tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN September 9, 2014 12:00pm-2:01pm EDT
mr. franken: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: i would ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. franken: madam president, i have eight unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. frank enmr. franken: madam , i'm just going to come out and say it. citizens united was one of the worst decisions in the history of the supreme court.
it was a disaster, a radical exercise of pro-corporate judicial activism. it was seriously flawed, both legally and factually. legally, the court trampled its own precedence. cases like austin v. michigan chamber of commerce and mcconnell v. federal elections commission, which had been on the books for years and stood for the obvious proposition that the people can enact reasonable limits on money and politics. factually, the court rested on its -- rested its conclusions on the faultiest of premises, that unlimited campaign expenditures by outside groups, including corporations, do not give rise to corruption or even the appearance of corruption.
that assessment is just disconnected from reality and is horribly out of touch with the sentiments of most americans. for example, the league -- the minnesota league of women voters issued a report in which it concluded that -- quote -- "the influence of money in politics represents a dangerous threat to the health of our democracy in minnesota and nationally." i think if you ask most people whether unlimited spending on campaigns has a corrupting affect, they'll agree and say, yeah, of course it does. and i think they'd be right. but citizens united was -- that decision was based on this unfounded and unbelievable idea that we have no reason to be concerned about the effects of unlimited campaign spending. so you have this 5-4 supreme
court decision that ignores the law, that ignores precedent, invents facts, and here's what you end up with as a result -- a campaign finance system in tatters, one in which deep-pocketed corporations, superwealthy individuals and well-funded special interests can flood our elections with money, drowning out the voices of middle-class americans who don't have the luxury of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions of dollars or hundreds of millions of dollars to influence the political process. this is real, madam president. spending by outside groups more than tripled from the 2008 presidential campaign to the 2012 presidential campaign when it topped a billion dollars and
went from $330 million in 201 2010 -- 2008 to over a billion dollars, this outside money, in 2012. and what happened in the interim? well, it was citizens united in 2010. and the floodgates were opened. and we're still -- the middle class isn't just being flooded, it's being blindfolded, too. because these wealthy special interest groups can often spend the money anonymously so voters have no idea who's behind the endless attack ads that fill the airwaves. here's how it works. if you have millions of dollars that you want to spend, you can funnel it through back channels so that it ends up in the hands of a group, typically one with a generic and benign sounding na name. i was trying to invent one, like
americans for more america, american america, as just as kind of as a joke. and it turns out there is one with that name. so they use this money to buy ads and very, very often without disclosing the source of its funds. this whole thing looks to me a lot like money laundering except that now it's perfectly legal. and, again, this is real. a study just came out that showed that in the current election cycle alone, there's already been over 150,000 ads run by groups that don't have to disclose the source of their funding. and things are just getting worse. earlier this year, in a case
called msh cu mccutcheon v. fedl election commission, the supreme court was at it again, recklessly doing away with a law that prohibited people from giving more than $123,000 in aggregate directly -- directly -- to candidates in an election cycle. $123,000 had been the limit. had been. now, who has that kind of money? who has that kind of money laying around to spend on elections? well, the superrich, i guess. but the middle class surely doesn't. the folks i meet with in minnesota who are trying to make ends meet, pay off their student loans, train for a new job, save some money to start a family, they sure don't. and those are the folks who need
a voice here in washington. yoyou know, in june, the judiciy committee held a hearing on the subject and we heard from a witness whose presentation i found particularly persuasive and compelling. i suggest that my colleagues read this testimony. it was a state senator from north carolina, and here's what he said. and i quote -- "suddenly, no matter what the race was" -- this is in north carolina -- "money came flooding in. even elected officials who had been in office for decades told me they'd never seen anything like it. we were barraged by television ads that were uglier and less honest than i would have thought possible, and they all seemed to be coming from groups with names that we had never heard of. but it was clear that corporations and individuals who could write giant checks had a new level of power in the state." that's the end of the quote. he went on to explain that the
vast majority of outside money that was spent on state races, including the governor's race, came from one man, just one man, who reportedly poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into state politics. before the governor was even sworn into office, he announced who would write the state's budget. yes, it was that same donor. and apparently the donor got his money's worth. the budget he drafted was loaded with goodies for corporate interests and the superrich, provided at the expense of the middle class and working folks. i find this whole thing incredibly disturbing, madam president. this idea that a handful of superwealthy corporate interes interests, in effect, can buy our democracy. or, in this case, one guy.
that's just not how it's supposed to work. in our democracy, everyone is supposed to have an equal say, regardless of his or her wealth. the guy on the assembly line gets as many votes as the c.e.o. -- one. you don't get extra influence just because you have extra money, or shouldn't. the government should be responsive to everyone and not just to the wealthiest among us. so the way i see it is we can go two ways from here. on the one hand, we can continue to let citizens united be the law of the land, we can perpetuate the fallacy that corporations have the constitutional right to flood our elections with undisclosed money. we can let deep-pocketed special interests buy influence and access and then set the agenda
for the rest of the country. or we can say, enough is enough. we can restore the law to what it was before citizens united was decided. and more to the point, we can restore a voice to millions upon millions of everyday americans who want nothing more than to see their government represent them. that's the choice that we have before us this week, madam president. for those of us who believe that the measure of a democracy's strength in votes cast not dollars spent for us, i think it's an easy choice. i'm going to vote to reverse citizens united and i urge my colleagues to do the same. thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask consent to speak for 25 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection.
mr. grassley: madam president, the proceedings on the amendment before us show just how broken the senate is under current leadership. the majority leader yesterday stated that -- quote -- "we're going to have a cloture vote to stop debate on this. republicans say, 'well, great, we'll go ahead and support that because we can stall.'." end of his quote. he also has said -- quote -- "there will be no amendments. either you're for campaign spending reform or not. so my republican colleagues can stall for time here." now, this is an alice in wonderland, upside-down world that the majority leader is describing. you can bet that if republicans were blocking democrats from
describing this amendment, we would be accused of obstruction. but when we vote to proceed to this amendment, as we did yesterday, we're also accused of obstruction. so it goes to show that whatever republicans do, we will be accused of obstruction. that is a catch-22. that is the majority's game pl plan -- bring up partisan measures for political posturi posturing, avoid working together to solve problems, blame the other side no matter what the other side does. now, that is why the senate is broken. now, the amendment before us would amend the bill of rights and do it for the first time. it would amend one of the most important of those rights, the
right of free speech. the first amendment provides that congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech. the proposed amendment would give congress and the states the power to abridge that freedom of free speech -- free speech. it would allow them to impose, according to the amendment, reasonable limits, whatever those reasonable limits mighting on contributions and expenditures. in other words, limiting speech that influences elections. and it would allow speech by corporations that would influence elections to be banned altogether. this amendment is as dangerous as anything congress could pass. passing for the first time an
amendment to the constitution amending the bill of rights. that is a slippery slope. were it to be adopted and i believe that it will not be, the damage done could be reversed only if two-thirds of both houses of congress voted to repeal it through a new constitutional amendment, and 3/4 of the states ratified that new amendment. so let's start with first principles. the declaration of independence states that everyone is endowed by their creator with unalienable rights that governments are created to protect. those preexisting rights include the right to liberty. the constitution was adopted to secure the blessings of liberty to americans. americans rejected the view that
the structural limits on governmental power contained in the original constitution would adequately protect the liberties they had fought in that revolution to preserve. so before the colonies would approve the constitution, the colonies or then the states under the article of confederation insisted on the adoption or the addition to the original constitution of the bill of rights. the bill of rights protects individual rights regardless of whether the government or the majority approves of their use. the first amendment in the bill of rights protects the free speech. that freedom is basic to self-government. other parts of the constitution foster equality or justice or
representative government, but the bill of rights is only about individual freedom. free speech creates a marketplace of ideas in which citizens can learn, debate and persuade fellow citizens on the issues of the day. at its core, it enables our citizenry to be educated to pass votes to elect their leaders. today, free speech is threatened as it has not been in many decades. too many people do not seem to want to listen and debate and persuade. instead, they want to punish, intimidate and silence those with whom they disagree. for instance, a corporate executive who opposed same-sex marriage, the same position that president obama held at that very time, is to be fired.
universities are supposed to be fostering academic freedom, cancel graduation speeches by speakers that some students find offensive. government officials order other government officials not to deviate from the party line concerning proposed legislation. the resolution before us, the proposed constitutional amendment cut from the same cloth would amend the constitution for the first time to diminish an important right of americans that is contained in the bill of rights. in fact, it would cut back on one of the most important of those rights, core, free speech about who should be elected to govern. the proposed constitutional amendment would enable governments to limit funds, contribute to candidates and funds spent to influence
elections. that would give the government the ability to limit speech. the amendment would allow the government to set the limit at old levels. there could be little in the way of contributions or election spending. there would be restrictions on public debate, on who should be elected. now for sure, incumbents, those of us who sit in this body, would find that outcome to be acceptable because it would weaken proposed -- possible opposition. they would know that no challenger could run an effective campaign against them. what precedent would this amend create? suppose congress passed limits on what people could spend on abortions or what doctors or hospitals could spend to perform them. what if congress limited the amount of money that people can
spend on guns or to limit how much people could spend of their own money on health care. under this amendment, congress could do what citizens united decision rightfully said it could not. examples -- make it a criminal offense for the sierra club to run an ad urging the public to defeat a congressman who favors logging in the national forests. another example. the national rifle association from publishing a book seeking public support for a challenger to a senator who favors a handgun ban. or for the aclu to post on its web site a plea for voters to support a presidential candidate because of his stance on free speech. nobody wants a government that powerful that could do those
examples i just imaif and other -- i just gave and other examples. don't take my word for it. in fact, at oral arguments in citizens united, the obama administration told the court that it would be legal for a corporation to be prosecuted for publishing a book that expressly advocated for or against the election of a candidate. sounds impossible, but that's what was said. consequently, the obama administration and the democratic leadership support banning books they don't agree with, and consequently that should be a frightening prospect for all of us. under this amendment, congress and the states could limit campaign contributions and expenditures and without complying with existing constitutional provisions.
congress could pass a law limiting expenditures by democrats but not by republicans, by opponents of obamacare but not by supporters. and what does the amendment mean when it says that congress can limit funds spent to influence elections? if an elected official says he or she plans to run again long before any election, congress under this amendment could criminalize criticism of that official as spending to influence elections. a senator on the senate floor as i am right now appearing on c-span free of charge could with immunity, constitutional immunity, defame a private citizen. the member could say that the citizen was buying elections. if the citizen spent what
congress said was too much money to rebut -- to rebut that charge, could possibly go to jail. we would be back to the days when criticism of elected officials was a criminal offense, and if you think that cannot happen, it did happen in 1798 when the alien and sedition acts were passed. in that sense, our country was formed since this constitution has been governing our relationships. and yet, the supporters of this constitutional amendment say that this amendment is necessary for democracy. that's outrageous. the only existing right that the amendment says it will not harm is freedom of press. so congress and the states could limit the speech of anyone except the corporations that control the media. in other words, under this
amendment, some corporations are okay and other corporations are not okay. that would produce an orwellian world in which every speaker is equal but some speakers are more equal than others. freedom in the press has never been understood to give the media special constitutional rights denied to others. even though the amendment by its terms would not affect freedom of press, i was heartened to read that the largest newspaper in my state, the "des moines register," editorialized against this proposed constitutional amendment. they cited testimony from the judiciary committee hearing, and they recognized the threat that the proposed amendment poses to freedom. but in light of recent supreme court decisions, an amendment soon may not be needed at all.
four justices right now would allow core political speech to be restricted. were a fifth justice with the same view to be appointed, there would be no need to amend the constitution to cut back on this political freedom. justice breyer's dissent for these four justices in the mccutcheon decision does not view free speech as an end in itself as was so important to our founding fathers. he thinks free political speech is about advancing, in his words, "the public's interest in preserving a democratic order in which collective speech matters." end of quote. now, to be sure, individual rights often do advance socially desirable goals, but our constitutional rights do not
depend on whether unelected judges believe they advance democracy as they conceive it. our constitutional rights are individual. they are not collective, the word that that justice used. never in 225 years has any supreme court decision described our rights as collective. our rights come from god and not from the government or from the public, and if they did, they could be taken away from us any time. so i don't put much stock in the comment from one justice quoted on the floor today that the court's campaign finance decisions are wrong. consider the history of the last 100 years. freedom has flourished where rights belong to individuals that governments were bound to respect.
where rights were collective and existed only at the whim of a government that determines when they serve socially desirable purposes, the results in those countries have been literally horrific. we should not move even one inch in the direction of liberal justices, and this amendment would take us. the stakes could not be higher for all americans who value their rights and their freedoms. speech concerning who the people's elected representatives should be, speech setting the agenda for public discourse, speech designed to open and change the minds of our fellow citizens, speech criticizeing politicians, speech challenging government policies are all of these forms -- all of these forms of speech are vital rights.
this amendment puts all of those examples in jeopardy upon penalty of imprisonment. it would make america no longer america. contrary to the arguments of its supporters, the amendment would not advance self-government against corruption and the drowning out of voices of ordinary citizens. quite the opposite, it would harm the rights of ordinary citizens individually and in free association to advance their political views and to elect candidates who support their views, and by limiting campaign speech, it would limit the information that voters receive in deciding how to vote, and it would limit the amount that people can spend on advancing what they consider to be the best political ideas. its restrictions on speech apply
to individuals. politicians could apply the same rules to individuals that govern corporations. perhaps individuals cannot be totally prohibited from speaking, but the word reasonable is in this amendment. reasonable limits can mean almost anything. incumbents likely would set a low limit on how much an individual can spend to critical size him. then the individual would have to risk criminal prosecution in deciding whether to speak, hoping that a court would later find that the limit he or she exceeded was unreasonable. that would create not a chilling effect on speech but a freezing effect. that does not further democratic self-government like we're used to in this country.
when supporters like the senator from illinois say that those who spend money in campaigns silence their critics, they have it exactly backwards. one person speaking does not silence anyone. but the government prosecuting people for speaking does. and my friend said that candidates, unlike individuals and groups, -- quote -- "abide by strict rules on how much is being spent" -- end of quote. now, this is simply not so. that senator is just factually wrong. the rules are the same. the first amendment requires that candidates be able to spend as much as they want, and that is true for individuals and corporations and unions as well. individuals are limited in current law on how much they can contribute to candidates.
corporations cannot contribute to candidates at all. the rules for expenditures are different. candidate expenditures are expenditures by others independent of the candidate, are unlimited because they are simply free expression. individuals -- individuals and corporations cannot and, in fact, do not make unlimited mccain contributions under current law. my friend also discussed fraud in voting, which he says did not exist and posed voter i.d. laws. the amendment before us has nothing to do with voting, and even if it did, polls consistently show that about 75% of the americans support a requirement that voters produce photo i.d. prevention of fraud is just common sense, and voter fraud
exists despite the tactics of voter i.d. opponents repeating over and over that it does not. in my state of iowa there have been successful prosecutions for in-person voter fraud. in north carolina recently 765 registered voters appeared based on their names, birthdays and last four digits of their social security number to have voted in another state. now, that certainly warrants investigation. we would have more evidence of voter fraud if this administration did not block efforts to prosecute its existence. when florida sought from the department of homeland security a list of noncitizens that it could compare against its voter rolls, the department refused to supply it. so let's turn back to the amendment before us, which
affects only free speech rights, not voting rights. keep our eye on the ball. the amendment would apply to some campaign speech that cannot give rise to corruption, and my friend from illinois stated under current law an individual could spend any amount of his or her own money to run for office. but an individual could not corrupt himself by his own money, and could not be bought by others if he or she did not rely on outside money. yet the amendment would allow congress and the states to strictly limit what an individual could contribute to or spend on his or her own campaign. that would make beating the incumbent, who would benefit from the new powers to restrict speech, much more difficult. in practice, individuals seeking to elect candidates in
the democratic process must exercise their first amendment freedom of association in order to work together with others for a common political purpose. this amendment could prohibit that altogether. it would permit congress and the states to prohibit -- quote -- " corporations or other artificial entities from spending money to influence elections." now, that means labor unions. now, that means nonprofit corporations like the naacp legal and educational defense fund. that means political parties. the amendment would allow congress to prohibit political parties from spending money to influence elections. if they can't spend money on elections, then these political parties would be rendered as mere social clubs. the prohibition on political spending by for-profit
corporations also does not advance democracy. were this amendment to take affect, a company that wanted a advertise beer or deodorant would be given more constitutional protection than a corporation of any kind that wanted to influence an election. the philosophy of the amendment as you can see is very elitist. it says that the ordinary citizen cannot be trusted to listen, to understand political arguments and evaluate which ones are persuasive. instead, the incumbent positions interested in securing their own reelections are trusted to be high-minded. surely they would not use this new power to develop rules that could silence not only their actual opposing candidate but associations of ordinary citizens who have the nerve to
want to vote them out of office. as first amendment luminary floyd abrams told the committee committee, meaning the judiciary committee, -- quote -- "permitting unlimited expenditures from virtually all parties leads to more speech from more candidates for longer time periods, and ultimately to more competitive elections" -- end of quote. why would anybody want to destroy that political environment? more speech, more candidates, longer time periods, and ultimately competitive elections. incumbents are unlikely to use this new power to welcome competition. in fact, the committee report indicates that state and federal legislators are not the only
people who would have the ability to limit campaign speech under the amendment. it says that states and the federal government can promulgate regulations to enforce the amendment. so unelected state and federal bureaucrats who do not answer to anyone would be empowered to regulate what is now the freedom of speech for individuals and entities that is now protected for 227 years by our bill of rights. that would make a mockery of the idea that this proposed amendment advances democracy. another argument for the amendment, some voices should not drown out others, also runs counter to free speech. and it is also very elitist. it assumes that voters will be manipulated into voting against their interest because large sums will produce so much speech
as to drown out others and blind them to the voters' true interests. well, we had a perfect example recently in virginia's seventh congressional district. now, get this -- this incumbent congressman outspent his opponents $26 to $1. newspaper reports state that large sums were spent on independent expenditures by the -- on the incumbent's behalf, many by corporations. no independent expenditures were made for his opponent. his opponent won. now, that sounds like really drowning out a political point of view. that appears to be undue influence. no. the winner of that primary spent just over $200,000 to win 55% of
the vote. since a limit that allowed a challenger to win would presumably be -- quote, unquote -- "reasonable under the amendment, congress or the states could limit spending on house primaries to as little as $200,000 all by the candidate with no obviously unnecessary outside spending allowed. the second set of unpersuasive arguments used by the proponents concerns citizens united. that case has been mischaracterized as activist. as mr. abrams stated, that that case continues a view of free speech rights by unions and corporations that was expressed by president truman and by liberal justices in the 1950's.
what citizens united overruled was a departure from press department and citizens united did not give rise to unfettered campaign spending. can i ask, madam president, how much time of the 25 minutes i have left. the presiding officer: you're currently at 28 minutes. mr. grassley: i will yield the floor and put the rest of my statement in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: i ask unanimous consent to speak up to 10 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: we've heard on this floor lengthy speeches that brought a number of arguments to bear in order to appear
inciteful and founded in history, all to obscure the fundamental fact before this body, which is some on this floor today want to see a government owned and operated by the powerful, not the people. but that is exactly the opposite of what our constitution was set up to do. the founders of our nation proceeded to lay out in very clear terms that that entire premise of our government would not be ruled by the few over the many. it would not be a system of government set up of, by, and for the powerful. and they laid that vision out in the very first words of our constitution.
this premise is so well known to citizens that most can tell you when you say what are the first three words of our constitution, they will say together "we the people." because that's what animates our system of government. we, the people. those who came to this floor to argue for government by and for the powerful are simply trying to destroy our constitution and our vision of government. citizens united, a court case that absolutely ignores the fundamental premises on which our nation is founded, is a dagger poised at the heart of our democracy. it's a decision by five justices that this framework doesn't matter.
now, the writers of the constitution felt that this was so important, to convey to every citizen that this is the meaning, the core meaning of what our government is about that they proceeded to write those words in a font that's approximately ten times the size of everything that comes after it. we, the people of the united states of america. and all that follows is to illuminate and expand on that vision. it's president lincoln who summarized the genius of our democracy in his speech at gettysburg. of the people, by the people, and for the people. and he proceeded to say that we must not let this vision perish from this earth. and yet citizens united day by
day, election by election, is diminishing and destroying the very vision that president lincoln summarized on that speech on the battlefield at gettysburg. and what does citizens united say? it says that entities that are not individuals, that have no claim to the bill of rights can spend unlimited sums to inundate the airwaves and drowned out the voice of the people. imagine, if you will, the town square. let's turn the clock back to the early phase of our democracy. there we are in the town square and everyone is supposed to have their chance to have their say in influencing the decisions that are to come. and the town council says, you know what, mr. jones, or
mrs. anderson, you get 30 seconds. but now over here, we're going to give four hours to your opponent. would anyone consider that an exercise in democracy? oh, yes, the individuals get 30 seconds but the powerful entity, maybe the big landholder, gets four hours to make his or her case. that's not democracy. that's not "we, the people..." that's rules that are twisted to fix the game on behalf of the powerful against the people. and that's what citizens united represents. now, our system of government is such that it's essential that citizens believe that every citizen has a fair shot to participate, because if they
don't believe that there is a fair shot, that, in fact, the premise of democracy "we, the people..." is destroyed. because why participate if the system is rigged? and that's what we're talking about, the rigging of the syst system. i think those five justices just simply haven't read the constitution, haven't read the first three words, don't understand the premise, the foundation, the heart of our system of government and what it's intended to accomplish. it's as if they scratched out the first three words of the constitution and said, we're rewriting it. we're going to rig the system for "we, the powerful" over "the people." that's what this debate is about. now, in citizens united, these five justices, a one-vote majority over the four who
protested against this bizarre effort to destroy the premises of our democracy, they said, unlimited sums, dark money -- quote -- "such sums do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption." they could not be more wrong. coption in this sense is the rigging of -- corruption in this sense is the rigging of the game such that citizens don't have a fair system. and rigging the game is exactly what citizens united does. and it's so obvious that of course it gives rise to the appearance the game is rigged because it is. think about the situation that i described, where the town council says to mr. anderson or mrs. jones, you get 30 seconds; the opponent on the other side gets four hours. that is exactly what we're seeing in elections across this country. you may see in some elections
that the average donation may be $50. along comes the koch brothers, who in most states would be out of state -- out of state oil and coal billionaires coming in and maybe spending $3 million or $5 million or more through a variety of front groups that they have set up. how many individual donations does it take to get the same time to present your case as the koch brothers spending, say, $3 million? well, it would take about 60,000 $50 donations to buy the same opportunity to speak. and so citizens united is very much like that town council saying, you, madam citizen, get 30 seconds but you, mr. rich, powerful individual, get four hours. and so of course it's corrosive and corrupting.
it erodes fair opportunity for all citizens to have their voice heard. and because it does erode the ability of all citizens to have their voice heard, of course it enhances the belief, that is, the appearance that the system is rigged, the appearance of corruption. and it changes the debate in this chamber because colleagues look at these millions of dollars brought to bear by just a couple individuals and they say to themselves in the back of their head, i better not step on the toes of that group that can now spend millions of dollars in my election way down in the southern state or way out in a western state or way up in the northeast. i'd better not step on their toes. and that's not corrosive and corruptive to a "we, the people..." debate and decision making, i don't know what is. well, let's take an example. not so long ago the party across the aisle was saying, we think
we have a really good idea on how to use a market-based system to control sulfur dioxide. rather than putting a limit on each smokestack, we'll create an overall limit and allow the market to allocate the most cost-effective way to reduce that sulfur dioxide pollution. and, you know, that cap-and-trade system invented across the aisle, proposed across the aisle, passed across the aisle actually worked pretty well. in fact, it worked spectacular spectacularly. sulfur dioxide and acid rain were decreased faster, more cheaply than anyone envisioned. if the range of possible outcomes was considered to be 1 through 10, this was a 25. it was a resounding success. but along come two individuals who have these billions of dollars, who are getting into elections all over the country, who are threatening to put millions in to those who disagree, and they say, no, no,
no. sulfur dioxide, do not apply this idea that worked so well to carbon dioxide pollution. don't do that. no matter how well this idea worked, don't do that, because we won't fund your elections. and if you are with us, we will fund massive amounts of campaign ads to attack your opponents. and that is exactly what the koch brothers have done and they reversed the entire position of my colleagues across the aisle in just a couple of years, in about a two-year period, from market-based control of a major pollutant, carbon dioxide, to arguing that, no, no, no, it can't be control. that would be an energy tax. well, this happens time and time again and the people across this nation do, in fact, pay attention. they are seeing the system is rigged. that's why this one poll, 92% of americans said this system is broken and i thought to myself, what's wrong with the other 8%?
haven't they paid attention? don't they know how much this system is being corrupted by citizens united? by the decision of those five justices? well, in addition, there's another form of corruption that comes from citizens united and that is those individuals who have been elected by these vast sums are beholden to those who elected them and they'll choose no policy that goes against those who have pulled their strings and gotten them elected. that's definitely a form of serious corruption in a democracy where ideas are supposed to be debated and decided, analyzed, not where vast corporate or individual wealthy billionaires pull the strings. so it's destroying the competition between ideas on how to take a path that works for "we, the people..." instead of
"we, the powerful." when people back home see those in this chamber arguing to cut food stamps while not cutting a single egregious tax giveaway to powerful oil companies, they see the corrosive influence of citizens united. when they see folks across the aisle arguing that you should not eliminate these subsidies to that go to companies that ship our jobs overseas and that you should oppose subsidies to bring those jobs home, they see the powerful influence of citizens united. and the list could go on and on and on. we have a particular challenge because the concentration of wealth in america is greater than it's been since 1920, greater than it's been for virtually a century. and now we have a system, thanks to our supreme court majority of five, that says that wealth can
be brought to bear to buy elections across this nation. this is not the system that the colonists thought about when they were trying to set up a government that would serve every american, not the few; that would serve humble, ordinary working americans, not the most powerful; that would serve those at every economic level for a better vision, better opportunity for employment, better opportunity for health, better opportunity to live a quality life instead of just those who have the biggest bank checkbooks. so i urge my colleagues, let's take up this issue. how could any issue be more important than this issue that goes to the very core of our democracy? and let's not try run these lengthy, lengthy speeches with
learned, learned quotes to try to disguise that this is about the wealthy, the most powerful oppressing the fundamental nature of our democracy. together we can stay the hand that holds the dagger aimed at the heart of democracy and it is our responsibility to do so. for this generation and for the generations to come. thank you, madam president. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands in recess until 2:15 p.m. >> so the senate is recessing.m. for their weekly party lunches. when they return lawmakers will continue consideration of a resolution proposing a amendment to the constitution that would grant congress the ability to place limits on campaign contributions. no votes are likely today. the senate returns at 2:15 eastern as you heard. we'll have live coverage here on c-span2. outside of washington voters he heading to the polls in five states that.
would bring to a close the 2014 primary season. among the races former massachusetts senator scott brown vying for the republican nomination in new hampshire's senate race where the winner will face off against democratic incumbent jeanne shaheen this fall. other primaries happening in new york, rhode island, delaware and massachusetts. president obama will address the nation tomorrow evening regarding a strategy to combat the terror group isis in the middle east. this morning we spoke with a reporter who considered what the president might say. >> turn now to daniel new houser, staff correspondent with the "national journal." joins us on the phone now. dan, we were talking about the president makes his case. what is the briefing schedule for congress and how is this process working trying to inform congress what the president intends to do? >> guest: thanks for having me on. the president is going to meet with thes. top four congressionl leaders today in the oval office, which of course harry reid, mitch mcconnell, john boehner and nancy pelosi.
and he is basically going to outline, or at least they hope he will outline a comprehensive strategy for how to deal with isis in iraq and syria. you know they have been away for about a month or more, from washington, d.c., the congressional leaders and they have been hearing a lot from their constituents that they want to hear some sort of a plan. so now, i guess it is incumbent on obama to outline this to leaders and congressional leaders to decide what next steps are for then. >> host: dann knew hauser of "national journal," what is the ask h here? what will the president be telling them and american people tomorrow night? >> guest: last few weeks he is listening closely to the -- towards of a, comprehensive strategy for the region. iraq had the elections for its ruling body the other day and
looks like a coalition government started to form. they will try to prop that up diplomatically. also we're talking about airstrikes in iraq and perhaps airstrikes expanding to syria for the first time which the administration has been reticent to do thus far. we might, might see some sort of a need for special forces but there is, there is no telling just yet, obama will address the nation on wednesday. now what the roll of congress is, is becomes a little bit more convoluted. it isor not clear whether obamas going to ask for any kind of a military authorization to be passed but it is looking a lot more like he is not going to ask for congress to vote on anything. in congress, members are basically split on whether or not they even should vote on anything. >> host: dan new hauser, you members congress on a daily basis.
are members moved on this? or is this issue where members are entrenched in their opinions and have no interest being moved one way or the other? >> guest: i don't think there would be much need to move everybody. i think everybody, unlike a couple of months ago when obama asked for military authorization to strike syria, i think members of congress viewed isis much differently. and we saw that their constituent do as well, the latest "washington post/abc news poll," shows vast different numbers and much more support for striking isis, both with airstrikes in w iraq and syria d almost everything except for boots on the ground and i think we'll probably see just about everything short on the situation. executive needs to ask for congressional authorization under article two
of the constitution. is a rolelieve there for congress in checking the power of the executive in at least some kind of measure. saying that he can go on with these airstrikes for a long while. others believe that he has the power to do this without congress, formally. host: we will get more into those issues later. dan newhauser, want to ask you, how is the 2014 election and the 56 days until the election, how is that hanging over congress' actions on this specific issue and what the president is asking? >> guest: oh, yeah. i mean, we have about two weeks for the house to be in. they're scheduled for another week later in september and early october, but it's looking more and more like they're going to cancel that in the interest of staying back in their districts to campaign. you know, this election is looming large, and members want
to stay as far away from d.c. as they can so they can have a better shot at winning their elections and particularly for republicans, to win the senate. so, you know, nobody really wants to take any tough votes, and this certainly could be considered a tough vote. so, you know, it may not be completely politically motivated that they're going to stay away there this issue as far as -- from this issue as far as voting on it on the house floor, but certainly that plays into it. >> host: daniel new be hauser -- newhauser, always appreciate your time. >> and the senate is expected back from their weekly party lunches at 2:15 eastern time when they'll continue consideration of a resolution proposing an amendment to the constitution that would grant congress the ability to place limits on campaign contributions. no votes scheduled in the senate today. back in about an hour here with live coverage here on c-span2. and uses of washington, voters
are heading to polls to bring to the a close the 2014 primary season. former massachusetts senator scott brown is competing for the republican nomination in new hampshire's senate race. the winner there will face off against democratic incumbent jeanne shaheen this fall. other primaries in new york, rhode island, delaware and massachusetts. >> congress returning monday, here's a message to congress from within of this year's -- from one of this year's c-span student cam competition winners. >> throughout the years, we have ebb count erred -- encountered mental illness, and we have seen how lack of support for treatment can result in devastating events as well as emotional stress for those individuals and their families. >> my name is felix schmidt, and i was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. i ended up in the hospital after an episode, like an attack sent
me there. i went straight to being an in patient. they diagnosed me there after five minutes or so of talking to me as bipolar and treated me for two weeks. i got out of the hospital and went from doctor to doctor looking for someone who would actually listen. it took me over a year to find a doctor who actually did listen. >> i strongly encourage congress to -- [inaudible] for those who struggle and to continue develop resources and programs for those in need. >> next wednesday during "washington journal" for the theme of the 2015 student cam documentary competition. >> and turning now to british prime minister david cameron who hosted a nato leaders' summit last week in wales. he was back at the house of commons in london yesterday, and he reported to parliament about the discussions from the summit about the islamic militant group
isis and the conflict between russia and ukraine. this is about an hour and 20 minutes. >> statement, the prime minister. >> thank you, mr. speaker. mr. speaker, with permission, i'd like to make a statement on the nato conference. but before i do so, mr. speaker, i'm sure the whole house will join me in paying tribute to jim dobbin who died suddenly this weekend. jim gave his life to public service. he worked hard for his constituents. he loved this house of commons and contributed hugely to all its work. with his expertise in microbiology, he also did some outstanding work in this house championing vaccines for children in the developing world. though we may not have agreed on everything, we did agree about the important contribution of faith in politics, although i have to say i'm not expecting to get a knighthood from the pope which jim received, and much deserved. he will be missed by us all, and our thoughts are with his family
at this time. mr. speaker, we've also heard this morning that the duke and duchess of cambridge are expecting their second baby, and i'm sure the house will want to join me in congratulating them and wishing them well in the months ahead. mr. speaker, the nato summit in wales saw the successful coming together of this vital alliance. everyone can see its unity, its resolve and its determination in meeting and overcoming all of the threats to our security. i want to thank the local council in newport, the welsh assembly, the first minister, the secretary of state, our armed services and police and all those who worked so hard to deliver a safe, secure and successful summit, the biggest gathering of world leaders, i think, that has ever taken place in our country. but most of all, i want to thank the welsh people for the incredibly warm welcome that they gave to everybody, they made our united kingdom proud. mr. speaker, the summit reached important conclusions on ukraine, on defense spending and
the reform of nato, on countering islamist extremism, on the future of afghanistan and on supporting our military and their families, and i want to take each one briefly in turn. first, on ukraine we welcome now the ceasefire that has been in place since friday. at the nato summit, i chaired a meeting with president poroshenko and the leaders of france, italy, germany and america to agree what is needed is the implementation of a proper peace plan that respects ukraine easter to have y'all integrity. nato sent a year message to russia that what president putin is doing is illegal and indefensible. we stand firmly behind ukraine's right to make their own decisions, not to have them made by russian soldiers, and we will continue our efforts to support ukraine including by providing financial assistance to improve their command, control and communication capabilities. today's new sanctions from the european union will further ramp up the economic costs to russia. they will make it harder for its banks and its energy and defense
companies to borrow money, they will widen the ban on selling so-called dual goods by machinery and computer equipment which could be used for military as well as civilian purposes, and they will prohibit the provision of services for the exploration and production of shale, deepwater and arctic oil. second, the summit reached an important agreement on defense spending. one of the problems that nato has faced is that only a small number of countries have achieved the commitment to spend 2% of their gdp on defense. by the largest country, united states of america continued remorsely upwards and now accounts for around 70% of the total. this is not sustainable. this summit addressed this by agreeing the responsibility for those countries who have not achieved 2%, and the conclusions are very clear. every nato member spending less than 2% has now agreed to halt any decline in defense spending and aimed to increase it in real terms as gdp grows and to move
towards 2% within a decade. there was also a second target that a fifth of all defense budgets should be dedicated to major new equipment because what matters most is having military assets you can actually deploy. now, mr. speaker, here in britain we have the second largest defense budget in nato and the biggest in the european union. we have taken long-term, often difficult decisions the put our defense budget on a sustainable footing, and the fruits are coming through. we are equipping all three of our services with the best and most modern military hardware that money can buy. this includes the announcement on friday of a 3.5 billion pound for -- [inaudible] vehicles, it includes new fleets of joint strike fighter and voyager refueling aircraft, 22 new transport aircraft, new submarines, type 45 destroyers and type 26 frigates and our brand new aircraft carrier.
remember, they left us a 38 billion pound -- [inaudible conversations] hms -- you actually have to the pay for them. [laughter] in a nutshell, really, that is the difference between a socialist and the conservative, they dream about having money, we actually raise it and spend it! he'll be very pleased to hear that at nato our second new carrier will also be brought into service, and this will insure we will always have one carrier available 100% of the time. mr. speaker, this investment in our national security, our prosperity and and our place in the world will transform our ability to protect power globally whether independently or together with allies. turning to the wider reform of nato, after the end of the cold war, nato stood down its highest readiness force. at this summit we decided to
reverse that decision and scale up our readiness to respond to any threat. and at the same time, we also agreed to do more to build the capacity of other nations outside nato to help them with their defense capabilities. so a new multi-national spearhead force will be formed and will be deployable anywhere in the world within with 2-5 days. this is vital in underlining our article v obligations. and the u.k. will support this by providing a battle group and a brigade headquarters. we'll also contribute three and a half thousand personnel to exercises in eastern europe between now and the end of 2015 as part of nato's efforts to insure a persistent presence or on our eastern flank. nato has a vital role in helping other countries with their capacity to defend themselves against all threats, including terrorist threats. when we consider how many of the threats nato countries including here in the u.k. now face that are coming from the middle east, north africa and elsewhere, this
capacity building is becoming ever more important, and it was a key priority for the u.k. at this summit that we made progress. so nato will now undertake capacity-building missions beginning in georgia and jordan with the offer of a training mission for iraq as soon as the new iraqi goth is in place. -- government is in place. next, the alliance was clear about the scale of the threat from islamist extremism, and we agreed we must use all the instruments at our disposal, humanitarian, diplomatic and military, to squeeze this barbaric terrorist organization out of existence. we should be clear about what needs to happen. we will continue to support the kurds including by providing them with arms and training their troops, we will work to support a new and representative iraqi government which we hope to see in place later this week. the fight against isil must be led by the iraqis themselves, but we'll continue to encourage countries in the region to support this effort and to engage allies across the world. we will proceed carefully and me methodically, drawing together the partners we need.
earlier today i spoke to ban ki-moon to seek support of the united nations for a broad-based, international effort, and i'll be working on building that international support when i attend the united nations general assembly later this month. turning to afghanistan, we called on two presidential candidates to work together to deliver a peaceful election outcome and a new government as swiftly as possible. they made a statement during the conference that they would make these endeavors. it's absolutely vital that that come about. the summit paid tribute to the extraordinary sacrifice made by all our armed forces in driving al-qaeda out of afghanistan and training the afghan security forces to take control of their security. we reaffirmed our long-term commitment to supporting a peaceful, prosperous and stable afghanistan including through our development conference in london in november. finally, mr. speaker, as our troops return home from afghanistan, so it is right that we do all we can to support them and their families. mr. speaker, in britain we have the military covenant, a pledge
of commitment between the government and our military, and we're the first british government to write this covenant into the law of the land. and ask we've taken a series of measures including introducing free higher and further education scholarships, investing 200 million in helping our service personnel to buy homes, increasing the rates of tax relief and signing up every single counselor in support of the military and also giving up precedented support to military charities. at this summit we took our military covenant internationally with every nato member signing up to a new armed forces declaration, setting out their commitment to support their military and enabling all of us to learn from each other about how we can better do this. mr. speaker, we will continue to do everything possible to look after those who serve our country and whose sacrifices keep us safe. this, i believe, was a successful nato conference. it proved that this organization is as important to our future security as it has been to the past, and i commend this
statement to the house. >> ed miliband. >> mr. speaker, i join the prime minister, first, in paying tribute to jim dobbin. he was an a member of parliament who always put the people of hayward and middleton first. he was, as the prime minister said, a man of faith which underpinned everything he did, and he was a lifelong public servant having worked in the mh is s many years before coming to this house. he was also a proud scot and was, in fact, planning to be in scotland this week to help campaign to keep our united kingdom together. mr. speaker, he will be sadly missed not just by his family, his friends, but colleagues from across the house. i also join the prime minister, mr. speaker, in congratulating the duke and duchess of cambridge on their happy news, and i, too, wish them well in the months ahead. i also want to congratulate wales on their successful hosting of the summit and, mr. speaker, i also believe we should congratulate the enterprising number of the rappaport or family for their
picture at stonehenge with president obama. [laughter] i thank the prime minister for his statement. this nato summit was the most important for a generation. today nato faces the greatest challenges in europe, the middle east and beyond. since the fall of the berlin wall and the first gulf war. i commend nato leaders for seizing the opportunity to put down firm markers on the key issues; russia and ukraine, isil and defense cooperation. mr. speaker, starting with ukraine, the ceasefire and peace plan announced on friday by the presidents of ukraine and russia was welcomed, but it must be observed. and until russian troops are no longer operating within ukraine, it would be a grave mistake to ease international pressure on russia. we, therefore, welcome the action plan which is a step towards more nimble and flexible capabilities sending a single that allies will take -- [inaudible] and i welcome the attendance of president poroshenko at the summit and ask for assurances
were specifically given to ukraine by nato. given also, mr. speaker, the desired agility within this plan, can i ask how the nature of the decision making process is being made sufficiently reliable and swift is? specifically on the spearhead force, can i also ask the prime minister in what situation he expects it to be deployed. to the rise of isil in the middle east, the whole world is acutely aware of the barbaric threat that it imposes, and it was right to greats this. and it is right also to seek to build the widest possible consensus in pursuit of this aim. mr. speaker, there is no long-term solution to isil without a long-term plan. one that is based on widespread partnership in the region, the legitimates city of an inclusive iraqi government and one that includes a generally multilateral political and humanitarian alliance. can the prime minister tell us what progress he believes is
being made in the urgent task of assembling a genuine inclusive government in iraq, and can i welcome the position taken by the united arab league yesterday, and can the prime minister update the house on what other progress has been made on the vital work of building regional support? turning to clarity of purpose, collective -- [inaudible] on defense spending we shared a commitment to maintain a strong defense and a strong nato, and does he agree that part of the task nato faces is better pooling of alliance resources so we have the kinds of capabilities that are required? finally turning to afghanistan, i commend the commitment of nato members to afghanistan. mr. speaker, our country's made huge sacrifices and so have a number of others. it is right that by the end of 2014 we will see the drawdown of british forces. i join the prime minister in giving my full support to the
military covenant, the armed forces declaration and its implementation. we know from the past not least in iraq also the crucial importance of securing the right political settlement. so key to insuring that the sacrifices that have been made lead to a better future is, of course, afghan leaders resolving their current postelection differences and agreeing to a unified leadership. can the prime minister update the house on progress on this and, indeed, a security agreement with the remaining nato forces? and given the force contribution from nations will be critical, can he also tell the house the number of nato troops expected to stay past 2014 and the u.k. contribution to that mission? mr. speaker, this summit demonstrated the nato alliance is strong and is needed by its member states more than ever. as president obama has said, the defense of riga is just as important as the defense of berlin and paris and london. the task for nato is to demonstrate this commitment and
an understanding that wherever our interests lie, we need a strategy which combines military readiness with political, diplomatic and strategic alliances. we join the government in supporting a nato that meets that challenge. >> here, here. >> the opposition for his response. i think he's right to say this was the most important nato conference for a generation because of the multiple challenges that we're facing in europe with ukraine, in terms of isil and also the threats around our very dangerous world. let me try is and take the questions he had in turn. in terms of ukraine, the meeting, the mood of the meeting, both the nato meeting and the meeting i chaired with the ukrainian president is there should be no, as he said, easing on the purchase towards russia. this is an important capability being dope on things like command and control and making sure that the ukrainian army is properly managed.
there's also support in terms of nonlethal equipment like body armor and other facilities that countries are giving. but i think it's important we shouldn't measure the nato commitment to ukraine through military support of sort of war-fighting capabilities. the real measure of support is the e.u. and u.s. approach on sanks which saw -- sanctions which saw a further ratchet up, and i think it's important that we keep the pressure on in that regard above all. in terms of the new spearhead force, different countries will be contributing. britain has gone out ahead by making clear the nature of our commitment in terms of the brigade headquarters and the battalion, and i'm sure that others will be coming forward with their contributions. but he's right that the implementation of the nato agenda is now going to be absolutely vital. in terms of combating isil, i agree absolutely what he says about the need for inclusive
government in iraq. that is supposed to be being put in place this week. it's already taken time. it's a complex undertaking, but it's absolutely vital. i would argue that without that, it is very difficult to take the further steps that need to be taken, and it's absolutely vital this is put in place. regional support, jordan is a partner nation of nato at the conference, made a very strong statement about its support for squeezing isil. he made, he asked about whether nato countries are properly pooling their resources. i think this is where the 20% pledge on new equipment so vital, because when new equipment is commissioned, it should be properly interoperable between nato countries and increasingly it is. on afghanistan, i think he's right to say that the way to secure our legacy in afghanistan is to make sure there's a proper political settlement and a lot of pressure is being put on dr. abdullah to bury differences
and form a government together. they promise to do that, but we need to see that happen. he asked about the contribution that britain will make to the may the toe forces. -- nato forces. our principal contribution is going to be the officer training academy that president karzai specifically asked for and that we are specifically providing. that should put our contribution of troops for that facility into the low hundreds. some other countries, obviously, most notably the united states but also germany and some others, will be having more nato troops, as it were, on the ground. he asked about the bilateral security agreement. both candidates have said that they will sign this, and i'd expect that to be signed. but his general point that what is required in this situation in afghanistan as in iraq is a combination of using all the assets we have at our disposal including on occasion military assets. but the importance of politics cannot be underestimated. the future of afghanistan will
best be secured by an inclusive afghan government, and the future of iraq will best be delivered if there's an inclusive iraqi government. >> richard holloway. >> mr. speaker, never has there been a time when decision makers have been faced with so many key decisions, and i congratulate the prime minister and his colleagues for an excellent summit in wales. but just as they were meeting, yet another -- [inaudible] was opening up with reports of militia activity on the russia/estonia border. does the prime minister agree that estonia is a red line, and can he assure me if there is any ip curlses there, the u.k. and nato will treat this with the most serious attitude -- >> again, i thank my right honorable friend for his remarks. i can absolutely give him that assurance. it is one of the things, nato to was very clear about the article v commitments that all members of nato are subject that
collective defense, estonia included. and i think it's very important that message goes out. and that's why not only the readiness action plan important in this spearhead force, but also starting to see more nato exercises so that russians can see when they look at estonia or latvia or lithuania, they can see different nationalities involved in the defense rather than just estonians. yes, it is a red line. >> mr. jack straw. >> thank you, mr. speaker. might i begin by thanking the prime minister and, indeed, the lead of the opposition for the generous tribute which he and my right honorable friend have paid to our northwest colleague and friend, jim dobbin. i know they will be much appreciated. wanted to ask the prime minister about the sering divisions now opening up inside the gulf consul that tiff council be allegations by some states in the gcc that other states, including kuwait and to the a lesser degree including qatar
and to a lesser degree kuwait, are harboring people sometimes quite senior who in turn are helping to finance and give other support to the islamic extremists in iraq and elsewhere. the prime minister say what representations he and others are are making to the governments of these states to insure that to the extent these activities are taking place, there's high suspicion that they are, that they stop? >> no. i think the right honorable gentleman makes a very important point which is that on occasions there have been concerns that some gulf states have supported players whether in syria or in libya or elsewhere that harbor, that take extremist views. and we have repeatedly said how unwise we think that is. and so, yes, there are discussions between those gulf states, but britain's very clear as i've said many times with respect to our domestic arrangements. we need not just to oppose violence extremists, we need to
oppose the extremist narrow -- [inaudible] as well. >> campbell. >> may i say to my right honorable friends that the tributes that have been paid to jim dobbin, he was proud to be a labour mp, and he was proud to be a scot. and these are not mutually existent despite comments made elsewhere in the union about loyalty. and let me make this comment to my right honorable friend, the attempt to gain a 2% level in ten years can only be regarded as a gentle target. is he satisfied that it's strong enough? in the minds of many is this: just exactly where do we stand in relation to action with regard to isis? would my right honorable friend agree that it's right to recognize that the best that is able to be done in relation to
an ideology like isis is to degrade it so far as we possibly can so that it would be entirely unrealistic to believe either political, economic or military means would have the effect of destroying it? >> well, first of all, i agree with very much what he said about jim dobbin. and a passionate scot, a passionate brit, a passionate labor mp, shows you can passionate about all three things. in terms of the 2 percent spending pledge, what is different about -- what is different about this time is that the 2% pledge has never been included in the leader's declaration in quite the same way it has been this time. there's never been a time scale, and what i particularly pick out is that it really puts in its sights those who are below 2% and says they need to halt any further decline in their defense
spending. with regards to isil, yes, you have to degrade an ideology, but i do think when it comes to terrorists that have taken control of the institutions of a state -- say they have land, they have oil, they have money, they have weapons -- we should be more ambitious and say, actually, the right people to run the state of iraq is the iraqi people, and there should be no place in those states for these extreme terrorists. >> [inaudible] >> those countries who are below 2% not to let it fall even lower. presumably, by implication those cups who are above 2% orb those countries who are above 2% have undertaken the contribution to not fall below 2%, the united kingdom in particular. >> well, i would refer -- basically, she's right, but i'd refer the lady to text. it is quite interesting because et says all allies currently meeting the nato guideline will
aim to continue to do so, and i think it's important, and then they make the 20% point about the equipment which i think is as important. but then it singles out allies whose current proportion of gdp is below this level, and it goes into some detail, they will halt any decline in defense spending, aim to increase defense expenditure and aim to move towards the guideline within a decade. i think it is important that for the first time all 28 countries signed up for that kind of specificity. >> andrew mitchell. >> on isil, my right honorable friend is clearly right to have been very cautious and to have sought the widest possible support for any international action including going through the united nations and working closely with the arab league. will my right honorable friend continue to make clear this will be a long and painstaking problem which will not be solved only by smart weapons delivered
from 12,000 feet, but will need long-term engagement on very many fronts? >> i think my hop rabble friend is absolutely right. this is long and painstaking work. you do need to have a comprehensive plan; humanitarian aid, diplomacy, regional pressure. above all, it needs an inclusive iraqi government. and president obama and i very much agreed that, you know, a military action can't only be one part of a plan. it is not in itself a plan, and i think it is important for people to understand that. >> speaker, i'd like to associate myself with the comments of the prime minister about the very sad news about jim dobbin and the happy news about the countess and earl of straytarian. there's very particular concern about -- there's very particular concern about the hostage, david haines, where he's from, and in seasack in central croatia where his wife and child live. what more can the prime minister say about the david's support
both in scotland and croatia. >> well, it's obviously a tragic situation, and one only has to think for a few moments of what it would be like to be in his position or his family's position to understand what they are going through. what i've tried to make sure in all these situations is that the family gets support from a police liaison officer, but also directly from the foreign office, and also it's always offered that ministers will speak directly to the hostage's family to tell them about all the efforts that are being made on their behalf. we do have this very clear policy, and i believe it's right not to pay ransoms when there are terrorist kidnaps involved. i made that point at the nato dinner and pleaded with other countries to do the same thing. but that, no one should interpret that as our not doing everything we can in case to help the family and, indeed, to help the hostage themself.
>> there were none of the sort of debates that you might have had on previous discussions about iraq. there was real unity about what needed to be done. and part of that unity was not just the iraqi government that was required, but also the support and the active support that was going to be needed by the regional players, in particular sunni countries that not only can provide resources, diplomacy, aid and even military support, but also can provide
real insight and input into the thinking of the sunni tribes in iraq who we do need to rise up against this appalling regime. >> mr. bailey. >> the readiness action plan which will enable nato to respond with greater speed providing the 28 member states are giving permission for use quickly. the similar mobile use force gave the -- [inaudible] pre-authority to use it in a dire emergency. if there's any question of pre-authority being given to use the readiness action plan, will the prime minister bring that proposal to house for debate? >> the short answer to that is, yes, i will. as he nose, a lot of the detail about how exactly it will work is still to be determined.
the maybe thing is that the -- the main thing that the readiness is decided. can i take a moment to describe him for his -- to thank him for his contribution. he spoke with great clarity and great support for what nato was doing. >> dr. julian -- [inaudible] >> my right honorable friend from sussex has just asked, may i draw the prime minister's attention to a very important article by general john than shore -- jonathan shore on the 5th of september where he said deploying the western military without a muslim political plan would be folly? what approach will we be taking to saudi arabia which has a habit of looking both ways on these questions, and where the government appears to be friendly but sources inside saudi arabia supply funds to organizations like is? >> well, i'll certainly look at the article that my honorable friend mentions. it's sometimes hard to keep up
with all the contributions that retired military figures are giving to -- [laughter] but i certainly do my best. but the point he makes is absolutely right, is that were there to be a military element to to the strategy, it would only work if it's in conjunction with all the other parts of the strategy. as i put it, you cannot intervene over the heads of local people and leave them to pick up the pieces. it has to be part of a strategy and a plan. >> because the prime minister knows secure borders are essential in the fight against terrorism, during his decisions with president hollande, was the crisis in -- [inaudible] mentioned concerning british ministers' inaction in dealing with our justice's orders? and will he ask the home secretary to visit france to engage in meaningful discussions to end this crisis including, of course, giving them the fence that we use at the summit?
>> well, taking his last point first, the offer of the fence is there, and it was a very effective piece of equipment. i don't think it's fair to say that britain has been unengaged in this. the juxtaposed border controls have been a success, but we need to work closely together to make sure that the appalling scenes we've seen aren't repeated. >> sir general howard. >> does the prime minister have time to discuss with our nato partners the very serious implications of scottish secession upon the defense of the united kingdom and nato to's northern flank? and in particular, the particular threats to our sea lanes? i wonder if my right honorable friend would not agree with me that in these very, very seriously troubled times that surely england, wales, northern ireland and, indeed, scotland would be infinitely better defended and better together? >> here, here!
>> well, of course, a number of people raised their concerns about the referendum, and the overwhelming view of people who wish our country well is to say, of course, it's a decision for people in scotland, but they hope that we stay together. and i would absolutely echo that. the point i'd make is there are two to visions of scotland's future that are being put forward here. the vision i believe in and i believe the majority of scots is, yes, of a proud and strong scotland with strong institutions, with a powerful place in the world. but that is in part secured by its membership of the united kingdom. the alternative vision of separation and such uncertainty about all these organizations, not knowing whether you'd have a place in the european union or, indeed, in nato or, indeed, what currency you would use, these are real problems of uncertainty, and i believe that the pat rottic choice -- patriotic choice is a strong, proud scotland within the united
kingdom. >> [inaudible] >> speaker, can i echo the prime minister's words about jim dobbin. i -- [inaudible] at the meeting of the labour party that we had on friday, and we both discussed the scottish situation, and his death has come to all of us as a great shock. president obama will set out his strategy for dealing with isis on wednesday. if it seems likely military action is part of that strategy, if the u.k. government makes a decision to join in that military action, even if that decision is restricted to action in the air and not forces on the ground, does the prime minister believe that that would require a vote in this house? >> well, the short answer to that question is, yes. but we're not at that stage yet. as i said on friday, i think we should be building this comprehensive strategy. we're already helping the kurds,
delivering them arounds. i've said we should step up to arming them and increasing all the elements of the strategy. i've always believed in this role and as leader of a government you should consult with the house of commons as regularly as you can, and the house of commons should have an opportunity to vote. the point i always make though, and this is not to run away from his particular scenario in any way, but it is important that a prime minister and a government reserve the right to act swiftly without consulting the commons in advance in some specific circumstances if you had to, for instance, prevent an immediate humanitarian catastrophe or, indeed, secure a really important, unique british interest. but other than that, i believe it's right, as he said, to consult the house of commons. >> mr. martin -- [inaudible] >> can i ask if the constitution that was just advanced between parliamentary consent,
parliamentary consultation and the need to sometimes swift action doesn't underline the need for a proper legislative framework to actually govern this country's engaged in military action overseas? >> well, that has been an interesting issue of debate, and we haven't come up, i think, with the final answer on that. i think there are problems with trying to write down every scenario into a law of the land. i think the convention that has group up that is now so clear in this house that the house of commons should be consulted and that a vote should be taken, i think the convention is has grown up and is now very clearly understood on all sides of the house, and my personal view is that might be better than trying to right everything down in this some sort of inflexible document. >> [inaudible] >> given the debate there's been about our defense capability both at the nato summit and in the wider context of u.k. foreign policy, can i ask the
prime minister if it can be shown that there are areas of our defense capability that have been recently removed or are in the process of being removed, that we might now require, would the prime minister consider reinstating that policy? >> i say very candidly to the right honorable gentleman that in the last four years aye often wanted to see even more of the capabilities that we've been ordering -- the intelligence, surveillance, special forces, transport -- rather than more of the things which we have got rid of or discontinued. it's actually my instinct that defense reviews are vital, but only if you make bold decisions about the future capabilities rather than hang on to old ones that might not have so many uses. >> mr. david jones. >> could i commend the prime minister for the confidence he showed in wales by bringing the nato summit to newport? it was the biggest international
event of its kind ever held in this country and was clearly a resounding success. and does he agree with me that what is now important is that wales should capitalize on this period of international attention by insuring that the international investment conference to take place in november is an equal success? >> i'm very grateful to my right honorable friend's comments. i do think the welsh assembly government, secretary of state, the police, all the organizations in newport i singled out did a brilliant job. celtic manor was an excellent venue. i think wales must make sure we secure the legacy from the summit which i think can be seen in grade and investment. -- trade and investment. this was a great window on wales. but i also think there's a legacy in making sure young people in you are country understand the importance after nato and defense. >> mr. paul flynn.
>> perhaps the best way we can honor the memory of jim dobbin is to insure the continuation of the fine work he did here and on the council of europe to help those who have become addicted to prescription drugs. could i thank the prime minister for the chance he's given to allow newport to display its magnificent facilities as a world habitat for occasions of this kind. and also thank him for the chance he gave himself and his ministers to see the high quality of education in newport including a lecture that his secretary of state had from a young 10-year-old on the wonderful history of newport. [laughter] and could i ask again and emphasize again that in november there'll be a world conference of almost equal importance to get business opportunities to newport, wales and the united kingdom can.
what's he going to do to insure that will be an equal success. >> well, it's a rare event that the honorable gentleman and i are in almost complete agreement. i think this is it. [laughter] i agree about the importance of addiction to prescription drugs, but newport really did put a great face forward. there are pressures for the nato summit, there are traffic problems, but i thought people were incredibly reasonable about that and very, very welcoming, including the local media, to everyone who came. secure in the legacy is supporting this investment conference and making sure we maintain a pro-business environment in south wales. >> mr. james gray. >> mr. speaker, the growing parliament convention -- [inaudible] that this house should be consulted, dwiive a vote on all overseas deployment. it would fail for two reasons, the first, of course, being the nato forces he's described would be deployed within two days -- [inaudible] under nato command. and secondly, the only two
occasions in which this house has voted on war, one was iraq in 2003, and the other was last year -- [inaudible] would the prime minister not agree with me there ought now to be some serious thinking begin to precisely what role this house has when we decide on deploying our troops overseas? >> well, i, i hear what my honorable friend says, but i would say that the convention that's grown up is that if there is a premeditated action that is undertaken whether the war in iraq or the view that i have that it was right to consider action in response to the use of chemical weapons inner ya -- in syria, where that is a premeditated decision by the government, it is right to consult, if possible, have a vote in the house of commons. i don't think you need to write that down in some book of rules. there are times when rapid decisions have to be taken, and i think house of commons understands that when that happens, as was the case with
libya, you make the decision and explain yours to the house afterwards. >> mike gates. >> speaker, could the prime minister clarify position as regards arming the kurds. he said in his statement "we will continue to support the kurds, including by providing them with arms." i took that to mean nato, because he was referring to the alliance. yet in an answer just now he said both the supply weaponry there other countries and, potentially -- i think he said -- arm them directly. is he now saying that we are arming the kurds, which i would welcome, and what weaponry are we going to give them? >> the short, yes, the short answer to that is, yes. up til now we have helped provide the kurds with weapons, transporting from albania to the kurds using our transport planes. that fitted in with the weaponry they've been using, some of which has from a soviet era. but i have always said we would p respond positively for them
from direct supply, and we will be providing them with arms as the germans and others will. and also we think it's right to step up our training and member to having efforts -- mentoring efforts, so e we've said we would be willing to train a battalion of peshmerga fighters. so that's a full -- that's "we" as in we, the united kingdom rather than we, as in nato. >> mr. john barron. >> the nato summit is absolutely right to stress the importance of strong defense, but given recent critical reports from the nao and the public accounts committee and very disappointing reserve cutement figures creating the -- recruitment figures creating the risk of capability gaps and false economies, has the time not come for the prime minister to reconsider the government's army reforms? >> the short answer to that is, no, i don't think it would be right to the reconsider the reforms. over the last year 3,200 people joined the army reserve. i'm confident that we are now
going to see some good recruitment figures to the army reserve. but it is a major change that we're putting in place. the bigger point i'd make to my honorable friend is when we consider the sorts of things we are contemplating doing whether it is helping the nigerian people, whether it is what we did in libya, whether it's the sorts of things we're doing in iraq, what we need more of is intelligence, surveillance, special forces, mobility, assets of equipment that can be used with partners, the most modern equipment and, also, our armed forces who have no extra equipment needs because they've got everything they wallet. that's what's required rather than just very large numbers of people involved in any of the three services. >> mr. ian paisley. >> thank you, mr. speaker. can i associate myself with the
tribute that the prime minister made to jim to be to bin. jim, of course, to have me will be remembered greatly for his strength of opinion on gibraltar in particular and the support there and his right for the self-determination of those people -- [inaudible] that resonated very strongly with me as an islander and my desire to remain british also. can i also associate myself with the comments that of the prime minister that he's not expecting a knighthood from the pope. he's not the only one. [laughter] returning to the mill tar covenant of the armed forces, the the prime ministerl know that northern i a recruiting ground for her majesty's forces, and they were matching more than our -- [inaudible] and numbers to her majesty's forces. military covenant has not been fully implemented and, indeed, in many cases is being dishonored. will he insure that the north -- [inaudible] does more to insure that it is
honored in every single regard? >> i think the honorable gentleman makes an important point. i have discussed this with the first minister and deputy first minister in northern ireland because it is important that we look after our armed forces and every part of the united kingdom. in mt. in meantime -- in the meantime, of course, local councils are able to make sure they're acting in a way, and many councils in northern ireland will be able to do that. as for his remarks about the pope, i think i'm probably -- i assume there might be something that cascades down the generations, but obviously not. [laughter] >> [inaudible] >> mr. speaker, the house will share the prime minister's concerns answer the situation in ukraine, in particular his description of president putin's actions as boast indefensible and illegal. at his meeting with president poroshenko and other leaders, did they come to any conclusion as to what were the aims of the -- [inaudible] russia and president putin in
the ukraine, and what action might be taken if he comets to pursue those -- if he continues to pursue those aims? >> i think the aim of russia is to deny the people of ukraine their legitimate choice to be closer to the european union and have an association agreement with it. and what we need to do is to say very reasonably to president putin that he cannot overcome the stated of a people -- stated will of a people to determine their own future. of course, there should be a relationship between ukraine and vertebra shah and, indeed, between the european union and russia. but he cannot use force to stop these people from choosing their own future. and i think that's why we should measure, as i said, our response to action not through a military response through nato or new ukraine, but in raising the pressure on sanctions saying to russia that if she continues with this path, she will suffer
economically. ultimately, russia needs america and the european union more than the european union needs russia. >> [inaudible] >> thank you, mr. speaker. further to the answer the prime minister has just given, it's quite clear ultimately we will need to move to a political process with the russians, so i wondered if the prime minister could say what support nato and the united kingdom have given to president poroshenko in developing his political dialogue with the russians? >> it's a very good question. the support that we're giving is to say to him that, of course, a ceasefire is only the first stage. what's required is a proper worked-up's plan, and president poroshenko sat down a 12-point plan in front of all of us at this meeting, and we give him our support by saying we will do everything we can to engage with russia to make sure that russia properly engages in this peace process. of course, it's got to include getting russian soldiers out of ukraine and ukraine being able to determine her own future. but, obviously, there's a number
of concerns that russia has about the treatment of, say, russian minorities inside ukraine and their rights which i think is perfectly legitimate to be discussed. >> mr. steven a. barnes. >> thank you, mr. speaker. may i also add a tribute to jim dobbin who worked tirelessly for vulnerable people in the tropics and particularly for tropical disease eradication. his expertise in -- [inaudible] disease is a legacy he will leave for the benefit of the most vulnerable people on our planet, and we will miss him. as regards combating irk sil -- isil and syrup sr. certainly welcoming the statement of the prime minister about the unity of an approach of the development of governor chance and security at the same time and nato speaking with one voice, can i urge him as he's indicated to really put these arguments forward as an example of nato showing the united way in the united nations in the upcoming meetings? not least because that's one of
the great lessons we learned from the reactions that dealt somewhat unsuccessfully with the most recent outbreak of al-qaeda threat? >> yeah, i think there are good lessons from mali because there was a concentration on the importance of the political process to have a new government in mali as well as some important military action that was taken. but i think he's right to stress the importance of the united nations as a way of building sport and legitimacy for what needs to be done. >> mr. buddy scherr match. >> mr. president -- mr. speaker, would the prime minister agree that we want to prevent war and the stronger and more organized and more strategic and well resourced nato can be, the better? so that was very good news from newport as long as it's carried through and we they check that e members of nato deliver. but did he think it's strange that nearly every report that i read of president obama, anyone
else stipulated there should be no boot on the ground? -- boots on the ground? isn't that strange coming from nato? >> well, first of all, let me agree with the right honorable gentlemen. nato is a defensive alliance and that is, i think, the heart of its success. of course, it has to think now more about the threats that come from outside europe in terms of terrorism, cyber attacks and the rest which may require more activism. on his remarks on boots on the ground, look, of course in order to, as i put it, squeeze isil out of existence, there will have to be boots on the ground, but those boots should be iraqi boots. it is their country, and they should be leading this process. the question for us is what can we do to help rather than put our own b in there? >> mr. kris pin blunt. chris pin blunt. >> from the formation of an international strategy to destroy the islamic state of any of russia, turkey, saudi arabia and iran will probably fatally
compromise such a strategy. what efforts are being made to include them? >> well, i think my honorable friend makes a good point and, of course, the turkish president, i had quite extensive talks with him at the nato conference, was there. and like everyone else, is extremely worried about the creation of this state on his doorstep, not least because of the appalling kidnaps that have taken place of such a large number of turkish personnel. i think that where he's right is, obviously, discussions have to be held with all of these regional partners and players to make sure that the strongest possible squeeze can be put on this organization. >> mr. jeremy corbin. >> speaker, the west went into afghanistan 13 years ago, to iraq 11 years ago and now a massive nato summit agrees to spend yet more money on defense all around the world. what consideration was given as to why there's been such an
increase in terrorism since those two wars? why isil has grown as such a very big force, and should the nato summit and, indeed, all these not be looking at the causes of war and the perception of the role of the west in seeking commercial advantage b and mineral advantage all around the world while bequeathing us yet more military expenditure? >> well, we can find a little bit of common ground with the honorable gentleman. look, as well as believing in the importance of defense expenditure, i also believe that international aid and development is a very important tool not just of helping people out of poverty, but demonstrating the compassion and generosity of the west in helping people who are less fortunate than we are. but where i think he's wrong is i think that you've got to understand that a cause, a fundamental cause of the extremism and terrorism we saw with al-qaeda in afghanistan and we see with isil in syria and iraq, a fundamental cause of
that is this poisonous ideology of islamist extremism. and we have seen people, we see people joining us who have not suffered poverty or depravation, but they've bought into this perverted world view. and irrespective of what we might think of them, they are very clear that they want to kill us. >> mr. christopher troop. >> mr. speaker, can the prime minister -- is the prime minister satisfied all our allies are themselves taking sanctions against russia, and particularly, is he curved about the role of -- concerned about the role of turkey which doesn't seem to be taking on sanctions and seems to be undermining some of the sanctions we're taking? >> i think my honorable friend makes an important point which is the e.u. has through its mechanisms decided and implemented mechanisms, so has the u.s., but there are a number of countries, you know, who have serious trading relationships with russia who, i believe, ought to see the danger cans to
them -- the dangers to them of the approach russia is taking to the sovereign authority of another country, so is, yes, it's important we have those conversations. >> jessica -- [inaudible] >> thank you, mr. speaker. can i ask for a comment about newport so far in his statement, house -- [inaudible] certainly put our city into the -- [inaudible] and with -- we all hope that we benefit from the things like the investment conference, and would the prime minister join me -- [inaudible] to deliver one of the largest security operations in the u.k. ever which i have to say was some fanst thattic policing. >> i'd like to make a particular thank you to the police because, obviously, the force did a brilliant job, but police had to be called in from all over the country to deal with, i think, 54 prime ministers and presidents and the heads of a number of important international organizations. and this is