs report or referencing crs reports, things that acutely helpful and i use crs for specific constituent questions. i never refer to crs. but i do health care policy. i will give you an example. the new health care bill. extremely large and complex and sometimes we get questions that are a little murky from
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constituents. we call and have crs respond back. it is great to point of those constituents to a website where they can brief us on the bill themselves. get that information out there. i think crs has a unique perspective in that it is not biased or partisan and it could refresh air into the information to our constituents who feel the websites we refer them to r. suspect. the health care bill, don't trust the information on the web site of the white house. don't trust information they think is -- if you can't make people trust facts people will think what they think but to save this isn't run by an administration or any thing, read this report and you will see benefits of the health care bill and how it will be implemented. it will be useful. that is one example from my
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perspective how to be helpful to our office. i will end their and answer any questions you have. >> thank you very much. >> thank you, daniel. let me step back a minute and ask why would a member of the public such as myself care about crs in the first place? i think the answer is just as we want energy and the executive, we want congress to be as vigorous and competent in the fulfilment of constitutional function as it possibly can be. it is alarming to some people that congress has become passive with respect to the executive branch on issues like the decision to go to work in libya. congress has been largely silent. on questions of executive-branch
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authority over detainee's in the war on terrorism or the rights of those detainees congress has refused to engage. crs cannot solve those problems. but a deeply competent, resourceful, well-managed congressional research service can end of congress with the confidence and backbone that it needs and performance of its duties. it is not a question of what i want crs to do for me. the question is how can crs best serve congress and thereby best serve the political process. with the retirement of mr. mulholland from the directorship of crs, several strategic choices that he made in
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management of crs are up for examination and rethinking. one of them is the question of expertise. the legislative reorganization act of 1970 has, of a learned from former crs scholar mr. fisher, that mandated that crs a.--appoint individuals of particular expertise in their subject matter area. areas such as american government, foreign policy, economics and others. under mr. mulholland's tenure,
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it was significant. a new senior specialist has not been hired since 1989. the number of specialists has dropped to five. there has been a wholesale loss of the deepest level of subject matter expertise. that is something that ought to be rethought and reconsidered. it is fine for basically almost any competent professional can write a report on the status of the current foreign policy legislation. but if you want a deep understanding of an urgent and complicated policy issue, you want the best expertise you can
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find. that expertise has migrated away from crs in recent years. a second basic policy choice for reconsideration is the question of neutrality. if you look at a typical crs report you will see a lot of information. but very little judgment or a decision. you will see a standard format that some people say this but some people say that. that used to drive me up the wall because my organization is an advocacy organization. i'm not interested in both sides. i am interesting in advancing a particular agenda. i found it disingenuous and artificial. as i get older i am more tolerant of it and there is a place for neutrality especially in highly partisan political environment. i think crs reports doing public
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service by establishing a consensual, factual background that everyone can begin with. i don't think you want a partisan or political version of an analysis of the health care bill. you want a very neutral matter of fact, even hand account. but on the other hand neutrality is not the only way to approach the truth. i think there's a place for opinion, for evaluation, personal judgment particularly on the part of senior experienced and well informed crs staffers. to ask someone who knows more about the subject than anyone else in congress not to express his or her opinion about the subject is ludicrous.
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it is a waste. that should not be the mandatory approach. there is room for neutrality and opinion and different reports or products can be structured to meet those approaches. the last question as most of us discussed the question of public access, direct public access to crs reports, years ago it might have been possible to argue in the abstract with the red is a good idea or bad idea, effect of the matter is we have been carrying out a real world experiment in whether it is good or bad. more than 10,000 crs reports are already in the public domain and more of them are entering the public domain and going on line every day. we are in a position to say is that a good thing or a bad thing? the answer is clear that it is
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not only as daniel mentioned, crs reports are routinely making news and informing news, they are also cited in judicial opinion. they have become an informal part of the public conversation on policy and there are no downside to speak of. it is only a matter of time and good sense until the final barrier to public access is removed. i hope we can all do our part to make it come sooner. >> i was going to follow this up with questions of my own but it will be good to get some questions from the audience. i will ask the question.
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which is this. it seems a number of observers noticed crs reports seem to be changing themselves. they used to be more analytical. they would do a little less on the one hand and another type of analysis and more of this is the stronger argument or the weaker argument. it is not taking a side bet bring in the wake of experience to reach a reasoned opinion about something that is useful to congress. one thing that i learned when i worked crs briefly was the way to find out what an analyst is thinking is look at where the good stuff is. there's no way to expect any member of congress or staff to read that kind of document in that kind of way. so the question becomes on the one hand or the other hand argument is serving the needs of
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congress? or is it getting the importance to help informed debate? this is useful when you talk about the review process that exists. it isn't some random staffer reaching an opinion and that is the end of it. more of a review process to it. >> the process is usually short and quick because of the deadline to be met and typically the viewer has an hour or two to review it and the principal thing the viewer is looking for are expressions of the deal with recommendation. in the report. at a very specific reason for this is crs expects the analyst to be talking to proponents of both sides of contentious issues at the same time.
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if you have issued a report saying this is the correct position or my opinion or i am on the side of the democratic position or that republican position. immediately the other side will start to regard you as part of the other camp and ask for confidential advice and information. that is the principal worry. there is -- i was the author of the postal analyst at the congressional research service for eight years and at the time of the postal reform bill 206, sharp division between mailers' union, employees, executive branch, it was a challenge to steer between all of those but i don't think anyone was able to say i was on one side or the
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other and had more credibility in debate or declared opinion. >> do you want to address this? okay. in that case, i have a different one as well. we have seen the retirement and moving on of a number of senior staff. when i was there, i found working with morgan and johnny killian and others to be invaluable. the expertise and the breadth of knowledge they brought to the issues was tremendously useful. what we're seeing now and we talked about earlier is these types of positions are being filled by administrative folks as opposed to analytical folks. so these people who are running the office as opposed to the people who are doing high-level policy, you touched on this a
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little bit. the want to extend on the effects of that? >> to meet the question is what does congress want? does congress just want ammunition in support of position it has already collected? is it looking for debating points? is it looking for new understanding? new alternatives? new conceptions? new path forward? depending on what congress wants, that will determine what crs decides to give it. ideally if i were a member of congress i would want to say this is my starting point. give me your strongest argument against it. tell me why i am wrong. i want to know if you think i am
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wrong. i want to know if you think i am wrong about crs. the idea that members only want to know stuff that supports their preexisting position, is a pretty dismal kind of view of how congress functions. i hope it is not entirely accurate. this is why this is an important moment. the selection of a new director. it will be an opportunity for congress to give new direction, new instruction, new guidance and and to the question of what kind of crs do we want? do we want the kind of crs that will enrich and challenge us? or someone that would do our legwork and stay out of the way? i hope it is the former. like i said, my interest is in the best possible crs.
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even if it does not coincide with my own personal opinions on subjects. what i really want is an invigorated political process and i think that will serve everyone's interest in the long run. >> this calls for a little bit of an internal response. do you want to introduce the question in terms of what kind of response would you like to see from crs? >> i come to this really advocating for transparency and access to the reports. not so much to comment on the quality. i personally view -- often bind the balance this side and that's our approach to be frustrating because you are looking for an
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opinion. there are some things where a neutral report is great and other things where there is a clear one side that is more convincing information on it or more convincing argument and it they could be more honest. they are more careful when you say you have given these but what do you think and they are very careful not to say anything to the point of frustration. as far as what members of congress want, members of congress are divers. you can't paint everyone with the same brush. some want to think critically and to write thaw will policy and others who call crs to get talking points to support what they have decided and i simply writing about a message home. there are too many bills for any of them to be good. i would hope crs would hold
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itself to a higher standard and push us to be better. i would disagree a little bit about us leading internal decisions about how many issue experts you have or the quality of your work. that is an internal crs issue that i think you can decide. .. >> very, very specialized experts in a few subjects.
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it's not going to make much difference anyway. and if that became open, then everybody would expect that to be his or her due. >> would you touch on the issue of staff turnover or the absence of staff turnover at crs? >> my impression is, a, there's a lot of turnover, but it's all retirees like me and some of the people in this room. i don't perceive that there is very much at all people who leave crs for another position, either in academia, in the executive branch, in the think tanks. it's very uncommon. partly because the pay is quite good for people who are operating with their brains on a 9 to 5 schedule. >> so with that, i do want to move into the opportunity to take questions and have conversation with the audience as well.
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gavin, who's behind all of you, is walking around with a microphone. so if you have questions, we'll start over right in the middle. >> start -- >> actually, we can do that. we can start with the gentleman in the red shirt. >> [inaudible] >> is this coming through, by the way? this mic? >> [inaudible] um, i just wanted to develop what steve and dan talked about, the senior specialists and the specialists. they're talking -- [inaudible] 16s, and dan mentioned just at the end of it as we watched that there was a shift from those specialists to people who are administrators. and that is a fact. i think the first time we saw something like that coming was around 1995 where we learned that three administrators without any education or training or skills to do
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research were seen as specialists. now, for us to be senior specialists, you had to compete -- first of all, you had to be a nationally-recognized expert. that was one fundamental. and you had to compete with other nationally-recognized experts. so that's the way it was done. now, we learned in 995 that three administrators didn't compete for it. they were just given the title and the salary and all the benefits that come from it. so steve is correct that right now since no senior specialists have been selected since 1939, and there are only -- 1989, and there are only four left, obviously, they're all close to retirement, so it'll go to sue. and the specialists used to be about 38, now down to four, it'll go to zero just with retirements, so it means that crs has decided to zero out the two top levels that congress asked for by statute. not just as positions, but as steve dimensioned, the
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substantive areas. then at the same time to tell congress you asked for high-level experts, you're not going to get 'em, but thank you for those titles because we're going to give them to administrators. that's the lay of the land. >> are there other questions? in the front. >> thank you very much. my name's lawr lie kelly, i'm a big institutional geek of congress. i also looked up here for almost a decade in the knowledge support. one of the things, i'm doing an information audit on public interest with congressional staff, basically asking them what are you hearing, especially about these big global issues that are blended across jurisdictions of congress. i work in national security, and the committees are still set up at 1948 and not really to really integrate information in this much broader lens. so there's ideological problems,
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but there's also institutional problems. and i'm wondering if there is a way or if this is already happening where some of the ec per tease can almost be outsourced to the developing constituency at the state and district level. because you have all these knowledge entities that have a lot of expertise, but they're also constituents, voters and friends of members of congress, for example. and one of the things i'm finding repeatedly from staff is it's not an information problem, it's an institutional incentive to use evidence for evidence-based decision making. i think that's a much larger problem for all of us as citizens in a democracy, is that there is no high-profile, influential constituency for knowledge. and crs is sitting inside of this ideological battle where one side -- and i don't even think it's necessarily partisan -- doesn't believe in things like public interest or government period. and so i've even found it a bit
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alarming how congressional budget office has been attacked in town halls and in other public conversations across the cub. across the country. is there an effort underway to differentiate, blend knowledge and expertise so that it has more firepower at the state and district level is what i'm asking, asking, and in a renewed crs maybe that's something -- even visual data -- that makes legislation interpret bl at the state level would be amazingly helpful. even maps of the united states districts or the committee assignments laid on maps of the unite of, like, who needs to be more interested in southeast asia because you're a member? it might be tennessee, it might be texas. does that make sense? this is sort of where we're going with technology, and i don't see crs doing very much to keep up with it. >> yeah. i would say that's true, crs is
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not doing much to keep up with that, and i think it does not aspire to, and if it does have a driving focus in that area, it is to stay away from constituents. so a congressional staff member like robyn will be smart to not say i have a constituent who wants, please give it -- but we have a legislative name for this. and i think crs is, is very unlikely to reach out to other institutions and alliances and sources of questions like that. >> and there's, also, a question here of crs helps generate product matter for thomas and for other services along those lines in a very narrow kind of way. there's a statutory requirement for the constitution which is, basically, the constitution explained section by section in light of supreme court decisions which is an incredibly useful
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document that is published in whole once a decade online even though it's updated on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, and it is available to congressional staff internally. so when you have questions of the moment that are important, there is this tremendously useful resource that's a book that you can buy for $240 that is ten yearses out of date, or you could go online through the congressional internet and get access to it. and something that someone's very interested in is when you have this type of information, how do you make it available so that others can reuse it in creative and clever kinds of ways? for example, we help build open congress which is, i mean, we joke about it as calling it thomas on steroids. it takes all the information that is in thomas, all the information that's available from gao, the information that's available in other places, puts it all together so you can see the latest news stories combined with press releases combined
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with movement on the hill so that you have a more informed constituency, american people, so they can ask better questions of their government. i think the questions that you raise are very interesting ones that, you know, we're in an era where the previous director of crs started before thomas existed. he started before there was -- i think senator kennedy's web site which was the first web site may have preceded his hiring, but i think it was actually afterwards. so there was no online presence, and even now crs' online presence is an employment page where every year they take down their annual report and replace it with the current one. that's the state of the art, at least the state of the art that faces the world. so with that, i know that there are other questions. um, there's a gentleman in front, gav. >> my name is dell vos, and i work for a small -- i work for a
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small business that aggregates government information, so every day we go to every member's web site and download their news releases and other documents. then we go to every committee and subcommittee and download the submitted testimony. and we do this for federal agencies as well, the white house transcripts and things like that. and we put that on factiva and lexus nexus. i'm interested in putting, obviously, crs reports online. my fist experience with wikileaks was when all of a sudden they showed up with a large quantity of crs reports. so i quickly downloaded them -- >> [inaudible] >> sure. >> i know it's a little awkward, but -- >> so i downloaded them and interested in getting access. and i'm curious, how do some -- there's a business that retails
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crs reports, and i understand that they have access through a former member of congress. is that correct? penny hill press. how do they get the crs reports? and, also, what was the ramifications of the individual that provided the access to wikileaks or to download this large, it was like, i don't know, several thousand crs reports? obviously, they must have of had a staffer that had access to it, and they just downloaded it all. was, was that individual ap rehelped? -- apprehended? was there consequences to it, and would it be possible for a member of congress to do that again? [inaudible conversations] >> crs congressional web site is open to i would guess 10,000 people. every member of congress, every staffer, everybody in cbo.
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you can download any report and ship it to anybody you want which happens all the time. i think crs understands that. and it's, you know, there are no ramifications. the worry is that it doesn't happen regularly enough, crs reports are updated with every change in the legislative status, and you will very often find six iterations ago something's on the web site. that makes crs look a little bad because you're not up-to-date. even though there might have been a report issued yesterday, you're getting the one from a year ago. but even though the official policy is against the distribution, it happens all the time. crs analysts -- i can admit it, i'm retired -- all of my reports appeared on post com which is, you know, the postal service, you know, the place where everybody in the postal service goes for news every day.
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every day it was there, it somehow got there overnight. and that's very common. if you're proud of your work, you want people in the field to know what you're doing, that the fact that they've talked to you made a difference, that there was some impact -- >> [inaudible] >> no. no. i think, i think they've tried to tighten it up somewhat since then, but still you have to be a little discreet. >> you did that. what if you provided access to me, for example, and i downloaded, you know, five years worth of crs reports and then went on to sell them for a profit? would there be a consequence to you for that or some other staffer? >> [inaudible] >> yeah. i was going the say, i don't know about selling it. i do know that, i mean, we distribute them to anyone who wants one. not bulk. >> right. >> and not for resale. >> well, somehow there's a business made out of selling them, and they claim to be
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rather current. cq sells them on their web site for a very high subscription, and so i'm just curious what the secret is that they have and how it is they did that. it's interesting. >> i mean, as far as i know no one has determined, for example, where the wikileaks bulk access came from, and crs, i'm sure, were they here on this panel, they would be very pleased to know how their reports are leaking out. they have taken serious depths to -- steps to try to prevent that. that is the leaking out not through authorized means. as far as i know they have not been successful in determining how that's happening. maybe steve, do you know any more about this? >> um, you know, as far as the people who market the reports, obviously, they have an inside source who is funneling them to the, to the vendor presumably for a profit.
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it's kind of sordid. i could tell you that in the late 1990 when the crs internal web site was still just getting off the ground, a colleague of mine discovered that the search engine for the web site was up secured. -- unsecured. and so if you type in nuclear under search, you get a list of all of the current crs reports that had the word nuclear which we promptly downloaded and, you know, had hours of delight from. [laughter] but then in a classic, you know, violation of good intelligence trade craft, i went on to write about this episode. said, hey, we found this really neat hole in the crs search engine index, and within a day the hole was sealed. you know? and so that avenue was shut off. they're serious about it.
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i mean, you ask a really interesting question about the structure of knowledge and where that's going. one of the, i mean, in the near term crs is not going to be a leader in changing that. on the contrary, right now they're more of a indication of the severity of the problem. because of their concept that they are, that they serve congress exclusively, the result is that there are high walls between crs and the public including members of the public with subject matter expertise that could be of use to crs. every once in a while, not very often but it happens from time to time, we find errors in crs reports even though, you know, they're written by experts. experts also make errors. and we point them l out, and
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they correct them. but it's, you know, there are, they make it hard. they make it hard to interact, they make it hard to share knowledge, they make it hard to receive expertise from outside of their enclave. and that's probably not the right way to structure an enterprise hike that. >> and we've seen difficulties both with the receipt of information, i've had the same problem where i've sent e-mails to former colleagues and say you've made a mistake here, you might want to -- and occasionally that happens. also to be promoted within crs, to get to the top of the pay scale you need to be well respected by your peers. you need to have, you need to engage in the broader community. but, of course, if you're prohibited from engaging in the broader community, that does create a little bit of a cash-22 -- catch-22, and crs has been nope -- known to not look
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kindly on the people engaged in their work e unrelated the crs. and this has been an ongoing issue as well. did you want to address this for a second, the legal consequences for the hypothetical -- we won't call her robyn, but someone who -- [laughter] >> we certainly won't call her robyn. well, i guess i would say, i don't know there'd be if a staffer, say, were massed out, i mean, we know that members do provide crs reports on a regular basis to constituents and things like that. not that there's anything inappropriate about that. if someone were downloading many different crs reports and particularly providing them to a for-profit entity, i think at the very least they'd have an ethics issue. >> why? >> well, because you'd essentially be -- well, certainly, if you were making a
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profit on it, that would be clearly a violation. if staffer were making something out of it. if they were just doing it for, as a favor to someone who was making a profit, i think that would be viewed as an inappropriate use of your congressional position. >> although let me add on to that that both for the house and for the senate crs has at least in their annual reports that are no longer available on their web site that -- which is kind of fun -- that there have been pilot projects both with the house and the senate to give members of congress, so individual members i believe committees as well, although i could wrong on that point, to have an option to have sections of the report to automatically be made available. i haven't actually seen an instance of this operating, but i know the infrastructure claims -- there are claim that is the infrastructure has been completed on the senate side as of two years ago, and the house
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side was a number of years ago. there is, at least, the three relate call -- theoretical possibility that a member could say, okay, we're going to embed the technology from the silo program, we're going to make all reports everything related to the rules committee, we're going to make all of that available online. i have not seen that happen. there have been members every year in congress for the last 10 or 12 years, there's been a bill to make crs reports publicly available. so it would stand to reason that folks who are introducing those legislations historically have gone town that path to -- gone down that path to not all that great avail. but, you know, certainly t a very interesting question as to what a member could authorize, you know, the public to have access to in the context of crs reports. please. in the blue suit right next to you, yeah. right there. no. yeah. sorry. [laughter] >> dan mentioned there's a lawsuit, i'm the plaintiff in
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the lawsuit. i'm mo davis, i was the director of foreign affairs defense in trade until i published an op-ed that was critical of the administration. the change you're talking about, i think, requires -- it has to start at the top down. crs is an incredible treasure in spite of the leadership, not because of the leadership. so to affect the change you're talking about requires having a leadership -- i mean, i've never seen a more acrimonious management/union relationship from the top down. and i think that's why, you know, as lou mentioned about the attrition of the senior specialists and conversion to administrative positions. the administrative positions are outside the bargaining unit, thai more controllable, and i think there's more fear of having these subject matter experts that were not controllable by the leadership. and so the way to cure that problem was to attribute the senior specialists and make them administrators, they were controllable. crs is an incredible treasure,
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and it would be a shame to see congress and the nation lose that. but there are people in the fbi, for instance. j. edgar hoover loved the fbi, but now there's a term limit on being the director of the fbi, and i think there's some real danger of these lifetime appointments like the library of congressover the congressional -- or the congressional research service. there's some real benefit to having fresh blood. you mentioned how long t been since the web site started up. and i think getting fresh blood, new use and new leadership that, you know, encourages working with the organization and not against the organization. i think you'd get that more robust analysis, and crs could really be an even greater treasure than it is. >> thank you. are there other questions? yes. second row? and i apologize for our microphones. we will do better next time. >> hi. [inaudible] hi. can you hear me now?
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>> [inaudible] >> thank you. i'm wondering if it may be more useful to include conversation about funding. because you've talked about losing the senior specialists, but you haven't talked about whether crs has also lost funding. you've talked about how are the analytical expertise eroded? this but you haven't talked about the measures of that. i mean, to be more fair, don't you think you should discuss those issues? >> absolutely. i have a report online that details funding levels and questions for crs that looks at it over time adjusted for 2011 dollars. it's available at sunlight foundation, it's called keeping congress competent. if you look at staff number over time which is what i was more interested in than funding
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levels, the number of staff in the last decade or two decades, it's pretty constant with the exception of in '93-'94 where you see a tremendous decrease in staff. it was much worse than other legislative support agencies than crs. you saw, for example, the office of technology assessment was eliminated entirely, a big decrease over at gao where they lost a thousand out of 3 or 4,000 people. crs took a relatively modest hit comparatively. but even so, losing staff is a significant issue. right now crs is around $100 million for their funding level. i don't remember what it is off the top of my head, but it did take a small hit in the recent budget cycle. the recent 2011 full-year cr. but compared to the other agencies, it seems to be doing relatively better. even within that, even within that context there's also been shifts that are difficult to
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detail. for example, there are many fewer administrative staff than there used to be. and there are various consequences of doing that. one is it pushes the average pay higher up because, you know, many administrative staff are gsfs, gs9s, things like that. there's a big difference between, you know, you send in a request, you get the lexus nexus printout versus having thoughtful responses put in. so i think that is an important question. i think there's a bigger question having to do with congressional expertise overall that the average legislative staffer on the hill is there two, two and a half years. that the average age in d.c. for a hill staffer is 31 and a half years old. there are serious and unaddressed concerns regarding congress' ability to handle all these issues. crs has positions itself often as a savior to this question
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where you don't need to worry about congressional staff and expertise and turnover because we're here to help. we're here to shore up the weaknds that you may happen to have in your committee officer and your leadership office. i think the question of funding is a very important question. i think question of funding of congressional staff generally is a very important question. but i don't think that we should use that -- i think that's a parallel conversation that needs to take place along with questions of is crs doing the best work that it can do. so putting aside do they need more people, do they need less people, are they using the people that they have to the best ability? are they engaging staff where they work? the you know, if staffers are going and googling for crs reports, they're not going through this very expensive web site they spent a lot of money to create and build. if they're going online to get to the constitution entity, then we're doing something wrong. so there are many questions here, and i apologize for
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getting on my soap box for this. but there are many questions here that although they can be related to funding, it's often related to the best use of the staff that are available. crs, for example, is -- they're engaged in lawsuits, they're dealing with questions about how do they make reports, make reports more difficult to obtain publicly, closing those, you know, all of those activities cost time and money and expense. when there are public solutions, you know, public source solutions to dealing with a lot of these things. there are people who can build better web sites than crs. google certainly built a better search engine than they do. there's a lot of wisdom in figuring out what you're good at and doing that and letting other folks, you know, take care of the things that are not your area of expertise. and with that, i will get off the soap box and see if there are any of my knell -- my fellow panelists who want to add on to
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that. >> i have to go, i'm sorry. [laughter] we are going to be introducing the transparency act soon, hopefully at the end of this month, and we will address the crs stand-alone piece of the bill, so anyone interested in that, i'll leave my cards here. e-mail me. i'd love to chat with anybody. >> so you heard it here first, breaking news. we don't have any music to go with that, but thank you, robyn. appreciate it. good luck. so other questions from -- we're okay? moira, please. >> i didn't hear myself there. >> i never had a problem getting my opinion across to -- i don't think this -- [inaudible] i never had a problem. i assume one of the reasons was that i wasn't a senior level
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position and was i insulated vey much from whatever pressures that are going on for, in the name of neutrality. i was also -- and the ability of crs to provide the kinds of services that i did hasdiminished for a number of other reasons that have not been mentioned and which could be changed, i would think. somebody mentioned that we have a lot of new people, academic types, people right out of law school, people, you know, with masters' and ph.d.s who haven't spent more than five minutes, if anything, with a committee or dealing with, you know, the milieu that we're supposed to be dealing with. i had the fortune for, i was in the executive branch for about seven or eight years and then came over to crs.
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and i got a year's detail on an investigating committee, a special investigation committee that was set up. and it was a remarkable experience in the sense of i worked the way a staffer would work. i was the only attorney on the committee. we lasted a year. we had 26 hearings, and i did things that i've never thought i would be able to do starting from, you know, cross-examining witnesses to giving questions to the 11 members of the committee, all that kind of a thing. and later on i had details to mike sterns' office, the house general counsel, for a total of about a year and a half where i got a perspective of dealing with the nitty-gritty that came across at that particular time. i killed the last detail,
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apparently, and that was back in about '91-'92 when part of the change in attitude with regard to it meant that there were no more details. and nothing -- and there were other people who had details around during that period from, you know, the mid '70s through '90, '91. and they were incredibly experienced, enhancing experiences which help us, will help the people who did it, to deal with, effectively, the people we're servicing over the years. those are the kind of subtle changes that have occurred. but the diminution of the number and, steve, your numbers are a little bit off. in 1991 there were about 25 specialists, and there were about 28 senior specialists. and now we're down to a total of
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less than ten all over. and most of them were very much like me. there was, you know, a sense of when we wrote a report that it came to some sort of a confusion. conclusion. i don't agree with mike with respect to the speech or debate issue. i think it lurks in the background, and it's very important. i'm aware of at least four or five instances where speech or debate was brought up. there were some administrative decisions where it was determined that, you know, materials, background weren't, were covered and that was a protective kind of a thing that was very, very helpful for our confidentiality relationships with the congressional committees.
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you talk about the 10,000 reports over the last few years, understand that with those 10,000 reports there were 150,000 confidential memos. and my experience, once again, is it's not the reports that were most influential, it was the confidential memos and the follow up to those confidential memos, sitting down with key staff and sometimes with the members to explain them to them that was extraordinarily useful. and those don't get out to the public unless they're put in reports or read on the floor of the congress. but some of them have not only mine, but lou's and some of our colleagues, you know, are extraordinarily influential and
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have been important in moving things one direction or another. so that i, if there is going to be a transparency, if there's going to be a requirement of publication, i think the publication responsibility and accountability should be in the congress. and that it's some kind of congressional mechanism, one decision that we want these reports to be public should be a congressional decision and that the, that the mechanism for making them public should be a congressional mechanism. and not something that is forced upon crs. i think that puts them in, for many reasons, into a difficult position. but crs is a great organization o, still is. the potential for, you know, relaxing policies and
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understanding the role of the now journeymen 15s who are very good, and i wonder why some of them stay but probably the reason is the good pay and good benefits, but there are some very, very good people there who if you got their opinions, apparently some of my techniques which were long memos in which if you read it carefully you understood can't be any possibility of misunderstanding what the law is. [laughter] on a subject. but they don't like long memos anymore. so there's got to be other techniques to do it. >> although, mort, you did write a 300-page memo as i remember. [laughter] you did write a 300-page memo. and a very good point about where to house, um, any type of disclose your mechanism. the legislation that i've seen,
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um, over the last decade, they've all, they put that responsibility with the clerk of the house or the secretary of the senate as opposed to embodying it within crs itself in response to, exactly, i think, the concern that you're identifying. we are out of time, but what that means is that we are not finished, but rather we will let c-span go their merry way, and for those who want to continue that conversation, if i can entertain our paneltists to be willing to do so, that would be wonderful. just come up and we'll have a conversation. i would like to thank our panelists both present and absent for a great discussion as well as the folks in this room who have asked really useful questions and raised interesting points. also chairman issa and representative quigley who have been kind enough to give us the use of this says and all the work they're -- space. our next event will be june 13th at 2 p.m. in this room, and we are cleverly entitling it -- at
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least i think it's clever -- congress' hidden budget: a look at tax expenditures. so be sure to pencil that in to your calendars w. that, thank you all very much. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> several live events to tell you about today. officials from the justice department and federal trade commission testify on capitol hill about protecting the privacy of smartphones and other mobile technology. witnesses will also include representatives of google and apple. that's on c-span at 10 a.m. eastern. also at 10 eastern on c-span3,
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coast guard commandant robert path talks about the budget request for the next fiscal year. later on c-span3 at 3:30 p.m. eastern, president obama will be in el paso, texas, for a speech on immigration, the economy and security. >> now available, c-span's congressional directory. a complete guide to the first session of the 112th congress. inside new and returning house and senate members with contact information including twitter addresses, district maps and committee assignments. and information on the white house, supreme court justices and governors. order online at >> you're watching c-span2 with politics and public affairs weekdays featuring live coverage of the u.s. senate. on weeknights watch key public policy events and every weekend
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the latest nonfiction authors and books on booktv. you can see past programs and get our schedules at our web site, and you can join in on the conversation on social media sites. >> vice president joe biden and secretary of state hillary clinton on monday expressed u.s. concerns about the human rights situation in china. their remarks came at start of an annual economic and strategic dialogue between the two countries. treasury secretary tim geithner this week will be urging china to allow its currency to increase in value, a move that makes u.s. exports cheaper in that country. this runs 45 minutes. >> good morning. we are delighted to welcome you here to the department of the interior, a department that deals with the beautiful landscape and nature of our country along with the national
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parks that have been established. it's a very historic building which is appropriate for the third round of the strategic and economic dialogue. and it is such an honor to host vice premier wang, state counselor dye and the entire delegation on behalf of secretary geithner and myself. i'm very pleased that we are joined by so many officials and experts from throughout both the united states government and the government of china. and we are delighted that we will shortly be joined by vice president biden. and i know that president obama is looking forward to meeting with the leadership of our two governmental teams later today. the strategic and economic dialogue is the premiere forum in a bilateral relationship that is as important and complex as any in the world.
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since we first gathered in washington back in 2009, the depth and breadth of our discussions and the participation across our two governments have grown significantly. through these meetings and the conversations that take place within them, both the informal conversations like the ones we had last night over dinner at the blair house and the formal meetings, we seek to build a stronger foundation of mutual trust and respect. this is an opportunity for each of us to form habits of cooperation that will help us work together more effectively to meet our shared regional and global challenges and, also, to weather disagreements when they arise. it is a chance to expand the areas where we cooperate and to
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narrow the areas where we diverge. while both of us holding firm to our values and interests. now more than ever with two years of dialogues behind us success depends on our ability to translate good words into concrete actions on the issues that matter most to our people. so as we begin this third round, we will keep that goal in clear focus. our work really begins with our commitment to better understanding one another, to building trust between each other and to working to avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation. we all know that fears and misperceptions linger on both sides of the pacific.
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i will be very open about that. some in our country see china's progress as a threat to the united states. some in china worry that america seeks to constrain china's growth. we reject both those views. we both have much more to gain from cooperation than from conflict. the fact is that a thriving america is good for china, and a thriving china is good for america. but to work together we need to be able to understand each other's intentions and interests, and we must demystify long-term plans and aspirations. that is why, for example, secretary of defense robert gates and i have spoken often
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about the importance of developing more sustained and substantive military-to-military engagement that increases transparency and familiarity. so i'm very pleased that for the first time senior military officials from both sides will participate in this dialogue. they will join civilian counterparts to discuss how we can reduce the dangerous risks of misunderstanding and miscalculation. in particular, i would like to thank deputy chief of the pla general measuring a for -- ma for being here with us for these important discussions. we are also working to build greater understanding and trust between our citizens and to foster stronger ties between our students, our businesses and our communities, expanding on the
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consultations that were held here in washington last month. that includes the 100,000-strong program. this is a program to boost education aleck changes and to -- educational exchanges and to create new links between entrepreneurs and investors. i'm looking forward to lunching with business leaders from both of our countries. we're also emphasizing programs to connect women leaders and a new initiative to bring together state and provincial officials. and, of course, we want to continue our strong people-to-people diplomacy. building mutual trust and respect will help us to solve shared problems. we both have a great stake in curbing climate change and charting a clean and secure energy future. we both care about promoting responsible and sustainable development around the world.
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and we both are committed to stopping the dangerous spread of nuclear weapons. china and the united states face a wide range of common regional and global challenges. how our two countries work together to meet those challenges will help define the trajectory not only of our relationship going forward, but the future peace, prosperity and progress of the world. whether it's the global financial crisis or the upheaval in the middle east, recent history has underscored the link between our economies and global security and stability. and that intersession is at the -- intersection is at the heart of our dialogue. so we will be discussing the need to work together to rebalance the global economy and assure strong, sustained future growth. there are some very important international security issues we will be discussing. as permanent members of the united nations security council,
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the united states and china came together to enact tough sanctions on iran. and now we are working to implement them. our two countries share a vital interest in maintaining peace and stability on the korean peninsula, and that includes the complete denuclearization of the peninsula. so we continue to urge north korea to take concrete actions to improve relations with south korea and to refrain from further provocations. and we want to see north korea take irreversible steps to fulfill it international obligations toward denuclearization. now, like any two great nations, in fact, i would argue like any two people, we have our differences. and like friend, we discuss those ditches honestly and -- differences honestly and forthrightly. we will be continuing the discussion of the recent
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u.s./china human rights dialogue just held in beijing. we have made very clear publicly and privately our concern about human rights. we worry about the impact on our domestic politics and on the politics and the stability in china and the region. we see reports of people including public interest lawyers, writers, artists and others who are detained or disappeared. and we know over the long arc of history that societies that work toward respecting human rights are going to be more prosperous, stable and successful. that has certainly been proven time and time again, but most particularly in the last months. so this dialogue offers us a forum to have these candid discussions while continuing to focus on where we are going to cooperate effectively. as my friend, state counselor
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dai knows, i am fond of finding chinese sayings and proverbs, and i used one that has, for me, been the real inspiration for our participation back in 2009. that china and the united states are like people in the same boat, and we have to row in the same direction to get anywhere. well, there's also a wise chinese expression that says when confronted by mountains, one finds a way through. when blocked by a river, one finds a way to bridge to the other side. well, we are here to keep building those bridges, and we are not doing this alone. we are part of a web of institutions and relationships across the asia pacific and the world. the united states is practicing what we call forward-deployed diplomacy. we're expanding our presence, people and programs in high-level engagement. we've renewed our bonds with allies, bondenned our
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involvement with multilateral institutions, and the first time ever this year president obama will participate in the east asia summit. so we have a lot of work ahead of us both bilaterally and regionally and globally, and we have a lot to cover in a short time. so, again, i am delighted to welcome all of you here to ec press my -- express my confidence in this relationship and in the importance of this dialogue. and it is now my great honor to invite vice premier wang to address you. vice premier. [applause]
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>> translator: secretary clinton, secretary geithner, dear colleagues, we are gathered here today for the third round of china/u.s. strategic and economic dialogue. on behalf of the chinese delegation, i would like to express sincere thanks for the arrangements. president hue gin too -- hu jintao asks me and state counsel to convey his greetings to president obama, vice president biden, secretary clinton, secretary geithner and all those who work for the -- [inaudible] on the u.s. side. president hu jintao highly appreciates the important role in deepening understanding, strategic mutual trust and strengthening cooperation between our two countries at bilateral, regional and global levels. he hopes that both the chinese and u.s. sides will make the most of this round of dialogue to have in-depth exchange of
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views on ways to further enhance strategic mutual trust and deepen practical cooperation. he looks forward to the implementation of the agreement he reachessed with president obama and the advancement of the china/u.s. cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit. dear colleagues, last january president hu jintao paid a state visit to the united states. it was a his to historic visit h achieved great success. with vision and foresight, the two presidents opened a new page in china/u.s. relations. china/u.s. relations have kept moving forward despite twists and turns. our two countries differ in history, culture, resources, environment and national circumstances, but we are highly interdependent and mutually complimentary. china and the united states are
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each other's second largest trading partner. the united states is china's second largest export market and china is the fastest growing export market for the united states. together china and the united states account for one-third of the world's gdp and one-fifth of global trade. china/u.s. relationship has far exceeded the bilateral scope and has acquired growing global significance. we are witnessing profound and complex changes in the world economic landscape, changes that are driven by globalization. at present we still face many uncertainties where we are striving to tackle global economic recessions and sustain economic recovery. against such backdrop, economic and social develops in china and the united states face both challenges and opportunities of cooperation. now, there are both compliments
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and -- [inaudible] to insure economic recoveries. however, we have far more shared interests and cooperation than differences and competition. both sides must, therefore, make better use of the s and ed as an overarching framework for the examination of long-term and strategic issues and take solid steps to advance a the development of china/u.s. economic relations. dear colleagues, the past and the present have proven and the future will prove that nothing can hold back the trend of china/u.s. cooperation. we have conferred -- confidence in that. our confidence comes from the broad common interests between our two countries, the shared aspirations of our two peoples as well as from be historical and philosophical reflections. one action is better than 1,000
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words. let us use the opportunity brought by this current round of the s and eds to earnestly implement the important agreement reached between our two presidents and deepen our cooperation in economic, trade investment, financial infrastructure and other -- [inaudible] by so doing we'll contribute to the strong and balanced roles of not only our two economies, but also the world economy. i wish the third round of the s and ed great success. thank you. now i would like to invite secretary geithner to address you. [applause]
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[inaudible conversations] >> i want to start by joining secretary clinton and my u.s. colleagues in welcoming the chinese delegation, vice premier wang and counselor dai, it's good to see you in washington. when the strategic and economic dialogue first met in washington two years ago, president obama said the united states and china share a mutual interest. if we advance those interests through cooperation, our people will benefit, and the world will be better off. because our ability to partner with each other is a prerequisite for progress on many be of the most pressing global challenges. now, we have worked carefully and deliberately sin then to
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demonstrate that -- since then to demonstrate that basic truth. and our economies are stronger today because of the commitment of president obama and president hu the deepen our economic relationship even as we each confront significant economic challenges at home. i want to compliment vice premier wang for his leadership in this joint effort. he is a tough and forceful defender of china's interests, he focuses on the practical and the achievable, and he recognizes that china's economic success depends on a growing world economy and a strong relationship with the unite. with the united states. when president obama and president hu launched the strategic and economic dialogue in london of april -- in april of 2009, the world economy was in the grip of the worst financial crisis since the great depression. today thanks in no small part to the actions of the united states
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and china, we have put out the worst of the financial fires and the world economy is growing again. and because of the success of the cooperative strategy we lawned together -- launched together with the g20, world trade is now expanding rapidly, companies around the world are investing and hiring, and fears of deflation have receded. but, of course, we still face very significant, though very different economic challenges at home. in the united states, even after a year and a half of positive economic growth and more than two million private sector jobs created, unemployment is still very high, and we still have a lot of work to do here in repairing the damage caused by our crisis. our challenge in the united states is to strengthen the foundations for future economic growth, and this requires the sustained effort to improve egg, to


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