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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  September 10, 2014 2:00pm-4:01pm EDT

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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: under the previous order, all postcloture time on the motion to proceed to house joint resolution 19 is expired and the question occurs on the motion to proceed. all votes in favor say aye. all opposed. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 471, senate joint resolution 19, proposing an amendment to the constitution of the united states relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections. mr. reid: mr. president, i have an amendment to the committee reported substitute which is at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, proposes an amendment numbered 3791 to the committee-reported substitute. mr. reid: i ask for the yeas and nays on that amendment, mr. president. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second?
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there appears to be. the yeas and nays are ordered. mr. reid: i have a second-degree amendment now at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, proposes an amendment numbered 3792 to amend amendment numbered 3791. mr. reid: mr. president, i have an amendment to the underlying joint resolution. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, proposes an amendment numbered 3793 to s.j. res. 19. mr. reid: i ask for the yeas and nays on that amendment. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the yeas and nays are ordered. mr. reid: i have a second-degree amendment at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, proposes an amendment numbered 3794 to amendment numbered 3793. mr. reid: i have a motion to
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recommit s.j. res. 19 with instructions. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, moves to recommit the bill to the committee on the judiciary with instructions to report back forthwith the following amendment numbered 3795. mr. reid: on that, mr. president, ski for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the yeas and nays are ordered. mr. reid: i have an amendment to the instructions at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, proposes an amendment numbered 3796 to the instructions on the motion to recommit. mr. reid: i ask for the yeas and nays on that amendment. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the yeas and nays are ordered. mr. reid: i have a second-degree amendment at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, proposes an amendment numbered 3797 to amendment numbered 3796.
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mr. reid: i have a cloture motion at the desk, mr. president. the clerk: we, the undersigned senators in accordance with provision of rule 22 of the rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on senate joint resolution 19, relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections, signed by 17 senators as follows -- mr. reid: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the mandatory quorum under rule 22 be waived. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, i now move to proceed to the motion to reconsider the vote by which cloture was not invoked on the motion to proceed to the paycheck fairness act. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say nay.
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the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. reid: mr. president, i now move to reconsider the vote by which cloture was not invoked on the motion to proceed to s. 2199, the paycheck fairness act. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to reconsider. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion, we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the motion to proceed to calendar number 345, s. 2199, a bill to amend the fair labor standards act of 1938 to provide who more effective remedies to victims of discrimination and the payment of wages on the basis of sex and for other purposes, signed by 18 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense
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of the senate that debate on the motion to proceed to s. 2199, a bill to amend the fair labor standards act of 1938 to provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex and for other purposes shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to vote or to change their vote? seeing none, on this vote the yeas are 73, the nays are 25. upon reconsideration, 3/5 of the senators duly chosen, sworn, having voted in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the motion to proceed. the clerk: motion to proceed to the consideration of s. 2199, a bill to amend the fair labor standards act of 1938 to provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex and for other purposes.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas.
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mr. cruz: mr. president, americans across the country have been rivetted by the crisis occurring on our southern border. president obama is correct with one regard -- what we are seeing is a humanitarian crisis. but it is a crisis sadly of the president's own creation, and it is the direct consequence of president obama's lawlessness. to understand why, one merely has to look at the numbers. three years ago in 2011, there were roughly 6,000 unaccompanied children entering the country illegally. then in 2012, in june of 2012, just before the election, the president unilaterally granted amnesty to some 800,000 people who are here illegally who entered as children. now, the direct foreseeable consequence of that, the predicted consequence of that, if you grant amnesty to people
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who enter as children, you create an enormous incentive for more and more children to enter the country illegally. and that is exactly what we have seen happen. as a result of the president's amnesty, we have seen the numbers go from 6,000 kids three years ago to this year it is expected that there will be 90,000 unaccompanied children entering the country illegally, and next year the department of homeland security predicts it will be 145,000. now, mr. president, i have traveled down to the border in texas many times, as recently as in the last couple of months, i have been down to mcallen, i visited with the border patrol chief in mcallen, i visited with the board patrol agents, the line agents down there. i have been to lackland air force base where there are roughly 1,200 children being housed. i'm sorry to say that president obama, when he visited texas, had time to do neither.
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he had timeing to to democratic party fundraisers to pal around with fat cats in the democratic party and to raise money, but no time to travel to the border and see the human suffering that his failed immigration policies have produced. and it's worth underscoring, mr. president, these are little boys and little girls who are not being brought into this country by well-meaning social workers. with beards and birkenstocks trying to help the kids. they are being brought in by hardened drug coyotes, cartels, and these little boys and little girls are being physically victimized, physically abused, sexually abused. when i was at lackland air force base, a senior official there described to me how these cartels when they have control of these kids and are smuggling them illegally into this country, sometimes they will
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hold the kids hostage and try to extract more money from the families, and in order to do so, horrifyingly, they will sever body parts from these kids. and this senior official at lackland described to me how these coyotes would put a gun to the back of the head of a little boy or little girl and order that child to cut off the fingers or the ears of another little boy or little girl, and if they don't do it, they would shoot that child and move on to the next one. and they described how on this end, we're getting, number one, some children who have been horribly maimed by these vicious coyotes, and number two, we're getting children who have enormous psychological trauma from being forced to participate in such horrors. mr. president, you cannot solve the crisis at the border without ending the promise of amnesty.
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the data demonstrates that compellingly. the more recent data demonstrate that as well. a few months ago, the border patrol conducted a survey of over 200 people who entered country illegally, many of them children and asked the obvious question, why are you coming? three years ago it was only 6,000 kids, now it's 90,000. what has changed? 95% of them told the border patrol they were because they believe -- coming because they believe they will get amnesty, they believe they will get a permiso, a slip of paper that lets them stay once they get here. when i was in mcallen i took the time not just to meet with the chief but with a number of the border patrol apartments who
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spend every day out on the river, on horseback, working to secure the borders and i asked the line agents the obvious question. why are they coming? what has changed? what has caused this humanitarian crisis? every single border patrol agent gave me the exact same answer. they say third coming because they believe they'll get amnesty in fact, they explained to me, right now the border patrol is not apprehending these kids. when they cross the river, they often have nothing, sometimes just ration on their -- rags on their back, after a long, arduous journey where they've been subjected to physical and sexual abuse but the one thing they inevitably have is their documents and these children look for the first person in a uniform they can find. the border patrol isn't an preprehending them. they're looking for the border patrol because they hand them their documents because they
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believe they will get amnesty, they will get a permiso, they will be allowed to stay. if we want to solve this crisis, if we want to stop these children from coming and being abused, the only way to do so is to end the promise of amnesty. now, before the august recess i introduced legislation in this body to do exactly that. it was very simple legislation. it was directed to the source of the problem. it provided in black-and-white law that the president of the united states prospectively has no authority to grant amnesty to anyone. legislation doesn't address the 800,000 who were the subject of the 2012 order, it simply says going forward, the president cannot grant amnesty to anyone else and the reason for that is because the cause of this crisis is these children coming believe
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they will get amnesty. now, the white house in their talking points routinely says the children coming today are not eligible for amnesty. i see my colleague from illinois nodding in agreement with that statement. if that is the case, then my colleague from illinois should join me in sponsoring this measure because the legislation i've introduced would simply put into law what the white house talking point is, which is that -- i would be happy to yield for a question. mr. durbin: can the gentleman tell me what the eligibility cut-off date is for daca? mr. cruz: daca -- i don't have the precise cut-off date in my mind, but the point that is being raised is these children don't fall under the precise terms of daca, but they believe they will get amnesty. so the only way to correct that
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that -- i would respond to my friend from illinois, does my friend from illinois believe these children coming here today should get amnesty, yes or no? mr. durbin: no. if i might say through the chair, that is not the argument anyone is making these children should receive amnesty. we're what we're saying is they should be treated humanely. mr. cruz: absolutely. mr. durbin: and go through an orderly process that will result in the majority of them returning to their countries. what the gentleman from texas is asking us to do is disqualify two million children in the united states and could qualify for daca as dreamers, people here long before these unaccompanied children showed up at the border and that was the proposal that came before the house which you inspired them to vote for and they stood with a standing ovation because they denied an opportunity to two million young people in this country to be able to stay here without fear of deportation. that's what you're asking for
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today. mr. cruz: i thank my friend from illinois but i would note the comments he made are not connected to the facts of the proposal. the proposal is explicitly prospective. some 800,000 people have already received amnesty. let's be clear. the president had no legal authority to grant amnesty at the time. he did so unilaterally contrary to the rule of law. now, we are in a broader context where the president has quite publicly promised to grant amnesty, again unilaterally and illegally, to some five million or six million people. and yet the behest of our friends on the democratic side of the aisle, he announced this weekend he's delaying the decision until after the election because apparently senate democrats up for election have noticed their constituents don't support the president illegally and unilaterally granting amnesty. i would suggest members of this body can't have it both ways.
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my friend from illinois stated that he doesn't think we should be granting amnesty. to these children. and yet the legislation that i introduced, the legislation that the house of representatives passed, does not act reportively, anyone fallen within the previous daca. it simply says shall -- dough forward the president doesn't have authority to grant amnesty and instead it is congress that has the authority to pass or not pass immigration law. mr. durbin: would the gentleman yield for a question? i'd like to ask this question -- if amnesty means a person has a right to citizenship or legal status on a permanent basis is the gentleman from texas suggest ising the deferral of deportation under daca is that kind of amnesty? mr. cruz: the deferral of deportation under daca is a written determination from the president that the individuals
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who receive this, number one, will be immune from the black letter text of the immigration law that subjects them to removal. and number two, the administration has created an authorization to work document as a component of daca that has no basis or authority in existing federal law. and let us be clear, the president has been absolutely explicit. he intends to expand that to another five million or six million people who are here illegally and -- mr. durbin: would the gentleman yield for another question? mr. cruz: i will yield in a moment. the president plans to expand that to give them presumably the same authorization to work, to unilaterally and with no authorization in law transfer their status from being illegally here to legally here
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on executive dispensation. now, i understand that my friend from illinois and that other members of the democratic party support that position. i believe. i will allow him in his question to clarify that if i mischaracterized it, i will welcome his clarification. but certainly some members of the democratic caucus who do support that. but the american people powerfully don't, profoundly don't. they recognize it's inconsistent with rule of law, it is bad policy and it's creating this crisis at the border. and i have to say the president's decision to delay the amnesty until right after the election reflects a cynicism that even in washington, d.c. is unusual because what it's saying is, i understand the policies that i as president obama am trying to enforce are cleanly unpopular with the american people, so i'm going to jam them through right after the election because what it
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reflects is that president obama and, unfortunately, many of the senate democrats, hold their constituents in very low regard. it reflects a view that if we do this after the election, even if the people don't like it, they'll forget about it in two years. if my friends in the democratic party believe the right policy solution is amnesty for five million or six million more people as the president acting unilaterally we have a very simple solution. let's bring this up for a vote. before the august recess, the house of representatives took the legislation i'd introduced in this body, they stayed over an extra day, they voted on it, they stood up and led acting to solve the crisis at the border. and what happened in the senate? the majority leader of the senate refused to allow a vote on the proposal and sent every senator home for august while having done nothing to address this crisis. if my friend the senator from
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illinois believes in amnesty is the right policy decision, then let's have a debate, let's bring it up for a vote and let's have every senator in this body go on record. mr. durbin: would the gentleman yield for a question? mr. cruz: i'm happy to. mr. durbin: most people think amnesty means a free pass, you can stay in the united states and become a citizen and become legal. let me say to the gentleman, that daca is a temporary suspension of deportation. it is temporary. it has to be renewed. and in order to qualify for it, you must have been in the united states as of june 15, 2007. what we have now are 600,000 -- my number is 600, you say 800 -- 600,000 who have come forward, they have paid the fee, a substantial fee, and they are allowed to stay here without being subject to deportation on a temporary basis that needs to be renewed. there are another two million who may be eligible and what you
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are doing is not addressing unaccompanied children at the border. you are saying to the remaining two million you don't have a chance. you've got to leave. you're illegal, you're going to be deported. this isn't about amnesty. it's about whether or not those who are qualified under the dream act, which incidentally was endorsed by the house republican caucus when they put out their statement of principles, whether those under the dream act will have a chance to stay. and to think that your colleagues in the house stood and applauded themselves for denying to two million young people a chance to stay in the only country they've ever called home to me doesn't speak well of that caucus or their sensitivity to the reality of their lives. these children were brought here by their parents, some as infants, they were brought here, they have been raised in our schools, they have been taken care of in our hospitals, they pledge allegiance to the flag as senator menendez says, every day, they pledge of
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allegiance every afternoon and now are galoreying in the built you can deport these children. is that what you consider to be in your own background -- i'm a first-generation american, i believe you have a similar legislation claim to make. do you believe that is what this country is all about? mr. cruz: i appreciate my friend from illinois impugning the integrity of our friends in the house. and also describing the plight of immigrants. as you rightly noted, 57 years ago my father was an immigrant. he came from cuba, he spoke no english. he had $100 sewn into his underwear. he came here legally on a student visa to study. he followed the rule of law. and i would note my friend from illinois knows full well there is no stronger advocate of legal immigration in the u.s. senate
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than i am. indeed on the judiciary committee i introduced two amendments, one for high- skilled workers, h-1-b workers to increase that cap five fold from 65,000 to $325,000 because -- 325,000, because every one who comes produces 1.7 american jobs. i'm sorry to say that every democratic senators voted against that proposal, voted against increasing immigration. i am also ware that my friend s. wear that i introduced another amendment to take our current failed legal immigration system to dramatically simplify it, to reduce the bea barriers, the cos to eliminate the per-country caps which have the effect of discriminating against nations like mexico and china and india and to take the legal cap from 675,000 and to double it to 1.35
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million so we could have a legal system that we could continue to welcome and celebrate legal immigrants who come here to seek the american dream. and again i was sorry to see every single senate democrat on the senate judiciary committee vote against increasing legal immigration streamlinin streaml, making the system work better and eliminating the discriminatory per-country caps on countries like mexico, india, and china. i understand that the senator from illinois just gave a passionate speech in defense of granting amnesty to people who are here illegally. he is certainly entitled to those views. we should indeed have a full and robust debate, but i would note that the democratic senator from arkansas, the democratic senator from louisiana, the democratic senator from north carolina, the democratic senator from alaska
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are all busily telling their constituents that they disagree with what my friend from illinois just said. they are at home telling their constituents, no, no, no, no, no ... we don't want am necessary constitution. no, no, no, no ... we don't want the president to unilaterally grant amnesty. now, if that is indeed their position, i would welcome them to come i to the floor right nowvment and if that is indeed their position, there is an easy action. for centuries this body has been called the world's greatest deliberative body. unfortunately, that label is no longer accurately applied because this body, sadly, under majority leader reid and the democratic majority neither deliberates nor votes on much of anything. there are over 350 bills the house of representatives has passed to address the great challenges in this country.
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mostly with substantial bipartisan support in the house of representatives. and over 50 piece 350 pieces of legislation are signature on harry reid -- are sitting on harry reid's desk and he will not allow a vote on them. when it comes to solving the crisis at the border, the only way to do so is to end the promise of am necessary styx the 90,000 children who are coming believe when they get here they will get amnesty. the position, sadly, of president obama and the majority leader and the senate democrats is that they will do nothing zero to fix that problem. and let me say, it is not compassionate, it is not humane to continue a system where tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of little boys and little girls are being victimized, are being assaulted
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physically and sexually by the could iio teerks and under the democrat plan, that will continue -- it will continue this year, it will continue next year -- and in response they do nothing, nada, to fix the problem. that is a hard-hearted approach to this challenge. we have a demonstration, a study in contrast. looking at a humanitarian crisis, the house of representatives stood up and led, voted on legislation to make clear in law the president of the united states has no authority to grant am necessary stoi people who are -- amnesty to people who are here illegally. the senate had the chance to do the same thing. now, president obama has promised the american people right after the election he intends to unilaterally and illegally grant amnesty to another 5 million or 6 million people. every senate democrat has an opportunity to make clear where he or she stands.
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i am in a moment going to ask for this body to take up the bill that the house has passed to make clear in law that the president has no authority to grant amnesty prospectively. i understand that my democratic friends are going to object to this. that should surprise no one because my democratic friends for the la two years have objected to considering almost every major piece of legislation to address the challenges in this country, and what this means is that the 5 -- that the 55 democrats in this body who are standing united this blocking this legislation that the house of representatives has passed, all 55 democrats bear responsibility for president obama's amnesty, for the amnesty of 5 million or 6 million people. i understand the president thinks it's politically clever to delay the amnesty until after the election, but i'll tell you,
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i have real faith in the american people, that it's too clever by half. that all 55 senate democrats in standing nighted with president obama staid -- standing united with president obama saying we would not the president to have the ability to illegally grant aamnesty, every senate democrat bearbears responsibility thor tt choice. if they did not, any senate democrat is welcome to come -- and i would note there is one senate democrat on the floor, the chairman of the foreign relations committee, who i expect momentarily will object to this -- there is not a single democrat in this chamber speaking out for eliminating the president's authority to grant amnesty. clarity in elections, enabling the american people to hold all of us accountable, is a very, very good thing. one body, the house of representatives, is leading. the other body, the united states senate, under democratic
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control, refuses to even allow a vote on solving the crisis at the border or stopping the president's illegal amnesty. therefore, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 551, h.r. 5272. i further ask consent that the bill be read a third time and passed, and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. menendez: mr. president, reserving the right to object, let me first respond to the unanimous consent request from the senator from texas, the son of immigrants himself, to prohibit certain actions with respect to deferred action for students in the dwhriews we call dreamers -- in the united states that we call dreamers. dreamers -- these are young
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people, who as senator durbin said, the only flag that they have every pledged allegiance to is that of the united states. the only national anthem they have ever sung is the "star spangled banner." they came to this country not because they made a decision to do so but because their parents, as senator cruz's parents came here and ultimately he enjoys the benefit of being in america -- different time, different set of circumstances; but none the lerks he didn't have a choice in that decision. neither do these children. and so we have learned -- and we have often heard in this chamber you never subscribe to the child whatever errors exist of the parent. but that's exactly what the senator from texas would do. now, my friend from texas is entitled to his views and his opinions, but he is not entitled to his own set of facts.
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the reality is that he continuously refers to the deferred action on deportation for these young people as amnesty. amnesty suggests that you are forgiven for something that you did wrong and you have a clear pathway to permanent residency and ultimately to united states citizenship. that is not -- that is not what the president did when he offered these young people, who know no other country than the united states, the situation in which they would not be deported; their action would be deferred until the congress acted on the pressing question of immigration reform. now, the senator from texas suggests that the senate has failed in leadership, and i would say to the senator from texas that the senate exerted leadership over a year ago when,
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in broad bipartisan votes -- notwithstanding the senator from texas -- in broad bipartisan votes a group of eight senators -- four republicans, four democrats -- joined together and got two-thirds of the united states senate to send comprehensive immigration reform to the house of representatives, commonsense immigration reform that was the toughest on border protection that has existed in the history of the country, that was in the national security interests of the united states, that provided for the economic imperative as described by the congressional budget office of the opportunities that immigration reform would provide for the country, raising the gross domestic product of the united states, raising the wages of all americans, reducing the national debt, all by virtue of immigration reform.
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that two-thirds of the senate at a time when it is rare to see two-thirds of the senate come together on controversial or significant issues of the day, sent to the house of representatives over a years ago, and they could not find themselves once -- once -- to cast a vote on that legislation or their own vision of what immigration reform should be. mr. cruz: would the senator yield for a question? mr. menendez: i would be happy to do so a little later. at the end of the day, the senator from texas argues that this measure is necessary to deal with the humanitarian crisis at the border. i would say, that is -- has gone dramatically in a downward slope. and he may argue that immigration policy is driving these children to make a dangerous and deadly journey, and while i agree that we need a long-term solution to the humanitarian crisis on the southern border, saying that
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this opportunity for dreamers to stay in the united states is the cause is simply not true. daca, which is the law would we referred treefer that the president -- that we refer to that the president used. as a matter of fact, you can ask senator cruz's own governor, rick perry, who sent the letter warning of the influx of children months before the president's di daca announcemen. the fact is that all of this talk about ending deferred action for children who have been here sometimes well over a decade or more ignores the elephant in the room is that that, daca does not cover these children. it only covers children who were
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brought here before the announcement was made. eliminating daca as the senator from texas would have would not make any of these children less likely to come. these are children who are fleeing extreme violence, violence in guatemala, in el salvador, in honduras, which have some of the highest murder rates per capita in the world. if i see my father killed in front of me and my sister raped, it is likely that i will think about trying to flee that set of circumstances regardless of what the promise might or might not be. and that is, in fact, what drove this humanitarian crisis. so we should solve the roots of the crisis, not try to create some connection to something that has absolutely nothing to deal with it. now i know we're in the season
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in which even if ten angels came swearing from above that daca is not the cause of the unaccompanied minor circumstances or that it is not amnesty, there will be those who will say, no, those angels are wrong. the reality is one is entitled to their views but not their facts. finally, the undeniable consequence of the senator's attempt to dismantle these deferred action for dreamers would serve only to further separate families. and i've listened time and time again to my republican colleagues talk about they are the party of family values. well, tearing apart families is not my sense of a family value. tearing children away from their mothers and fathers is not my sense of family value. destroying any hope of a better life and a chance at success is
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not the doctrine of family values. mr. president, there is a reason the senate hasn't voted on this bill, and it won't. and it won't. i think the senate democratic leadership understands it would be a disservice to our country, a disservice to hundreds of thousands of these young people who we have already invested in through our public schools. now is the time to take advantage of their service, whether in the military of the united states or whether through their intellect. some of them are the valedictorians and sal tairnses of our schools and colleges and universities. it is an opportunity to ensure they can be productive members of our society with no guarantee, with no guarantee as it relates to their ultimate status. and i hope that the immigrant community in this country, i hope the hispanic community in this country, i hope the asian,
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indian, eastern european community in this country, all rightly concerned about comprehensive immigration reform are listening to this debate. because as disappointed as you may be about the president saying, well, we cannot move forward at this time until we get it right because of the politics that have been generated by the undocumented children along the border, as disappointed as you may be with the president, listen to what you will get if in fact this november there is a change of who ultimately has the majority in this chamber. this is what you will get. this is what you will get, and you will get what you got in the house of representatives, which is over a year of not casting one vote for their own vision of immigration reform. and every vote that they have been cast has been anti-immigrant at the end of the day. mr. president, for all those
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reasons, i have to object to the unanimous consent request. mr. cruz: will the senator yield? the presiding officer: objection is heard. mends -- mr. menendez: i'd be happy to yield. mr. cruz: the senator talked about legislation voted on over a year ago, legislation which i believe if passed into law would make the problem worse, would only exacerbate the problem. i like most americans want to see commonsense croatian -- common sense immigration reform. but that legislation was a year ago. the president of the united states tells us we have a humanitarian crisis on the border today, right now. not a year ago. today. with little boys and little girls being subjected to physical and sexual violence and being victimized.
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the question i would ask my friend from new jersey, why is it that neither president obama nor the senate democrats have introduced any legislation or allowed a vote on any legislation whatsoever that would actually solve the problem? now, the president did introduce a $3.7 billion social services spending bill, less than 5% of which went to securing the border and none of which went to the underlying amnesty causing this crisis. that is a bill designed to deal with the symptoms, to care for the kids once they come. but that bill assumed that tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of kids would continue to come, continue to be victimized. so the question i ask of my friend from new jersey, why have the democrats not allowed a vote on anything to solve the problem and prevent these little boys and little girls from being victimized this year and next year and the year after that?
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mr. menendez: mr. president, first of all, i would say to my friend from texas that he totally mischaracterizes the comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform that was passed in the senate. you know who voted for that? a whole host of senators on the republican side of the aisle who represent border states and who said this is the most significant border protection and security effort we have had in a long time, who believed that the national security of the united states was better preserved by virtue of that legislation. john mccain, a colleague who worked assiduously on that question, as well as others. and so, you know, the bottom line is that reform was going to end the process of undocumented, those coming in an undocumented
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fashion. control the border, move the economy, bring out of the darkness those who are here to pursue the american dream, which is the only way i can secure america to differentiate them from those who might be here to do harm to the united states. i can't know that if people are in the darkness, don't come and register with the government, pay their taxes, go through a criminal background check and earn their way over the course of a decade to the possibility of becoming a permanent resident. that's what the senate did. so failure in this regard rests in the house of representatives. failure on the border, failure on the national security, failure on the economy and failure to reunite millions of people with their families. now, with reference to the second part of your question, the president acted. it's the president who brought the central american presidents here and said you've got to work with us to stop your young children from coming to our country and you've got to create better conditions in your country.
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and we want to work with you to do that. that worked with mexico to ensure that the, what they call the beast, the train of death, ultimately mexican authorities interceded to stop immigrants from getting on that train to the united states. it's the president who ultimately took the resources that existed in the department of homeland security and reauthorized it to send it to the border and deal with the challenge. and all of that among other efforts ultimately has found us with a dramatic reduction. so i understand the politics of this. i appreciate everybody in this chamber has the right to pursue that. but the bottom line is the president acted. the reality is we have dramatically reduced. and the core challenge here is to have comprehensive immigration reform. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. cruz: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cruz: mr. president, i'd like to make two final comments in response to this exchange.
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the first is that my friend from new jersey admitted that senate democrats introduced nothing -- zero -- nada -- to do anything to fix this humanitarian crisis. indeed the majority leader dismissed the senate and sent the senators home for the month of august perfectly content to let the crisis continue, to let tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of children be victimized. he suggested instead the solution was presidential action, unilateral action. there was a time when the senate believed we had a responsibility to do something, to actually pass laws to address challenges. and yet, under the senate democrats, we have a do-nothing senate. that's why over 350 bills passed by the house of representatives are sitting on harry reid's desk. because this body no longer
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votes on meaningful legislation to address the challenges facing this country. i would note additionally that my friend from new jersey suggested that the reason the legislation the house of representatives passed prohibiting the president from illegal lip granting amnesty, the reason it's not going to come up for a vote is because he said it's a bad idea. well, i recognize the senator from new jersey may wealthy that. indeed the senator from i will noil may wealthy that -- the senator from illinois may wealthy that. but no one who is paying attention to the senate thinks that is the reason it is not coming up for a vote. if it were objectively a bad idea, if it were a bad idea and the democrats agreed on that, it would be simple. bring it up for a voavment 55 democrats in this body. they could all vote it down. it could be defeated.
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if the point were on the merits it's a bad idea, bringing it up for a vote would be very straightforward. the reason the majority leader is fighting so hard to prevent a vote on this is that a great many of the members in his caucus are doing everything in their power to convince their constituents back home they don't support amnesty. you know, as you travel the country, the most frequent thing you hear all throughout the country is that the men and women in washington, they aren't listening to us. something happens. i don't know if it's the water or what it is, but they get to washington, they stop listening to us, and they don't tell us the truth. they're lying to us. and you hear this from republicans, from democrats, independents, libertarians, all across this country. there is a reason why the
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popularity of congress rivals that of ebola. because the american people recognize the people in this body aren't telling them the truth. there is one reason and one reason only that majority leader reid does not want a vote on this legislation. because he wants to allow senators in red states, the senator from arkansas, the senator from louisiana, the senator from north carolina, the senator from alaska, even the senator from colorado, even the senator from new mexico, he wants to allow them to tell their constituents, no, i don't support amnesty. and the reality is of the 5 members of this senate who are democrats -- of the 55 members of the senate who are democrats who caucus with the democratic party, today it has been conclusively demonstrated that all 55 support president obama's
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illegal amnesty and are responsible for his promised amnesty of five million to six million more people right after the election. if that were not the case, you would have seen one democrat show up and speak out to the contrary. not a single democrat showed up, and there's a reason we don't have a vote. because if we had a vote, it would force members of this body to be on record. the senator from new jersey is entitled to make the case on the record why he thinks amnesty for 5 million or 6 million or 12 million is a good idea. he's entitled to make that case and if his constituents agree with him, he'll keep getting reelected. but far too many senate democrats want to pretend they disagree, and a vote makes that impossible. because if we had a vote, you would see all 55 senate democrats vote in favor of amnesty. they are right now hiding behind their leadership because they don't want that vote.
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they don't want their constituents to understand they support amnesty. so instead, they shut this body down. i have to say the american people are frustrated. they are disgusted with the senate that won't do its job, that won't allow votes, that won't consider legislation to address the problems in this country and that consistently lies to the voters. i'll tell you on my side of the aisle, i'm happy to have as many votes as we like. you know, it is interesting. the senate majority leader today seems to view ace his principal obligation protecting his members from hard votes. and i'd like to point out the concept of a hard vote only makes sense if there's a
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disconnect between what a senator says at home and what he or she does in washington. votes are hard if you have democratic senators who go home to their states and tell their constituents i'm really conservative. i don't agree with that crazy stuff president obama is doing. and then they come here and vote lock step with the majority leader and the president. then votes are hard. i'll tell you, from my perspective, i don't consider votes hard. in two years what i've tried to do in the senate is very simple. two things. do what i said doild and tell the -- do what i said i would do and tell the truth. the 26 million texans who i represent i believe understood the principles that i'm defending when they elected me. and whether we have one vote or ten or 100 or 1,000, it doesn't surprise the men and women back home, because what i say in texas is exactly the same as what i say on the floor of the
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senate. it's the way i've tried to vote since i arrived here. the reason the majority leader has 350-plus bills sitting on his desk is because a snanl number of senate democrats tell their constituents one thing and vote a different way. this is all predicated on deception. and so i'm glad for this exchange because this exchange has shined light and made clear to the voters, number one, that amnesty is coming, that president obama intends to grant amnesty to five million to six million americans right after the election. and, number two, that all 55 senate democrats bear direct responsibility for president obama's illegal amnesty. because all 55 senate democrats are standing in lock-step, preventing legislation that would stop that amnesty. that clarity is good.
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it allows accountability. it allows decision making to be made by "we, the people..." and the one thing i would encourage of my democratic friends is, given that reality, go home and be honest with your constituents. all 55 of you go home and say, yes, i stand with president obama, i stand with majority leader harry reid in support of amnesty. those are not the views of the american people but they are the views of every democratic senator in this body. and we have a natural check when elected officials ignore the views and values of the people for whom we work, of the place where sovereignty resides in our system, "we, the people.." mr. president, i yield the floor. i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call: mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business for 10 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: mr. president, i have come to the floor today to talk about an important piece of the democrats' fair shot agenda. ensuring women across america have access to the basic and often lifesaving health care benefits guaranteed under the affordable care act. mr. president, just a few months ago, five men on the supreme court decided there should be a group of women across america
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who are required to ask their boss for permission to access basic health care and that a corporation should have more rights than the women it employs. just a few months ago, those five men rolled back the clock on millions of women across america and as the ink was still drying on justice alito's misguided opinion in the hobby lobby case, i made an unwavering commitment to do everything i could to protect women's access to health care since the five male justices of the supreme court decided that they would not. that's why i worked with my partner, the senior senator from colorado, to introduce the "not my boss's business act," to restore those lost benefits and protect women's health care. and i'm proud that in the months since, we have received strong support from men and women across the country. our straightforward and simple legislation would ensure that no
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c.e.o. or corporation can come between you and your guaranteed access to health care, period. this shouldn't be a controversial issue. in fact, nearly 7 in 10 people say health plans should cover birth control. the only controversy about birth control today is the fact that it's 2014 and we are still fighting for this basic health care that is used by 99% of the sexually active women in this country. but despite the resounding outrage we have heard from women and men across america, senate republicans stood with this misguided supreme court decision and blocked our efforts to right this wrong. mr. president, if our colleagues on the other side of the aisle thought their obstruction of the "not my boss's business act" in july would end this conversation, they were dead wrong. since then, millions of americans have taken action. they have voiced their outrage on social media. they have organized action in
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their communities and they will continue to speak out until congress, in turn, takes action. now, unfortunately it appears that this message has fallen on deaf ears among some senate republicans. it has been increasingly clear that on that side, some of them have decided to put the tea party ahead of women and have no intention of even allowing a debate on the "not my boss's business act" in the near future. mr. president, i'm extremely disappointed by that. i would have hoped that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle would have maybe, just maybe, spent a little time at home in august listening to women in their states. if they had, they would have heard the women across america asking congress to fix this horrible decision that resulted from hobby lobby. and, by the way, it's not just women who want gross act. peopl-- who congress to act. people across the country understand that if bosses can deny birth control, they can deny vaccines or h.i.v.
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treatment or other basic health care services for employees and their covered dependents. and i think what men across america understand is, it's not just the female employees in that business that are impacted. it is their wives and their daughters as well who share that health care plan. now, mr. president, the data is clear. ensuring access to contraceptive coverage isn't just the right thing to do, it's also a critical part of making sure that women and their families have a fair shot. in the 21st century, women and their families should not be held back by outdated policies and unfair practices. and as i sit here yesterday on the senate floor, it's not just about access to contraception. that includes pay equity and access to child care and a higher minimum wage. and it absolutely includes the right to make their own medical and religious decisions without being dictated to or limited by their employer.
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the bottom line is this -- women use birth control for a host of reasons, none of which should require a permission slip from their boss. now, unfortunately, mr. president, americans are most likely not surprised by what they're seeing. this obstruction is coming from members of the same party that has been threatening to subject women to invasive and degrading ultrasounds. the same party that had candidates making outrageous statements, as we all remember, about legitimate rape and then defending those comments during their disastrous book tour. that same party on capitol hill and in statehouses across america and at courtrooms at all level are actively attempting to block women's ability to make their own decisions about their own health. they have shown that they will just go about to any length to limit access to care. now, just in the past few weeks, we've seen last-ditch efforts from republicans to distract from their embarrassing record on women's health by claiming to
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support -- and i quote -- "cheaper and easier access to contraception by simply making it over the counter." well, the reality is that these proposals would actually cost women more by forcing them to pay out of pocket for the birth control they're getting now at no cost, thanks to the affordable care act. mr. president, this is a basic piece of women's health care and it shouldn't be available only to those who can afford it. no, the american people aren't fooled. in fact, just yesterday po politofact rated one republican claim mostly fault given that it was -- quote -- "lacking in concrete details." mr. president, time and again republican leadership has put politics between women and their health care. and now with their continued obstruction, they have put employers between women and their access to free or low-cost
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basic health care under the affordable care act. they have shown us that they are not focused on what's best for women. they're focused on political calculations, appeasing the far right and their continued efforts to do whatever it takes to push their extreme agenda even when it burdens working women and their families. but, mr. president, despite this disappointing turn of events, i stand here today to say the deck is stacked against them because millions of women who benefit from this basic and often lifesaving health care will not be silenced and they are still watching. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. suggest the absence -- i will withhold that request. mr. corker: thank you very much. mr. president? every the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: how much time am i allocated? the presiding officer: the senator has up to an hour
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postcloture. mr. corker: well, i assure you that will not be the case. i would like to speak probably for about 10 minutes, if i cou could, and thank you for allowing me to do so. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mr. corker: mr. president, tonight the president is going to address an issue that i know almost every american has been focused on and that is the rise of isis in iraq and syria and the beginnings of that in many other places around the world. mr. president, this is obviously a big speech. it's one that i know all of us will be paying attention to and watching. and i'm hopeful that what the president will do tonight is, first of all, explain to the american people from his perspective what our national interest is in isis. i think that should be very easy to do. and i hope also what he will do
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is lay out a general strategy. obvious untily in a speech like, you would never want to give every detail of what it is you want to do. but then lay out the objectives that he wishes to accomplish as he talks to the nation and, really, the world about how he plans to deal with isis. so i want to say on the onset that i look forward to listening. i hope this is a speech that is meaty. i hope it's a speech that speaks to the essence of why we as a nation need to deal with the threat that isis poses not only in the middle east but over time the west, with us being the greatest symbol of the west. i know that there have been many conversations with the administration about isis. i know that obviously their concern about isis has risen
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over time, and, again, i look forward to very clearly listening to the speech. now, mr. president, there is -- i think that most of us here in the united states senate, if we were in the white house, might choose to guard the authorities that we have and many presidents have said -- most presidents have said that they have the authority themselves to conduct operations of this nature. and while -- while that's debatable, that's not a topic that i wish to debate. i know the president has said that he has the ability to go about these -- these actions, take these actions without any additional authority from congress. and what they have said is that they plan to not come to congress. and i just want to say, mr. president, i think that is absolutely preposterous. if you think back in history, back in 1991, president bush 41, in getting ready to undertake the activities in desert storm, felt like he had the authority
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to move ahead with those activities, yet they realized within the administration the best thing that they could do is to get the american people behind what they were doing. and the best way to do that was to seek an authorization from congress to have that debated, to have members of the senate to be able to ask questions about how this operation was going to take place, to get people comfortable with what the objectives were going to be and to finally win over the united states senate. as a matter of fact, as i understand it, the chairman of the armed services committee at the time, sam nunn, was opposed to this effort. and yet with bush 41 coming up with his cabinet members to talk to members of the -- of congress, they were able to pass it over the objection of the chairman -- of the chairman of the armed services committee. but what that meant was, there had to be interaction, there had to be questions answered, there had to be a feeling by members
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of this body that what was getting ready to happen was something that was going to make a difference. and so they came and did that. they were successful and the operation itself was successful. president bush 43 did the same thing. in 2001, after what happened with the twin towers and other activities around 9/11, the country was outraged and he asked, he actually sent forth his own aumf, the authorization for the use of military force, and action was taken. it was 60 words. it was broad. but action was taken. and then the same thing occurred in 2002, which led up to what happened in iraq. and so president bush 43 did those same things. even though he felt like he had the authority himself to take on these activities without congress approving it but they felt like it was much better for the american people to see what was going to happen, for
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congress to be fully informed, to understand what the objectives were and then to have congress authorize. and then thank - this president, president obama, came before us last year, almost one year ago exactly, and asked for an authorization on syria. so, mr. president, i find it truly preposterous and hugely lacking in judgment that this president is discussing and hopefully he will change his mind in the next few days -- is discussing undertaking activities in iraq. remember the president declared that in 2011, the war in iraq was over, that we had won. it was a stable country. and yet, this new enemy -- and i don't want to get into the past too much, but because of policies of this administration in both iraq and syria, things have changed, so now we have a
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new enemy, isis, which has aeries engine this country, an incredibly well funded, well-equipped, well-organized, savvy to social media that has arisen there. and we have seen the detestable things that this group is doing to people of all kinds of ethnic persuasions in iraq, and we understand the threat this is to iraq and to the middle east, and what we also know is that this is something that is affecting directly today not just iraq but syria. there is really no border there. it is porous. we actually know that isis headquarters is in syria. and so this is an operation that can in no way be combined just to iraq. you have to deal with this in syria. so the president hopefully tonight while laying out what our national interest is, by laying out what his general strategy is, by laying out what
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his objective is certainly will talk about the fact that we have to deal with this in syria. so i just want to say to our presiding officer, the president of the senate, today that it seems to me that even if the president feels that he has the authority to do this with his own constitutional powers under article two, even if he feels that, it is totally preposterous that he would not seek our authorization to take on a different enemy and certainly to take this into another country that we have not been involved in in this way in the past, syria, to take operations on in that country with a different enemy and not come to congress, to not seek the approval of the people that the people of this country have elected to weigh in on these matters to me is again tremendously lacking in
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judgment. so i want to close with this. first of all, let me not close with this. one of the benefits of the president coming to seek our approval is that he has stated over the weekend that he believes this could take three years. let me say this one more time. this is a conflict that he believes could take three years in duration and take us into another country where we're now not involved in this matter anyway, and he's talking about not coming to us. and i just want to say again bad things happen in conflicts that our presiding officer who has a distinguished career serving our country, and i honor that, distinguished public servant in the military knows that things don't always go the way that you intend. and so for the president to undertake something three years in duration by his own words in
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another country against an enemy that is one of the most well-funded terrorist operations we have dealt with, knowing that he has to pull together a coalition of people with very different interests but with like interests relative to -- to this particularly detestable group of folks, to think that this president would undertake that without congress being behind him and having 535 monday morning qerks because there was never any buy-in by congress to me is foolish. but because of what happened, because of what happened a year ago where our allies in the region who were going to help us deal with assad were waiting by the telephone, waiting by the telephone to respond because they with us were going to conduct activities against assad about one year ago today because they watched on cnn that the president had changed his mind
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without even notifying them, without notifying their leaders or armed services, there is a credibility issue. so i would say to the president, he's talked about building a coalition. he says that there are 12 countries that are already interested. i would say to him that coming to congress would show that there is durability, that he has sought our support, that he has answered our questions, that his cabinet members have laid out their plan both in public and in private, talking about details that have no business in the public sphere and that he has the buy-in of the united states congress. and i would say to the other members of the coalition, the people in the region that question, question our durability, question candidly, i hate to say it, his credibility, they would say that after he had done that, they believe that this nation is unified in dealing with this issue. so i just want to say again i
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hope the president is good tonight. i hope he delivers to the american people why this is in our national interest. i hope he lays out a strategy that makes sense. i hope he deals with the objectives that he wants to come forthwith. importantly to me, i understand how we're going to deal with the ground in iraq. i understand we have an iraqi military, as weak as they are, that we can build off of. i understand we have the kurds who we can build off of in support. what i don't understand in syria, especially since year after year we have done nothing to support the moderate opposition like we said we would do or very little. let me not say nothing, but very little. since we really have nothing of substance on the ground in syria, how are we going to deal
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with that? our presiding officer knows more about military affairs than me by far, but how do you deal in a country with nothing on the ground? i want him to explain that. but i think all of us would like to understand that. but again, i think if he were to come here to seek our support overtly and to explain to the presiding officer and myself and many others in this body how he has a strategy that could be effective, i believe that he would receive overwhelming support, and i believe he would have the durability necessary to deal with an enemy of this sort. so i do hope, again, i hope the president is on target tonight. i hope the president will seek our authorization for the use of military force now. i hear people say, by the way, well, gosh, corker, it's right
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before an election. right before an election. so here our president is going to talk to the nation about what we are going to be doing with this enemy in iraq and syria and candidly in other places, and because there is an election coming up, maybe he's not going to -- i don't know that this is his reason but i know there are a lot of people around here that say they don't want to deal with it before the election. are you kidding me? the most significant decision that is made and that is sending men and women in harm's way. and because it's two months before an election, there are people in this body that don't want to be put on the task by the president of asking for an amount, whether it's two hours, two weeks, two days, two months
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or two years before an election. you shouldn't serve in the united states senate if you don't want to take up these issues and deal with them. so i hope the president will change his mind and i hope the president will come here and seek our input and say that he wants an authorization and send us that authorization. that's what he did with syria. let us look at it. let us deal with his cabinet members, both in public and private. let us deal with him. let us see his commitment. let us understand the coalition that's being put forth, and let us deal with this in the manner that people who serve in the united states senate should deal with it, but it should come only after the president seeks that authorization. that's an important thing for him to do. i hope he will do it tomorrow after giving this speech, and i stand by ready to work with him in that regard, and i close with
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those comments. i yield the floor. mr. sanders: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: mr. president, later this week, one of the most important senate votes in the modern history of this country will take place, and that vote will be about whether or not the united states senate begins the process to move forward on a constitutional amendment which overturns the disastrous 5-4 supreme court decision on citizens united. now, what the citizens united supreme court decision was about four years ago is to say to the billionaires in this country, to say to the largest corporations
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in this country okay, you already own much of the economy of the united states of america, but now by a 5-4 supreme court decision, we're going to allow the billionaires and the large corporations of this country to own the united states government because they will now be allowed to spend unlimited sums of money on political campaigns. poll after poll tells us that whether a progressive, as i am, a moderate or a conservative, that all over this country people are profoundlyities gusted by the ability of -- profoundly disgusted by the ability of big money to buy elections. what democracy means, what people fought and died for is the right of you and her and him
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to have one vote. what democracy is not about is allowing the koch brothers, a family worth $80 billion, second wealthiest family in this country, to spend hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to elect candidates whose job it is is to make the wealthiest people in this country even wealthier while they continue to attack the needs of the middle class and working families of this country. there was a piece just the other day in "the washington post" talking about how the koch brothers alone just one family has already in this election cycle put 44,000 ads on television and radio, and we
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have got two months left until this election. does anybody believe that that is what democracy is about? mr. president, in this country today, we are suffering a major economic crisis, and what that crisis is about is the disappearance of the middle class, the fact that since 1999 the typical middle-class family has seen its income go down by more than $5,000 after adjusting for inflation. the crisis is that all over america, working family are not working 40 hours a week. they're working 50, 60 hours a week. they're not working at one job. they're working at two jobs, they're working at three jobs trying to cobble together an income and maybe some health
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care to take care of their family. the crisis in america today is that unemployment is not the official rate of 6.1%. it is the real rate of 12% if you include those people who have given up looking for work and are working part time. the crisis is that youth unemployment today is 20%. african-american youth unemployment 35%. and the american people are calling out, they're saying to the congress why don't you create the millions of jobs our people need? why don't you rebuild our crumbling infrastructure? why don't you transform our energy system so we can address the crisis of climate change, move away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and wind, solar, geothermal, and create
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huge numbers of jobs. why don't you create our crumbling buildings and roads and waste water plants. why don't you raise the minimum wage to a living wage. that's what people tell me in vermont and that's what people are saying all over this country. and people ask that today, despite the modest gains of the affordable care act, how does it happen that the united states is the only major country on earth that doesn't guarantee health care to all people as a right? we have 40 million people uninsured, even more paying large co-payments, and premiums how come we don't join the rest of the world and guarantee health care to all of our people? and the answer is very, very simple. and the answer is that members


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