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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  September 9, 2014 2:00pm-4:01pm EDT

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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 more heads of
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government or state than have ever come to a conference or state, so we were asking a lot of newport, but the local police and all those involved responded magnificencely. >> here, here. >> [inaudible] >> my right honorable friend agrees a response to isil has to be global with the ambition of securing peace in the long term, and the response has also to include religious leaders because it's not to exaggerate the facts to say the traditional christian communities of the levant are more threatened with extinction now than at any time in other a thousand years? >> i think my right honorable friend is shrill right to talk about the threats to minority commitments including christian communities in this area, and we should be standing up for them. he's also right to draw attention to the role of religious leaders and religious communities, and i think it's been heartening to see how many muslim and islamic leaders have come out and condemned isil and said that these people are not
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in any way acting in our name and even going viral with burning the isil flag. i think it's thoroughly worth wile to condemn this organization. >> fiona mctag rt. >> thank you, mr. speaker. the prime minister in response to members from sussex confirmed that the response to isil has to involve regional governments more effectively. in view of the fact that the british military has trained many of those people in -- [inaudible] and certainly in the military of those cups what's our army doing to make sure their counterparts are onboard with this? >> i think the honorable lady makes an absolutely spot-on point which is we have good relations with, for instance, the saudi military, the qataris, the emirates, the jordanians. part hi because many of them have trained here alongside our
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armed forces, and we should maximize that defense engagement, and that should all with be part of the comprehensive plan that's been put in place to work with them to squeeze this organization. one of the things we decided at nato was we needed to do even more to build the capability of these militaries because increasingly in our dangerous world we're confronting problems whether in syria, mali or somalia where it would be good if the regional players have the capabilities to better deal without our assistance and -- with our assistance and help but without always our direction action. >> mr. speaker, jim dobbin campaigned with gentle tenacity about the plight of minority christian groups in the middle east. when even pope francis had indicated he supports limited intervention to stop the massacre of the innocent. can i press my right honorable friend on the two previous questions he has been asked about saudi arabia? saudi arabia is allegedly our
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ally. we train them. can my right honorable friend tell me specifically what interveptions he and his foreign secretary have made with the saudi government to ask them if they will be part of the solution in what is their backyard? >> [inaudible] >> well, there's certainly engagement taking place, and i myself spoke to the king of saudi arabia around ten days ago about how we should best work together to confront this threat, and they see it very much as a threat to themselves. john kerry, the u.s. secretary of state who's currently in the region and talking to a number of the important regional -- and that's a process that needs to p continue. >> [inaudible] >> thank you, mr. speaker. could the prime minister clarify what support is being provided to iraq to insure the country has an inclusive and strong government tackle its international threat? also to support the safety,
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particularly women and children, with stories of violation being purported by, isil? >> obviously, our aid budget is being brought to bear working with others to build refugee camps and to help those people get to safety. so whether that is the yzidi community or other people, in terms of working with the iraqi government, we're stepping up what we're doing. we obviously have a full cabinet ebb gauged in that work, we're doing now. but the crucial decision needs to be made by the iraqi leaders themselves that it's time to end the sort of client politics of looking after the shia and not the sunni, but instead forming a proper inclusive government that includes sunni, shia and curd. >> [inaudible] >> in light of russia's destabilization actions in the ukraine, can i ask prime minister to inform the house what discussions were had at the
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summit about improving nato's cybersecurity capabilities and the implications to article v of cyber attacks? >> well, i thank my right honorable friend. this was an issue that was discussed because, clearly, there have been some very vicious cyber attacks carried out on nato members, and it's no good having a defense alliance if you can't address one of the modern threats which is the ability of people to take out computer programs or electricity grids or what have you. so it's an important part of the work that we do, and britain has some particular expertise in this area. >> mr. kevin bray non. >> let me also convey my shock and sadness at the loss of our friend and comrade, jim dobbin. his daughter lives in or cardiff, and he never missed an opportunity to tell me how proud he was of his grand sons and their achievements. and could he also add to the list of organizations he thanked to the cardiff council which organized the dinner and also
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the or warships, but would he comment on the question i think my friend was trying to get at which is is he offering a guarantee that the u.k. will not allow its defense expenditure to fall below the 2% target next year? >> first of all, can i thank the honorable gentleman for accurately reminding me that i should include cardiff city council. they did a brilliant job with the dinner in cardiff castle. it was a fantastic setting for discussing the issues we needed to the discuss, and i'm very grateful for everything they did. on the 2%, we immediate meet the 2%, we have under this government. the new targets are very clearly set out in the document, a particular emphasis on those people not meet 2-g %, but all parties will have to set out their spending plans including for the next election. >> thank you, mr. speaker, and i thank my right honorable friend for his commitment to invest more money into the equipment
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for our armed forces. but should scotland decide to secede, will my right honorable friend for future naval ships rath or than what would be in a foreign country? >> well, of course, my honorable friend loses no opportunity to stand up for plymouth, but let me say how much i welcome the fact that we bring be to our armed forces every part of the united kingdom. when you think of the magnificent service of the scottish regiments, you think of the expertise of those who have built our incredible warships in scotland, most recently, of course, the aircraft carriers. but it is the contribution of all parts of the united kingdom to have a defense budget which is one of the top five in the world, to have armed forces that are the envy of the world. and my argument would be not just that scotland benefits from being part of this, but scotland contributes a huge amount to
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what is a unique asset around the world. >> ah. katherine mckinnel. >> thank you, mr. speaker. may i add my tribute as well to colleague and friend jim dobbin. he's been very supportive since i came into this house in 2010, and he will be greatly missed. the appalling attack on flight ma-17 -- [inaudible] along with 296 other innocent passengers. what specific discussion cans did the prime minister have with his nato colleagues about insuring that the perpetrators of this appalling atrocity have got to justice? >> well, it was discussed at the nato summit, an appalling act that took place in terms of the shooting down of mh-17, and i've met some of the relatives of the constituents to which she refers. it's an absolutely horrific set of affairs that came about. the disturb will be publishing their report -- the disturb will be publishing their report,
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disturb -- the dutch will be publishing their report, and i think we all await their findings. >> will the prime minister give a categorical assurance there'll be no more cuts in the size of her majesty's armed forces? >> well, i certainly don't want to see further reductions in, for instance, the size of our army. we've had to take difficult decisions going to a regular force of 82,000 and a larger reserve force. and i don't want to see further changes to that. but as i said in answer to a question earlier, what matters most of all is having armed forces that you're competent to use because you though you've got the most modern equipment, and you're never going to send soldiers, sailors and airmen into a difficult situation with substandard equipment. what we've been able to do is make sure they've got the very best equipment now with the vehicle the come because that is absolutely crucial. >> mr. andrew given. -- guinn.
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>> thank you. can i thank the prime minister for his tribute to mr. jim dobbin who was a greatly respected man and will be missed. i was interested in what the prime minister had to say in his statement about the new exercises in eastern europe. now, given that nato's permanent bases are historically probably located in what is now the wrong parts of europe, can i ask the prime minister without wishing to -- [inaudible] attentions on nato's eastern flanks, what discussions were had at the summit about where nato's permanent bases ought to be located in the future to face the challenges of the future? >> the prime minister. >> the honorable gentleman is absolutely right to make this point. and part of the readiness action plan is that there should be the prepositioning of equipment and better use of bases in central
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and eastern europe, and you'll see from the detail of the declaration that's very much anticipated by this nato conference. >> mr. phillip davis. >> thank you, mr. speaker. we've always been told the more we spend on oversea aid, the more it will enhance our security. we've now had our security threat level raised, so that correlation has been shown -- [inaudible] so can i, therefore, ask the prime minister to divert some of the money and give much-needed additional resources to our armed forces and our security services to help keep our safe in these very dangerous times? >> here, here. >> i don't think it's quite right to make that correlation. i would argue that had we not put money into, for instance, stabilizing somalia, stabilizing afghanistan, helping to stabilize countries like pakistan we'd see even more pressures of asylum-seeking and migration and even greater problems with drugs and terrorism. the question we have to get
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right is the correct balance between armed forces to keep us strock and an aid -- strong and an aid budget which fulfills our moral responsibilities, but also, i would argue, helps to keep us safe. >> mr. richard graham. >> mr. speaker. the nato summit showed how vital nato still is. i thought it was good to see the -- [inaudible] playing a small role in the logistics, and i welcome the prime minister's statement. as far as the security discussions, did members discuss at all the role of imams in our mosques preaching in the context of understanding written and our values -- britain and our values? this isn't always the case. does my right honorable friend believe this is time, perhaps, to tighten the policy on foreign imams while encouraging the training of british imams? >> i think there's a lot in what my honorable friend says. what matters most of all is that imams are able to communicate to their constituents in english. i think it's absolutely vital. and that they are, you know,
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up-to-date with how to help young people and divert them away from these extremist preachers that they find online. >> mr. jason mccartney. >> thank you, mr. speaker. can i also, too, pay tribute to jim dobbin. on the transport select committee as the new member, i appreciated his shared passion for infrastructure and transport, and he'll be certainly missed on the committee. mr. speaker, i very much welcome the news of the full commissioning of the hms prince of wales, our carrier. but could he take this opportunity, my right honorable friend, to debunk this myth that goes around that our carrier force won't have the aircraft that they need and confirm our full commitment to the new joint strike fighter which will provide the aircraft for both hms queen elizabeth and hms prince of wales? >> i can confirm that. we will have joint force strikers on both of these
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carriers, and there'll be platforms of real power. and the announcement i made about making sure that both are commissioned means that at any time we'll always have a carrier available. and i think that will, you know, really does strengthen the defense capabilities of the country. >> [inaudible] >> back now live to the senate floor as they return from their party lunches. the senator from utah. mr. hatch: madam president, more than 40 years ago, "the new york timeses" have sullivan, justice william brennan described -- quote -- "a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited and robust and wide open" -- unquote. the legislation before the senate shows this commitment is in serious jeopardized. -- jeopardy. next week marks the 227th anniversary of the drafting of the united states constitution. those who participated in that
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process agreed that individual limits requires limits on government power but they differed on how explicit and extendive those limits should be. many thought the simple act of delegating enumerated powers to the federal government and reserving the rest to the states would be enough. others were skeptical of government power and instead -- insisted that the constitution needed a bill of rights. those skeptics however were not skeptical enough. the measure before us today, senate joint resolution 19, would allow the government to control and even prohibit what americans say and do in the political process. yesterday a member of the majority limb leadership said this measure is narrowly tailored. it is possible to believe that only if you have never read senate joint resolution 19 and know nothing about the supreme
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court's precedents or past proposals of this kind. this is not the first attempt at empowering government to repress political speech but it is the most extreme. four elements of this proposal are particularly troubling. first, its purpose is to advance what it calls -- quote -- "political equality" -- unquote. none of the constitutional amendments previously proposed to control political speech has made such a claim. the irony here is astounding. at the very time in our history when technology is naturally leveling the political plead, this -- playing field, this would give the power to define political equality to government. if suggesting the government should have you have the power to enforce its own version is not enough to oppose this proposal, then our liberties are even in greater danger than i thought.
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in addition to its stated purpose, this proposal is also troubling because of the power it would give to government. past proposals of this kind were very specific about what government could or should regulate. one measure, for example, covered expenditures made -- quote -- "to expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate for federal office" -- unquote. more recently proposed amendments covered expenditures made -- quote -- "in support of or in opposition to a candidate" -- unquote. the proposal before us today is, however, -- or, however, says that government may regulate -- quote -- "the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections" -- unquote. that's all it says. it would allow government to control raising and spending of money by anyone doing anything
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at any time to influence elections. no proposal of this kind has ever been drafted more broadly. the same democrat senator who yesterday claimed this proposal is narrowly tailored referred to big-money campaign donors, high rollers and for for-profit corporations with unlimited budgets. i urge not only my colleagues but everyone listening to this debate to read senate joint resolution 19. just read it. my liberal friends may want to paint certain billionaires or for-profit corporations at as the big bad wolf, but this proposal goes far beyond that. it would allow government to regulate raising and spending money not only by billionaires or corporations but by what it simply labels others.
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that means everyone, everywhere it needs individuals as well as groups, rich as well as poor, for-profits, nonprofits. under this proposal, government could control them all. it takes no imagination whatsoever to realize that virtually everything can influence elections. voter registration drives, get out the vote efforts, nonpartisan voter information, discussion about issues, town meetings, all of these activities and many, many more influence elections. once again, i urge everyone to read the proposal before us. it would give government the power to regulate anything done by anyone at any time to influence elections. the third troubling element of this proposal is what that it would suppress the first amendment freedom of speech for
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individual citizens but protect the freedom of the press for big media. supporters of this amendment want to manipulate and control how individual citizens influence elections but are perfectly happy with how big media influences elections. this proposal would allow government to prohibit nonprofit organizations from raising or spending a single dollar to influence elections. but leaves multibillion-dollar media corporations free to influence elections as much as they choose. that set of priorities represents a exist twisted sense of political equality that i cannot believe most americans share. finally, this proposal would allow government to distinguish fen 2010 what it calls natural persons and -- quote -- " corporations or artificial bits created by law unquote. unlike other provisions of the bill of rights such as the fourth or fifth amendments, the first amendment does not use the
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word "person." it simply protection the freedom of speech, a freedom that obviously can be exercised not only individually but also collectively. yesterday a democrat senator dismissed the notion that corporations can be treated as -- quote -- "persons" -- unquote under the law because corporations never get married, raise kids, or care for sick relatives. is he kidding? a corporation cannot care for sick relatives but it certainly can speak, and that is what this debate is all about. as the supreme court observed more than a century ago, corporations are -- quote -- " merely associations of individuals" -- unquote and perhaps i need to remind my colleagues that the first section of the first title of the united states code is the dictionary act.
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it defines the word person to include -- quote -- "corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies" as well as individuals. unquote. many of what this proposal labels artificial entities such as nonprofit organizations, associations or societies, exit exist to magnify the voices of individuals. the supreme court case that sparked this debate, citizens united versus federal election commission, was brought not by a for-profit corporation but by a nonprofit organization. senate joint resolution 19 would allow government not only to regulate but to prohibit the raising or spending of money by these nonprofits, associations, and societies to influence elections.
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they could be banned from speaking on behalf of what my democrat colleagues like to refer to as ordinary average americans. suppressing the speech of organizations that speak for individuals would leave millions of those americans with no voice at all. we should eliminate rather than create barriers to participation in the political process. we should encourage rather than discourage activities by our fellow citizens to influence the election of their leaders. we should prohibit rather than empower government to control how americans partnership in the political process. we should to return to justice brennan's words, strengthen rather than dismantle our national commitment to uninhibited, robust and wide-open debate on public issues. make senate joint resolution 19 part of the constitution would instead make that debate
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inhibited, weak, and closed. as the supreme court has recognized, the first amendment is premised on a mistrust of government power. neither the nature of government power nor its impact on individual liberty has changed. senate joint resolution 19 therefore proves three things -- three things -- it proves that the government's temptation to control what americans say and do in the political process is as strong as ever. it proves that the majority believes it can retain power only by suppressing the liberties of our fellow americans. and it believes that the profound national consensus that justice brennan described may no longer exist exist. another irony here is that the majority in what we omnibus call -- often call the senate, the world's greatest deliberated is trying -- deliberative body is trying to stifle the free
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speech of those with whom they disagree. this is an election-year misdirection, an attempt to, the failures to address the real problems facing our nation. we should heed the advice of our late colleague from massachusetts, my friend, senator ted kennedy. we were omnibus called the odd couple because we worked so well together but came from disparate or different political areas. in march, 1997, this body was debating another proposed constitutional amendment to control political speech. that measure i want my colleagues to know was more narrowly drawn than the one before us today. it was limited to expenditures supporting or opposeing candidates and did not exempt big media. yet senator kennedy rose to oppose it and said -- quote -- "in the entire history of the constitution, we have never amended the bill of rights and now is no time to start."
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and he was right. and it would be wrong to carve an exception in the first amendment. campaign finance reform is a serious problem but it does not require that we twist the meaning of the constitution. all of this was said by senator kennedy. the senate voted 38-61 against that proposal and senator kennedy's words apply with even more force today. no question about it. the real purpose of senate joint resolution 19 is exactly what america's founders ratified in -- why -- it's exactly what america's founders ratified the first amendment to prevent.
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er supporters of this radical proposal apparently believe that freedom itself is a the problem. that view is contrary to the fundamental principles of this republic and incompatible with free society. freedom is not a problem. it's the solution. and i'm really amazed that my colleagues on the other side would attempt to pull this stunt at this time in our country's history, when almost anybody who looks at it knows it's done just for publicity and political reasons. and at the same time, what an awful amendment it is. it makes you wonder if people in the congress today are really serious -- as serious about our country as they were at the beginning of our country. those people didn't have nearly the knowledge or the books and learning and capacities that we have today, but for some reason they were inspired.
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they were well educated, they were strong people. they knew what was right. and they stood up for what was right. and they did it in very carefully selected words that would be surely diminished by what the democrats are trying to do here today. i sometimes wonder, is politics more important than the constitution? they know they're not going to pass this resolution. we're not going to let them pass it. it's crazy. it's wrong. it's out of whack. it's against almost everything the founding fathers stood for. it's against supreme court precedent. it basically would limit the rights of all -- far too many people. madam president, i know my colleagues are going to ultimately vote this down. this will never get 67 votes, it never is should, never 14 have seen the light of day,
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never should have seen a minute on the floor of this august body. it diminishes this body to have this type of amendment brought to the floor of the united states senate. with that i suggest the absence of a quorum. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business for 10 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: over the last several weeks i've tent spent a lot of time traveling cross my home state of washington hearing from workers and families about the challenges that they face in today's economy. and while there is no question the economy has made a lot of progress, i spoke with far too many people who are working as hard as they could and still feel like they are running in place. despite their best efforts, they have not achieved the kind of economic security that allows them to do things like buy a home or save for retirement or start the new business that they have been thinking about.
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i think we can all agree that more americans should have those kinds of opportunities, so i am proud that this year senate democrats have focused on legislation that would give -- go a long ways toward giving our families and workers a fair shot. we have made the case for giving millions of workers in this country a raise, helping students get out from under the crushing burden of student loan debt, ensuring that in the 21st century, working women get equal pay and so much more. and in the coming days, we are going to bring these issues to the forefront once again and making another push for our republican colleagues to join us. each one of these policies would do so much for our families and economic growth, and that is especially true because each would help women in today's work force. i have come to the floor to focus on that last point in particular and talk about why each of these bills would make a
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real difference for women across the country. madam president, you may remember that my republican colleagues blocked these bills the last time the democrats brought them to the floor, so today i'm going to urge my republican colleagues to say something besides no when it comes to higher wages for workers or college affordability or pay equity, because if they have got a reason for opposing legislation that would help women and families get ahead, i think the american people deserve to hear it. madam president, the role of women and families and in our economy has shifted dramatically in the last several decades. today, 60% of families rely on earnings from both parents up from 37% in 1975. women today make up nearly half of the work force and more than ever women are likely to be the primary breadwinner in their families. women are making a difference across the economy in board
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rooms and lecture halls and small businesses, but our nation's policies have not caught up with the times. in fact, today they are holding women back. across the country, women still earn 77 cents on the dollar on average compared to men. that difference adds up. in seattle last year, women earned 73 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts, and that translated to a yearly gap for women of $16,000 -- $16,346. nationwide, over a typical woman's lifetime, pay discrimination amounts to to $464,320 in lost wages. the gender wage gap makes dealing with other financial burdens like student loans even more challenging. madam president, as you know, this spring i invited a woman from massachusetts named ann
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marie duchant to our budget committee hearing to testify about her own personal experience about pay equity. ann marie told us that over the years, she missed out on more than $12,000 in wages compared to a male co-worker who was doing the same job. she told us that she and her husband both have student loan debt, and those lost wages, $12,000, would have covered ten months of payments. ann marie said that thinking about that setback was -- quote -- heart breaking. now, ann marie said she was ultimately able to go back and convince her employers to give her equal pay, but unfortunately today most women are not able to do that. many don't even know that they are earning unequal wages. that is a real loss, both for our families and for our economy as a whole, and that's why we need the paycheck fairness act,
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to tackle pay discrimination head on and help ensure that in this 21st century, workers are compensated based on how they do their jobs, not on their gender. now, another policy that really needs an update is our federal minimum wage. two-thirds of minimum wage workers today are women. many of them are the sole breadwinners and the sole caregivers for their families, and i know that if you ask them how $7.25 an hour translates to a grocery trip for a family of four or shopping for school supplies or just paying transportation to and from work, they will give you a straight answer -- it doesn't. madam president, democrats know it is time they got a raise. republicans disagree. they said no earlier this year to a raise for 15 million women, and i think the american people
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deserve to hear why. now, women aren't the only ones affected by these challenges, because when working women aren't getting equal pay, when they haven't gotten a raise in years, when they are struggling to make ends meet, that means that their families are, too, and our economy as a whole is weaker for it. democrats here have put forward ideas throughout this year that would help level that playing field, and it has been, i must say, deeply disappointing that time after time our republican colleagues have simply said no, no to tackling pay discrimination through the paycheck fairness act, no to giving millions of workers across the country including 15 million women a raise, no to legislation that would relieve some of the crushing burden of student loan debt, and the list goes on. madam president, republicans rejected so much as a debate on each of those bills just a few months ago, and that really is a shame because we know these
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issues. women and family really care about it. they rightly expect us to work together to come up with solutions. if republicans are just going to reject our ideas, i think their constituents deserve to hear what else they have to offer. you know, madam president, when i was in my home state of washington last month, i spoke with an entrepreneur named lelani fenow. lelani has worked very hard to get her own business off the ground. she told me that for the last 12 years, she has only been able to pay the interest on her student loans, so more than a decade later, she still owes the same amount of principle. i also talked with a woman by the name of veronica denot. she is a military specialist. veronica told me about the financial burdens that she is dealing with, not only student loans but child care for her daughter, and she said -- quote -- "i try not to let my daughter see my struggles, but i feel terrible knowing that she
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is suffering, too." i think women like ann marie and lelani and veronica and a lot of other women across the country deserve to hear more than just no from republicans when it comes to legislation that could really make a difference for them and their families. in the next few days, republicans will have an opportunity to take a different approach than they have so far this year, and i'm calling on the senate republican leader to take advantage of it. we should be able to debate these really important issues. democrats have put solutions on the table -- hire minimum wage, student debt relief, giving women more tools to fight pay discrimination and more. and if republicans have more to say than no, it's time for them to do the same. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. ms. stabenow: madam president? the presiding officer: the
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senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: thank you, madam president. i would ask to speak for up to ten minutes as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. stabenow: thank you. first i want to thank our distinguished chair of the budget committee for both her work in focusing on middle-class families and making sure the economy grows for everyone and for her words, and i want to echo and expand upon the very same things that our distinguished chairwoman has been talking about. first, i think it's important to note that we have seen an improvement in the economy. we are seeing a stock market that has doubled since president obama took office. we have seen deficits going down. we are seeing projections of slowing increases as it relates to health care and medicare costs. we are seeing more jobs being created. the challenge for us is making sure that everyone has an opportunity in that economy, so we see an economy that has
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turned but yet we see way too many people who are not able to benefit from that economy and who don't have a fair shot to create the opportunity for themselves and their families, and so there is more work to be done, and that's what the fair shot agenda is all about. i want to thank the presiding officer for her leadership around this whole question of how do we make sure the economy works for everyone, how do we make sure we have a middle class in this country, and we won't have a middle class unless everybody has got a fair shot to make it. and so we have put together five issues that we have voted on, that we will continue to bring up over and over again until they get passed, and certainly there are other issues as well, but five that would make a tremendous difference to americans in terms of creating opportunity. the first one is the minimum wage. if you work, you ought to be receiving more wages than if you were in poverty.
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you ought to be above the poverty line if you're working 40 hours a week. we ought to value work in our economy. and raising the minimum wage is an important piece of that so that the floor, the foundation is high enough that your family is out of poverty when you're working at least 40 hours a week. we raised this issue, we voted, and this issue of raising the minimum wage to above the poverty line was blocked by our republican colleagues in april. we then came back and looked at the fact that another part of the burden on middle-class families and those aspiring to get into the middle class is the cost of student loans today. in fact, it's shocking to know that we have more student loan debt than credit card debt in this country, and we are seeing people able to refinance their home to lower interest rates, benefit from lower interest rates for a variety of things,
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but they can't refinance their student loans. people are locked in, whether it's current students, people recently out of college. we know that there is a certain percentage of the trillion dollars in student loans that are paid by people who have retired. actually, on medicare still paying off student loans. and the law currently does not just them to even refinance to the low rates that you can get from other parts of the economy. so back in june, we put forward a refinancing bill that would help more than 25 million americans, including a million in michigan alone, reduce their student loan debt, put more money in their pocket so they can buy a house, they can raise a family. i know that realtors in my state of michigan and those that are involved in mortgage banking are now deeply concerned about this issue because it's disqualifying people from buying a home. the debt that they have or being able to make other investments,
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starting a small business or other opportunities where they need financing. so this is a critically important person. if you are following the rules and working hard and doing what we all say, which is go get skills so you can compete and be a part of the new economy and get a job, but folks find themselves in a situation where all they can do is create crushing debt in all of this and then spend years and years and years, oftentimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, this is a concern. this is getting in the way of allowing people to be successful and to have a middle class in this country. we have our student loan bill bank on students, and it was unfortunately loaded down, blocked by republicans in june. then we go on to an issue we didn't originally have on our agenda until the supreme court made what i believe was an outrageous decision that affects women's personal health care
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decisions, basically saying that for a woman to get a certain kind of coverage for birth control or contraception, she would have to walk into her boss' office, sit down and explain her personal health care issues and get approval for birth control. i don't know any other part of the health care system where that's required that a boss oversee a decision of an employee, but this is something that was decided as being a legitimate option under a supreme court decision called the hobby lobby decision, and so we put forth legislation to make it clear it's not your boss' business, that women -- not your boss' business, that women ought to be able to receive preventative coverage care for women just as men do for their health decisions, and we voted on a bill that would make sure that women could make their own basic health decisions in privacy, and that was blocked in
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july by republicans indicating that they did not believe women should have the opportunity to make their own health decisions. then a bill of mine with senator walsh called the bring jobs home act came before us. a very simple premise again. we're in a global economy. we want to export our products, but not our jobs, and we have tax policy right now that incentivizes those who want to take the jobs overseas, and some of this is just craziness in the tax code, i believe. one of those very simple policies that has sent a message that it's okay to ship jobs overseas is the fact that if a company closes up shop in places like michigan or wisconsin or ohio or anywhere in the country -- we have seen too much of this in michigan over the last decades -- you can actually write off the costs of the move. the employer can say to the employees you pack up the boxes, and by the way through the tax code, you're going to end up
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paying for the move. so the bring jobs home act says no, we're not paying as american taxpayers for your move if you're moving outside the country with those jobs. you're coming back, you can write off those costs and we'll give you an extra 20% tax credit on not to of it. you want to come home to america, we're all for it and support you and help you do that. you want to leave america, you're on your own. that was blocked by republicans in july. and, madam president, blocking those four very important commonsense bills wasn't outrageous enough. republicans once again also blocked a bill to finally guarantee women equal pay for equal work. it's hard to believe we're talking about this in 2013. everyone -- 2014. everyone says wait a minute, we have equal pay for equal work. we have a lou on the books that is not enforced at this point in
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time. we have had court decisions that do not allow the actual parkway pay for equal work statutes to truly be enforced in this country which is why we find the situation where nationally women only receive 77 cents on a dollar. in michigan it's 74 cents on a dollar. and it's hard to believe that in this day and age in 2014 that 42 of our republican colleagues, 42, voted against the paycheck fairness act. i hope we're going to have another chance very shortly to vote on that again and give them an opportunity to support equal pay for equal work. now, what i find stunning when we look at michigan where women are working very, very hard every day, 74 cents on every dollar, so they're getting 26 cents less for every dollar that we they work. yet when you go to the grocery
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store you don't get a 26% reduction, hey, i'm paid less here, here's my 26% discount. when you go to the gas station you don't get a 26% discount, when you're paying your mortgage you don't get a 26% discount. so it obviously makes no sense, the numbers don't add up, but it is much more than just numbers. i remember cary sleeman from houghton, michigan who came up to testify here in the senate. a senior engineer at a company when the company closed and went bankrupt she was reviewing the legal documents and found that she as the supervisor, the engineering supervisor, had in fact been paid less than those that she supervised. i would ask for another minute, i believe if i'm close on time. thank you.
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the presiding officer: without objection. ms. stabenow: let me just say that cary sleman supervising the male engineers under her deserved to receive the kind you have pay she should receive as a supervisor. one of the things i find outrageous is we've heard folks on the other side say equal pay is nonsense, the bill is nonsense, it's a distraction. in michigan weaved of we have heard women don't want equal pay, they want flexibility. well, flexibility doesn't pay for groceries. the truth is bill want equal pay. we are at a point in time where we ought to be moving forward quickly in passing each one of these issues, madam president, as we know this is about the economy and growing the middle class in this country, we are not going to have a middle class unless everybody has a fair shot to partnership and work hard and
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be successful, and we need to get about the business of making sure that happens. juvenile. -- i yield the floor. mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the republican whip. mr. cornyn: madam president,ia tell you how disappointed i am that the majority leader has continued to persist in blocking votes on more than 300 different pieces of bipartisan legislation that has passed the house of representatives and that he refuses to bring up into into the united states senate. and rather than work together on a bipartisan basis to try to get the economy moving and get americans back to work we have this focus group poll-tested show votes where the distinguished senator from
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michigan just admitted that equal pay for equal work is already the law of the land. and she said we need to vote on this again. well, it should be renamed the trial lawyer relief act because that's what it is. it's going to benefit -- benefit the trial lawyers by encouraging litigation and it will do nothing to make sure that there's equal pay for equal work. we all agree that that is and should be the law of the land. but encouraging litigation lawsuits against small businesses is not -- is going to do nothing to create jobs and grow the economy. you know, there's a reason why congressional approval rating is at 14%. 14%. the distinguished senior senator from arizona, senator mccain, in a display of what i guess you'd call a gallows humor, says we're down to paid
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staff and blood relatives. those are the only ones who still approve of what congress is doing. and it's easy to understand why. we were -- just came back off of a recess where we had a chance to go back home and talk to our constituents, and more importantly than talk to them, had a chance to listen to them. and hear what's on their mind, what are their concerns, what are their hopes, what are their dreams. what are they worried about? i guarantee none of my constituents suggested to me we needed to repeal the first amendment to the united states constitution. that's the particular legislation that's on the floor today. that's the priority of the democratic majority leader. it's a show vote. to try to deny people an opportunity, an equal opportunity to partnership in the political process, to shut them out if you disagree with them and to silence them, tell
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them sit down, be quiet, we're in charge, we're in control. so i can't tell you how disappointed i am that it just seems like it's all politics all the time, and every -- every perceived or real problem that our democratic friends seem to identify, what's their solution? it's more government. you know what they say where i come from. the most feared words in the english language are "i'm from the federal government and i'm here to happy." we've had -- here to help." we've had an experiment since president obama was elected and the electorate gave the democratic party the control of the house and senate. we've had a nationwide experiment in the size and role of government. and the results are in. and they're pretty pathetic. unemployment is still unacceptably high.
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the labor participation rate, which is the percentage of people actually participating in the work force, is at a 30-year low. so people have given up looking for work. which is a great human tragedies. and then there's the president's approval rating. he's doing better than congress is, i'll give him that but it's down around 40%. but here's the troubling thing, and this is not a partisan comment. as an american i really worry when the commander in chief has the sort of poll numbers we're talking about. there was a poll that came out that reported in "the washington post," a "washington post" abc news poll, the poll was reported september 9, it showed americans say by 52% to 42% that president obama has been more of a failure than a success, as president of the united states.
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that's terrible. but it demonstrates his refusal to engage with congress in a bipartisan basis to do the country's work. it also reflects the mistakes he's made when it comes to leadership around the world. president obama wanted a second term to be about nation building here at home. rather than conflicts and crises abroad. but as we all know by now, the world is not cooperating. even worse, the president's not leading. instead, he's embraced a dangerously reactive foreign policy marked by empty rhetoric and wishful thinking, and the results are now plain to see. when we look at the middle east, we see a massive terrorist enclave spanning western iraq and eastern syria. the border between syria and iraq is gone.
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this is the site of the new cal i fate which islamic radicals was so bad al qaeda didn't want anything to do with them by the name of isis, have created an islamic state where sharia law will rule, where will women will have virtually no rights and people have no liberty and freedom. we see american journalists being key decapitated on video. we see a brutal syrian civil rather war in which about 200,000 civilians have been killed. 200,000 human beings dead this this the syrian civil war. with millions more of syrians displaced entirely within the country or else living in refugee camps in turkey and
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lebanon. and jordan. we see a failed state in libya. we see a terrorist sponsoring iranian thee okay crows that continues to pursue a nuclear and see a violent iranian axis stretching from tehran and damascus to beirut and gaza. let's not forget about eastern europe. we see an autocratic gangster state conducting an invasion of democratic neighbors and taking sovereign territory by force in a manner not seen on the european continent since world war ii. now, a few weeks ago the president announced that western -- sanctions against russia were working as intended. working as intended. and yet in late august, large
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number of russian troops began launching incursions into eastern and southern ukraine in the hopes of seizing more territory. they've already got crimea. that's yesterday's news. now they're making further gains in eastern and southern ukraine. one ukranian official called it a full-scale invasion. it doesn't sound to me that the sanctions issued by the united states are working as intended, as the president has said. our existing sanctions are inadequate. they are not working as intended. vladimir putin is not deterred by economic sanctions. in fact, according to one italian newspaper, putin recently told the president of the european commission that if russia wanted to, it could take kiev in two weeks. but i'm sure mr. putin is okay
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if it takes a little bit longer just as long as he gets the territory he needs to try to restore the russian empire to its -- his former visions of glory. white house officials famously described the president's foreign policy as don't do stupid stuff. that's one for the history textbooks. that's the sort of policy our students need to study in high school. don't do stupid stuff. come on. time and time again, in country after country on issue after issue, this administration has by its inactions and its ambivalence undermined america's partners. emboldened our avid carries seas and weak end american credibility. let's start with the middle east.
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in libya, president obama launched a war against moammar qadhafi in libya and then he did virtually nothing to help stabilize the country after qadhafi's fall. that neglect ultimately led to the tragic death of four americans in benghazi in september 2012. it's also hea led to the emergee of terrorist havens. what do they look for other than a power vacuum that they can fill where they can seek sanctuary and launch attacks in the region or against other adversaries? but this has led to libya's collapse as a functioning state. it is a failed state. it'it has alsoenabled jihadist i in africa until they were driven out by the french.
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and then there's syria. in syria, remember the president said, bashar assad needs to step down? and then he did virtually nothing to help see that happen. he did nothing to arm the moderate rebel forces opposing assad in the syrian civil war. the irony is, u.s. officials had a plan to support those rebels, and they recommended it to the president in the summer of 2012. a plan proposed by then then-secretary of defense leon panetta, then-secretary of state hilhillary cline continue, then c.i.a. director and the then-chief of staff chairman martin derch -- they recommended plan to deal with assad and to facilitate the regime change that president obama called for.
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but what did the president do? he rejected it, even though his stated policy has been regime change. it's become commonplace to say that the united states has no good options in syria. but president obama's chronic passivity has helped the jihadists -- i know that's not his intention but that's the result. it's helped embolden the iranians, and it's made the syrian war evening more dangerous to the united states and the united states interests. and then there's iraq. president obama failed to secure a status of forces or bilateral security agreement that would have protected american forces that served on the transitional basis in iraq after the conclusion of the iraq war.
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we've kept troops in japan and germany after world war ii, and indeed the americans were the only glue that was capable of holding the country of iraq together and avoiding the sort of sectarian civil war that we've seen ensue. but his complete withdrawal of u.s. forces in 2011 was a huge gift to iraqi shoul shiite milid the sunni terrorists of al qaeda who would later form the so-called islamic state, or isis or eye sicialtion a eye circle r isil, as they're now called. as i reflect on the american casualties in ramadi and fallujah, our marines, our brave american soldiers, men and women, their loss of life or injuries incurred in laibting -n
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liberating iraq from saddam hussein and to see all of that forfeited by the president's unwillingness to secure a bilateral security agreement and leave a transitional small footprint force to help the iranians transition to self-government and democracy, it breaks my heart. i don't know how h you explain that to someone who lost a loved one in ramadi or fallujah or anywhere else in the iraq war. according to "the wall street journal," at least eight million syrians and iranians -- excuse me, eight million syrians and iraqis live under full or partial iraqi state control. eight million syrians and iraqis living under the rule of medieval bar barons who not -- barbarians who not only
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decapitated two american captives but have accumulated a frightening amount of territory and wealth. they control a lot of the natural resources shall the oil wealth in iraq now because we've allowed them to capture and now that's the source of revenue for them to continue their terror. they've accumulated a frites frightening amount of territory and wealth by rob, raping, extorting and murdering innocent civilians. by allowing the islamic state to take over such a large part of iraq and syrian territory, president obama has neglected one of the key recommendations of the 9/11 commission. you remember the 9/11 commission. that was a bipartisan commission that was set up after the tragedy of 9/11 to say, how do we keep this from ever happening again? one of the key recommendations of the 9/11 commission is that the u.s. government identify and
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prioritize actual or potential terrorist sanctuaries. in other words, safe havens. instead, the president has stood by and watched like a spectator while the islamic state over the course of many months carved out its own safe havening, right in the heart -- safe haven, right in the heart of the middle east. now, i'm grateful to the president that he now has made a pledge to destroy isis. i believe this is not a threaten that can be managed. i think it needs to be eliminated. so i congratulate the president of having evolved to this point where he understands the nature of the threat to american interests and to the american people, and i hope he's serious about doing that. but as one person recently noted, the obama administration has persuaded just about every
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leadership cadre in the middle east that the united states can be ignored when its principles make threats or promises. remember the red line in syria with chemical weapons? well, the red line was crossed, virtually no consequences associated with it. what's the lesson you learn? i guess i can get away with it, and i'm going to to keep on com, just like vladimir putin in crimea and ukraine. speaking of threats and promises, president obama has repeatedly threatened russia with serious consequences over its invasion of ukraine, and he's repeatedly promised to help the uniothe ukrainian people upd their son ofty. yet he's subornly refused to provide the arms needed to defer and deflect and defeat russian aggression. what are we giving them? our good wishes? sending them some food, medical supplies, that's fine as far as
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it goes. but woi without the actual weaps and training they need to raise the costs for putin, he's not going to 1207. -- going to stop. the president's threats haven't been reinforced with the kind of action necessary to change moscow's calculations, and his promises to the government of kiev now look rather empty. and you know the tragedy, mr. president, is it seems like there's one world crisis after another, and we've long since forgotten about libya. syria and the red lines and the chemicals there, they seem like a vague and distant memory because now we're focused on isis, but they're all part of the same problem. well, there is a very real change in ukraine that last week's cease-fire will only
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solidify russia's recent territorial gains an and legitimatize their quest to seize more territory or th. amidst all this upheaval, all this violence, all these challenges, all these threats to u.s. interests and allies, the president seems disturbingly aloof. here is what he said about the ongoing global turmoil at a recent fund-raising event on august 2-9sz. this is reported in the press. he says the world has always been messy. in port we're just noticing it now because of social media and our capacity to see in intimate detail the hardships that people are going through -- close quote. but, make no mistake about it the middle east has not always
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been consumed by the type of violence and chaos that we're seeing today, and european countries have not always been facing cross-border invasions like that posed by russia today. the world needs strong american leadership. ronald reagan was right. we have a safer, more peaceful world when america is strong and does not create the safe havens for terrorists or by our timidity or our rhetoric that is not followed up on by actions that create the impression that you can get away with it. it just encourages the thugs, the dictators and the terrorists. the president's refusal to accept any real responsible for the congresses of his foreign policy is troubling enough, but what's even more trouble something he doesn't seem to fully grasp the magnitude of the threats and challenges that america is now dealing with.
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if he thinks this is all about social media and people just being aware of things that were happening before but they weren't aware -- that they weren't aware of, i hope he will think again. his overall record is looking lg more and more like a case study in the perils of weaknesses, naivete and indecision. i can only hope that recent events will force him to change course. understand that could start by -- and that could start by him coming to congress with a strategy to eliminate isis, to eliminate this threat. i believe there would be bipartisan support for a strategy that the president would present that has a reasonable chance of success. but just to have an open-ended airstrikes and maybe just a strategy being either your hopes and dreams but not something with the likelihood of working, that's not good enough.
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but if he came with us and worked with congress, i think would serve multiple purposes. first, it would comply with the constitution and the laws of the united states. that's important. secondly, by engaging in bipartisan support in congress, he would build support necessarily for this policy among the american people. and i don't believe americans should ever go to war without the support of the american people. we see what happens when that support fades and crumbles, and it is not good. the third reason he ought to come to congress is, as i read in some of the news clips today, a he's going he is going to comr $5 billion to fight isis. the president that's famous for saying he's going to go it o. loan -- i've got a pen and a phone -- he can't go it alone when it comes to appropriating money. he needs congress to appropriate the money.
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and congress should not appropriate money without a strategy that has a reasonable likelihood of working or without an explanation of how this strategy is going to protect america and americans' interests. so i hope in his remarks on u.s. policy toward the islamic state in iraq and syria tomorrow night when he makes this nationwide address, i urge the president to go beyond the rhetoric and offer a clear explanation of our military objectives and our strategic objectives. i urge him to explain how and why the islamic state poses a threat to u.s. national security interests, which i believe it z --which i believe it does. i believe he thinks it z i hope he will explain it to the american people so they will understand it. i urge him to explain how u.s. partners and allies can help support america's mission
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because we can't and should not do it alone. and indeed we do need that coalition, particularly of people in the region, who have the most direct interest and stake in the outcome. we need them to come to the table and help, too. and finally, i'd urge him to explain what his strategy is and how u.s. operations in iraq and syria fit within the broader war on radical islamic terrorism. if the president gave such a speech -- and i hope he does, and i hope it's followed on by true negotiations and deliberations in consultation with congress -- i know that some of the -- that majority leader pelosi and majority leader reid and the republican leader of the senate, senator mcconnell, and speaker boehner and majority leader kevin mccarthy, are visiting with the president perhaps as i
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speak, and maybe that's just the beginning of the kinds of consultations that should take place. but i hope it is followed on by true collaboration and consultation with all members of congress so that we as americans can come together and do it was in our national interest. but we can't do it without leadership, and we can't do it without a strategy to accomplish that goal. and i think in the process, the president could inject some much-needed clarity and direction into foreign policy that has become homesly muddled and aimless. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president, i'm going to give a brief statement about corporate inversion. but before i do, i'd like to respond to the senator from texas, who is my friend, and we served together for many years. he has taken the floor for a period of time here and spoken
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about some of the problems facing this nation at home and abroad and has largely been critical of the president in both categories. i wasn't here early enough to hear his parade of horribles when it came to domestic policy. i just caught the end of it, when he suggested that there was something wrong with this president because america's labor force, its workforce, is shrinking. people are giving up looking for work. well, that's a serious concern, and we ought to ask the question, why are they giving up looking for work? it turns out it has perhaps something to do with the policy of our government. but it also has something to do with the life expectancy of americans. you see, mr. president, i'm a little older than you, and i just barely missed what we call baby boomers. baby boomers were those born after world war ii when the returning soldiers and their
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wives, spouses sat down and said we're going to build a family, and they did, and a lot of kids were born in america. it was a baby boom we called it. guess what? baby boomers are reaching retirement age. the workforce is shrinking because they're retiring. i'd like to blame barack obama for this, but i think maybe that is a stretch. i don't think you can blame him for the baby boom. he wasn't even around after world war ii, and he certainly can't be blamed because people decide to retire. longevity kind of suggests when that might happen. still and all, it's another one of the things that's ticked off the shrinking labor pool is an indication of the failure of the obama policy. no, it's an indication of baby boomers aging out and retiring and god bless them, they're entitled it. i think folks ought to think twice about that criticism. i want to address the foreign policy side of this thing and want to put in perspective what
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the senator from texas had to say. long list going all across the world, the problems that this president has either failed to fix or created. and i listened carefully, and i always do because critics of the president have every right to do that. that is part of democracy. but i think they also bear some responsibility to suggest what we should do as an alternative. many of them said we've got to be more manley. we've got to be standing up. we've got to show the world we're assertive. what does that mean? what he's saying, what the president is saying is we have to be careful that we invest american lives, american treasure and the american military in this world in places where we can make a difference and take care not to do, as they said, inartfully, stupid stuff by sending our military into places where they cannot achieve
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their goal and reasonably come home in a short period of time. that's the president's position. i've not heard those on the other side be more specific when they talk about we've got to be more assertive in america. the date was october 11, 2002, on the floor of the united states senate, and i was here. it was 12 years ago, and it was the night that we voted on giving president george w. bush the authority to invade iraq. the roll call took place late at night, and i stuck around afterwards. there were about three or four of us left on the floor here. the final roll call, there were 23 senators who voted "no" on the invasion of iraq. i was one of them. there was one republican. the rest were democrats, one independent and 21 democrats, i should say. 23 of us voted "no" on invading iraq. 23 of us questioned whether or not being acertificate
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alternative at that -- being assertive at that moment in history was the right thing to do. remember we were told weapons of mass destruction, threats to the united states. some of us were skeptical. the case had not been made. but we went forward. i'd like to make a note as well that even though there was a difference of opinion about the policy of iraq, under president george w. bush after the decision was made to go forward, many of us who voted "no" joined in with those who voted "yes" to say now that we've made the decision, we stand together as a nation. we're going to provide for president george w. bush the resources for these men and women in uniform so they can accomplish their mission and come home safely. in other words, partisanship ended at the water's edge after we had made our decision. i still think that's the right course in foreign policy. even though i voted against that war, i voted for the resources
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for the troops to execute it. i thought what if it were your son, senator? what if it were someone you love? do you want them to have everything they need to get home safely? of course. i wish that that long-standing tradition in the united states congress would return. wouldn't it be healthy, inspiring if after a heated debate over a foreign policy issue, we said now we'll stand together. the decision has been made; we're going to stand as a nation. but instead what i hear from the other side when it comes to foreign policy issues, we are going to be critical of whatever he does, whenever he does it, wherever he does it. i don't think that that is constructive. i don't think it speaks well of the united states. the debate is important. the debate is part of us, part of who we are as a democracy. but after the debate, let's get on with working together. do you remember it wasn't that think ago when they discovered chemical weapons in syria and
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the president said this isn't just a threat to syria. this is a threat to the middle east and beyond. he said i'm going to make a stand to dismantle those chemical weapons in syria, and i ask congress for the authority not to send in troops, but if necessary, a missile, a bomber, a fighter plane to support our efforts to eradicate this chemical weapons stockpile. you remember what happened? i do. what happened was we had a debate in the senate foreign relations committee and a vote, a bipartisan vote which supported the president, and then we couldn't bring it to the floor because there was not adequate support from the other side of the aisle to stand by the president when it came to dismantling chemical weapons in syria. he went forward working then with russian leader vladimir putin, and basically all of those weapons have been dismantled. but when the president asked for the authority to dismantle those weapons, he couldn't get the
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support of the other party. that was the reality. and now we face a new challenge. and there are those who say if we had just been bold and assertive, and i wonder if what they are saying is if we had shown the strength we showed with the invasion of iraq this might not have occurred. i'm honored to chair the appropriations defense subcommittee. it is the biggest. our budget is just under $600 billion, almost half of domestic discretionary spending. and i've come to learn that our military really is the best in the world, starting with the men and women who serve there, but way beyond that. our technology, our intelligence, we have the very best. but we have learned, we have learned the hard way that even the best military in the world can run into obstacles that they didn't anticipate. the first time i went to walter reed and visited with a disabled
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iraqi veteran, he was a sergeant from ohio who had had his right leg blown off below the knee. and i said what happened? and he said it was an i.e.d. and i said what is that? and he said, well, it's an explosive device roadside bomb. and we were in the best military equipment in the world and this crude roadside bomb went off and blew off my leg. and i thought to myself i wonder if the greatest military in the world with the greatest technology in the world can be brought to a stop by a crude roadside bomb if we are properly evaluating war today, fighting terrorism today. what the president is trying to do is to find effective ways to stop this onset of terrorism in the middle east, this new round of terrorism in the middle east, this group called islamic state. why are we picking this group out of all the other terrorist groups? and there are many of them.
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they are qualitatively, quantatively different. they are the first terrorist group we know that has taken and held territory. usually terrorist groups set off a bomb in a marketplace and they're gone. no. they've taken whole territory. they capture banks and go inside and take all the resources out so they have a treasury. some people think they earn as much as $1 million a week off the oil wells that they are controlling in iraq. they use american equipment that has been left behind or stolen, and they engage in the worst level of savagery we have seen in modern times. the beheading of these two innocent americans was heartbreaking. heartbreaking in one respect as i thought about their poor families and what they face. but it also enraged me to think that this group, the islamic state, would do that to two innocent americans, defying us and saying to us this is just
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the beginning. so it's a serious threat, and it's a threat to the stability of iraq. here we are 12 years later after we invaded iraq, after we have launched 4,476 -- lost 4,476 lives in iraq, after we put $1 trillion more on our national debt to pay for the iraqi struggle and the country is virtually in chaos. the president is saying to the american people, i want to fight terrorism. i want to do it effectively and i want to do it smartly. i want to do it in a way where we're not sending in troops that are there for long periods of time to just be targets for terrorists. let us use our resources and our forces in a thoughtful way. i'm awaiting a speech tomorrow night because i want to hear as
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he lays this out, what he hopes to accomplish, how long we're going to be there, where we're going to be, by what authority he's moving forward and using these military resources. these are all legitimate questions, and it's right for the loyal opposition to raise questions about where he's going and why he's going, what he wants to do. but for the time being i think the american people want the president to present his case and then make their judgment as to what is fair to bring stability to this critical part of the world. mr. president, i ask the statement i'm about to make be placed in a separate part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, it was about tboo -- two weeks ago and i was in central illinois and i was heading to a forum for senate candidates. it was put on the by the farmers of down state illinois. i've got a lot of friends there, and we went off to a farm. and before we got there, i had an extra 45 minutes, and i
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hadn't had lunch. so we were driving around bloomington normal, illinois in mcclean county. i said let's stop and get a sandwich somewhere. my driver said there is a burger king. i said no thanks. there is a steak and shake which happens to be a franchise we're pretty proud of in the midwest and in illinois. i consciously decided not to stop at burger king. why? because within the last several weeks burger king has announced that they are consciously deciding to leave the united states. this iconic hamburger chain, second-largest in the world, has bought a doughnut chain in canada and now they want to move their headquarters up to canada out of miami, florida. why would they move their corporate headquarters out of the united states of america, where they have most of their restaurants? to cut their taxes. it's called inversion. if you can pick up and on paper move your corporation to
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switzerland, ireland, the island of jersey, canada, you name it, there are ways that accountants and lawyers have figured out how to reduce your tax burden. but of course, as companies decide to do that, they are also making conscious decisions to stop paying u.s. taxes, or avoid paying u.s. taxes. at least some part of it. we've seen a lot of companies have announced this. abvi, a pharmaceutical company in chicago, used to be avid labs, has decided they want to move overseas. i took a look at it and thought for a moment interesting. a pharmaceutical company wants to move overseas. how important was the united states to the success of a pharmaceutical like abvi? the fact that they developed drugs and products that were profitable. how important was this country
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to that company? i would say critically important. companies don't usually come up with all the ideas for new drugs. they rely on the national institutes of health, the premier biomedical research agency in the world. annual budget in the range of $31 billion, and they do research which they then turn over free of charge to pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs to make money. the national institutes of health is supported by american taxpayers. and then if a pharmaceutical company develops this new drug that they think has the potential to be a blockbuster and sell a lot, there's another step. you have to go to the food and drug administration, the united states food and drug administration, and they test it. and if after -- at the end of testing they come up with a conclusion that it is not only
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safe but effective for what it's being used for, they give the seal of approval. it is the gold standard of safety of pharmaceuticals. food and drug administration supported by the united states government and american taxpayers. and then it isn't over. at least one last stop. you go to the patent office to make sure you protect your intellectual property, this pharmaceutical formula. u.s. patent office supported by the government and u.s. taxpayers. so here is a pharmaceutical company using research, using testing and using protections of patents from our government who says incidentally we're leaving, we don't want to pay taxes to this government. we want to reduce our tax burden to this government. there's something wrong with this picture. 49 of 50 corporations have done it and more are threatening. take a burger king. well, the sale of hamburgers doesn't involve a great deal of research, but the product that you're cooking at your store has
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been inspected for safety by the u.s. federal government. and the place where your store is located probably is on a highway or street supported by our government. but then there is one other element. the people who work in fast food in america aren't usually paid a lot of money. their income is supplemented by government programs like naps. it turns out to the tune of about $7 billion a year. that's what taxpayers in america pay to subsidize the income of workers in fast food restaurants. so here is a place like burger king that is using the largess protection rule of law in the united states to do their business, counting on our government to step in and supplement the income of the person frying the hamburgers and serving it and saying incidentally we're leaving, we don't have any obligation to this country to pay taxes. we're going to canada on paper.
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there's something wrong with this picture. to me, if you were going to desert this country as a corporation, consumers first ought to be aware of it. that's why i drove past burger king. i don't care to do business with a company that doesn't think it owes its fair share of taxes, because if they don't pay their fair share of taxes, other good american companies will be forced to pay more than other individuals will. so it's right for us to speak up now about this process of inversion and bringing it to an end. it isn't just a matter of escaping the taxes. there are accounting techniques -- which i see i have several colleagues on the floor here that are preparing to speak. i will put my statement in the record. there are counting techniques which these inverted corporations can use to even reduce their corporate taxation more. some people say the u.s. corporate income tax is too high, the nominal rate is 35%. the effective rate is closer to 25%, and the major corporations
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pay in the range of 10% to 15%. when you look at the countries they are going to, ireland, i believe their corporate income tax rate is 12.5%. cayman islands zero. so we can't play to the lowest denominator, play to the bottom line, the bottom corporate income tax. it's a lose-lose situation. what we have to do is to make sure that inversion comes at a price. i have joined with senator schumer. we put in a bill later this week to talk about this whole question of inversion as it relates to the tax code. it's a technical bill that senator schumer has largely written as a member of the senate finance committee and asked me to join him on because of my interest in the subject. it limits the practice of earning stripping, a tax lawyer's trick where you load all the debt onto a u.s. subsidiary then write off all the debt and the interest payments as a tax deduction. the bill which i introduced with senator schumer is designed to
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prevent corporations from taking excessive interest deductions and sticking u.s. taxpayers with the tab. there are other parts of that bill. i'll close by saying this. i believe that the tax code should be written in a positive fashion. it is not positive in our tax code to set the stage for corporations to move their jobs and headquarter overseas. in fact, we allow under our tax code for these corporations to deduct their moving expenses if they're going overseas. what are we thinking? why would we create an incentive, a deduction for taking jobs out of america? i think there is a better approach. when the time comes for tax reform -- and i hope it's soon -- i'm going to propose that we have something called the patriot corporations credit. here is what it says. pretty simple. if your headquarters for the corporation is in the united
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states, if you kept your jobs here in the united states, if at least 90% of your employees are paid at least $15 an hour, if you have got good health insurance, according to the standards of the affordable care act, if you will contribute at least 5% of your employees' earnings toward their retirement and if you will give a veterans' preference, we will give you a tax credit. we want to reward, we should reward and incentivize companies that build their future in america, companies that believe in america, companies that pay a decent wage and benefits to the people who work for them. that's what should be in the tax code. let's start incentivizing job building and job expansion here in the united states. let's stop these deductions for moving jobs overseas and let's put an end to this corporate inversion. these folks have to realize we are not going to stand still for them gaming the tax code to avoid their responsibility to the country which by and large
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created the success of most of the corporations. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: attention all citizens. to assure the fairness of elections by preventing disproportionate expression of the views of any single powerful group, your government has decided that the following associations of persons shall be prohibited from speaking or writing in support of any candidate. this is a statement that i have taken directly from a dissenting opinion issued by associate justice antonin scalia in a case called austin versus michigan chamber of commerce. a 1989 ruling of the supreme court of the united states. the concern expressed in that dissenting opinion, the opening line of which i have just read, comes to mind when we review the legislation in front of this body right now, senate joint
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resolution 19, an attempt, a wholesale effort to repeal the first amendment of the united states, to undo its most fundamental protections, protections that protect the right of every american to speak out on issues of public concern, to try to influence the outcome of elections, to try to dictate the course of our entire country. now, fortunately, this precedent that justice scalia was expressing concerns with, this precedent was overruled. it was overruled in a case called citizens united which has itself become the target of senate joint resolution 19. in other words, because the constitution has now been properly interpreted to protect the right of american people, to join together and form coloradotory associations and to use those associations to try to influence the outcome of elections, my colleagues across the aisle have decided, rather than to follow the constitution, to change it. rather than to follow its
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dictates, to get rid of those portions that would interfere with the power of government. this is something we cannot tolerate. this is something we cannot ignore. this is something that we must do something about, and we have to do it today. as justice scalia explained in his dissent in the austin case, this principle, this type of approach whereby we allow the government to limit the expressive escape abilities of the american people, to limit the ability of the american people before voluntary associations and speak out on matters of public concern is utterly contrary, not only to our case law, but to the text of the first amendment, and it's inconsistent with the absolutely central truth underlying the first amendment. and the idea here is that government cannot be trusted to assure through censorship and make no mistake. that's what this is about, is
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censorship. the quote -- unquote -- fairness of political debate. so we're here ostensibly to debate the relative merits of senate joint resolution 19 which would up-end well over two centuries of understanding that there are certain things the government can't do, there are certain things the government would never be trusted to do, the government can't censor our speech, particularly our political speech. we're here to debate that, and yet among those who have introduced this legislation, among those who have sponsored this legislation, we've heard, if i'm not mistaken, from only two. we've heard two speeches. this is a profound and disturbing message to the american people. we're trying to up-end the cornerstone of american republican democracy, and yet we've had two speeches in support of it. this is something that ought to alarm us terribly. i was pleased to hear moments
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ago from my distinguished colleague, the senior senator from illinois. i respect the senior senator from illinois. he and i have worked together on a lot of pieces of legislation. we have worked together most recently on the smarter sentencing act, which i think is an important bipartisan attempt to reform our federal criminal sentencing code which is in serious need of being reformed. i also respect the senior senator from illinois for some statements that he made a few years ago when another amendment had been proposed. i at least respect the approach that he took in urging caution before undertaking any effort to undo, to weaken, to undermine the bill of rights. here is a statement that he made on june 26, 2006. the bill of rights has served this nation since 1791, and with one swift blow of this ax, we're going to chop into the first amendment. he was concerned about that. he was concerned also when on the same day he made a similar
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comment. instructive here i think when he noted that it is a matter with which we will likely debate the rest of this week, the week in which he was speaking in 2006, meaning this is an urgent matter. it's a -- it's a matter of great concern to the american people. when we are talking about changing the first amendment or any opponent to the bill of rights. he continued -- the reason we're going to spend this much time on it is because this document, this one-page document in that case, represents the risk change in america. if this amendment were to be ratified, it would mark the first time in our nation's history that we would amend the bill of rights to the united states constitution. on the same day he also said it takes a great deal of audacity for anyone to step up and suggest to change the constitution. i think we should show a little humility around here when it comes to changing the constitution. so many of my colleagues are anxious to take a roller to a rembrandt.
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i couldn't agree more, especially when we're talking about not just free speech but poor political speech which is the subject of senate joint resolution 19. make no mistake -- the fundamental purpose, the most important objective underlying the free speech clause and the free express clause was to protect the right of the people to engage in political speech, and make no mistake, the purpose of this is to enhance congress' power to restrict political speech. in fact, its entire purpose focuses on efforts to spend money to new elections, the core of political speech. let's go back for a minute to the dissenting opinion issued by justice scalia in the austin case i referenced a few minutes ago. he explained in that dissenting opinion that there are some things that we understandably don't want government to do.
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there are a lot of things that we do in the constitution that are all about outlining what the powers of government are. we explain what power congress has, what power the president has. we explain further that power is not delegated to congress or reserved for the states or to people. and then we also identify in the bill of rights that there are certain areas that are just out of bounds for government, areas where we don't want government to tread. this is one of those areas. as justice scalia explained, the premise of our bill of rights is that there are some things, even some seemingly desirable things, that government cannot be trusted to do. the very first of these is establishing the restrictions upon speech that will assure --quote, unquote -- fair political debate. the incumbent politician who says he welcomes full and fair debate is no more to be believed than the entrenched monopolist
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who says he welcomes full and fair competition. this is what we face here. this is the risk we face here. we're assured by the proponents of this legislation -- that is, both of them, both of those who have shown up so far to speak in support of this -- that this will still allow debate to occur, and yet how are we to believe this when what they're proposing is to expand congress' power to limit that right to participate in an open public debate, to undertake efforts to influence the outcome of elections and thus dictate the course of an entire nation? justice scalia concluded with the thought that as he put it, the premise of our system is that there is no such thing as too much speech. that the people are not foolish
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foolish, but intelligent. and will be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. he refutes the notion that a healthy democratic system can survive the legislative power to prescribe how much political speech is too much, who may speak and who may not. when we try to weaken this understanding, we're playing with fire. whenever congress attempts to expand its power -- for that matter whenever any government attempts to expand its power, it does so inevitably at the expense of individual liberty. here where it tries to expand its influence over political debate, where it purports to have the ability to expand its power over core political speech, it does so inevitably,
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inescapably, rain voidably at the expense of the free expressive rights of a free people. this is one of the main core principles upon which our country was founded. we became a nation against a backdrop in which we found ourselves subject to a large, distant, powerful national government one headed by a king and a parliament. our former london-based national government recognized no boundaries around its authority. it had for centuries interfered with the right of the people to express their grievances. it had for centuries supported criminal actions against persons who engaged in what they described under their laws as seditious liable. in other words, if you if you criticized the government, if you criticized a government official, you could be and presumably would be criminally prosecuted for doing so. truth was not a defense.
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in fact, truth made it even worse from the viewpoint of the government because it was more difficult to refute. so people were routinely prosecuted for criticizing the government. we cannot, we must not take even one step in the direction of expanding government's authority when it comes to speech that is at the core of our political system. look, our political system isn't perfect. our political system isn't something that everybody necessarily is inclined to enjoy. but our political system does keep us free and it keeps us free only to the extent that individuals are allowed to speak their mind out fear of retribution from the government. only to the extent that individuals, rich and poor alike, are able to say what they want and join together and form voluntary associations for the purpose of influencing the outcome of elections so that they can have some chance at standing up to a big government
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that affects so many of their rights, that affects so much of how they're going to provide for the needs of their families and their communities. when the people are intimidated by a government that recognizes no boundaries around its authority, everyone suffers. this, mr. president, is an issue that is neither republican nor democratic. it is neither liberal nor conservative. it is simply american. it's time for the american people to stop simply expecting congress to continue to expand its power at the expense of their individual liberty. it's time for the american people to stop simply expecting that their rights have to bow to the interests of all-powerful incumbency in washington, d.c. it's time for the american people to expect more. it's time for the american people to expect freedom.
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we expect freedom and we will defend freedom when we defeat senate joint resolution 19. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. kaine: mr. president, one month ago the president initiated an air campaign against isil in iraq. isil is a dangerous, terrorist organization committing atrocities against thousands of people, including american hostages and a strong american response to include military action is certainly warranted. in the first month of the air campaign, two explanations for the mission were given by the president. we began with a mission for humanitarian purpose and also the need to protect american embassy personnel. since that time, the white house has stated that the airstrikes may go on for some open-ended period of time despite a pledge not to place american boots on the ground, more american military personnel
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have been deployed to iraq as advisors and are on the ground now. in order to clarify what's at stake main of my colleagues and i have called for the president to bring before congress and the nation a clear plan for defeating isil. i'm gratified that the president will address the nation on this topic tomorrow night. i am supportive generally of the limited and prudent steps taken thus far while congress was in recess to slow isil's momentum. i expect i'll hear a comprehensive strategy tomorrow. i support and i am pleased that iraqi political developments are moving to form a unity government and iraqi leaders must govern inclusively. i'm heartened to hear reports that the administration has worked hard to find a number of nations willing to partner with america to deal with the isil threat including nations in the region. the u.s. cannot be a police force for a region unwilling to police itself.
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and the u.s. should not bear the sole burden of defeating a terrorist organization that poses a more imminent threat to many other nations than the threat it does to america. i look forward to the president's address and i'm confident that a well thought out plan against isil will compel the support of nation and of congress. mr. president, we are a nation of laws but also of values. i rise particularly today to urge the president not just to inform us of what he plans to do but to follow the constitution and seek congressional approval to defeat isil. i do so for two reasons. first, i don't believe that the president has the authority to quote go on offense and wage an open-ended war on isil without congressional approval. and second, in making the momentous decision to authorize military action, we owe it to our troops who risk their lives to do our collective job and reach a consensus supporting the military mission that they are ordered to complete. let me first deal with the legal
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issue. the constitution is clear, it is the job of congress, not the president, to declare war. some parts of the constitution, frankly, are vague and open to interpretation, what's due process, what's cruel and unusual punishment. some are clear and specific. you have to be 35 years old to be the president of the united states. the power to declare war is a clear and specific power. it is an enumerated power of congress in article 1. the clear wording of the constitution is initially illuminated by the drafter, the virginian, james madison. in a letter to thomas jefferson after the constitution was ratified, madison explained the war powers clause in article 1. quote -- "our constitution supposes what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it, it has accordingly with studied care vested question of war in the legislature." so a president must speak
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congressional approval for significant military action. as commander in chief a president can always take steps to defend america from imminent threats, the framers understood this. but even in those stances, they intended that the president return to congress to seek ratification of those actions. if we take the constitution seriously, as we pledge to do when we take our oaths, we must follow the demand command that the president must come to congress to initiate major military action. during a congressional recess, president obama began a new military action against isil. he has indicated that the military action may continue for an extended period of time. he has stated that the action is evolving from a narrow effort to protect americans from threat to a campaign to go on offense in order to degrade the ability of isil to harm. this is precisely the kind of situation that calls for congressional action and approval. now, some have asserted, mr. president, that the administration need not seek
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congressional approval for an extended campaign of airstrikes. humbly and respectfully, i deeply disagree with that assertion. the president's article 2 power allows him to defend america from imminent threat but it does not allow him the ability to wage an offensive war without congress. the 2001 authorization for use of military force crafted by president bush and congress in the days after the 9/11 attacks limits the president's power to actions against the perpetrators of those attacks. isil was not a 9/11 perpetrator, it didn't form until 2003. now, president bush sought a broader aumf at that time to allow actions against terrorist groups posing a threat against the united states. had congress granted such a power the war fence isil would have been with covered by that aumf but congress explicitly rejected the power to wage
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reemmittive war without additional congressional approval. any temperature would fly directly in the face of the clear congressional action rejecting the preemptive war doctrine. congress passed a second aumf to topple the iraqi regime of saddam hussein. that task was completed long ago. american troops left iraq in 2011 and the administration has testified before the senate that this aumf is obsolete and should be repealed. it provides no support for military action against isil. this is no treaty of collective defense ratified by congress that would justify the president commencing action against isil. the iraqi government has asked for our help which solves international law sovereignty questions but that request does not create its own domestic legal justification. and finally the 1973 war powers resolution creates a set of timing rules for presidential action and congressional
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response in matters of war. the resolution has been widely viewed as unconstitutional for a variety of reasons but even accepting its validity, and the president like most, almost certainly does not accept its 60-day limitation on his article 2 powers, it does not change the basic constitutional framework vesting the declaration of war in the legislative branch. i believe that a reluctance to engage congress on this mission against isil is less due to any legal analysis supporting broad executive power than to a general attitude held by all presidents that coming to congress on a question like this is too cumbersome and unpredictable. and that attitude is shared on the hill by some who view questions of military action especially in a difficult circumstance like this, as politically explosive ands best avoided if at all possible. i urge the president and my colleagues to resist the understandable testimony takes to cut corners on this process.
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there is no more important business than weighing whether to take military action and send service members into harm's way. if we have learned nothing else in the last 13 years, we should have certainly learned that. coming to congress is challenging, but the framers designed it to be and we all pledged to serve in a government known for particular checks and balances between the branches of government. remember in the days after 9/11 whose anniversary we commemorate this week, president bush brought to congress a request for military action. the ruins of the pentagon and the world trade center were spill still smoking and the search for the last was ongoing. certainly the american public would have supported the president's executive action in that circumstance but president bush knew that the nation would be stronger if he came to congress to seek authority. similarly, president bush came to congress prior to initiating military action in iraq. so many painful lessons were learned in the aftermath of that
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authorization but it is important to remember that it was not unilateral executive decision but congress was included and voted to support the mission. i believe it would be a grievous mistake after 13 years of war to evolve toward a new strategy of taking prolonged military action without congressional approval and i worry about the precedent it would create for future presidents to assert they have the unilateral wright rite to engage in -- right to engage in long-term milt action without the participation of the people's legislative branch. as president obama said last year when announces he would seek military authorization to combat quest in syria syria, this is this is about who we are as a country. the people's representatives must be invested in what america does abroad. mr. president, i focus my remarks on the legal reasons for the president to engage congress on any plan to defeat isil.
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let me conclude by offering an additional reason, even a more important reason about why the president and congress should work together to craft a suitable mission for this important effort. even only an air campaign, we ask our troops to risk they are lives and that are health, physical and mental, when we engage in this kind of campaign. of course we pray for their complete safety and corks but let's be realistic to acknowledge that some may die or be injured or be captured or see these things happen to their comrades in arms. even those who come home physically safe may see or do things in war that will affect them for the rest of their lives. the long lines of people waiting for v.a. appointments today or hominhoping to have their v.a. disa


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