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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  January 21, 2015 9:30am-11:31am EST

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lawmakers are not expected to finish this bill today. we most likely would their reaction to last night's state of the union address. we take you live now to the senate floor hit on c-span2. -- here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, we love you. you are our rock, fortress, and deliverer. you have provided protection for
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our nation, surrounding it with the shield of your favor. how worthy you are of our praise. strengthen our lawmakers for today's journey. give them strong hearts, sound minds, and diligent hands. may they do their ethical best to represent you, joining their plans to your will in order to accomplish your purposes. incline their hearts to your wisdom and love as you keep them on the path of integrity. we pray in your sacred name.
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amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: majority leader. mr. mcconnell: today the senate is continuing to consider s. 1 a bill to approve the keystone x.l. pipeline, and there are six amendments pending, three from each side. we'll begin voting on those amendments as soon as chairman murkowski and senator cantwell work out an orderly schedule. and senators should expect votes throughout the day in relation to these amendments and any others in the queue. now, mr. president last night the american people heard two very different addresses. one was focused on the middle class and how washington can work together in a serious way for better jobs, higher wages
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and more opportunity. it was a call for constructive cooperation. it was a call for new ideas. so i want to commend senator ernst for her thoughtful address. she understands the needs of working people in a way those of a particular mind-set in washington simply don't understand. she knows that the middle class is looking for washington to function again and that hardworking americans who want d.c. to focus on their needs instead of the demands of powerful special interests. that's just what they told us in november when they sent this new republican congress here on their behalf. now i was hoping for something similar from president obama not identical, of course. we don't agree on all the issues; that's clear enough. but there are enough areas of
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common ground where we should be able to work together. it would have been most constructive if he put the focus of his address on those areas of potential agreement. the moment of high purpose called for the leader of the free world to show america what could be accomplished through constructive bipartisan engagement. the state of the union can be about more than veto threats or strident partnership. this kind of partisanship is what we've become accustomed to from the president. now we know the president may not be wild about the people's choice of a congress, but he owes it to the american people to find a serious way to work with the representatives that they elected. on some issues, like cybersecurity, he sent a positive sign. he also began what i hope will be a sustained effort to move
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his own party forward to encourage them to work with us to help create more jobs by breaking down foreign trade barriers and allowing america to sell more of what it makes and grows. those were the good signs. but that was only part of the speech. there's not a lot of serious lawmakers can do with talking points designed specifically not to pass. members in both parties would have welcomed serious ideas but how to save and strengthen medicare and how to protect social security for future generations and how to balance the budget without tired tax hikes. we listened closely for specific details on how he'd work with both parties to achieve comprehensive tax simplification that focuses not on growing the government but on creating jobs. the president has expressed some
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support for ideas like this previously. he should have expanded on it last night. there's still time for him to do it but whatever he chooses the new congress will continue working to send good ideas to his desk. one of those good ideas is a bipartisan infrastructure project the senate will resume working on today. the keystone jobs bill. it's heartening to see a real debate and amendment process on the floor of the senate again. it's the result of a new spirit of reform that's being brought to congress. it aims to give members of both parties a stake in positive solutions, so we can get washington functioning again on behalf of our people. we're looking to the president to join us in our positive mission for the middle class. it's what the american people just voted for last november. it's what senator ernst
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articulated so well last night. and if the president is willing to put the veto threats away and the design to fail talking points aside we can still cooperate to get some smart things done for the people we represent. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democrat leader. mr. durbin: last night the president talked about the economy and the progress we've made. the united states grew 2.6% last year and in the third quarter alone our economy grew by 5%. nearly three million jobs were created. the best year for the u.s. labor market since the height of the economic boom under president bill clinton. lower gasoline prices are providing relief to many families and consumer confidence is up. the deficit has been cut in half. yes, we know that while the economy is growing and unemployment is declining
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sadly, much of the benefit is going to those at the very top of the ladder. the top 1% of american wage earners saw 49% of decline in incomes during the recession but they've seen 95% of the income gains since the recovery started. let me repeat that. top 1% of wage earners have seen 95% of the gains since our economy has recovered. the gap between wages for low- and middle-class families and those at the top is staggering. 47 people in america own more than 160 million americans combined. that has to change. and it isn't just a democratic observation. even republicans have publicly agreed with us that working families are falling behind. let me quote a few.
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former florida governor jeb bush a potential candidate for president, here's what he said. here's the reality if you're fortunate enough to count yourself among the privileged, much of the rest of the nation is drowning, said jeb bush. mitt romney, former republican candidate for president and perhaps republican candidate for president again here's what he said last week as he's rekindled his dream for the presidency -- and i quote -- "the rich have gotten richer" mitt romney said, "income inequality has gotten worse and there are more people in poverty than ever before." end of quote. even speaker john boehner said in an interview "the top third of americans are doing pretty well. the bottom two-thirds are really being squeezed." close quote. so how do we address these challenges? our parties look at it differently.
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the republican majority in this chamber had to pick the first bill that they would bring to the floor of the senate once they reached the majority. oh, there were a lot of things they could have considered. you know what they chose? the keystone x.l. pipeline, a pipeline owned by a canadian company. that's the number-one priority of the republicans in the united states senate, bar none. when they wanted to respond to president obama's state of the union address with senator ernst of iowa, they focused on the keystone x.l. pipeline. what a limited vision of the future. one pipeline. and then we took two votes yesterday on this pipeline, and it's starting to become clear what this pipeline is all about. it's moving canadian tar sands from canada through the united states to a refinery in texas
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and we learned yesterday the republicans will not even support the proposition that the refined oil products coming out of this refinery will help america. we had an amendment a simple amendment. senator markey of massachusetts offered, and said at the end of the pipeline the refinery's oil products will be sold in america. the republicans defeated that. so all this argument about how this oil out of this pipeline is going to help our economy in the future no, don't expect it to happen. and yesterday's vote overwhelming republican vote made it clear. there was a second part that was considered yesterday. this bill, the number-one priority of the senate republican majority, is going to build a pipeline, that's for sure and we said good. if it's going to be built use american steel in building the pipeline. not an outrageous suggestion.
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if this is such a priority for the republicans wouldn't they want to put americans to work to make the steel to build the pipeline? we offered that as an amendment yesterday. senator franken offered it. republicans rejected it. the republicans rejected the premise that the steel that goes into the most important pipeline in the history of america from their point of view, should actually come from america. that's the second amendment we considered. but this special interest project, the keystone x.l. canadian owned pipeline is going to continue to be the dominant issue in the united states senate. republicans continue to do everything they can to help build a pipeline but they want to deny millions of americans access to health care. that's what the house republicans have come up with. they want to come up with a plan
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that will literally take away the coverage of health care from americans. is there anyone in this country that thinks that's the right thing for our future? we're trying to reduce the number of uninsured. the republican changes in the affordable care act would increase the number of uninsured and increase the number of americans dependent on government-sponsored health care. doesn't sound like a republican idea to me but it is, and that's what's coming from the house of representatives. it's a pretty clear difference in how you help working families. for the senate republicans build a canadian pipeline. don't use american steel. don't keep the oil in america but build this pipeline. number one priority. the house republicans? take away health insurance coverage for hundreds of thousands of americans at a time when we know that leaves you in a precarious position. here's what the president said last night: we want to make certain that we focus on
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projects and programs and new ideas that can leave our children a better world and our grandchildren as well. do we want an economy where everyone has an opportunity to climb that economic ladder? or do we want a world where those who were born into lives of luxury set the rules? and always come out ahead? do we want an economy that rewards those who work hard and play by the rules or an economy where corporations rig the game so it's tails you lose, heads i win? we know that an economy with a strong middle class is key to growing america yet it's becoming harder and harder for families to even reach the middle class. families aren't looking for a handout, not in my state. they just want a chance for a better life for their kids. now, there is a way we can do this. it's called the earned income tax credit. this is an idea supported by republican presidents in the past. historically both parties have
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supported it. the earned income tax credit is designed to encourage work by providing a tax credit to working families. the president's proposal, similar to one that senator sherrod brown and i have introduced would expand the credit to help the only group that our tax code pushes into poverty -- childless workers. what a difference this would make for millions of working families. the difference between paying a heating bill or putting it off. the difference between getting a prescription filled or just waiting. a small refundable tax credit for these workers can make a bigger difference than many united states senators would ever realize. the president also proposed making two years of community college free for responsible students and giving motivated students a path to a solid educational foundation without debt. this is not a democratic idea. the president acknowledged last night that this idea came from a
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republican governor in tennessee. i might add that a democratic mayor rahm ee manual of -- emanuel of chicago has a similar program, but the president went to tennessee to acknowledge that the republican legislature and the republican governor had come up with a good idea. so to argue that somehow this is a partisan idea, it sure isn't if it's tennessee. and the president understands that in the 20th century maybe k-12 was just enough to make it. in the 21st century it's not enough. k-14 most of us understand, is the ticket to a good-paying job. now, i called in to some of the media this morning from illinois and they said oh, this community college free tuition idea, another federal mandate. well let me disabuse you of this idea. this is voluntary. it's optional. states decide if they want to be part of it. but i think those states that want to be part of free
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community college tuition for good achieving, hardworking students are on the right track and those who ignore it may fall behind. the jobs of this century will require more training and education than ever. i think this notion is a good one. have we ever gone wrong in the history of the united states by investing in education investing in our students, investing in our future? that's what the president's proposal does. it's been dismissed out of hand by the republicans even though it had a republican origin. that's a mistake. we should count on our community colleges. the affordable alternative for higher education for 40% of america's college students, and thank goodness it steers these kids away from these god-forsaken for-profit colleges and universities, which too often exploit these young people these young men and women, sink them deep in debt,
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and if they are lucky hand them a worthless dim loma at the end of the day. community colleges are the affordable ticket, in kentucky, in illinois, and across america. the president reminded us last night that we live in a great country, and our economy's recovering but while the wealthiest americans are doing fine more american families are spending hours at the kitchen table trying to figure out how to make ends meet. let's help those families. let's agree to help those families. one canadian-owned pipeline is not the answer. we need to think about education. we need to think about a federal transportation bill, and we need to think about investing in america and its future. mr. president, i'd like to ask that the next part of my statement be placed at a separate part in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: thank you mr. president. in the aftermath of the recent terrorist attacks in france, it's difficult to understand what the u.s. house of representatives is thinking. last week, the u.s. house of representatives threatened to shut down the department of homeland security.
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that's the government agency responsible for protecting america from the threat of terrorism. why are we debating full funding for the department of homeland security? every other government agency, i might add, has been properly funded through the omnibus bill, but the republicans insisted on not funding the department of homeland security which fights terrorism in the regular orderly appropriation process. they insisted this department be funded only through the end of february. does that mean that america is safe from terrorism? i wish it were true. but we know that we are only one terrorist away from a terrible incident in america. the department -- one of the departments with a major responsibility to protect us is the department of homeland security. so why did the republicans decide that they wanted to make the funding of this department
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uncertain and contingent? well the reason was they are so angry with president obama's executive order on immigration that they are putting america at risk by failing to properly fund the department of homeland security. then last week, the bill that the house passed made the appropriation for this department contingent on five writers -- on five riders. a rider is an addition. it's language that doesn't relate to a budget or appropriation, and it relates to the executive orders that were established by the president. the house bill passed last week would defund president obama's immigration policies, including the deferred action for childhood arrivals program known as daca, which has been in place for over two years. what does daca do? by the president's executive order, it puts on hold the
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deportation of immigrant students who grew up in america. it allows these young people to continue to live and work in this country on a temporary basis. they are known in shorthand as the dreamers. i know a little bit about this because i introduced the dream act, the first dream act 14 years ago in the united states senate. it's become a very familiar term. but when i first started no one had ever heard of it. what i found was there were young people brought to the united states by their parents at a very early age who had obviously no voice in the decision raised in america undocumented, went through our schools, were successful, had no criminal problems and wanted a future. they couldn't get a future under american law. the dream act would give them that opportunity to move to legal status. we've already invested in these young people, in their
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education, so why would we want to give up on their talents by deporting them after they're educated? well that's exactly what the u.s. house of representatives has proposed. in 2010, i joined with republican senator richard lugar. we wrote a letter to president obama. it said why would we deport these young dreamers? they offer so much potential for america. a gordon later, 22 senators joined me in sending a follow-up letter to the president and he issued his executive order called daca. mr. president, 600,000 600,000 eligible dreamers have signed up for daca, which means for these 600,000, they can live and work in america without fear of deportation. it makes a big difference. 30,000 of them live in illinois. we estimate last another million and a half eligible. the center for american progress say these young people aren't just taking up space they're
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going to add to the economy because of their talents. they estimate that these dreamers will add $329 billion to our economy and create 1.4 million new jobs by 2030. that's a pretty tall prediction. to think that these young people could have that impact on our economy. let me tell you the story of one of the dreamers whom the house republicans would deport, and you may understand why this estimate of the profound important impact of these dreamers on our economy is realistic. as i mentioned i had introduced the dream act 14 years ago. i've come to the floor over 50 times to tell the stories of these dreamers who frankly make the case for passing the dream act and for defeating this hate-filled provision that was passed by the u.s. house. i'm going to continue to update these stories about these dreamers so you can understand
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why giving up on these dreamers is giving up on the future of this country. i want to tell you the story about carlos martinez. here's a picture of him. carlos is holding his daca card under the president's executive order. carlos and his brother brought to the united states in 1991. carlos was 9 years old. he came to this country and didn't speak one word of english, and his father told him him -- [speaking spanish] what it means in english study so you don't have to struggle in life like i have. carlos took his father's advice to heart. at high school in tucson, arizona, carlos graduated ninth in his class. then he enrolled at the university of arizona. he was undocumented at the time. he had never owned a computer but he loved math and he dreamed about being a computer engineer.
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four years later in 2003, carlos martinez graduated with a bachelor's of science degree in computer engineering and a minor in computer science electrical engineering and math. he was named the top hispanic graduate in his class. mr. president, for the record, carlos martinez didn't qualify for one penny of federal assistance to go to college and you can imagine in arizona probably not one penny of state assistance but he made it through, graduating as the top hispanic in his class from the university of arizona. but after he graduated reality set in. he received job offers from intel, i.b.m. and a host of tech companies, but then they found out he was undocumented. he couldn't be hired. he didn't give up. he enrolled in the master's program for software systems engineering at the university of arizona. he completed a two and a half-year program in a year and
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a half. carlos martinez was also nominated for the university of arizona graduate school centennial award given to the school's top graduate student. carlos martinez submitted his application for daca when president obama created this opportunity in august of 2012. the first day the forms were available, he was in line. he was one of the first to be approved. as soon as he received the notification that he had been approved under this executive order, carlos martinez went to a career fair at the university of arizona and handed out his resumes to i.b.m., intel and other high-tech companies. today, carlos martinez is working for i.b.m. out of more than 10,000 applicants for the job that he filled, he was one of only 75 that were hired. is america a better place to have that kind of educated individual working with good
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ideas, creating new products, expanding employment opportunities? of course it is. so now the u.s. house of representatives have decided the best thing for the future of america is to deport carlos martinez deport carlos martinez and deport those other young students who hold such potential for this country. that's the house republican approach to immigration -- deport carlos martinez. there are so many other dreamers around this country with the same talent and determination as carlos. i want the american people to understand the human cost of the proposal that's been sent to us by the house of representatives under republican control. the house republicans want to end daca. hundreds of thousands of people like carlos martinez protected by daca would be deported. a million and a half eligible to apply for daca would never have that chance. it is shameless shameless to
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play politics with the lives of these young people who grew up in america and want to be part of our future, and it's so shortsighted. will america be stronger if carlos martinez is gone? the house republicans say yes he should leave. after all of this investment, k-12 bachelor's degree at the university of arizona the top graduate student in his master's program at that same university, the house republicans say deport carlos martinez. they feel so strongly about this they're willing to hold up the appropriation for the department of homeland security, the agency responsible for protecting our nation. let me be clear. democrats are not going to be swayed by this blackmail. we will insist the department of homeland security be funded, properly funded to protect america and to do it now. this president's made it clear
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that he's ready to sign that bill, the sooner the better. let's not assume that america is somehow -- has somehow been immunized or inoculated and can never be threatened again by terrorists. let us properly fund the department of homeland security and let us not pursue that shameless agenda sent to us by the house republicans. let's remove these riders and give carlos martinez and thousands of others like him a chance to be part of the constitution. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order the senate will be in morning business for one hour with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each with the republicans controlling the first half and democrats controlling the final half. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you mr. president. last night the president delivered his state of the union address so it was interesting to
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hear the acting minority leader talking about homeland security, the budget for homeland security. i know to your service to our nation overseas, wearing the uniform, keeping us safe, keeping us free, you have concerns as have i about what we heard last night. it was interesting to hear some of the commentary after the president's speech because we talk about securing the homeland and what it means for the american public. andrea mitchell, msnbc last night said i think that on foreign policy, his -- meaning president obama's -- his projection of success against terrorism and against isis in particular is not close to reality. the president of the united states not close to reality. mr. president, i've just come back from a trip to the middle east. been to saudi arabia, qatar israel and i concur with andrea mitchell that on the specifics of the president's assessment of success against terrorism and
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against isis, this president is not close to reality. so republicans are going to continue to bring forth the issues to the american people of what reality is like in the world in spite of the way the president may address it because of the specific failures of this president and his foreign policy. you know, it's interesting mr. president, last night in his state of the union the president started by saying that the state of the union is strong. and, mr. president the state of our union is strong, but president obama mistakenly took credit for that strength. he implied that it was because of his policies, because of his actions. on that point this president could not have gotten it more wrong. the state of our union is strong because of the strength of the american people. americans are resilient. americans are hard-working.
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and in the november elections the american people showed that they can act decisively. you know, it's interesting mr. president, this morning headline "new york times," "staunchly liberal wish list brushes off g.o.p.'s gains." headline, "new york times," bright bold, above the fold, "staunchly liberal wish list brushes off g.o.p. gains." so we are a resilient nation. people know what they believe. they know how they feel. they voted those beliefs. and when the american people chose republicans to lead both houses of congress, they said clearly they wanted change, a change from barack obama a change from the direction that he has been taking this country. people want democrats to start working with republicans to get things done. the american people have said in the november elections they are
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tired of the gridlock, they are tired of the dysfunction tired of the democrats running the senate to protect their own jobs and not caring about the jobs of the middle-class americans. now, president obama had a great opportunity last night an opportunity to show that he understands what americans have been telling him. instead he went out and he gave the same speech that he always gives. it was a partisan attack on republicans and the americans who voted to put the republicans in charge in the house and in the senate. it's interesting listening to the commentary after the speech. wolf blitz diser cnn said i don't remember a state of the union where i heard a president issue so many veto threats to the opposite party in the united states congress. we have andrea mitchell msnbc saying in terms of foreign policy the president's views are
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not close to reality. cnn wolf blitzer said i don't remember a president issuing so many veto threats to the opposite party especially when it is a time of g.o.p. gains in the elections. the president specifically ignoring what's happened across this country in the november elections. president obama seems to have missed the november elections entirely. republicans know that we have an obligation to the american people to deliver effective efficient and accountable government. we have an opportunity and an obligation to put americans first. last night president obama showed he still wants to put washington first. well republicans are not willing to help this president continue down the same wrong road that the american people have rejected.
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let's be honest, this past election was a rejection election rejecting the policies of this president this administration. we are charting a new course and a better direction and we're already making progress. the senate is working like it hasn't worked in years. we're debating actually legislation on the floor the keystone x.l. pipeline jobs bill and we're allowing senators to offer amendments. we had votes on three amendments yesterday. we're going to pass this bill. we're going to send it to the president's desk. then we're going to turn to more jobs bills and the important issues that american people care about. we're going to work on froarnlg our health care -- reforming our health care system. in his speech last night president obama offered no solutions on the major issues facing this country. instead he offered the same old tired policies of higher taxes more washington spending, more bureaucracy, more obstruction of bipartisan solutions coming out
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of the new congress. the president said that congress should focus on areas where we agree. well that's exactly what republicans have been doing. we're moving bipartisan bills bills that overwhelming majorities of americans support and the president continues to threaten to veto them. things like the keystone x.l. pipeline bill that supports 42,000 american jobs. it's not my answer. that's what the state department the president's own state department said, it would support 42,000 american jobs. in a poll last week, 65% of americans said the president should sign that into law. we'll pass bills to allow for more exports of american energy and to give the president the trade promotion authority that he has asked for and that america needs. we'll pass commonsense reforms to america's health care system to end many of the outrageous and expensive mandates for coverage that people don't want,
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don't need, can't afford. we'll pass bipartisan education reforms that give all of america's 50 million students a better chance to succeed. we'll push for tax simplification to make taxes more fair, less complicated. that's what americans need to compete in the 21st century. we don't need higher taxes more debt to pay for spending and more i.r.s. agents, things the american people do not believe that we need. republicans are going to send the president bills that will help expand our economy by growing the private sector, not by growing the washington bureaucracy. we're going to pass bills that increase how much families earn and how much of that they actually get to keep, not just how much washington gets to take and the president gets to spend. so the state of our union is
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strong and it is also in greater agreement than it has been in years about the direction this country should take. president obama could have taken the opportunity last night to actually talk about this. he could have offered a positive plan to work with republicans and democrats in congress instead of the defiant tone that he placed upon the country. he made threats to veto bipartisan legislation. he chose to double down on more obstruction, more unaccountable washington bureaucracy more wasted tax dollars. the american people have rejected this course. the american people want a better path, not the same old tired speech from a president now in the final quarter of his time as president. the speech is over. now the president needs to decide what he's actually going to do. is he ready to get on board with
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bipartisan ideas or does he want to just spend the next two years as a lame duck? there are democrats here in this body who agree it is actually time for the senate to get back to work. they're ready to listen to ideas, good ideas work with republicans to help america to help the american people thrive. this president should work with all of us. that's what americans want. they want us to work together. they want us to change the direction that our country has been headed for the first six years of president obama's time in office. this republican congress is listening to the american people. the president continues to ignore them. thank you mr. president. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president like the rest of the country i listened with close attention to the president's state of the union last night and had a pretty good seat, was down front. i got to listen to the president very closely. of course i was interested because this presented a great opportunity for the president following a very eventful election of november 4 to state his vision for the country and most particularly to talk about his plans for working with the new congress that was elected in november. it was a big election for a lot of reasons but one was that we got nine new republican members of the congress, of the senate.
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i've been in the senate in the minority and i've been in the senate in the majority, and i can tell you i like it a lot better in the majority. but the fact of the matter is that not withstanding even a really good election from my perspective on november 4 one that sent a real clear message i really was left to wonder whether the president got that message. while i believe that this was a referendum on washington's dysfunction in dealing with so many of the issues that face hardworking american families, what the president seemed to promise was more dysfunction. but i for one am here to say we're not going to follow the president down this low road. we will try to find areas where we can work with the president and he did mention a few. things like trade things like criminal justice reform. there are a few things the
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president seemed to indicate weren't partisan issues, and we look forward to working with him on those. but the biggest problem we have still which faces our country is the fact that not withstanding one pretty good quarter of economic growth that our economy and our recovery is still pretty fragile, and we know that a number of people, the percentage of americans in the workforce are at about a 30-year low. some of that is because they've looked for work and they can't find work. americans seeking full-time work and have to settle for part-time work. and part because of the president's own policies, things like the affordable care act obamacare, which incentivizes employers to put people on part-time work in order to avoid some of the penalties. but not withstanding my optimism after this important election we had in november and the
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potential we have working together the president and congress to try to address the challenges that face our country, my optimism was quickly tempered. why only tempered optimism? well i heard as the senator from wyoming my friend, senator barrasso mentioned the president has issued seven veto threats since the election. seven veto threats. this is for a president who in the first six years of his term of office has only vetoed one bill. but the first thing he does after this election, where it should have been a wakeup call to him and others, should have been a wakeup call to all of us, he's issuing seven veto threats to bills that haven't even been voted out of the senate, that haven't even made their way to his desk. to me, that is a that sends a very disturbing message that the
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president instead of just being commander in chief, he wants to be the obstructionist in chief. i don't know how else to interpret it. then there is the president's disquieting tendency to take credit for things that other people have done and for his own failures to blame them on somebody else. it's really disturbing. well since this new congress has convened, it seems to me that it's been a tale of two branches of government. while the congress has shown a commitment to working together, and in my private conversations with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle many of them are eager to work with us to try to find solutions to these challenges on a bipartisan basis. that's one reason why the majority leader, senator mcconnell, chose the keystone x.l. pipeline legislation because it enjoys broad
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bipartisan support and we thought it was important to demonstrate right out of the starting gates that we actually listened to what the american people told us on november 4, that they want us to work together that they are tired of the dysfunction. but it appears that the president hasn't noticed or perhaps more accurately he doesn't really care what the american people said on november november 4 but if the president isn't going to listen to the american people and the voters who voted in a referendum on his policies that's not my words those are his i wish he could at least listen to what he himself has said. he said time and time again that elections have consequences. well i agree with that. who wouldn't? but this is the same president who 22 times said he did not
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have the authority to issue an executive action on immigration and then turned around and did it. 22 times he said he didn't have the authority and then he did it. what i have learned here in washington is you can't just listen to what people say. you have to watch what they do. and we have a track record of the last six years of what this president has done, not just what he has said. well as i say the intransigence and the tone deafness was pretty shocking last night notwithstanding the president gave a good speech. you know, what i think the president really hadn't cracked the code on, that anybody in elected office has to understand is there is a difference between running for office and actually governing once the election's over but this president seems to be in a perpetual campaign
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mode making promises that sound like campaign promises rather than recognizing that the reality of divided government and looking for opportunities to work together to actually solve problems. so he's back on the campaign trail again. i think he's going to idaho and other places around the country touting his new agenda. hundreds of billions of dollars in new taxes and of course somebody's got to pay the bill, but the president mainly talked about free stuff last night. free stuff is always pretty popular. i'm surprised he didn't offer americans free beer and pizza while he was at it. he's very popular very popular. but the american people are not dumb. they understand that somebody is going to have to pay the bill,
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and the president ignored that entirely. he also ignored this. for the last six years this president has added $7 trillion to the national debt. $7 trillion. it's now over $18 trillion. now, i know that it's impossible for the human mind to wrap itself around a figure that big. that is so big that it's -- it's incomprehensible in many ways, but we didn't hear a thing about the president adding $7 trillion to the national debt. what he did take credit for -- this was interesting because i mentioned he takes credit for things he had nothing to do with and he blames other people for his own failures, but here's where he was half right. now, he did say that the deficit -- now it's the difference between the money we bring in and the money we spend had actually gone down a little bit, and that's true but the fact remains that we're still adding to the national debt for every dollar of deficit
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spending but what the president also did not say is the main reason why the annual deficit had gone down is because he advocated one of the largest tax increases in recent history perhaps in all of american history, during the fiscal cliff debate. and then, of course, there was the sequester, which are the caps put on discretionary spending that the president railed mightily against even though he was one of the people who thought this up during the so-called super committee deliberations. well i couldn't help but think as the president kept talking about raising taxes and increasing spending and not dealing with problems like a looming debt that he was turning us more into europe, a welfare state, where everybody would look to the government to take
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care of them, not a country that we were left by our parents and grandparents where we could exercise our individual freedom and seek opportunities to rise above what we had been left by previous generations. and to me, that's the most important difference in what the president said last night and what he might have said, because our children do deserve more opportunities. the truth is most of us who are people my age we're going to be okay but the fact of the matter is the next generation, my children and beyond have been bequeathed more debt, and now the president wants to add onto that debt more taxes more spending bigger government. if there was one thing that was rejected in this last election, it is what we have had for the last six years. now, what we had the last six years was a grand experiment in
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government and we have always had this debate about the size and the role of the federal government, but we've never had such an aggressive attempt to grow the size of the government in recent memory, certainly since the new deal than under the last six years and what the american people i believe reject ed was this experiment in big government. now, there would be -- perhaps that would be understandable if there weren't examples of what actually does work, what does grow the economy what does put more money in hardworking taxpayers' pockets and what does provide more jobs and opportunity. one reason why it seems somewhat obvious to me is because i see what's been done in places like my home state in texas and it's been done in other states who put their trust in people and not in bigger government, that somebody's got to pay for. and the formula is not all that
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university of arizona iniki. i know governor perry who just left office after 14 years when people talk about the texas miracle, he said no, it's not a miracle. a miracle is a super natural event. what this is is a texas model. it's a conscious effort to choose policies that actually work that grow the economy and create jobs, lower taxes less red tape, a balanced budget. wouldn't that be nice? we haven't had a balanced budget here in washington since 2009. it's -- it's really malpractice. and other policies that would foster a better business environment and encourages businesses to invest and grow because that creates jobs, that creates rising wages and a successful middle class so the fact is if it works in the states it could work here, too. now, such things like reforming
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the tax code to provide tax relief in a way that incentivizes people to work harder and produce more, that's pro-growth tax policies, not regressive tax policies like the president has proposed which would make it harder. and improving things like infrastructure projects. the president talked about infrastructure last night but he's also issued a veto threat on the keystone x.l. pipeline, that we are -- i agree with the senator from wyoming we're going to approve it and we're going to put it on his desk and then it's up to him. and of course then there is putting americans back to work and repealing burdensome government overreach like obamacare. so mr. president, there is a difference between governing and campaigning. with the president, there is no doubt about it. he's a world-class campaigner. he's right. he won two elections by running really very successful campaigns, but he seems absolutely disinterested and detached and indeed actually an obstacle to governing, which is
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the job in front of us. so mr. president, in closing i would just say that the state of the union is always a work in progress. but it should always be improving. and it's my sincere hope that the president will realize the hand he has been dealt which is one of dividing government, and rather than campaigning perpetually, making promises for free stuff and higher taxes and bigger government, that he would work with us to solve some of the very clear challenges that confront us, primarily ones that will help grow our economy and put americans back to work. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president i would like to ask unanimous consent to be allowed to speak for ten minutes. the presiding officer: is there
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objection? without objection. mr. blunt: thank you mr. president. mr. president, i thought last night, as the majority whip just mentioned, the president once again showed that his sense of why the majority in the congress and the majority of the people in the country support the keystone x.l. pipeline is not just about the pipeline, even though he doesn't seem to ever quite get that. it's about whether we are going to truly take advantage of more american energy, and clearly the president suggested that was one of the great accomplishments of his administration. i think you could make the argument and make it effectively that his administration hasn't done much to implement the great steps we've made forward and in fact on public lands and other things that we were in the process of using when he became president, they have backed away from that rather than step forward. we seem to be unwilling to step forward and embrace this great opportunity that's so much more than the jobs for just the pipeline itself.
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but, mr. president i filed two amendments on the pipeline bill today, the topic we're talking about, the topic that my good friend from north dakota's done so much to bring attention to since the day he and i arrived in the senate. four years ago when the keystone x.l. pipeline application was only two years old at the time, now six years later we're continuing to miss an opportunity. it seems on this topic as once was said about seeking solutions in the middle east, we can't seem to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity but the two amendments that i'd like to file deal -- that i have filed deal with a couple of critical issues that relate to our energy future and our infrastructure future. one would be a community affordability amendment to where we would have to have a study to look at the impact that all
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these e.p. regulations have on communities. e.p.a.'s unfunded mandates on communities where they tell communities they have to do things but really don't give the community any idea how to pay for it. mr. president, you and i are from two states that have lots of small communities but those small communities often have a water system and a sewer system and a storm water system and e.p.a. comes in and says here's what we want you to do, maybe not with one of those maybe with all of those. the air quality the water quality. i know e.p.a. has one regulations on water where -- one regulation on water where the solution can't cost more than 2% of the median income over a specific period of time. now, 2% of your income, if you haven't been paying it, for your water bill or your sewer bill or your whatever bill, 2% of your income just taken right off the top of your income makes a real
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difference to most families, but at least there is a cap there. but you can have that 2% on water -- on increasing the cost of the water system and another 2% or 4% or 5% on increasing the storm water system, and somebody has to pay those bills. what this amendment does is suggest that we figure out who's paying those bills what's a reasonable way to pay those bills and how those bills can be paid. now, we know on the senate floor and the president knows and the e.p.a. knows who pays the bills. the people that have the access to those services. there is no -- no mythical payee here. the person who pays your utility bill is you and if there is increased costs to the utility system that comes to you. the person that pays your water bill is you. and so i believe we need to have a coordinated effort to see how
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these projects impact communities and impact families and understand how this works. so this eams that i filed today directs the e.p.a. to collaborate with the national academy of public administration to review existing studies of costs associated with major e.p.a. regulations. the amendment also directs the administration to determine how different localities can effectively fund these projects. the end result would be to come up with a working definition of a phrase they use a lot "individual and community affordability" but i can't find any evidence that that phrase, "individual and community affordability" really means anything. the amendment that i filed today has already been endorsed by the u.s. conference of mayors, the national league of cities the national association of counties counties and the chairman we chamber of commerce in my hometown, springfield, missouri. the other amendment that i'm filing introduced a sense of the
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senate that the president's u.s.-china greenhouse gas amendment would be looked at in a different way. it's -- this amendment is cosponsored by my colleague from oklahoma, senator inhofe. it talks about the agreement negotiated between the president and the people's republic of china and in fact, says that this agreement really has no force and effect because frankly, mr. president it already has no force and effect in china. we're the only -- of the of the two parties that the president says have agreed to this, we're the only one that would have to do anything. we think this is a bad deal. senator inhofe and i. and i think many others will join us. a bad deal for our country. it's economically unfair, it's environmentally irresponsible and once again produces just actually the opposite result of what we'd want. first of all mr. president, i
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think the constitution's pretty clear on agreements negotiated between countries. there is a senate role to be played. it requires the advice and consent of the senate. the senate should insist that we do that job whether it's here or any other agreements with other countries those agreements need to be consented to by the united states senate. happens to say that in the constitution. these agreements under this amendment also would have to be accompanied by actions of what it costs to implement the agreement. the amendment says the united states should not sign bilateral or other international agreements on greenhouse gases that will cause serious economic harm to the united states. it says the u.s. should not agree to any bilateral or international agreement imposing unequal greenhouse gas commitments on the united
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states. the reason i filed this amendment is simple. the agreement the president unilaterally negotiated with china and announce announced last november is a bad deal for workers, it's a bad deal for families. whether those workers are in missouri or arkansas or anywhere else in the country today. the agreement requires the united states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 26 to 28% below the 2005 levels by 2025. it allows the chinese to increase their emissions until 2030. so last night mr. president the speaker said in the state of the union the united states will double the pace on which we cut carbon pollution and china committed for the first time to limiting their emissions. well let's be very frank about that. the president's actually right. he's agreed that we would double the pace somewhere 26% to 28%
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below the 2005 levels in the -- in the near term, but the chinese have agreed actually to be able to increase their commission -- their emissions for another 15 years and then they would consider -- then they would consider -- reducing emissions after that. now, what this does is drive jobs and opportunity to china and other countries that again care a lot less about what comes out of the smokestack than we do. we lose the jobs we otherwise would have had. we try to solve a global problem on our own even though we've made great strides, some of which were cost-effective but they get least -- less cost-effective all the time. so mr. president i'm grateful my colleagues allowed me to have a couple -- a few extra minutes here. i've filed these amendments. we'll be talking more about them and the keystone x.l. pipeline issue over the next few days.
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i look forward to having a vote on these amendments and a vote on the keystone x.l. pipeline. and i'd yield. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: my understanding that we are in morning business and the minority is now entitled to 30 minutes? the presiding officer: the senator is correct. mr. durbin: thank you. i'd like to speak in morning business on the pending issue on the floor here and i'm glad that my friend and colleague from north dakota, senator hoeven, is on the floor as well. perhaps we could do something unprecedented and actually have a dialogue on the issue if the senator is open to that suggestion after i make some opening remarks. i'll try to request that through the chair but only if the senator is interested. mr. hoeven know::: mr. president, i would certainly welcome that opportunity and look forward to joining the senator from illinois in that dialogue. mr. durbin: i thank the senator from north dakota and warn him that we're getting perilously
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close to a senate debate which almost never happens so we want to alert all the news bureaus that it might even turn into a debate on the floor of the senate. this is senate bill 1, it is the highest priority of the senate republican the majority. it's their first bill in the majority and they decided their first bill would be the keystone x.l. pipeline bill. keystone x.l. pipeline is not owned by an american company. it's owned by a canadian company. that's my my understanding trans-canada and what they're doing is shipping tar sands from canada at least it's proposed here, into the united states across the midwest to be refined in texas and turned into refined oil products which could include, of course, gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel and other things. yesterday we had who two votes on
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the floor of the senate about this pipeline and what it's going to produce. they were interesting votes. the first vote we said well, if we're going to have this pipeline come into the united states of america bringing canadian tar sands to be refined, then whatever it produces the oil it produces, the product it produces should be used in america to help americans to reduce the cost of gasoline, to make it cheaper for manufacturing concerns to use their products. the republicans rejected that notion, that the oil and products produced by the keystone x.l. pipeline would be used in america. they rejected it. i think the vote was 57-42 three or four democrats joined them. but all of the republicans if i'm not mistaken, voted to say that the product coming out of this pipeline would be used in america. then we offered a second amendment and the second amendment said, well, if we're going to build this pipeline -- and a lot's been said about this being a keystone jobs bill -- if
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we're going to build this pipeline shouldn't we use american steel? use american products to build it so that it truly does create jobs in the steel industry, demand for steel products? the republicans rejected amendment as well. so their idea of a keystone jobs pipeline is a pipeline that produces a product that won't be sold in america and a pipeline that is built with foreign steel. that's their idea of an american jobs bill? there's also another aspect of this which i've introduced an amendment on. there is a dirty little secret about this keystone x.l. pipeline which we'll get to vote on today. and this is what this what it comes down to. for the longest time, nobody looked attica made itian tar sands as a -- attica made at canadian tar sands as a viable source.
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and the reason was the price of a barrel of oil was too low. this he knew that in these tar sands up in canada, there was the potential of drawing oil after you went through a lengthy and expensive process and they couldn't afford it. until the price of oil started knocking on the door of $80 $90 and $100 and then canadian tar sands became viable. you could afford to refine the product and make some money. and that's what happened. the canadian tar sands were developed in alberta and they were shipped to the united states and other places to be refined. in fact, the first keystone pipeline, i would argue though it went by a different name, actually went to illinois, went to wood river illinois, to the conoco refinery. and i've seen it. i've seen the refinery since it's been receiving these tar sands. now, the reason why it's more expensive to use canadian tar
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sands to produce oil products, you've got to take out the tar sands. and that is a viscuous, nasty product that has to be dealt with with extraordinary refining capacity which they developed this wood river what is now the phillips refinery. i've seen it. the dirty little secret about this process is that after you have taken off the worst parts of it the parts that are not really economically valuable to most, you have to do something with them and it turns out that in this process you generate huge amounts of what is known as petcoke. petcoke is the by-product of canadian tar sands. it's what's left over after they take what's valuable out of canadian tar sands. and there's a lot of it.
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proponents of the bill would like to tell you that the pipeline won't have any harmful environmental impact but a lot of communities across america know better. detroit chicago long beach california for three. these communities have seen what happens when big refineries near their homes start processing large amounts of canadian tar sands. let me show you an illustration here in the city of chicago. in the city of chicago. this is a chicago neighborhood. if you didn't know better, you would assume it's someplace in a remote area. it's not. this chicago neighborhood looks an awful lot like little rock, arkansas; fargo, north dakota, except take a look at what's next door to these little bungalows and homes. this is a petcoke dump site.
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the british petroleum refinery receives can made canadian tar sands in whiting, indiana, refines them and then the leftover product this petcoke sludge is shipped over to the city of chicago where it is deposited in piles that are three and four stories high. i've seen them. the residents started noticing these mountain-like piles of petcoke appearing right over the train tracks from their homes and at a local baseball field after the whiting refinery began processing tar sands. you might imagine that on windy days giant clouds of petcoke dust swirl above these storage piles and cover the neighborhoods. i've seen them. i've visited. so these working families, when the wind is blowing in their direction end up with this petcoke blowing into their homes
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into the lungs of their children. often the dust from these petcoke piles mean that people that live in southeastern part of chicago are forced to breathe dirty air that one organization, the national nurses united, say causes severe health threats. you see petcoke this product from canadian tar sands contains heavy metals like nickel venadium and selenium. nickel causes cancer. chronic exposure to nickel can cause neurological and development products among children. now, you can see this nasty petcoke on the windowsills on buildings around this neighborhood. you can't see it in the lungs of your children until it's too late. the national institute for occupational, safety and health warns that inhaling nickel-laced
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dust increases your risk for lung cancer and fibrosis. petcoke dust also contains poly cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which have been linked to cancer as well. it's not just because the chemical composition of petcoke is toxic the dust particles themselves are extremely dangerous. when you inhale petcoke that dust can get trapped in your lungs causing respiratory problems. once in the lungs these tiny particles can aggravate asthma lead to premature death in people with heart or lung disease, and cause heart attacks. i mentioned yesterday that i made a point when i visit schools across my state to ask how many students in this classroom know someone who has asthma? without fail, rural or urban school, half the hands go up. i invite my colleagues to do the same. so anything that we do to aggravate this asthma threat that we face is something we ought to think about very carefully.
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some safety documents even note that long-term exposure to petcoke may cause damage to the lung, liver and kidneys. the city of chicago has advised residents in this neighborhood and around it to limit the time when they're outdoors because of petcoke dust. in addition, mayor emanuel thety is working with reserve dwentses to limit the amount of pet coke that can be stored in the city and to require it be enclosed in facilities that would protect it from blowing around. this isn't the first city in america to face this danger. from canadian tar sands, which will be transported if built by the keystone x.l. pipeline. the city of detroit shipping ports near los angeles they've dealt with pet coke piles too. l we need do more. many of these cities have had to act because for years pet coke has been exempt from regulation under any federal environmental laws and it's not been forced to comply with federal cleanup
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standards. the federal government views on the official site of side of the ledger, the regulatory side of the ledger that these pet coke piles are benign not to be worried about. the health information tells us they're wrong. that's why i proposed an amendment to end pet coke's exemptions and require the e.p.a. and department of transportation to promulgate rules on how to store and transport pet coke to protect public and eye kol logical health. it closes the environmental loophole for pet coke. my amendment would require we make these changes before construction is allowed to begin on this pipeline. it is important because tar sands transported by the keystone x.l. pipeline, this canadian company will dramatically increase the amount of pet coke produced in this country. in the year 2013, the united states produced a record amount
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of 57.5 million metric tons of pet coke. 65 -- pardon me, 57.5 million metric consequence. -- metric tons. the number-one priority of the senate republican majority, this pipe lynn will produce over 15,400 metric tons of pet coke every day every day -- 15,400 metric tons of pet coke. under current law all of this new pet coke would continue to be shipped to local communities for storage and disposal in the same large open piles that we see here in this photograph in chicago. that isn't right. we in congress should deal with the acres of pet coke piles that are already out there before we build a pipeline that will create 15,400 metric tons of it
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a day. incidentally the b.p. refinery that has created this mess is generating 6,000 tons a day more than twice as much will come out of the keystone x.l. pipeline, the number-one republican senate majority issue, senate bill number 1 keystone x.l. pipeline, canadian company, 35 permanent jobs, but 15,400 metric tons of pet coke every single day somewhere -- somewhere -- in america. so i hope my colleagues will support this amendment to treat pet coke for what it is. it is a dangerous by dangerous by-product that shouldn't be stored neighbor neighborhoods ballparks children, elderly people. in theend the regulatory loop northerly pet coke. this the would help ensthiewr clean air and clean water is something that everyone can enjoy, even if you happen to
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have the bad luck of living in a neighborhood near a pet coke dutch suit like this one in the city of chicago. i'd ask the senator from -- i sigh the senator from minnesota is eking seeking recognition. i'd like to ask unanimous consent for the senator from north dakota and myself to enter into a three-minute dialogue so we don't hold up my senator friend from minnesota. i'd just like to -- the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: i know the senator is a reasonable man and has been governor of a state understands the responsibility. is it too much to ask that we regulate pet coke so it's not a public health hazard to the people who happen to live next door to these dumps? mr. hoeven: mr. president i appreciate the opportunity to respond to my esteemed colleague from the state of illinois, and of course the answer to the question is that in fact it is a regulated substance and it's primarily regulated at the state and local level. so in the state of illinois, for
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example, pet coke would be regulated by the state of illinois. and what i understand the senator from illinois to be saying is that he is dissatisfied with the way that the state of illinois has chosen to regulate pet coke. but in fact the e.p.a. has found that pet coke is a low-hazard -- or has low hazard potential and according to the congressional research service most toxicity analysis of pet coke, as referenced by e.p.a., finds it has low health hazard in humans, has no carcinogenic or developmental effects. in fact, it as by-product of not just oil from the oil sand but also some of the oils from california venezuela and other places. so it is a by-product that in fact is recycled. it's used in products like aluminum steel paint. it's used to produce
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electricity. so here's a case actually of a product that can be and is in fact recycled, and i would argue that what we want to do is as we produce energy is continue to invest in these new technologies that will help us produce more energy but also do it with better environmental stewardship, which means we not only work on carbon captured storage, which is a major undertaking in the oil sands right now and i'd be willing to discuss in that discussion with you as well, but also work to find uses for these by-products in things like steel aluminum. the president talked about the cafe sanders. one of the things that they're doing in detroit with new automobiles is they're use ewessing more aluminum in the construction of the car to reduce the weight to try to meet the cafe standard. so here is a product from the oil sands oil that's actually
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used in aluminum to make those vehicles lighter to achieve one of the things that the president of the unitedthe presidenttalk beeted in the state of union last night as a by-product from the oil sands oil. mr. durbin: if i could follow up way tonight make sure i understand the senator's position. the senator's position is we should not establish a federal standard of the safety of pet coke leave it up to the states. he also argues that is it not a danger, it is low hazard, in his words. and i don't know if the senator has seen pet coke neighborhoods that have this blowing knew them them, i would just say to the senator, this notion that somehow pet coke going to be some fabulous discovery for new inveptions maybe it will, but at this point it's been sold to china. they're burning it to generate electricity. i would try to imagine what is coming out of those smokestacks in china where it is sadly -- where sadly the air pollution is
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bad. i would yield but i don't think it is adequate to say that the city of chicago should be regulating this substance. we have a narks nation, which we affected by a national pipeline from this canadian company we ought to have a national standard to protect americans from the dangers of pet coke. whether we're talking about fargo, little rock or juneau, i wouldn't want to thrive this close to these pet coke piles. i yield the floor. mr. hoeven: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. h.o.v. schoif for 30 seconds. a simple point of clarification. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. hoeven: the characterization of pet coke is from the e.p.a. and from the congressional research service. thank you. ms. klobuchar: mr. president i ask consent to speak up to ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. klobuchar: thank you. mr. president, i'm here today to talk about the president's
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speech from last night and i think it's very important -- that was a major event. all members of congress were there. the and he really -- to me it was a call to afnlings it wasn't just ideas. it was about how to turn ideas into action. it was a strong speech focused on middle-class economy and how we can strengthen our economy. i thought there was a lot of energy. i know some of my colleagues in the last few months have predicted that the president was somehow going to slide down because of the actions he took on immigration or the actions that he took on cuba. and i think what you're seeing around the country is quite the opposite. i think people are excited that there's an energy and they're certainly pleased that we've seen some major improvements in the economy. so i would say to my colleagues across the aisle who i take at their word when they say they want to work with us to govern
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this country that the president is not going to be spending his next year and a half slouched in his armchair planning his presidential library. i think what we saw last night is a president that wants to get things done in his remaining time in office, and i think that we see an energized country that is also -- that also wants to get through the gridlock and move forward. i think the president did a very good job of laying out the status of the economy. and i think it's really important when there's so many numbers out there and information and people throwing things out that we really step back and look at that, because when we look at where we're going to move forward, we need to understand from where we came and how we needed up where we were a few years ago back in the midst of the recession. as i look at these young pages thinking about how difficult it was for so many years for young people to find employment and that we are now finally seeing some hope for young people out in the job market and how we can build on what we've got.
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so we know now -- what do we know? we've had 58 straight months of private-sector job growth. our national unemployment is below 6%. in fact, in my state it's down to 3.7%. our unemployment rate last year went down faster than any other year since 1984. 1984. we are now number one in oil. this fall we surpassed saudi arabia as a number-one oil and gas producer in the world. that is what our country has done because of the work in north dakota. i see my friend, senator hoeven, over there because of the work going on all over this country. as the president also pointed out last night we also are increasing our renewable energy and wind and i would add from the state of minnesota that the renewable fuel standard and the fact that we have better gas mileage standard, all of these have hemmed to bring down our consumption but raise our
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production bringing these prices down in our country. i thought one of the most interesting statistics last night was the fact that i've never heard before, since 2010 america has put more people back to work than the combined countries of all of europe, japan, and all advanced economies across the world. that shows that our workers are so good, something we know. it sthees our businesses are so -- it shows that our businesses are so good. this is an opportunity that we have to governor from opportunity. not just be governing from a state of crisis. that's what we need to do. one of my favorite parts, of course was rebecca erler from minnesota mentioned right near the beginning of the speech. sitting right up in the first lady's gallery a woman who had gone through some hard times. her husband had lost his job in the construction industry. but because of the strength of our are state the strength of the family, her personal strength to want to get back to work and go to a community college, her family is now
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stabilized. as the president pointed out maybe their big treat is getting together for a pizza on friday. but the point is that they have geaten through some really hard times, as have so many resilient people in this country. so the question we now have is this: how do we get ahead? how do we keep going? i want to go through a few of the ideas that the president discussed last night that are near and dear to my heart. the first is community college. i would not be standing here in the senate right now if it wasn't for community college. my grandpa worked 1,500 feet underground in the mines in minnesota. he never graduated from high school. he had to quit school and go and help his -- support his family and within a few years he was down in those mines. that's where he worked his whole life. he had dreamed of a life at seavment he had dreamed of a life in the navy. he had dreamed of a life where he could use his education but he worked in that mine because he believed more than anything
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in the american dream in his two young boys, in his wife, in his family, in the nine brothers and sisters that he raised because both of his parents died. that is why at age 15 and 16 he and his brother went to work. they went to work to help their family. when the youngest kid hanna had to go to an or fan eighth orphanage for a year and a half, my uncle went and got her. he saved money in a coffee kaen in the basement so he could send my dad 0 college. my dad is a proud graduate of ely jr. college. from there able to go to the university of minnesota get a journalism degree and interview everyone from ronald reagan to ginger rogers. that's our foam story. my sister never graduated from high scoosm she had some trouble. what did she do? she was able to go to a community college get her
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g.e.d. go to a community college and finalize her four-year degree and get an accounting degree. those stories are all over america. the president's devotion to talking about these two-year community colleges and using them as a launching pad for kid kid's career, its the right one. i am hoping, given the support i have seen from businesses across my state we don't have enough welder enough people to work the technology in a lot of our factories, i'm hoping our colleagues will join us because of the strong business support, because of the need we have in our country to get more people into these jobs. we've got 5 million people -- 5 million job openings, we have 8 million people that are unemployed. we need to match those two numbers and the way we do it i think is by doing more with these one- and two-year degrees and doing more with kids in high school. the second thing i appreciated the president talked about was a middle-class tax cut. i think we all know the numbers we all know the facts that due to the widening gap that we've
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seen in income distribution, bottom 80% of the families have $1 trillion less in income than they did during the reagan times. $1 trillion less in income than during the reagan times. the top 400 people in the country have more wealth than the bottom half of the country combined. so as we look at where we should be giving tax cuts, who we should be helping, it is clearly the middle class of this country. and that includes things like help with child care and child care credits that the president talked about. we are the only advanced country, as he pointed out last night, in the world that doesn't have some kind of paid sick leave or paid maternity leave. when i go and talk to women all over my state and i ask them what they'd most want, so many of them say time. they want time to be able to be with their kids when they're sick. they want time to be able to be with their baby when their baby's just born. that's the best thing for our country. and so i just don't believe the
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naysayers, that we cannot work across the aisle to start talking about these important middle-class issues. as the president pointed out he is not running again and he has nothing to do but to try to move forward for this country. and i have appreciated the words of so many of my republican colleagues who have talked about governing, who have said they want to get back to the real business of government, which is governing. and i also appreciated those that have put out innovative ideas on things like infrastructure. the simple idea that perhaps we can get some of these foreign earnings that are stuck there overseas that are just sitting over there trillions of dollars, why don't we do something to bring that money back and make sure that a portion of it goes into infrastructure? no one knows that better than our state. our state's the state where a bridge fell down in the middle of a summer day. not just a little bridge, no. an eight-lane highway eight blocks from my house a highway that my family would drive over every single day down into the middle of the mississippi river on a summer day.
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that's infrastructure, that's a problem. 75,000 bridges in this country that have found to be structurally not efficient not able to function. that's what's happening in this country right now. so i truly appreciated the fact that the president talked about yes, we're going to be defending some things, we're going to be arguing about things in this chamber. that's what this was set up to do. that's democracy. that's government. but there's also some real clear areas of agreement and the one of them is helping the middle class. let's move, let's go forward. thank you mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of s. 1 which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 1 s. 1, a bill to approve the keystone x.l. pipeline. ms. murkowski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska.
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ms. murkowski: mr. president, we are back again on the keystone x.l. pipeline, s. 1 the bipartisan 60-sponsor bill in front of us. i think we had a good day yesterday debating three amendments and ultimately disposing of them. we have a half dozen of them in front of us this morning and this afternoon. i think it is worth noting there have been several members that have come to the floor to -- to give comments about the state of the union last evening delivered by president obama. it was his sixth official state of the union. it marked the sixth address that he has given to the congress and the nation while this project has been under review. the whole time throughout his entire administration every one of those state of the unions has
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happened at a time when the keystone x.l. application has been pending. kind of puts it into context in terms of how long we -- we've been considering this. the president didn't really speak much to -- to the merits or the opposition to keystone x.l. it was basically a quick reference. but he did in a manner, attempt to compare this bipartisan, subsidy-free bill to one of -- of a significant infrastructure projects that certainly this country is in need of when we talk about infrastructure needs whether it's our highways, bridges the need is clear. but i think we also recognize those are projects that are taxpayer funded, that will
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require millions, perhaps billions of dollars a year. what we're talking about here with the keystone x.l. is something where we don't have any federal subsidies going. it is not taxpayer funded. so i think it is important to make sure that we understand the contrast there. what we didn't hear last night was how -- how this project could be advanced. there was no -- no indicator once again. we're still sitting at over 2,300 days. i think it's 2,315 days, to be exact, where we have not had a presidential decision. i think the good news for us here on this floor is that the debate on this issue is not going to last that long, thankfully. again, we -- we moved into regular order and i think it was helpful for members of the body
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to -- to not only know that there was a series of amendments that were called up, but that we were able to have debate on them and then we were able to dispense with them. a majority of the senate voted to table two of those proposals but then when it came to the portman-shaheen bill the energy efficiency provision, we were able to move that by a vote of 94-5. demonstrating again a great deal of support for this -- this small energy efficiency provision. i wish that it had been bigger. in fairness to the bill sponsors that have been working so hard for years now on that. we just advanced a very small piece of that. i think we've got more to do in the energy efficiency area and i'm looking forward to working with them on that. so what we have in front of us now, at least at this point in the process is we've got a bill
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that will approve the cross-border permit for the keystone x.l. pipeline and will -- will work to deal with some aspects of energy efficiency. so i think again, there was some good progress. once again this morning i will encourage senators we've -- we have called for an open amendment process but as the leader has reminded us, it's not open-ended, we're not going to be on this bill indefinitely. so move to file your amendments. if you want a vote on them, you need to be filing them now talking to us now. we're at 77 amendments that have been filed and that was as of last night. so there's clearly already a line and my hope is that we'll be able to dispense with this half dozen today. the measures that we have three from each side, we have senator
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fischer's amendment 18, the schatz amendment number 58 number 333 is the lee amendment. we've got senator durbin's amendment 69, we have the toomey amendment 41, as well as the whitehouse amendment number 29. i spoke a little bit on a couple of these measures yesterday and i will be speaking more this afternoon before we move hopefully to votes. but i -- i do want to just take a minute here before i turn it over to senator cantwell to be recognized and then to senator hoeven, there is -- there have been several sense of the senates that have been filed presented on the issue of climate change. now, i think it's important for people to note that in order to approve the keystone x.l. pipeline as the legislation itself lays out there's no climate change provision that is
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is -- is required there. i do find it a little bit ironic that in neither of the two pending amendments that we have before us, senator schatz and senator whitehouse's, insert one ofneitherone of them actually quotes the parts of the state department final e.i.s. that explains i think in pretty fair detail that this project will not significantly contribute to climate change. in fact, the state department found that without the keystone x.l. pipeline greenhouse gas emissions associated with transporting that canadian oil could actually increase. and the estimate is increasing somewhere between 28% and 42% -- as high as 42%. and you say well, how can that be? the reality again is not only is a pipeline less costly more efficient but it is -- it has
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the least environmental impact in terms of any additional emissions. so i think it is important to recognize that when we're talking about the -- the oil coming from canada oil that canada is producing for lots of different reasons that benefit canada that that oil is going to move. so our challenge is, are we -- is that oil going to move in a manner that benefits americans with increased jobs and opportunities? is that going to help us fill up our refineries in the gulf coast? is that going to -- to help from a safety perspective in terms of transporting a product in the most safe manner, as well as environmentally the least -- the least environmental impact which is clearly a pipeline? the state department also provided in the e.i.s. that --
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quote -- "approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed project is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the united states based on expected oil prices, oil sands supply costs, transport costs and supply-demand scenarios." so i think we're going to have some discussion this afternoon about, again what is contained in the state department e.i.s. the full e.i.s. is -- is pretty substantive. it's, you know, a thousand pages. there was an executive summary that helps us all out there that distills all of this. but i think it is important that members look at -- at what that report outlined. i mentioned that we've got about 77 amendments in front of us -- or that have been filed at this pointed in time -- at this point in time. we've got about nine, i think there's nine as of this morning
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separate sense of the senate or sense of the congress amendments relating to climate change. now, i have noted that this is the first time that we have had an energy-related bill on the floor in awhile where there's been an opportunity for debate. you'll recall that this same measure was on the floor in december when the democrats were in charge. the -- the floor was managed at that point in time by the senator from louisiana. obviously very passionate in her support of the keystone x.l. pipeline. but in that debate, there were no opportunity for amendments. you didn't see colleagues on either side of the aisle able to offer any amendments. we didn't see any amendments on climate. now we have nine climate-related amendments here. so when you -- when you think about the -- the urgency we're
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having folks coming down and saying, we must act on this now. i will remind people that the reason that we're able to have this debate, the reason we're going to be able to have votes on this issue is because we -- we are operating under a regular order process where we are allowing for -- for amendments. whether it's on issues like climate change or whether it's on issues such as how we -- we deal with exports as we took up yesterday. so, you know, we're not going to agree in many of these areas but at least we're going to -- to get back to being a deliberative body that not only talks about it but has an opportunity to -- to vote on it. so again, i think we're probably going to hear a lot of different conversation about climate change. i want to -- i want to point out an article before i conclude
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here this morning. this is an article that ran november 27 of 2014, just a few months ago it ran in "the financial post." and it's entitled "new emissions from canada's oil sands extremely low," says i.e.a.'a.'s chief economist. the first line of that article states, "as an energy advisor to some of the world's most developed economies fadid d bural, worries about critical issues including the security of oil and impacts on the climate. one issue he doesn't spend any time worry about however is carbon emissions from oil sands." mr. bural is quoted as saying that there is a lot of discussion on oil sands projects in canada and the united states and other parts of the world but to be frank the additional co2 emissions
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coming from the oil sands is extremely low. so here you have a statement by i.e.a. tion a.'s chief economist. you combine that with what we have contained in the state department's final e.a.s. i think these are important statements of support or fact to have out there on the record. so as we're debating these amendments today mr. president i would certainly encourage everyone to keep in mind that much of -- oftentimes much of what we hear can be maybe a little amped up, and i understand the passion that goes on p. but we need to make sure that we are -- that we are looking
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critically to the facts as they exist. and i'm just going to conclude my comments this morning by saying that what is happening in canada the simple facts are that canada will produce its oil, it is producing its oil and it will move it to markets to the u.s., our strongest our strongest partner canada supplies us with more oil than any of their other trading pans. so canada is going to continue to produce. dan will move that oil. and the question is, -- is who will ultimately benefit from that? will it be the united states that gains the benefit of those construction jobs? will it be the united states that will gain the benefit from that crude that will come down through that line and go into
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the gulf coast and benefit the refineries that are built to handle and process that heavy crude coming from the north? so i -- i want the united states to be a participant in this important project for a lot of different reasons and i'm encouraged that more than 60 of my colleagues regime to share that view. so -- seem to share that view. so we will continue the discussion through the series of amendments that we have before us today. i know that my colleague from north dakota is prepared to speak, but i want to turn at this time to my ranking member, the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: thank you mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: mr. president i appreciate the senator from alaska helping us work through this process and being down here this morning to talk about how we move forward, and i heard her say that we are obviously thick
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about how we move -- thinking about how we move through the amendment process. i am a sure we will get a chance to talk and discuss about potential votes later on and continuing on this amendment process. like herks i want to add a few -- like her, i want to add a few comments to the comments about the state of the union because i feel it was the first time we heard a speech from the united states -- a president from the united states that was really all about the innovation economy. and as someone from seattle and from the pacific northwest where weigh know awe know a lot about innovation, i was glad to hear that he basically put a whole perspective out about what it takes to have a innovation economy, you have to think about investing in our work force he mentioned trade a variety of things that are all components of an innovation economy and moving forward. so i was really glad to hear that level of innovation, including his community college effort because it really is about training and scilg the work -- and skilling thework force for the future.
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i also heard him talk about making improvements in infrastructure. it is interesting -- the one thing i didn't hear him talk about is i didn't hear him mention the issue of plug-in vehicles or electric cars. the reason i bring that up is because i think for most of the bush administration and maybe even some of the earlier days of this administration, i heard constantly about a and we have to get electric vehicles and plug-in cars and we have to get off the our dependence on foreign oil. well, we should take pride that in last knight speech, we didn't have to l. to listen to that. we have made progress on plug-in electric cars. they were in the marketplace and we're making great progress on that. and we've made progress in getting off of foreign oil as well. and the savings that we've gotten from fuel efficiency, the president of the united states was saying, what is the next level of innovation that we have to do? and how do we move forward while still protecting ourselves from what has been the deterioration of our environment from
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greenhouse gases and the threat that knacks to makes to our planet? i consider those threats very real because when the shellfish industry is almost ruined over the level of -- lack of oxygen in the water and the amount of carbon that basically sinks into our oceans and causes damage to the shellfish -- i see the presiding officer is also from the great state of alaska and when it comes to sources of feedings for pacific northwest salmon the fact that there are not great food sources and there's diminishment of that, that effects an entire ecosystem and then affects the economy. you bet dealing with these climate issues are important. they are no longer hidden. they no longer can be escaped. they are on our plate right now. so simply the president of the united states said, let's deal with that and move forward and instead of talking about just one pipeline, let's talk about an energy plan and an infrastructure investment for
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the nation. i will point out to my colleagues, you are becoming dangerously close to saying, we can't do something like portman. how many times was the colleagues from ohio and new hampshire held up on energy efficiency because no one would let us vote on that? how long? a year? two years? and then yesterday -- yesterday finally given a vote and 95 of our colleagues voted "yes" on moving forward on energy efficiency. i will point out that energy efficiency is, i believe key to our economy of the future, because if the united states is a leader on making energy, no matter what source it comes from more efficient, we will write the playbook around the globe because so many people will want to make very dear energy resources more useable better utilized and lower cost to our individual businesses and
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consumers. so energy efficiency is incredibly important. but we never got to energy efficiency. it is almost like the other side of the aisle is saying you only get energy efficiency if we pair it with other legislation where we're rolling back environmental rules. and that's the objection that i have on my side is -- from the state of washington as well dpsh is-- from the state of washington as well -- is that people want people to play by the rules. that rule actually follow the rules on the clean air act the clean water act the process of what is in public interest and certainly not usurping the president of the united states in determining what is the national interest of this country. at the very time the state department was saying to this company, trans-canada, you have a pipeline proposal that we don't like, because it goes right through an aquifer the very moment where the state department was telling them, we don't like this proposal and you need to adhere to these environmental larks the same people were here in congress
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trying to get senators and house members to vote on legislation that would have said, pass the pipeline right through the aquifer. so i believe that the president should be given the due diligence to drive home with this foreign company the fact that we have a national interest that this national interest will be met and that we will set the standard for whether these environmental laws are going to be complied with. i don't believe that we should be usurping them. and i think now my colleagues are offering amendments on the other side that also usurp other environmental laws. so i hope my colleagues will tbhi this because it's certainly going to give the senator from alaska and myself something to think about as we try to move forward on energy legislation. we're going to have to think about how we pass something that has bipartisan support. well i've had the opinion since i've been on the energy committee, and i've been on the committee now the entire time i've been in congress, is that you shouldn't hold up good energy legislation just to try
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to get bad energy legislation. so i have the opinion that you should pass energy bills every year. that's the transforation that our country is going under. so i wish we would have helped the senators who wanted to usher in energy efficiency two years ago but it's telling now that 95 of our colleagues always thought that was an easy lift. and we should keep moving forward on those things that are easy lift andssuring to the businesses that need predictable and certainty that we can move forward. another example would be the clean energy tax credits. while we're here trying to overwrite environmental rules to give a foreign interest a pipeline through our country -- and i should say you know, people thought this pipeline that just went through yellowstone was safe, and we just had a big spill there this past weekend so it's not as if these spills don't happen or our colleagues from michigan coming down here and talking about the spill that happened in kalamazoo or the fact that i just saw the
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commandant of the coast guard last night at the state of the union and reminded him and he reminded me, we don't have a solution for cleaning up tar sands in water. that's why we in the pacific northwest are so interested in this issue. so to me, let's not hurry through a process of special interests when we can do things that actually need to give certainty and predictability on like the energy tax credits that are germane, that are within what congress is supposed to be deciding on. the american people are asking us to debate those issues and come up with a resolution on them. i don't know that the american people are asking us to override a process and usurp what is the right of the president to make sure that our national interests are considered in this policy debate. so i would -- i really do appreciate the senator from alaska working through this produce, and i really do appreciate the fact that i think she's serious about -- she and i
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sitting down and talking about a larger energy bill. and i pride myself on having a pacific northwest view, and that is that there are things that are good for both alaska and washington and that we should work on them together, and maybe there are some things that what are good for alaska and washington maybe the rett the rest of the country doesn't agree on. but we will work throw through a process together. as i would look at these next tranches of votes here, we should really consider what the president said last night that we need a broader innovation strategy for our economy. i think that there are ways to get there. i think that these amendments that we are considering -- i don't think we need to change the antiquities afnlgt i am a big believer that there are some tremendous national beauties that have been established through the antiquities act both by -- actually by lots of
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republican presidents. and i don't -- i don't feel like we have to change the antiquities act. i don't think we need to change the endangered species act and i don't think we need to overrule the clean air act as the senator from pennsylvania's amendment does. so we'll have more time to talk about these amendments on the floor, but i hope that my colleagues will understand that we want environmental rules to be followed. we want femme people to follow a process. we want these issues to move forward from an energy policy that will move america to a 21st century energy policy, notingnot continue to hold on to the 19th century compliewtions that are--19th century pollutions that are challenging our economy. i'm sure i'm going to hear more from my colleagues. again, i appreciate my colleague from alaska helping us work
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through this process. i do appreciate that it's a debate. and that all my colleagues are going to get chance to come down hey and express their opinions. with that, mr. president, i will yield back to my colleague on whatever process we're going to follow here to go back and forth on amendments. ms. murkowski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from the great state of eafnlgt. ms. murkowski: mr. president i want to acknowledge the comments of the ranking member of the energy committee here and her focus on energy innovation. because i think we can look to that as really not -- not only a bright spot in our economy where we have seen great progress in recent years but great enthusiasm and optimism about the future of our country when we allow our great minds to work on some of these problems of the
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day to really get us to these advance solutions. mr. president, you and i know that we come from a state that while we are an energy-producing state, we are also a state that has some of the highest energy costs in the country. right now in the village of fort yukon, they're paying $7.25 for a gallon of fuel. up in kobak in the northwest part of the state they're paying $10 for a gallon of fuel. the rest of the country is enjoying a price break because of the drop in fuel, but in alaska when there's no neighborhood filling station that's connected to a road that's connected to someplace that brings you somewhere, you have to bring your fuel in by barge or by plane. the contract f

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