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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  May 23, 2012 5:00pm-8:00pm EDT

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specifically deals with it; and i want to congratulate the committee leadership for addressing that issue. i also want to mention one other issue, and that is technology and congratulate senator pryor for his leadership in this area. programs at f.d.a. to access the health-safety effects of using nanotechnology in everyday products is something that we need to do, and this legislation advances that. i am, i want to point out, and proud that the lab facilities at f.d.a. are fully capable of dealing with the challenges presented by nanotechnology, and this legislation acknowledges that. we also in maryland are proud of the beltsville agricultural research center that has the capacity to advance nanotechnology and the impact it has on everyday products and safety. those issues will be addressed also by the underlying bill, and
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we very much appreciate the leadership of the committee. let me talk for a moment about the two amendments that i have brought forward, amendment 2125, which deals with safety warnings, particularly as it affects the minority community. clinical trials don't always represent the diversity of our community. we know there is underrepresentation of minorities within clinical trials, and quite frankly, when the f.d.a. gives approval, they give approval to the known risks, as i'm sure you all are aware, but it doesn't always represent the impact on all communities. we also know that there are racial and ethnic differences in response to pharmaceuticals and that they may not become known until the drug is in wide use, certainly beyond the constraints of a controlled clinical trial. so we do have the -- the initial approval of f.d.a. that includes
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the known risks, but we also have the capacity under f.d.a. to do post-approval warnings. my amendment deals with that aspect of it. health and human services has a strategy to deal with minority health and health disparities. it's called the strategic action plan to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities. we also now have an institute at the national institutes of health that deals solely with minority health and health disparity. we have a commitment to do a better job as a nation with dealing with minority health disparities. this amendment would help us move forward in that regard. one particular drug that is used to treat an inflammatory disorder has been determined by several studies to have a mortality risk that is three times higher for african-americans than the general public. however, it is still widely prescribed and ads for the
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product on the internet and on television prominently feature african-american actors. this is an area in which the national medical association and many other groups are concerned about the quality of minority health have focused on for years. beyond the blackbox warning which is the most serious warnings that can be issued about the side effects of approved drugs. there are other concerns about products that are marketed for the overall population that may have side effects, but the specific data has not been developed yet to warrant a blackbox warning. the amendment that i have offered directs the f.d.a. to develop communication plans to address the best strategy for communicating benefits and risk safety alerts, changes to the label or labeling of drugs, including blackbox warnings, biological product or devices, health advisories, any information identifying particular sub populations and any other relevant information
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as determined appropriate to enhanced communication, including a variety of means of electronic communication. i might point out that this amendment has the support of the f.d.a. and bio and it is budget neutral. i would urge my colleagues to support this amendment to advance the commitment that we all have made to deal with reducing and hopefully one day eliminating the disparities, minority health disparities in our health care system. it is totally consistent with the strategic action plan to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities at the department of health and human services. the second amendment that i have brought forward, amendment 2141, deals with the small businesses. this is very appropriate that this amendment is being considered during small business week. we know -- we all acknowledge
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the importance of small business in the growth of our economy. two out of every three new jobs is created through small business. we get more innovation through our small businesses on a per- employee basis than we do through larger companies. it's critically important that small businesses be energized if our economy is going to rebound, as we know it needs to. the -- this is particularly true as we deal with innovation in drug development or medical devices. my amendment deals with the issues of coordinating the work between the f.d.a. and small business. it provides a listing of the staffing levels at the small business offices of the f.d.a. so that we know the capacity we have and we can evaluate that. that's our responsibility to do that. it provides an overview of the status of partnership efforts between the f.d.a. and the s.b.a. we want the two agencies, the food and drug administration, small business administration,
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to be working in concert to advance the cause for small businesses at the same time the mission of the f.d.a. my amendment provides a summary of all outreach efforts to small businesses and small business association t details the number of small businesses receiving protocol assistance. it shows the number of unsolicited and solicited grant applications, again, to small businesses so we can evaluate it. and most importantly, it calls for the examination of existing barriers, particularly as it relates to the generic drug shortages. it's interesting the fee schedule, the f.d.a. has the authority to do waivers as it relates to brand names. we know a lot of the generics are where we have our shortages because of the -- the economics of the circumstances. but the s.b.a. has limited ability to waive the fee structure as it relates to the
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generic -- the development of generic drugs. my amendment would ask the s.b.a. to report back to congress what impact that has on small businesses being innovative in developing generic drugs to help us generally with less costly drugs are available for treatment but also to make sure we deal with the drug shortage issue which i alluded to earlier in my floor comments. this amendment is also supported by senator landrieu, the chairman of the small business committee that i have the pleasure of serving on, and i would urge my colleagues to support both of the amendments that i have brought forward. i believe they only enhance the strength of the bill that's before us and is totally consistent with the work of the chairman and ranking member of the committee. with that, mr. president, i would urge my colleagues to support both amendments, support
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the underlying bill, and i would yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. a senator: mr. president? i ask that proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: mr. president, how much time is remaining on the two amendments offered by the senator from maryland? the presiding officer: six minutes for the majority on 2125. 15 minutes in opposition. for amendment numbered 2141, 11 minutes in favor and 15 in opposition. mr. harkin: well, mr. president, i will speak on the time on this amendment. first of all, the amendment 2125 will help ensure that health care providers, patients and
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payers better understand the benefits and risks associated with drugs, especially with respect to those drugs by underrepresented sub populations. i believe this is an important and noncontroversial amendment. i hope that we can support this amendment. on the other one, the 2141, which is the small business report, i think it's important that f.d.a. give small businesses a helping hand. i understand that each f.d.a. center has a small business office and that each of f.d.a.'s five regional offices has a small business representative, that this report that f.d.a. would have to submit on the basis of the amendment offered by senator cardin would provide congress with more information about how f.d.a. uses its resources for small businesses to help encourage small companies, and again i think it's another valuable addition to our bill and hopefully we can support that legislation, that
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amendment also. so i thank the senator from maryland for his offering these two amendments and for what i consider to be improvements in the underlying bill. i thank him very much for that. and, mr. president, again, i would just say to anyone in their offices that we still have some extra time here before -- before we will be adjourning this evening. again, i say to senators that -- that at 2:00 tomorrow, the bell rings and we will be moving to voting, at least by that time if not before, and so any senators that have amendments that they wish to bring up and talk about, i wish they would come over to the floor and do that now. so, mr. president, i would suggest the -- i would yield, first of all -- i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: mr. president, i would just echo the comments of the --
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of the chairman, and i thank the senator for his amendments. i think everybody appreciates both of those amendments and that they will be a part of this. i appreciate all the people who have come and spoken already. i italy there are probably a couple of controversial amendments that the people ought to come over and speak on. then we might have the possibility of moving some things up a little bit tomorrow so that we can get this bill finished up expediently. so i -- i hope if you have an amendment that you come over and use your time. i think that we have a few minutes in opposition perhaps to two of the amendments that have been debated so far, but that's it so far, and i think there are three controversial ones that are -- that are left to be debated. one of those has a significant amount of time allocated to it, but the others are limited to
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the 30 minutes equally divided. so i hope that we can take care of some more of those this evening and get started on votes as soon as possible. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. mr. harkin: mr. president, i ask that the time be divided equally. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. paul: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky. mr. paul: i call up amendment number 2143. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. paul: i ask unanimous consent that we dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection, the quorum call is dispensed with. mr. paul: i'd like to call up amendment 2143. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from kentucky, mr. paul, proposes an amendment numbered 2143. at the appropriate place -- mr. paul: i ask that the reading of the amendment be waived. the presiding officer: without objection, the reading is waived. mr. paul: mr. president, today i'm offering an amendment to the f.d.a. i'm troubled by images of armed agents, armed f.d.a. agents raising amish farms and preventing them selling milk directly from the cow.
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i think we have bigger problems in our country than sending armed fafd f.d.a. agents into peaceful farmers' land and telling them they can't sell milk directly from the cow. my amendment has three parts. first, it attempts to stop the f.d.a.'s overzealous regulations of vitamins, food and supplements by codifying the first amendment prohibition on prior restraint. what do i mean by that? the first amendment says you can't prevent speech, even commercial speech, in advance of the speech. you can't tell cheerios that they can't say there's a health benefit to their cheerios. under our current f.d.a. laws, the f.d.a. says if you want to market prune juice, you can't say that it cures constipation. you can't make a health claim about a food supplement or about a vitamin, you can do it about a pharmaceutical but you're not allowed to do it about a health supplement.
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i think this should change. there have been several court cases that shows this goes against not only the spirit but the letter of the law of the first amendment. so this amendment would change that. this amendment would stop the f.d.a. from sense you'ring claims about curative, mitigative effects of dietary supplements and stop the f.d.a. from prohibiting distribution of scientific articles and publications regarding the role of nutrients in protecting against disease. despite four court orders condemning the practice as a violation of the first amendment, the f.d.a. continues to suppress consumers' right to be informed and to make informed choices by denying them this particular information. it's time for congress to put an end to f.d.a. sensorship -- sens orship. second, my amendment would disarm the f.d.a. some of you might be surprised
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the f.d.a. is armed. you shouldn't be. we have nearly 40 federal agencies that are armed. i'm not against having police, i'm not against the army, the military, the f.b.i., but i think bureaucrats don't need to be carrying weapons and i think if there is an feermd an armed policeman to be there, the f.b.i., who are trained to do this should do it but i don't think it's a good idea to be arming bureaucrats to go on the farm to, you know, -- with arms to stop people from selling milk from a cow. i think we have too many armed federal agencies, and that we need to put an end to this. criminal law seems to be increasing, increasingly is using a tool of our government bureaucracy to punish and control honest businessmen for simply attempting to make a living. historically criminal law was intended to punish only the most horrible offenses that everyone agreed were wrong or evil, offenses like rape, murder,
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theft, arson but we've federalized thousands of activities and called them crimes. if bureaucrats need to involve the police, let's have them use the f.b.i. but i see no reason to have the f.d.a. carrying weapons. today the criminal law is used to punish behavior such as even fishing without a permit, package a product incorrectly or shipping something with an improper label. simply said, the federal government's gone too far. the plain language of our constitution specifies very few federal crimes. in fact, the constitution only had four federal crimes and now we have thousands of federal crimes. we've moved beyond the original intent of the constitution. we don't have a list of all the federal crimes. it's estimated there are over 4,000, but no one has an exact number. finally, my amendment will require adequate mens rea
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protection. in other words, if you have a crime you're supposed to prove the intent. people have to have intended to to harm on some some one, can't be a situation where you didn't intend to harm someone. if you want to put someone in jail, it should be a mens rea requirement. it comes out of our common law tradition. this amendment would fix this problem by strengthening the mens rea component by including the words "knowing" and" willful" before we address and accuse someone of a crime. this i think would give protection to folks who are guilty of inadvertently guilty of breaking a regulation and would keep from overflowing our jails. we've got plenty of violent criminals without putting people in for honest breaches of regulations. if congress is going to
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criminalize conduct at the federal level as it does with the f.d.a. act, the least it can do have is have an adequate mens rea requirement. my amendment will attempt to do this. the rules ought to be reasonable. we ought to allow people to market vitamins. there's no earthly reason somebody markets prune juice can't advertise it helps with consty ty paition. we've got -- constipation. we've abrogated the first amendment and we need to tell the f.d.a. that the courts have ruled that the first amendment does apply to commercial speech and the f.d.a. has been overstepping their bounds. i hope this amendment will pass and i ask for the yeas and nays at the appropriate time. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? ask the yeas and nays mr. paul: i ask the yeas and nays at the appropriate time.
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at this point i'd like to suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: i ask that further pridings on the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: i rise in opposition to the amendment offered by the senator from kentucky, and i oppose it for several reasons. i feel like i'm in the court of equity now. i've come with clean hands, because i am one of the authors
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of the dietary supplement and health education act along with senator hatch in 1994. we worked in tan gunmen dem over -- tandem to get the legislation through, a lot of compromises were made at that time, not only here in the senate but but also with the house when we went to conference, and i believe the right balance was struck. and i think it's proven its worth over the years. now, we've done some minor modifications to it over the years as i've often said, you don't want to -- when we write laws, they're not chiseled in stone for all eternity. they're not the ten commandments, they're laws and sometimes they need to be modified and changed a little bit, usually tweaking. but this amendment basically turns the whole law that we had since 1994 on its head. we have a process now where the
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f.d.a. regulates the supplements as foods. these are foods, not drugs. so as we hammered this agreement out, supplements can make nutrient, structure, function claims without any f.d.a. preapproval. now, if they want to make a health claim, then it has to be approved by f.d.a., and f.d.a. has to find that it is supported by appropriate scientific evidence. so under this amendment, substances that today are considered drugs and used to treat speez diseezs as serious -- diseases as serious as cancer or h.i.v. could be marketed without any rigorous f.d.a. review, that we have heard from many speakers here today that's the gold standard of drug regulations throughout the world. it would turn our current system of drug regulation on its head. it would be a huge setback for
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health, it would foster a system rife with potential for health fraud. the big losers would be patients. and quite frankly, as someone who is a strong supporter of the dietary supplement health and education act, and one of i would say along with senator hatch, has been one of its protectors for all of these -- all these years, i dare say the amendment offered by the senator from kentucky would destroy, would destroy dshea, would destroy it. and i don't want to see it destroyed because i think it's doing a lot of good for a lot of people in this country. it's working well. consumers have access to a wide range of safe products. there's no reason to upset its success. because this amendment would do that. to to think that somehow you could just go out and make any health
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claim you want, you know, back to the days of snake oil salesmen. this elixir will do everything, it will cure every ailment you have and turn the clock back 20 years, you know, and people would buy it, and what was it? it was 80% alcohol and 20% water, or something like that. so they made all these crazy claims. and we're going to -- we're going to move to that kind of a system now? and the only -- the only recourse would be to take them to federal court and then have a trial and go through all that and then, okay, then they -- then they appeal it and then finally you find out, well, okay, the court says no, there's not enough scientific evidence to warrant that so you've on the to take that product off the market. we're going to do that for every one of the thousands and thousands of different products that are out there? what a mess this would be. first of all, the federal courts would not have the wherewithal
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to do every one of those. secondly, who's got the money to take all that to court? and it would literally destroy, bring down -- bring down -- i think an industry that has done well in this country. the dietary supplement industry, the vitamins and minerals industry in this country, i think they've done a great job in this country. and i don't want to see it ruined. and this would ruin it. lastly, the senator from kentucky talked about increasing the men srea -- you know, in law school, what's your mental condition, what your thought process were, what was your intent? it would increase it. that would be need to be join to enjoin the food, drug and cosmetic act. i just think that somehow we would make it harder to enforce
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a public health statute harder to enforce, not easier, sink troubling. i see no legitimate reason to do this. the goal of this amendment is clearly to render the f.d.a. virtually incapable of addressing industry abuses. so i think this amendment would have deleterious effects on the dietary health and supplement education act and the industry but also on f.d.a.'s ability to regulate prescription drugs. i mean, you can just about say anything about what your -- your health claims would be on any kind of a product and your only recourse, as i said, would be to go to federal court. well, again, this is not a consensus measure. we have built a very broad bipartisan support for this f.d.a. user fee bill. it is must-pass legislation. we cannot jeopardize that consensus. and for those reasons, i oppose the amendment offered by the
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senator from kentucky. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. harkin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: i ask that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: mr. president, how
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much time is left on the amendments offered by the senator from maryland, senator cardin's amendment? the presiding officer: on amendment 2141, there are 11 minutes remaining in support and 15 minutes in opposition. mr. harkin: mr. president, i ask the senator from colorado, how much time does the senator from colorado want? a senator: i'd like to try for ten minutes but if i can do it shorter i will. mr. harkin: mr. president, i ask that 10 minutes of that time of 2141 be yielded to the senator from colorado. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from colorado. mr. bennet: mr. president, thank you. i thank the senator from iowa, the chairman of the help committee, for his indulgence. mr. president, yesterday i spoke about some of the process and the important issues of drug
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safety in making sure there's a good system for safer drugs, both in preparation and distribution, and i know we seem to get close to reaching a resolution, which is tremendous -- i've heard many of my colleagues praise different parts of the bill, which i will do as well in a minute. but i want to just take one more minute again while the chairman and the ranking member are on the floor to -- to recognize what an enormous accomplishment their leadership has resulted in, in getting this bill to a close. and as i said yesterday, i think the work of the help committee, both democrats and republicans, with the leadership of the chairman and the ranking member really is a model for this congress. and it's the reason why the quality of this bill is so high. we've still got a few votes to go tomorrow, but people forget that it's rare to be working on a full extension of anything here. you know, this -- this has become the land of flickering lights, where we keep things on
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for one more month or two more months. and here we actually have a five-year extension of this legislation. it's wonderful to be working in such a bipartisan and businesslike fashion. and it is not lost on me about how much work has been put into the bill by my colleagues on the help committee, including the presiding officer, or the help committee staff. so i just to want reiterate my thanks and gratitude to the work on the bill. it will truly help patients and american families get the medical products they need, when they need it. which brings me, mr. president, to the subject of medical devices. colorado is the sixth largest medical device sector in the country with over 600 bioscience companies overall. we obviously need to strike a balance as we think about this legislation, because as we speed the f.d.a. to increase -- to
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speed approvals, we've got to ensure devices are safe. this year has represented a good-faith bipartisan effort among members on and off the help committee to find policies that will empower the f.d.a. to ensure safer devices and also ensure our companies on the ground have more regulatory certainty and predictability. the f.d.a. has been upfront about the challenges the device sector faces: reviewer turnover, young, less experienced reviewers and management challenges. at the same time, we've heard from venture capital investors that regulatory uncertainty at the f.d.a. is the reason they've been hesitant about continued investments in the united states and have thought about future investment in asia and europe. the new medical device user fee will go a long way toward ensuring the f.d.a. has the the resources to provide effective medical devices in less time and with more predictability.
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we were also able to craft policies on innovation and safety. this includes republican forcing regulations in place since 1997 that require the f.d.a. to take the least burdensome approach by not asking companies for unnecessary or unrelated information. i see th the senator from minnea on the floor. i thank her for her leadership on that bee that piece of lilin. it also includes provisions to provide tracking so if there is a problem, doctors can quickly know if their product is one that works. now, mr. president, i'd like to say a word about drug shortage, discussion issue that every member is hearing about in their states and the f.d.a. in just the last year was notified of about 220 drug shortages. we know that the amount of patients this affects is monumental. for cancer alone, over 550,000
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patients have been currently affected by our national drug shortage crisis. in colorado i can tell you our patients and providers are extremely frustrated. a pharmacist at st. mary's hospital in grand junction has said he keeps a two-page list of 50 drugs -- 50 drugs that he can't get or can barely get ahold of, including 12 chemotherapy drugs. i wanted to share a couple of constituents' stories from my home state before i sit down. don gibbs wrote, "dear senator bennet, i am contacting you to inform you of my grave concern of the national shortage of the preservative-free cancer drug methotrexate." i am a sure i got that wrong but for the record we'll clean it up. "my 2-year-old cousin receives this drug for her newly dying notioned leukemia. her doctors have told her they only have a two-week supply left at the clinic. this drug keeps her leukemia
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from traveling to her brain. the shortage is life-threatening to her, and the 3,000 like her with this cancer. i thank you for your assistance in this matter. i know that my little 2-year-old cousin cannot speak out on her own behalf, so i am honored to be her voisms i feel my voice will not be enough alone to make a difference and hope that you will be our voice." i can tell you tonight, don's voice is being heard on behalf of her cousin just as patients all across the country are lending their voices to this important debate. carol gill from morrison, colorado, wrote, "dear senator bennet, i have stage-four cancer. my current treatment regimen is doing a fine job of keeping the disease stable. this regimen includes a biweekly infusion of two generic drugs: 5-f-u and two other drugs on patent. i received treatment at the university of colorado hospital. my oncologist has called me to
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say that the university of colorado hospital is out of 5-f-u. today oncologists at the university of colorado hospital are di calling their patients to tell them some or all of their cancer treatment must be suspended. thank you for taking this seriously and taking immediate steps to correct it." carol gill. my hope is that the senate bill can give some reprieve to these coloradans in desperate need of their lifesaving drugs. the senate bill would give the food and drug administration the much-needed authority to require drug manufacturers report any discontinuance, interpretation, or other adjustment that would likely result in a shortage, especially those drugs needed to provide emergency care. i'd also immediately create a task force that would develop a strategic plan to address drug shortages and submit recommendations to congress as well as study the effect that drug pricing relates to shortages. the people in my home state need us to provide solutions to these
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problems yesterday, mr. president. they can't wait any longer nor should they, and i will say again, it is because of the leadership of the two people sitting here -- the ranking member of our committee and the chairman of our committee -- that we've been able to get this bill to the floor for a vote. i think we should take that vote tomorrow and move forward on behalf of patients all are across -- all across this country and in the bioscience community. with that, i yield the floor. mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from i would wievment. mr. enzi: i want to thank the senator from colorado for his comments, but he sold himself pretty short on the influence on this bill. he's worked dramatically on every portion of this bill and made some significant contributions that are now a part of the bill, so he didn't have to do amendments at this point because he got them all in before. and that's -- that was a very important across-the-aisle work that you did, working with a umin of people on both sides -- working with a number of people on both sides of the aisle and
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being real faithful in having all their staff members at staff meetings that were held on fridays throughout the year. this bill wouldn't have been possible without your efforts, too. so we thank you. i yield the floor. harass mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: i want to join senator enzi thanking senator senatorrette fothanking bennet s bill. it is a great bipartisan bill, great bipartisan spowmplet i thank him for all of his work on our working groups, especially the drug supply chain. and this is a key part of this bill. we're now -- where now the f.d.a. will have the authority and wherewithal to go back up the chain to where these drugs come from. i think the senator is the first one to point out to me on the committee that about 80%, i think, of all of the greefntses that go into our -- of all of the ingredients that go into our
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drugs in this country come from outside this country. but we had no real idea of where, how they were doing, a understanand so now we can insid manufacturing processes. so i would say this is a singular edition to this bill that can be traced right back to the senator from colorado. i thank him very much for his leadership on this issue and helping us get this bill to where we are today. i thank the senator. mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: the senator from minnesota, i'd like to yield ten minutes off of the opposition grassley amendment 21231 to the senator from -- 21231 to the -- 23121 to the senator from minnesota.
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ms. klobuchar: thank you. thank you for your great leadership on this bill. this bill means so much to my state. i spoke earlier today about the need to improve the approval process at the f.d.a. as you know, this bill will speak that up with the agreement reached between industry and the f.d.a. on the fees. i want to thank you for your leadership on that. we have literally tens of thousands of employees in our state that have incredibly good jobs in the high-tech industry. this is a huge potential export -- already is an export but even more could come if we do this right, as we look at the growing middle class in countries like china and india that are going to hospital, that are using medical devices, so this bill speeding up the process but still keeping those important safety standards in place couldn't be more important as well as for patients who have been waiting for lifesaving treatments. so i thank you for that. i also thank you for including, as senator bennet referenced, my drug shortage provision in here that we've worked on for two
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years. we gathered support as the years went on -- senator harkin, thank you for the hearing we had on that bill and for your work of your staff in bringing people together, that we got senator casey and senator cal lins and my provisions in this bill. we all know what's been going on. several senators have mentioned it. but we're talking about 4-year-old boyce with lou keep ileukemiawhose parents find oute no cancer treatment drug and are put into a panic trying to book flights to canada so the child can continue its treatment. or a little woman who has cancer who has to call around for doxil ads all around our stale out-of-state and then -- all around our state. that shouldn't be happening in the united states of america. and this early notification of the f.d.a. will, as we've seen, been very positive, over 200 drug shortages averted because of the early notification with
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orphan drugs and others in the last few years. so this provision will truly make a difns. i want to toc for including that. i'm actually here to talk about another matter which the two of you have been involved in negotiating. these are bills that senator schumer, senator grassley, and i -- we each had one of three bills that covered different synthetic drugs. my drug bill covered t.c.e., which is a synthetic hallucinogen. that is something that a young man died from taking in minnesota. there was actually a murder prosecution because of it. and this just again we've seen it go wyche wildfire through our state with these synthetic drawings. senator portman and myself and senator schumer and senator grassley will be offering this amendment, and i want to thank you for your work on it as well. i encourage my colleagues to support this amendment, and i hope it will pass overwhelmingly. as members of the judiciary committee, senator grassley and senator schumer and i have been
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working on this, as i mentioned, for years. there have been reports from states -- every state in the country of people acting violently while under the influence of these drugs, leading to deaths or injuries to themselves and others. while taking these drugs, people can experience elevated heart rates and blood pressure, has lewis nations, seizures and extreme agitation. they are dangerous, but they are also danger to us to themselves. up in moorehead, pi moorhead, me did a forum and a group of people were sitting in the front row to support our provisions because they had lost a loved one who was taking something he considered to be synthetic mayor wasn't navment turned out to be very different, turned out to be much stronger. these are the cases and they were sobbing telling their stories. until 2006 i was the hennepin county attorney in minnesota. during my time i can tell you that we just didn't have this as
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an issue and you can see how quickly it's changed. listen to these numbers. in 2011, poisson control centers received nearly 13,000 calls about synthetic calls. how many did they get in 2010? only 3,200. look at that. 3,200 to 13,000 in just one year. in minnesota there were a total of 392 calls to poisson control relating to sing thetic drugs. in 2011 compared to 107 in 2010. a tripling of calls about this problem in just one year. this all hit home in my state with the tragic death of a 19-year-old man, trevor rob inson, who overdosed on 2-c-e. another young man was thought to shoot himself. i introduced bill which would add 2-ce, the dlawg killed this young plan, and similar drugs to
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the banned substantials list so they will be treated in the same manner as other banned drugs. that they claim to represent. i'm also a cosponsor of the two bills authored by senators grassland schumer. all three of these bills are contained in the amendment that we're offering with senator portman. these drugs can kill and if we don't take, a, action, they will become more and more prevalence. they are available on the internevment the federal government has to make sure that they are illegal fl beam buy these drugs that have numbers like 2-ce. they don't really know what they are. they get them and they turn out to be deadly. that's what happened in blaine, minnesota. i hope we ban these drugs as part of our debate on the bill. we know that the d.e.a. has been take action on its own and they've temporarily banned some of these drugs. but most of the substances covered in our three bills have not been banned including all the stawnses in my bill. that is why in fact we are
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offering this amendment of on the state level, roughly 40 states have banned some synthetic drugs including my state where a major law regarding synthetic drugs tooct effect in july. we need a federal law. this crosses the state line. a lot is done on the internet. we can't have this state by state and passing a federal law will help create the partnership we need to send a strong message that we need to eradicate these stansz. i'm very pleased that this amendment is being offered. we need to get it done now, ban these drugs, and make a clear, clear statement that these drugs are illegal. i again want to thank senator harkin and senator enzi for working this out so we can offer this amendment and also my colleague, senator portman, schumer, and grassley for their hard work. i know we are committed to getting this dofnlt i yield the floor.
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mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i speak for speak for 15 minutes in morning business and not to take time away from the bill. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. enzi: mr. president, it was my understanding that because of the special event tonight that we were going to be out of here at 6:00. so, i'm not leadership has in mind at this point, but i -- mrs. murray: mr. president, i -- mr. enzi: i have -- the presiding officer: is there objection to the stphar's request? without objection. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, next week americans are going to spend time honoring and commemorating the men and women who died fighting for our great country. memorial day is a day to reflect
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on and give thanks for the sacrifices made by those who made the ultimate sacrifice. but it's also a day to look forward and to think about what we all can do to help our veterans who also sacrifice so much and who deserve our support when they come home. so, mr. president, i come to the floor today to discuss an issue that, quite frankly, defies common sense. the high rate of unemployment among recently separated veterans is an issue that continues to make the transition home for veterans harder than ever. despite the fact that our veterans have the leadership ability and the discipline and technical skills to not only find work but to excel in the workforce of the 21st century, our veterans continue to struggle. despite the skill and talent and training of our veterans, statistics have continued to paint a grim picture. according to the department of labor, young veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 is an
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unemployment rate that is nearly 20%. one in five of our nation's heroes can't find a job to support their family, don't have an income that provides stability, and don't have work that provides them with the self-esteem and pride that's so critical to their transition home. mr. president, we know this should not be the case. we shouldn't let the skills and training our nation's veterans have go to waste. and that's why all of us join together to overwhelmingly pass my vow to hire heroes act here in the senate late last year. among many things, that law will provide tax incentives to encourage businesss to hire veterans, makes participation in the transition assistance program mandatory for most separating service members and expands the education and training we provide transitioning service members. thanks to that legislation, we have been able to take real concrete steps towards putting
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our veterans to work. the tax credit is working, and v.a. is set to begin accepting applications for a retraining program that will benefit unemployed veterans ages 35 to 60 and help them get back to work. but that bill is only that: a first step. today i'm here to talk about the next step, and that step is to build partnerships with private businesses large and small all across our country to hire our nation's heroes. mr. president, recently i was up in new york where i participated in a lively round table discussion hosted by the robin hood foundation. the discussion on veterans' employment was moderated by tom brokaw on the u.s.s. intrepid and brought together people of various background including former chairman of the joint chiefs admiral mike mullen and housing and urban development secretary shaun donovan to talk about this important issue. what is very apparent is that there is momentum to build
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public-private partnerships. what also is apparent is there's a lot of room for improvement in this area. now i want to first make clear that a lot of companies across the country are far ahead of curve on this. in fact, many private-sector companies have already joined our efforts in addressing this critical issue. j.c. penney, one of america's largest retailers, joseph abboud, a clothing company partnered with iran and iraq to launch the welcome hoe joe, thanks a mill program, to prepare -- that thinks a million program. this program provides 5,000 veterans with certificates to purchase business attire. for the last decade we've expected our brave men and women in uniform to prepare for the battlefield. in the process they have become accustomed to wearing combat boots and battle-dress uniforms. now they're expected to wear a suit and tie for job interviews, something that sometimes seems pretty foreign to them.
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but thanks to this program, thousands of transitioning veterans can now hang up their battle-dress uniforms and dress for their next challenge. other companies like schneider national, one of america's largest trunking companies are realizing the veterans gained over the last decade of work are directly applicable to their business. schneider national recognizes that a veteran who has driven a seven-ton truck across afghanistan's dangerous and rugged terrain is more than qualified to drive a freight truck across our nation's road. and in addition to providing many veterans with new jobs, schneider national also provides newly separated veterans with on the job training through their military apprenticeship program. as part of that program veteran employees are eligible to earn a monthly benefit education check from the v.a. in addition to a paycheck. schneider national serves as a great example of how companies can hire veterans that have proven that they can perform on
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the job but lack proper certifications for civilian employment. the u.s. chamber of commerce should be commended for launching its hiring our heroes initiative which has sponsored 150 hiring fairs in 48 of our states. at one of these hiring fairs, general electric, the employer of 10 thousand veterans, launched its veterans network transition assistance program. as part of that program g.e. has vowed to hire 1,000 additional veterans every year for the next five years and provides job-seeking veterans with one-on-one mentoring sessions. those sessions help transitioning veterans improve resume writing and interviewing techniques so they can capitalize opbd skills they developed -- on the skills they developed during their military service. mr. president, that is a fraction of the work being done by our nation's employers. there are many success stories at big companies, companies like
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small depot and small companies like general plastics in my home state which created a pipeline to hire veterans at its aerospace composite factories. all these companies are not only examples of success stories, they also created a road map about how best to find, hire and train veterans. and it's our job to make those less -- make sure those lessons are being heard. today i want to be here on the floor to lay out a few things that all businesses, large and small, can do to bring our nation's heroes into their companies. first, get the word out to companies to educate their human resources teams about the benefits of hiring veterans and how skills that they learn in the military translate to the work a company does. i can't tell you how often i hear from veterans who tell me the terms that they use in interviews and on resumes fail to get through to the interview. second, help our companies provide job training and
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resources for transitioning service members. this is something i have seen done at large organizations like amazon and microsoft, but also at smaller companies in conjunction with local colleges. in fact, the most successful of these programs capitalize on skills developed during military service but also utilized on-the-job training. third, let business leaders know how important it is to publicize job openings with our veterans service organizations at local military bases so we can help connect veterans with jobs and to work with local one-stop career centers. fourth, develop an internal veterans group within your company to mentor recently discharged veterans. and finally, if you can, please reach out to your local community colleges and universities to help develop a pipeline of the many, many veterans that are using g.i. benefits to gain employment in your particular area. mr. president, if we can spread
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the message on just a few of these steps, i'm confident we will be able to continue to build on the success we've had in hiring veterans. but, mr. president, there is one other even more important step we have to take to ensure that businesses are taking. it has to do with the difficult issue of the invisible wounds of war that some potential employees face. now i have heard repeatedly from veterans, they do not put their military service on their resume because they fear it stigmatizes them. they fear that those who have not served see them all as damaged or unstable. we have to understand what mental health challenges are and what they are not. as we seek to employ more veterans, we need future bosses and coworkers to understand that issues like post traumatic stress or depression are natural responses to some of the most stressful events a person can experience. we need them to understand these
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illnesses do not afflict every veteran. most importantly, we need them to understand for those that are affected by these illnesses, they can get help. they can get better. and they can get back to their lives. we need to let businesses know if they do have a veteran who is facing some challenges, they should do the right thing and encourage him or her to get help. they need to know it's okay to reach out. help them take advantage of the excellent help that the v.a. is capable of providing. the veteran will be better and they will be an even stronger member of your team. now, mr. president, those are some steps that our employers can take, but we also need to make sure that our veterans are taking steps to make sure that they stand out as candidates. you know, unfortunately, too often our veterans don't see how the skills that they learned in the military translate from the battlefield to the working world. one of the biggest reasons for that is that often our veterans
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don't understand the vernacular of the working world. you know, mr. president, just a few weeks ago i was at home in washington state talking about this issue when i met a woman named ann spurty. ann is a veteran. she helps local veterans find work through an organization called the unfinished mission. ann told me how often she's heard from veterans who told her they were not qualified for the jobs they had seen online or in the paper. repeat lid they told -- repeatedly they told her they didn't see how their experiences mattered to employers in the area. so one day in front of a whole group of veterans, ann pulled out this job advertising from boeing for a position as a fabrication specialist. and ann could once again sense that the veterans who sat there and read this ad thought they weren't qualified for this manufacturing job that is listed in boeing space exploration
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division. then ann concentrated all the veterans in the room attention on the competencies and qualification section listed in that advertisement and she asked all of them did you spend time in the service working together to remove obstacles to help the team accomplish its goal? did you work to fully involve others on the team in decisions and actions? were you held responsible? did you demonstrate your commitment to the team? around the room all these veterans, heads were nodding as she read verbatim from the boeing job announcement. every veteran understood they had the core skills employers like boeing were looking for. they just didn't realize it. what ann made those veterans come to understand was that their skills were being lost in translation. and what many of them needed to do was simply articulate their experiences in a way that employers could understand. so today i want to reiterate to all of our veterans that no
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matter what branch you served in or when you served or how long you served, the skills you learned are valuable. and it's up to you to make sure employers see that. you know, mr. president, our veterans don't ask for a lot. oftentimes they come home and don't even acknowledge their own sacrifices. my own father never talked about his time fighting in world war ii. in fact, i never saw his purple heart or knew that he had wallet with shrapnel in it from when he was hit or a diary that detailed his time in combat until after he died and my family gathered to start sorting through his belongings. but our veterans shouldn't have to ask. we should know to provide for them. when my father's generation came home from the war, they came home to opportunity. my father came home to a community that supported him. he came home to college and a job, a job that gave him pride and helped him start a family
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and one that ultimately led to me starting my own. that is the legacy of opportunity we have to live up to today's veterans. mr. president, together working with the private sector, we can ensure that brave men and women who have worn our uniform have that real opportunity. we can make sure they get a fair shot from america's employers, that they're not measured by their fear or stigma, but by what they can do, what they have done, and what they will do. i want to thank those companies that are leading the way to ease our veterans' transition from military service to the civilian workforce. the veterans' affairs committee that i chair, our web site has a list of some of those companies that are contributing to this effort. i would encourage our colleagues to visit that web site and suggest companies that can be added to our list. i look forward to working with all of them and many more of our nation's businesses on this important next step in bringing our veterans home to opportunity. and as we celebrate our fallen
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heroes on memorial day next week, let's all keep thinking about how we can make sure our veterans are getting everything they need after they have given so much. and, mr. presid -- mr. president, before i yield the floor, i want to just take a moment to acknowledge a young marine reservist, an afghanistan combat veteran who has been working part time on my veterans affairs committee staff for the last year. carlos fuentes is a hard-working, well-liked young man, graduated from american university earlier this month. he has really helped our committee get a better understanding of what our veterans are facing when they are looking for work. i want to really thank him for his continued service to our nation. and, mr. president, i just need to note that carlos is going to be getting married this weekend, and i do want to wish him and his bride many, many happy years to come. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. manchin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. manchin: i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment so i may call up my -- the presiding officer: we're in a quorum call. mr. manchin: suspend the quorum call. i ask unanimous consent to call up my amendment 2151 as modified with changes at the desk. the presiding officer: without objection, the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from west virginia, mr. manchin, proposes amendment numbered 2151 as modified. mr. manchin: mr. president, i ask for a brief explanation on the amendment and hope that it will be accepted. basically, what we're doing is we're changing the hydrocodone combination drugs to a section -- schedule two from a schedule three. that makes it much harder for people to have access of this drug that has been wreaking
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havoc throughout the country and throughout our states. i would appreciate the adoption of the amendment. that's it. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: mr. president, as the senator said, his amendment would amend the controlled substances act to make any substance containing hydrocodone , vicodin, a schedule three drug. the most significant difference is that for patients, schedule two drugs are not allowed to be refilled, and that's the key to the amendment. i applaud the senator. i have great concerns regarding the increased abuse of prescription drugs. according to the centers for disease control and prevention -- quote -- "overdoses involving prescription painkillers are at epidemic levels, epidemic levels, and now kill more americans than heroin and cocaine combined." that's a quote from the center for disease control and prevention. according to the c.d.c., more
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than 40 people die in america every day from overdoses involving narcotic pain relievers such as hydrocodone. for this reason, i applaud senator manchin's amendment and the efforts he has taken to reschedule this drug. it's the most frequently abused narcotic and a strong, strong reason to schedule it into section two. again, i thank him for this amendment, and at the appropriate time, i will ask for its -- for its adoption. with that, mr. president, right now i will suggest the -- again, i want to thank the senator from west virginia. this is a great amendment, it improves the bill, it is widely accepted. the senator has been on the right track on this. i applaud him for doing this. believe me, a lot of people in america are going to thank the senator for getting this drug rescheduled to cut down on this
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terrible overuse of this drug in america. i just thank the senator very much. mr. manchin: mr. president? if i may say this, on behalf of senator kirk, who, as you know, has worked very close with me on this matter, and we have many other senators, gillibrand, schumer, rockefeller, so many people. this is one way for us to fight this abuse that goes on. i have said this. if you do nothing else, if you go to some of these communities that have been ravaged and you speak to these young children that come up to you and said please, help me, help my mommy or daddy get off this addiction, it will tear your heart out. this gives us a chance, one more tool that we can fight the drug abuse that's going on with prescription drugs. i appreciate it and i would ask unanimous consent that it would be adopted, if we can. thank you, sir. mr. harkin: i will hold the unanimous consent requests. we have a number of ones that we are putting together.
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at the appropriate time, i will make sure that happens. mr. manchin: absolutely. i withdraw that. mr. harkin: mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. harkin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: i ask that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: i ask unanimous consent to set aside all pending amendments in order to call up reid amendment number 2126. i ask that the clerk report the amendment by number. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from iowa, mr. harkin, for mr. reed of rhode island, proposes amendment numbered 2126. mr. harkin: mr. president, i further ask that the following amendments be agreed to en bloc -- cardin number 2125, cardin number 2141, grassley number 2121, grassley number
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2129, manchin number 2151 as modified, and reed number 2126. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. harkin: mr. president, so we're sort of finished with business for today. we do have some more amendments to be called up and voted on tomorrow. i understand we're coming in -- i don't know exactly what time has been set for the morning, but after the leaders' time has been used, we'll be back on this bill. i remind senators and their staffs that we have until 2:00 p.m. for the amendments to be brought up and to be debated, and the sooner we get to those in the morning, the better off we'll be. so as soon as the leader time is exhausted and used up tomorrow morning, we'll be back on our -- on our bill tomorrow morni so, mr. president, i ask -- i note tthe abs the time on the
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quorum not be taken off our bill. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. reid: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that the clerk discontinue calling the quorum. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that we now proceed to a period of morning business with senators allowed to speak up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask the banking committee be discharged from further consideration of s. 2367. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. 2367, a bill to strike the word lunatic from federal law and for other purposes. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. the committee is discharged. and the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the bill be read a third time passed, the motion to reconsider, there be no intervening action or debate, any statements relating to this matter placed in the record at the appropriate place as if read. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the senate move to h.r. 4097. the presiding officer: the clerk will report.
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the clerk: h.r. 4097, an act to amend the john f. kennedy center act to authorize appropriations for the john f. kennedy center for the performing arts and for other purposes. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. reid: i ask further, mr. president, that the bill be read three times, passed, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table with no intervening action or debate, any statements relating to this matter aare -- appear in the record at the appropriate place. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the appointment at the desk be made and appear separately in the record. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i now ask unanimous consent that question the senate completes the business day, the senate adjourn until 9:30 a.m. tomorrow morning, following the prayer and pledge -- pardon me, the prayer and the pledge, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the morning business be deemed ex pierpd and the time for the two leaders reserved for use later in the day and the senate resume consideration of the s. 3187, the f.d.a. legislation. before you rule on this, we're going to have up to 13 roll call votes tomorrow. under the order entered they start at 2:00 p.m. there is no reason we couldn't start these votes earlier. we come in at 9:30, we could start them early.
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as soon as debate stops we can start calling up these votes. we can't have any votes during the -- there are a couple of meetings going on where senators have to be there. so from 1:00 to 2:00 we can't have votes but any time during that time we should and dispose of some of these amendments. 13 amendments are going to take a long time tomorrow. so i hope everybody would try to move this up and get these done more quickly. so, mr. president, would you rule on my request. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: so, again, repeating there will be up to 13 roll call votes tomorrow starting at 2:00. the purpose of that is to complete action on the f.d.a. user fees bill and to consider the student loan interest rate hike legislation. if there is no further business to come before the senate, mr. president, i ask that we adjourn under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until 9:30 a.m. tomorrow.
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there were a couple of things that were holding up the deal. one was the one the student loan bills which will be voted on after the bill was done with another hurdle with the insurance program senator vitter was looking for with an agreement to vote on that after the comeback from memorial day break. there's also some concern in the
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republican party meeting about an amendment from senator hatch on the medical devices. there's a lot of little things that have to be put into place before we could get this final agreement. islamic what are the some of the key amendments likely to come up for debate over the next few hours? >> one of the biggest ones is senator john mccain and sherrod brown of bohon leota would have a lot of people prescription drugs from canada which would be of a lower-cost that's something we've seen come out in the senate for the past few years now but it always gets a lot of support but never quite enough to actually get adopted and will require 60 votes to get it adopted so we are not expecting it to meet that threshold. >> why do supporters say this bill is necessary? >> the programs funded in these fda bill to give them a lot of its money to do some of these reviews for drugs and devices on medical products. i think the prescription drug part is about 60% of all of the money they get in the prescription drugs comes from
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the user fees put in this bill so if they didn't have it they would lose a lot of money and have to fire a lot of staff they would start getting pink slips to employees this summer. >> what about the administration or what is their view of the bill? >> they've come out with administration policy saying they support the well and want it to pass. >> is the senate bill radically different from the one that's being developed in the house? >> they are very close this time. there are few places of disagreement on the whole, they are very close to each other and there's areas they do disagree but don't seem to be anything that is completely intractable. there's no difference between one of the other cover the basic things. >> on the senate will family with congressional quarterly read reporting at ceq. thanks for joining us. >> thank you. >> think not where everyone has
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been but where they are going. the guy in front of you could win an academy award someday. a future president from the united states or even better than that the mayor of new york city. the guy sitting here to be a future nobel laureate, okay, maybe not to your right but the one to your left.
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>> a discussion now on the type of access reporters have been covering china and censorship by the country's government. the executive editor of "the washington post" joins a former time reporter for newsweek at this event hosted by the asia society in new york city. panelists also discuss recent coverage of the blind chinese dissident who arrived in new york last saturday. [applause] >> apostle of this assembly is a mystery, mayhem and the media of covering china. this is one topic that will never go away. you have just one this nice
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award. why don't you tell us what kind of changes you've seen in the time you've spent in china particularly covering china in terms of the media ability to cover that country. >> in some ways it is difficult as ever somebody can't have the most obvious legal issues it's really hard to cover china sometimes and you have to get accreditation and submit an application to do interviews legally and i don't have that a lot of people don't put another
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beyond that there's even more possibly even more challenges social position to controversial journalism, a lot of i would say that because there's not so much freedom of speech it's just a critical step they're not welcome in modern china. as the mckelvie realize that? >> it really makes people nervous just by asking questions about politics especially older generations don't feel comfortable talking about
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politics and restaurants i think the internet has done a lot to increase discourse >> you've been around the block a few times and have watched the sweep over the journalists how do you analyze the forces that are improving and maybe that are more retrograde how you see the picture as devolving? thank you for organizing the panel and inviting me and congratulations. i think that's the right way of framing the question because i think you can look at china as a snapshot or moving pictures as with anything and as you look at china in a snapshot, obviously
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all the things that april was describing and observes our real genuine impediments to good journalism getting a visa. i seem to be the editor that spends the most time trying to get visas and sometimes not, but getting a visa is critical. people still have -- you have to assume you are being followed and your conversations are being listened to and people get interview after you interview them by the state security people come and get if that's the snapshot the dynamic picture is if you compare it to the days in the 80's you first were there and other journalists were here it's a far different world. people are willing to let their names be used to read one of our reporters right now has one of the assistance full-time on the equivalent of twitter just monitoring the social discourse april was talking about, and
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there is a lot of information funding and that is on top political social level on the business or economic front. when i first moved to hong kong in 1984 he worked in calhoun and had been effected by the communist in 1849 and had gone to hong kong and set up camp and they were reporting on china trying to the facts right and they would go down the road to the station, look at degrees on the axles of the trains and try to figure brought the state of the petrochemical industry or something and that contrasts, the deutsch contrast today with what bloomberg does. they probably of people dedicated to covering in china today comes a there is vastly more information and the society is more open and reporters have
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we more access but that is not in any way to say it's easy and in fact i sense and maybe people like april will be able to confirm this there is a closing down but china is getting impatient with the ways of journalism and that would be my picture. >> when you think about it from the president in china has been a decade. >> one of the things that is fascinating to see is what is the incoming president is more open and not going. i heard somebody that is at this luncheon los angeles he didn't eat his dinner or lunch he walked around and let people all the time which is an on hu jintao thing to do. >> there's a tremendous amount of hope that's followed by
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certain reality checks in terms of the capacity. is to get the risk of sounding like a geriatric panel i wasn't in china in the 80's and was sort of you pick up on stories that officially sanctioned correspondents are wasting their time at the ministry to the new generation making change its media blessing that they don't, i'm sure some polyester mesh on the outside and that is a good thing. >> what kinds of revelations did you have in that comparison?
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>> we already did the same thing. we were all -- the thing about the russians they love to talk you couldn't get them to stop talking. the chinese it was still a little harder to pull this stuff out and people were so used to foreigners and you have to spend such a long time talking about the fact you were a foreigner and you have to comment on that for a long time before you could actually start asking any questions. mostly i think russia was more open than china in the 1980's. i don't know about today. i think as mark said you do have chinese publications that are doing interesting things and the internet has been absolutely transformative, but then you can't get into tibet.
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>> one of the fascinating things a couple years ago the ministry for foreign journalists based on i'm guessing. >> who also set up as i understand is the protesters in the village that rose up against the local officials and had a sort of underground railroad for the foreign correspondents to get in because they've been blocked off. that's a very interesting development the idea that the chinese recognize the importance of the foreign ministry and foreign leaders reporting the reporters to about events china in that level of awareness.
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>> with much damage in the last 28 years or so and i think many americans find themselves almost agreeing with the chinese that media is a certain sense a negative force. [laughter] >> april, do you want to handle that one? >> a lot of people tend to see the situation, but speaking from -- i was overcome with fis
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activists who had organized and the captain of the attention of the international media and in a central government or at least the government take notice and there was -- i think china and very few people do read the foreign media in china they say you have to learn english. local activists had go3 local activists had gotten. i think one case it was interesting to watch the
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coverage of the downfall because it was a salacious that came out in the first couple of weeks about somehow i think the chinese government somehow diverted the international media attention to this affair on this british i got her son and to school in britain. it seemed to grip the chinese government is often done at after the downfall of a leader and to maintain the integrity and the reputation of a leadership of the party and so
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they took the attention of thought and put it on this salacious affair and they put his life on trial and that is one of the most interesting times when you can see the chinese spin masters manipulating international media. >> tonight is the prize, the pulitzer committee are all today. i don't know what cosmic convergence landed this day and all the journalism prizes but there is still a lot of really good journalism being done but let's not look too hard april is one great example. [applause]
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>> the role that such play in the society to encourage good journalism because certainly if you set on the jury you realize the beavers never invest that kind of money unless there was such a possible celebration of that kind of work. if you look at our coverage of china, do you find the paper has trouble now financially justifying? >> i kind of dispute the press. i think some newspapers that pursued the pulitzer prizes -- >> we are not going to name any names. >> i think that across the country there are newspapers that i think that is not generally reporters like to win prizes like they do speak --
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they seek the acolytes, but i think that most people go into reporting and capable of winning a pulitzer prizes are people who are pretty driven and passionate about what they do. >> but they don't do it all alone. >> and the institutions -- i don't think a pulitzer prize isn't much economically, sadly, the obviously some of the more traditional legacy institutions are facing a real financial pressures these days and they think harder about how they spend their money. but the big institutions like "the new york times" and wall street journal and "washington post" continue to invest heavily in foreign news, and we actually build up our bureau last year we added one bureau back, and it's a critical understanding come critical dimension for the readers. our readership surveys and was in washington show that international news is one of the things the most desire.
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so i think that it is important for our audience. in addition to that, there is this pressure to cover china from these upstarts from the new media some of which are quite giant like bloomberg and others it's been around a century or more but large organizations that cover the world for an audience that cares deeply about the details and how the world works because the media investors or economically motivated. ..
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i really had to beg the general manager of my tv station for the time to devote to this and now he will feel it was justified. so i do think those prizes matter to people and you know i hope they matter to you. >> it makes a key difference and i think part of what journalists are paid for our bylines and it's partly -- it's not only curiosity so people knowing -- knowing people are reading it and recognizing it. and being determined. >> so, what are you all aware of on the chinese side that impresses you as very hopeful in the media, doing really good
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work that is new? let's start with you, april. >> on the chinese side? >> yeah. >> this may be sort of an odd news source or information source to mention, but when i was asking people in beijing the activists, most of them had not heard of them, including beijing university. this one guy who did respond to that question, he is a baker at a dumpling shop and he said, you know he gets his news from a variety but ken john quang, the
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blind man who escaped to the american embassy he had actually read about it on the political form on his favorite site. [laughter] and apparently, this site, he learned some really great technics of getting around the great wall of china and as a result he use those to create a really vibrant for him and a lot of people on their e-mail list were constantly sending out notices about their new. >> a new idea for the human rights web site. [laughter] >> that's awesome. >> that has to be the overwhelmingly good news, the internet, social media, all getting over the great firewall of china is just transformative. it's huge. it's hopeful. >> the other thing is, i have a very, there's a shadow on the wall but the chinese journalist
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come for washington and come by the office to visit and if you just watch the way that questions, the kinds of questions you get asked. when i moved back to the u.s. in 99 the group sickened or were mostly interested in getting a tour of the united states instead of going shopping at century 21 and then today people come into my office and they are treating what we say which is probably not to eat worth a thought that's never stopped anybody. and they record, they ask me all those questions about our business model and how do we manage public rations people and what our relationship with the government is, what do we see our role as and lots of questions about the pentagon papers between "the washington post" and what exactly was the relationship between the government and the news media that point so i take all of that is hugely positive. the journalists are asking the right questions in china and those questions lead to certain answers i think. >> about 10 years ago, they
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don't come with the same regularity that they do at "the washington post." they are scared to even come in that building sometimes but i was visited by someone by the evening paper of chengdu and i had no idea why he was there to see me. i said so, how is it being an evening paper? how is your competition with the morning paper and he said oh i come out in the morning too. he said one battle means you are not controlled by the party. being an evening paper means you are less under communist party control. >> marcus you mentioned t.r. and of course the minds of many chinese of course is soft power. how do you get soft power whereas i think in a society such as our own it's somewhat
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more of, something that either generates or doesn't generate and it isn't something that you can manipulate. i am wondering how you, when you look at china and your correspondence with china, how you see that playing out? >> out of china gained soft power in the world? >> do you think there's a confusion in china between what good journalism is, propaganda, public relations, soft power? >> i mean, again i feel a little bit too removed to be authoritative on this but i'm quite sure that there are a range of different types of institutions and it is clear i was there last october and saw some different news organizations. some people really do understand what the role of the the media isn't understand what their responsibilities are and they know what the risks are as well. but it's like when the high-speed rail crash occurred last year, there was a report i
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think in "the wall street journal" that some newspapers, not only did they get the instruction, not only the report that they got the instructions from the propaganda people to discontinue reporting about this thing, so then it caused one problem by allowing that to get out, the fact that they receive this instruction not to report about it but someone kept reporting about it anyway even beyond the point they were told to stop reporting on it. again that is a sign you have serious journalism thinking about what is the role of journalism in society while the state still controls the media and can exert influence. it is a vast country and there are a lot of people whether in -- that are doing interesting journalism. >> i think journalists have restrictions, but i think -- in
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some cases the government's techniques for censorship are little more sophisticated, but the journalist are still able to express themselves outside of these constraints on the chinese knockoff of twitter. a couple of weeks ago, the major newspapers were all, they were all forced to run these very scathing attacks on chen kuan chung saying he was a total american and kidnapped by the embassy. just ridiculous statements. one of the editors, nobody knows who wrote this, but it was a waiver of concession and an apology. someone at the asian news official site posted it, i really tragic photo smoking a
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cigarette, smeared makeup and the caption was we take off our masks after the day is done and apologize. it was really indirect but poignant insight into what journalists are -- how they feel about their concerns. >> one fascinating example of chinese soft power came from -- where he has a vignette of the african union and sudan and the newly independent south sudan are at loggerheads fighting over oil and the each art and the middle of negotiations and have a cell phone to their heirs in talking to the chinese diplomat, who is really -- that is the kind of thing an american diplomat would done and they do that but that is the role that
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china is supposed to play in the world and given its oil interests in sudan and its role in africa and i think they were as interested in repairing the fragile peace between those two countries as any of us on the outside. >> how do you, do you think china is doing on soft power? they are putting in an enormous amount of energy into particularly explained in -- expanding their global reach. is the successful? >> not the people that are going to work for cctv. but look, it is what it is. i mean, nobody made up the guangcheng incident and no amount of pr can back that up. china can sell itself as a benign soft power on the world stage but it they are not doing it at home it's not like it will fool anybody.
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part of the idea of soft power is that america's democracy and we have a good story to tell but china has a bad story to tell. it's not democracy and you can sort of make up what isn't there. so i think they have taken a huge gigantic black eye -- >> the question i would like to know the answer to is, what is it like in asia right now? how is china perceived, whether in adjacent countries or further afield, the south china sea disputes must rankle malaysia, vietnam. and you know i don't see how, i don't know how you get around that in terms of deluding soft power. basically insisting an island that is 100 kilometers off of an island is actually chinese. i don't don't now how in the
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other would work. >> really there is no sign of soft power. for the past couple of weeks, the cct has really been beating the drumbeat to war with the philippines and you know people i talk to like the guy who had the dumpling shop baker who also agreed with the chinese government and said yeah we have got to go to war. we have to defend our sovereign territory and yeah, it doesn't look like soft power when you are in china. >> you would think within china, the media has had a saw you terry effects the way people view the world, or things are sort sort of up and down and
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predictable. are we making progress in the sense that the great promise of the media moving forward? >> within china? >> yeah. >> we could ask a question about america as well and i hate to think of the answer. [laughter] >> i'd own think i know the answer to the question about china. >> don't forget the answer on america. >> do you mean is the foreign media making a big impact? >> no, is the evolution of the media to be more open and providing more information, as it actually had a good effect in enlightening society and the opening society? >> definitely. i would say we have gone far and beyond the evolution of the media and newspapers and magazines in china is the internet though because it's just a platform for civil
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society that has not existed ever before. so, and it's still very much controlled. there are a lot of levers that the government can pull to diminish and conversations in ways that are almost undetectable to the average reader or microblogger, but the active conversation i think is -- so it's a very individual, changing people's attitudes. >> and marcus how do you think we are doing in this country? in many ways we see ourselves as the model of you know, in-depth and thoughtful coverage and yet when you look around the american landscape, how do you assess that? >> i don't know that there is
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really a simple answer to that question. i think that you know, i think people want -- there is a narrative line that journalism isn't reaching people anymore, that everybody is focused on policies especially partisan rancor is debate and it's all rhetoric and rhetoric from the site in rhetoric from that side. i guess it e-mails from people who feel strongly about politics. but one of the questions you have to ask is, reading habits have changed and people used to be able to, people used to have only a certain diet of information available to them. if you lived in a small town in the united states what you had available information wise was what your akel newspaper could provide you at most local newspapers didn't provide great depth on very much. they might get the ap and apn they might even get "the new york times" or the "l.a. times" but they couldn't go deep and
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they didn't have great substance. today if you live in any town in america with an internet connection you can go as deep as you want to go into these subjects. teeple no longer start their day by reading a newspaper which is sort of beginning to end for that day. in fact they may want to go really deep on the areas that interest them and may not see that much about the other things to pass them by that they once might have read. i am not sure that is necessarily a bad thing. there is a line out there that somehow what is going on today with information and the way young people are consuming information is somehow bad for our democracy. i don't buy that. i think people will eke out the information they need in order to make economic decisions because the motivations they have are very powerful. i think they do that today. i think if you asked the average person in his early 20s who voted for obama in 2008, how much he knew about obama or about obama's platforms or
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ideas, suspect that person knew as much or more, probably vastly more than the average person in their 20s and 1968 who might have supported mccarthy or any other candidate of hope and promise. because the information is out there and much more effectively. we never knew what people were reading when they published a newspapers 10 or 15 years ago. i said in shanghai or writing a story about general motors coming into shanghai and everyone of the 2 million subscribers of "the wall street journal" was reading that article. i came back and got the readership report that north probably commissioned when he was head of "the wall street journal" and so page by page we did this year -- making every year where we looked and once you get to page three, 2% of the people are reading the articles. we all like to think that is what everybody was reading that i'm not sure that is true. i'm not sure that is valid. i think people do seek out information that matters to them and they go really deep now on
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the subject that matters most to them. it's a different way of consuming information but i guess i think rather than bemoaning what was lost we should focus hard on what exists and try to figure out how the channel more information into the places where people are consuming it and make sure your news, you do robust credible journalism. you can no longer expect the audience to come to you to find where you are. >> this is a super exciting time. very topic anytime and people like marcus and such a minor way, how important is the ipad and should my web site beyond a dual platform? we are full of decisions that we didn't use to have to make because things kind of cruise along on sort of autopilot. the change and upheaval has meant more pressure and media executives and more difficult and lost jobs. i don't mean to sound pollyannaish about the hard times for a lot of our colleagues in the world of media but the at the same time it's a
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huge -- >> the chinese often say that if people would only learn to speak chinese they would become more familiar with china and they would understand better and calm down and have more understanding i am wondering, in your experience with writers, yourselves, and colleagues who have done a lot of -- in china, people come out of that experience feeling, what do they come out of it feeling? i don't want to press you for the answer but what does the experience leave people who spend a lot of time covering china with about the country? >> i think people come out, you know a lot of people go to china fresh and there are still many excited by china that they become embittered by the way they are treated as foreign correspondents. it's very difficult and they
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become, not that they were necessarily friendly to the chinese government when they came but i think they have become pretty clear-eyed about deficiencies. that is very hard to generalize. >> i think a lot of people who go to china are quite passionate about china. it's a fascinating and compelling important story for most of us, the best journalism we ever did and if you look around the media today there are a lot of people who have been to china, robert thompson of "the wall street journal," the china guy, the foreign editor of "the new york times," a huff business news, james harding of the times. there a lot of people who were in china in the 80's and 90s who were now running things and i think you know, we are all pushing for more sophistication in our coverage and a deeper understanding of china and i think you see it in the quality
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of coverage. if you go back to the bush ally and how "the wall street journal" covered that story and putting teams of people in going really deep and reuters has had some of this too. getting leaks from inside gary's investigations in china. i am quite certain that part of that pressure comes from people who are at the top and care about china and understand how important china is and why china matters. if you come out caring about china and wanting to get at her coverage of china they are all the frustrations that may resonate from having been there. the inability of a legitimate news organization in the u.s. to be able to get a visa for a serious correspondent who understands china to go to china when china says we want greater understanding. we think it's important for americans to cover us and bring understanding to america. we want to spend -- send someone who speaks a language and can do a good job, we are met with a stonewall.
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i think may create some frustration but we will persevere and climb over that stonewall. >> before we get to questions, let me just ask you, people, your friends in the media, do you notice any difference in attitude amongst your generation compared to the one above you? >> well, i would say in some ways, i would say there is an opposite problem to what marcus and carroll were talking about before in that those chinese people who have access to foreigners and people that foreign journalists have the most access to and are seeking interviews with are the most privileged, whether the
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wealthiest or the most powerful party number -- member so there's almost, privileged information comes from privileged sources. privilege sources tend to be the beneficiaries of the current system. there is sometimes the opposite tendency in some journalist, to sort of agree more that, to sort of be a little more pollyannaish about the current direction of society. >> it's so hard to generalize. in my time in china think about the people that i loved and do i love many chinese people? i wanted to strangle some people in the government. there is a great variety. to say what you think of china is like saying what you think of this universe? >> there are trends and it isn't
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just -- >> fair enough. >> well okay, let's have some questions. there will be microphones and please wait for the microphone. right here. in the front row. i think the microphone is on. >> i wanted to ask how do you think the bouceli incident will affect the chinese press? you talked about chinese journalist coming -- and the chinese press as you all know have become increasingly sophisticated. they basically learned all those methods and technologies that they have used and yet they don't report the same way that
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we do. not everybody in china knows that there is credible corruption and i wonder if that will actually have some influence on the press moving forward? >> who wants to try that one? >> i mean, i will start with saying i don't have any idea. [laughter] but i would surmise that the way the chinese press has been allowed to work in the last couple of decades is the issues that the government is concerned about is what is left to write about so the press can cover environmental policies. the press can cover corruption to the extent that corruption doesn't get too close to real terms of power. even some human rights issues at the right time. so this is a really interesting
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moment because here's this corruption case and it's really juicy but obviously it gets awfully close to the center of power. on the other hand you could argue that the power center is served by abundant coverage of this particular case because it shows how right beijing was to intercede and remove the bouceli and perhaps his wife but if you start pulling that thread and it unravels more than you had hoped, so i don't know. 's be c. okay, the next question. >> it a really good question. >> there is someone back there in the back. >> the question for marcus. [inaudible]
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[inaudible] is that decision made he to kiss you really don't need much coverage. was that decision made in "the washington post" that -- [inaudible] >> happily for us we have sent a reporter with the team from washington so we were able to cover that. it's just a relative news value issue. one story was far more interesting and compelling than the other. we were -- we went with the one
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that was human drama and -- great powers can walk and chew gum at the same time so we try to do that too in the news media. i felt the choices made and the choice other newsmakers made was the right choice to focus on the story, surprising and dramatic challenge to the u.s., to challenge china where the outcome was unknown as opposed to strategic economic dialogue. >> in beijing, as part of the economic dialogue, the fact that there was a parallel universe, an incredible drama happening in the embassy but the rest of the negotiations actually went on and what that suggested to me was that both sides had decided to not exaggerate, not play it
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up to the hilt, and actually i think in a businesslike manner they worked out the dilemma. i think that was very significant. i think it took immense restraint particularly on the side of china, and you note that at one point met ronnie kind of skated out and lost his strength and called it a dark day for freedom and then he actually recanted to his credit. so i think that was a very interesting kind of the moment and maybe the story of that should be a little bit more made public. >> the front page of "the washington post" today. >> you are the man of the hour, marcus. >> i thought it was an amazing story for americans also because if i could get a tiny bit
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sentimental for a moment, it's not everyday that we necessarily get to feel so great about our country. the fact that, when a chinese dissident is being chased by thugs, that he runs to the embassy of my country makes me proud, and it was a great story for americans to know and to hear. i think it was in some ways an inaccurate representation of the real story which is a drama happening inside china. it's a story about chinese activists all over and he represents one of them and one of the most symbolically extraordinary of them. but it was a story that is so compelling to american readers, there is no way it doesn't
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surpassed -- [laughter] >> it is a soft power story in actuality. >> is soft power story. >> there is one in the very back. >> i wanted to ask, how serious is the repression of journalism in china today and how would you compare it with 10, 20, 30 years ago? >> chinese journalist you mean? >> yes, chinese journalist. >> i would say it is a lot more sophisticated. for example financial, journalists are not getting put in for stories that their publishers are being signed to the point that they have to shut down -- finds to the point that they have to shut down so it's different.
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it is as strict as it was 15 years ago. >> understood by the chinese media as being a repressive country so journalist know what the lines are in what they can in can't write about and if there wants to go over the line or activist to try to use media whether internet media or other forms to express themselves when they go over the line to do. >> in the very back and i think this will have to be our last question. [inaudible] if the chinese government uses -- [inaudible]
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what effect do you think that will have on china and then the second part of the same question, the current people that are in power in china, what do they have by doing that? >> there are a number of cases over the years where people have been actually expelled from china. there have been some where people can't get visas and have had to leave china and there are many waiting patiently outside and have not had their applications approved. >> i was telling you earlier before you came on stage there is a really interesting idea going around right now that columbia university is sort of the father that journalism is actually in some ways an economic process.
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>> albeit not very well -- >> that is what happens but we are selecting information and it's essential to our business and you could make the argument and an interesting argument to try to make. we cannot conduct their business the way we want to conduct it in a free and open training environment. clearly china is not the only country to do this it should be said and china, the authorities have attempted to give explanations for why they seek people out. when i was at "the wall street journal" we had a reporter who is having difficulty getting a visa and after a long process and many meetings and much pouring of tea, he is now in beijing for "the new york times." [laughter] but when i got to washington for "the washington post" the guy
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from the embassy congratulates me on getting my visa and said now i don't care. [laughter] but they are very fickle. anyway you know, it's a continuing problem in china clearly used the right to collect information in china as something that is a right. >> you had your hand up. let's have one more quickly. >> i wanted to agree that in terms of we are pushing back with chinese journalists who are trying to -- but we are still seeing a very high number of chinese journalist in prison. a lot of censorship and most recently basically partial decimation of the al-jazeera
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responded by a tv host. so i'm just wondering if you could look a little bit forward and tell me where are the advantages and disadvantages for local journalists and also for foreign correspondents in china? do you see that relating to one another and pushing or pulling the authorities or do you see sort of a divide there? what are the pluses and minuses that you see? >> one interesting fact is that chinese citizens cannot work as reporters for foreign news agents. they can work as information gatherers, but not as fully fledged reporters. >> i remember the first prize that we gave a thing, the first prize that was given her one of the first was to libby rosenthal at "the new york times" who had done an amazing reporting in
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china very early on. and her reports have been translated into chinese and red eye the internal party information newsletter and had an effect on the chinese leadership and help to inform them because reporting in china was not so good and they didn't have this good information. so i think the world is smaller all the time and people are better aware of what everyone is writing. things are more quickly translated on google. you can know instantly more or less what was said in an article even if you're chinese characters are really really rusty. i think the drama though in china, it's a chinese drama. i mean the struggles over the country's future and as i his eakes said the chen guangcheng story is a story about thousands and thousands of activists and
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civil society people and journalists and people in china demanding their rights and demanding their government respect, china respect its own constitution and that it be a lot the society. that i think is really the drama in china today. it is being played out by chinese on a chinese stage. we are bystanders. we can participate at the margins but it's a tremendously dramatic i think struggle going on. generally i am bullish about the future. i think it's a gigantic shot in the arm and things will never be the same for secretive oppressive governments but that doesn't mean -- >> join me in congratulating again our panel. [applause]
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she said house and senate conferees are make in progress and should produce a deal early next month. the current transportation bill expires on june 30. this is 20 minutes. >> okay. just let me catch my breath. we ran here because there's a hearing going on. at the opening meeting of the surface transportation bill conference on may 8, i said i would give regular updates on the progress that conferees are making on the bill. bill. said today i'm going to talk about development since i last talked to you on may 15. so i'm not going to address specific issues in the
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negotiations. i want to tell you we are making very good progress. i would say great progress. i'm working through the various outstanding issues. approximately 80% of the epw title, that is the environment of public works title, 80% of our bill is noncontroversial and we are running through that now. the epw title makes up about 80% of the entire bill so this is a very substantial report i'm giving it. i intend to complete the conference report by our deadline in june. we cannot afford any more delays or extensions and you are going to hear more about that from senator whitehouse when i introduced him. because the uncertainty of these delays and extensions beans that his nose and workers are already suffering. make no mistake about it. these delays, which are unfunded delays, these extensions are absolutely making it difficult for our people.
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i mean unfunded expansions. no money was put into the house. every time we made an extension in the fund was running dry and will be dry by the end of the year. so i wanted to tell you the staff has been meeting every day on all the major issues. we are working together across powdered -- party lines and across senate and house lines. they are addressing every item. according to my staff 17 meetings of the working groups were held last week. by the close of business on friday may 25, 10 more meetings will have been held for a total of 27 working groups. in addition to the staff level ongoing work group meetings, i have had one-on-one meetings or discussions with many of the conferees, house and senate, democratic and republican members. the process has been extremely inclusive. my individual conversations with conferees particularly house republicans, have been very
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useful in identifying their priorities and their concerns. we have been able to make progress because of the commitment shown by the conferees frankly and the house and senate leadership to get the conference report signed into law by the june 30 deadline. senator inhofe and i worked -- are working together and we just talked last night, and he is also pleased with the way things are going. he is also reaching out individually to colleagues. i am particularly pleased and this is some news that i'm going to tell you now, by the willingness of speaker boehner to work with us to accomplish our mutual goal. i had a very good conversation with him yesterday, and he told me that he met with the leaders from his side and he told them to get the conference report done. i told the speaker i was
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reaching out to all the people he put on that conference. he said he was very pleased with the progress. i asked the speaker if i could report on our conversation at a press conference that i intended to hold. he said, absolutely. so, he is working to make sure we get this done, and that is the best news that i have heard in a long time. i have told leader read about my conversation with the speaker. he was very pleased because as he told me, the health of our business workers and communities depends on it. and we clearly have a broad coalition supporting our efforts. so, i am really i believe the conferees will reach an agreement on this bill. and i think they reason that we brought to the table a bipartisan bill, as you know, it
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passed 74-22 and a frank lautenberg would have been there it would have been 75-22 so what we brought to the table was a very fair bill. it was the democratic bill. it wasn't a republican bill. bill. it was a bipartisan bill and it had many proposals in it that the republicans supported. for example when congressman mica came out to los angeles, he and i sat next to each other and we heard about the notion of boosting up the -- program. the transportation infrastructure finance and innovation act and what it does is it funds money to the community that decides they want to have a sales tax measure that they will pay it back and they come in and the government fronts the money and it enables communities to do these projects quickly. we have a whole section in the bell called america
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fast-forward, very very popular. the conference of mayors is behind it. we have so much support and i also wanted to mention in my up day that yesterday i spoke to about 50 of the groups on a conference call and i continue to do this every few days. they are continuing to work together. labor, the chamber, national association of manufacturers. you have heard me list these over and over again. they are very involved in speaking to members one-on-one and writing to members and going to their states and so on. so the conferees are fully engaged. we will have our conference report ready to circulate among the various colleagues by early june and the intent to have this bill on the desk of the president before june 30. i think you all know that i will sum it up, 3 million jobs. we are to know we have about
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2 million currently protected in our bill and 1 million would be created because the expanded program. we have thousands of businesses that care about this. so, i thought it would also be interesting to hear from someone who is very close to his state and who knows exactly what these delays and extensions have meant and someone who insists on -- who wrote part of the bill that is very important to us. i'm delighted that you could be here today, senator whitehouse from rhode island. >> thank you chairman. i am here to provide just a moment context for the urgency that chairman boxer has demonstrated in trying to move this bill forward and threw conference. many states like mine have a summer construction season because our winters are
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inhospitable to road construction, and as we all know, anybody who has been outdoors knows that the summer construction season has begun and that time is ticking away. every day that the conference goes forward, every day that we don't have a bill on the president's desk, it becomes harder and harder for our state department of transportation to fund the projects that they have scheduled for this summer's highway construction season. the director of transportation in rhode island is michael lewis, and obviously we work very closely together. just the existing delay until the end of june, you remember we passed our bill on time on march 31 when the original deadline was, and we have been
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working off house extensions because they could not meet that deadline with a house bill. so we are already in an extension mode, and just the he says that there are 96 projects in rhode island that he has scheduled for the summer and if we don't get this done before june 30, 40 will fall off his schedule. so there has been a real cost to the delay that the house has forced by not being prepared with a bill on march 31. and if it should not come to pass that we meet the schedule that senator boxer has indicated obviously the job loss is worse. i come from a small state and director louis estimates that losing those 40 projects would result in equivalent of 1250 jobs a year taken out of the economy now, the summer at a time when rhode island is at
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over 11% unemployment and we desperately need the work in addition to our roads needing to work. so i wanted to do two things. one is to applaud chairman boxer. she got this bill through her committee in plenty of time ahead of that march 31 deadline. she got it through her committee unanimously. you know the epw commit it. you know that is impressive. she brought it to the floor. we accepted 40, thereabouts, amendments either by vote or by agreement. it was a wide-open process. i see no complaint about anybody getting jammed, wide-open process in a very successful result. 75 senators reporting it as she said so it was an exemplary piece of work from chairman boxer and i just wanted to make sure that you are all aware that there is a real context and jobs
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to why she is pushing so hard to get this done as the summer takes away. jobs literally are disappearing from our highways. said thank you very much and chairman boxer thank you very much. >> we are the long and short of the committee. >> how would you gauge the prospect of getting a bill through? >> i think we have a chance, honestly. you know, the attitude here is a good one. now as the bill is currently worded -- [inaudible] i feel that it is possible, and the reason i say that is chairman baucus is working with mr. camp and you know, i think that we have a chance that i can tell you and i say this on the
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record, this is one of chairman mica's just issues. he wants a longer bill and i am absolutely in agreement with him and if we can make this bill revenue new trail, we are fine. >> where are you guys on that? >> i'm not going to get into the details of the negotiations but i do want to say from what i know, i think they found a very sweet spot and a good way to pay for this that will gain very broad support among republicans and democrats. and tell us who you are. [inaudible] >> well i think as you know, and the senate we have tremendously long and tough negotiations over that whole piece and i feel with the addition of the cochrane
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language we are in good shape. i think we are in good shape. as i said i'm not going to get into the details, but i feel that there was so much give-and-take on the senate side between democrats and republicans, i feel comfortable with where we are. >> you did you say that -- >> i don't have any speaking points to share with you. i think people are coming to the table, wanting to get a bill and i think we are going to work out all of these issues. i have said from the start, i'm not going to produce a bill that is going to be vetoed and i'm not going to produce a bill that is going to be a controversy as it won't go through. we have to get 60 votes in the senate and a majority in the house so when members sit around a table and they understand this, and i believe they do and i believe speaker boehner also
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understands that we need a bill that can pass and get the president's signature, i feel comfortable and at this point i honestly don't see any sticking points. are there areas we have to talk about? of course. is there more work to do? absolutely but i can say at this moment i see a sticking point. you and then you next. >> the last time we met in this venue he told us not to paraphrase but you covered all of these he points and had moved on to the hard stuff like keystone and all those things that there's going to be a problem and he moved on to those areas. >> there are lots of other areas in the bill. there are questions about, which has to do with performance standards and how we move forward on all of that so there is a lot more than three or four or two hard issues.
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yes, we are having conversations on these. people are laying down what they would like and we all know we have to work them out. i can tell you i have had individual conversations with colleagues and i said, we will sit down and figure this out so we have a bill that can pass here, without the controversy so that we can get it signed into law. and the people understand that. said you have reached an agreement -- >> on the epw bill. speaks some of those issues you have reached agreement that we don't have -- >> sure. the fact that we have performed this bill and a major a major way and the fact that we have taken it down from 90 programs about, to about 30 programs. these are reforms that everybody wants in the fact that we have increased the program from the small amount of 100 into a billion dollars because we want
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economic growth and this is a great way to help our states and localities and counties and cities and so on. the fact that we have eliminated earmarks. it has been broadly accepted. so, i could go through its chapter and verse, but the fact that we have a formula that we are not messing with her changing. it couple of people wanted -- but we have talked about it and said look at the moment in time that we have, a long-term way to pay for this is absolutely right for discussion right now. as you know, there is no donor state. there is not one donor state. so those are examples of where there is a consensus emerging. >> you mentioned mentioned you had a meeting with speaker boehner. >> i said i had a conversation with him. it was a phone conversation. >> was that before or after the
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house passed the motion to instruct conferees? >> it was yesterday. >> how does that propagate the picture in laying down a marker for what they want to see nabil? >> the house does that all the time and we do it too. instructing conferees. i did it a million times when i was in the house. it is people saying what they want. that particular vote was not a vetoproof vote so i think it's important and i thought it was good that they had actually. we can see there wasn't enough to override the veto. i like that, and now these motions can go on everyday all day. they just are opinions that the people voting that way and it's all fine and it's all good. it was also a good one on why america. it was a solid road on by america. that is an issue as well, so no, i spoke to him yesterday. our conversation was really good and nobody brought up in a quote
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unquote sticking points because i don't think there are sticking points. i think their issues we are going to have to work on that i think it my opinion, speaking for myself, after speaking, after talking with speaker boehner, after talking with senator reid, working with colleagues everyday like senator whitehouse who has been a champion at giving us a sense of urgency because he not only has told you about his experiences, he is his spoken in the caucus broadly and told people in our caucus, talk to your people back home. things are tough out there. so, this was the conversation yesterday. i believe we are going to have a bill. i believe that and if you were to ask me last week i probably would have said i'm very hopeful but i believe now we will have a bill. yes? >> you said you have a bill that
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that -- [inaudible] >> i see it obviously it is not controversial to me but it could be controversial to somebody else. from my perspective as the chairman i don't want a bill that is laden with controversy that doesn't get through. you can talk to any chairman. they want to get a bill through, and so if it is laden with controversy won't get through and i think everybody understands that. if u.s. members on both sides of the aisle, additions to the bill that have nothing to do with how it is written and they themselves have said they understand it's going to be controversial. they have said that. one more. speak you have described and senator whitehouse described the jobs bill. you also noted that many of your democratic colleagues and surrogates have been running around saying that republicans are doing their best to -- the
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economy to make it worse for the president in the elections. >> let me tell you what i know. i know that this bill should be done -- should have been done a long time ago. i know that the congress is delayed in people are suffering and i know, because of the delays, there is a threat to downgrade the entire transportation sector by moody's. i know these things. this has not been a pretty picture. this hasn't been a happy time. this has been a difficult time, and 50 -- senator whitehouse you well remember, we pass this bill last year if you remember. we got it to the floor. the fact of the matter is, it's been painfully difficult every step of the way. my view was that people will judge for themselves. i welcome the change of heart on the behalf of republicans and i fe


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