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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  March 24, 2015 1:30pm-8:01pm EDT

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and that number had grown to an almost unbelievable number in 2012. it was up to over $380 billion. the congressional budget office recalculated in early 2013, and the number came down substantially. that's, if you will, what sort of gave new life to getting the sustainable growth rate repealed. since that time it has crept back up again and now for just repealing the sustainable growth rate formula, that number is about $140 billion over a ten-year budget cycle. what is the cost of not doing it? the cost of not doing it is that every physician's practice starting on april 1st will have to absorb a 21-23% reduction in pay in reimbursement from medicare. now, due bear in mind that medicare is kind of a special system as far as payers in our health care system. medicare sets their rates. they don't negotiate with doctors. they don't call a bunch of doctors into the room and say well, what can we agree on?
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medicare sets the rates and then the formula -- if it's allowed to kick in -- will reduce those rates an additional by about a fifth. so that will result in significant attenuation of doctors seeing medicare patients and the excess that medicare patients have to physicians. so that's one of the costs of not, of not doing this. the schip extension adds additional money, the extenders adds additional money. so again, in total the package -- i am told i haven't seen the congressional budget office score yet -- >> host: still working on it. >> guest: still in process, but it will be around $200 billion over ten years. >> host: some conservative groups concerned because the doc fix, they say has found ways to cut the budget in the past because the doc fix has required some offsets in other areas. so while it's an imperfect method, they say it's actually saved money. here's the editorial from a recent national review piece the sgr has been denounced as a mere budget gimmick which in a
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sense it is but it is one that, nonetheless, has been effective. physicians' medicare payments. >> host: unfortunately, what is currently under consideration. if presented with that option, conservatives should put their foot down on the neck of this profligate deficit-swelling deal. your response? >> guest: obviously, i disagree with their characterization. but, look, their vision of the future is that there will be there will be no budget discussion after this occurs. but, look, as part of the base -- my understanding of the base is there are going to be $70 billion in offsets. these are structural changes that are occurring in medicare. structural changes in medicare agreed to by republicans and democrats. this is the first time that that
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has happened. i don't know if you remember a couple of years ago we had the big blow-up over the extension of the debt him and the creation of the supercommittee. remember the supercommittee was supposed to get together and decide how to work all of these problems out. the supercommittee could not solve this problem. this is a problem that's right on the brink of being solved that people have wanted solved for a long time. structural changes in medicare. i have other people argue, well, why don't you just wait? perhaps we'll have a republican president in 2017 and maybe then we can get everything we want as far as budget restraint. maybe true, maybe true but how about in 2017 we start with the fact that we've gotten $70 billion in fundamental entitlement reform already done and then begin from that point, not begin from a point that, oh, we've missed the chance we whiffed on getting $70 billion of fundamental entitlement reform, and now we've got to start from further in the hole than we were two years ago. i think this is a positive step
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for the budget. is it perfect is it the way i would have done things if i was in a room by myself drawing this up? of course not. but it is a good product that is honestly, it has been in the works for over three-and-a-half years' time. republicans and democrats, we heard from payers, we heard from physicians, we heard from beneficiaries. we listened to all of those groups and this drove the base policy on what is now known as the sgr repeal. >> host: again h.r. 1470 if you want to track it this week on cap until hill. have you answer a -- capitol hill. have you answer a few questions conrad in ridgeway, virginia. line for independents. conrad, good morning. >> caller: good morning. >> guest: good morning conrad. >> caller: representative burgess, last congress you were, i believe the sponsor in the house of h.r. 1828 and i know you tried to get it into the committees you were on for some hearings but for the past ten years or so similar bills have
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not made it out of committee just like this past one didn't. and i was curious if you were going to reintroduce something, i guess the same bill again in the new congress because, as with the topic with the doc fix this would save medicare money and it would help kidney transplant patients, and i am one of those. and so i guess the question is do you think that you're going to responsor a new version of that bill, and if so, do you think it would have any better chances of getting out of committee this time as previous times? >> host: and what does this bill do? >> guest: i think the caller's talking about a bill to provide coverage for immune know suppressive drugs to fight tissue rejection for patients who have received a transplanted kidney. the end state renal disease program which takes care of everyone in medicare once a person receives a transplant they are moved off of the end stage renal disease program because they've been cured by
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their transplant except they do need to take anti-rejection drugs in perpetuity. currently, the center for medicaid and medicare services sets up an impossible problem the if a patient is not able to afford those medications. they could lose their graft. this is one of the things that, you know, really makes you wonder about i how the congressional budget office works and what our prices priorities are. congressional budget office is by law only allowed to look at cost. they can't assume savings. but the cost of the immunosuppressant drugs is one thing, it's a significant cost if someone louises their now- loses their now-donated kidney and perhaps go back on a waiting let's for another donated kidney. it's truly a tragedy as it -- >> host: benefits discussion something that often comes up in the energy and commerce committee whether on this legislation or others. >> guest: and i would just point out, and i really do appreciate
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the caller bringing it up, this last year we did manage to get a hearing in committee, first time that has ever happened. and i was with a group of the people at the national kidney foundation last night. it's something i'm going to continue to do. it will not be part of the medicare legislation today though. >> host: you practiced medicine for 30 years or so in north texas. what kind of doctor? >> guest: ob/gyn. >> host: we're talking doc fix the legislation moving through congress. eric is up in jonesboro, georgia, line for democrats. good morning. >> caller: yes, good morning. >> guest: good morning eric. >> caller: i wanted to make a couple points for the audience and a question for the congressman. >> host: sure. >> caller: medicare -- well obamacare changed the way medicare paid doctors. it went from a fee-for-service to a set payment per outcome. it appears to me that, you know,
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this legislation and this congressman, republican of course, is trying to go back to fee-for-service. obamacare has been very successful in reducing the amount of increase of medicare payments. medicare is like the second biggest expense on, you know, the government's budget. and obamacare has slowed down growth of medicare which is making, you know, the budget deficit shrink really really fast, like in some cases some people say the deficit is shrinking too fast. so it appears to me that this is a way for the congressman the gop congressman to reverse all of that good work that obamacare did. >> host: congressman, i'll let you respond to that as i show viewers this headline: obamacare as divisive as it was five years ago, rhetoric mires the budget debate. >> guest: yeah, i wish i lived in the world where the deficit was reducing too fast for
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comfort. that's not the reality that i see today. but the point he is making is -- and this, it's an important distinction. first off, do bear in mind that this medicare payment problem that is being fixed in the sgr repeal really does not have anything to do directly with the affordable care act. this was going on long before the affordable care act came on the scene. in the affordable care act, there is, there are ways that a practice can be paid such as one of the aco models or bundled payments or patients under medical home. yeah those are available under the affordable care act, but the affordable care act does not ban fee-for-service. that still continues as it did before. but if there are special arrangements that people want to make they may make them. actually what this sgr repeal does is set actually that world actually exists in
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medicare as well. so if there is an aco model it's got to demonstrate that it can deliver the care and deliver the quality. and if there are cost savings then so much better. one of the things i like about the approach that we've taken, it doesn't presuppose that all of the smart people are at the department of health and human services. it suggests that perhaps there are some smart people practicing medicine. there are smart people at state medical associations and county medical associations. if someone can provide data on an alternative payment method, they're perfectly then able to bring that to the secretary of health and human services. they will evaluate it. if they deny, they've got to tell the group why it was denied, so perhaps they can go back and recalculate. but i'd say this was going to open a new day. rather than just having smart people in cubicles over at hhs decide what are the great ways we can do in payment reform actually engage the people who are responsible for delivering the care.
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>> host: and we showed the headline of democratic and republican leaders reaching across the aisle on this doc fix legislation. what's the current cosponsor count? do you think you have the votes to move in this week? -- this this week? >> guest: yes, is the short answer to your question. and, look, here's the, here's the bottom line, this is a chance to do something that ever since i got here 12 years ago congresses have been attempting to do, either deal with, offset or postpone problems with related to the sustainable growth rate. so the fact that this is going to be once and for all removed from the milieu up here that's extremely important. a lot of bad policy has been attached to a fast-moving doc fix bill that's run through the floor, and i do hope people are cognizant of that as well. as far as cosponsors, i know we do have the chairman and ranking member of the three committees of jurisdiction energy and commerce -- the committee that i sit on -- ways and means on the
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house side, senate finance over on the senate side. so there is, there are, there is significant support. obviously, both the speaker and the house minority leader are both working on trying to put the finishing touches on what this, what this will look like as it comes to the floor. extremely important that they listen to the the people on their sides who have concerns about this. because at the end of the day, i want a big vote, but i also want this sgr repealed. i want us to be able to talk about other things. i want us to be able to talk about cures and getting people well vaccination rates. not every year pulling our hair out over the sustainable growth rate formula. and look how pernicious it is. you're a doctor in practice, a two, three four five-group practice, every year as you try to look across the horizon to the future, you don't know what your payment rate is going to be in medicare, or is this the year that the 22, 23% pay cut is
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going to come through the medicare system? it's hard to go to your banker and say, you know i'd like to expand my practice, add another doctor buy some equipment. here's my pro forma, but i could get a 20% pay cut this year. that doesn't fly. nowhere else in any business would someone be asked to behave like that. >> host: let's head just outside of minneapolis to eden prairie, minnesota. nancy's waiting, line for republicans. nancy, good morning. >> caller: good morning. i just want to find out why you got sidelined. you were going to explain what extenders or extensions were versus the schip, and i'm waiting for a response to that. and also when you say attenuation, i think attention would be just a fine word to use too. so please explain these extensions. thank you. >> guest: the extenders are there's a variety of them. transitional medical assistance is an example, there is a
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smoothing mechanism for someone who may go on and off of a medicaid arrangement because of changes in salary that can occur during the course of the year. i believe there are also some of the extenders applied to durable, the cost of durable medical equipment and again, there are a varian the i of extenders that every year are just sort of packaged and along for the ride. not that they're bad policy but each one ought to be looked at and judged on its own merit and not just simply be along for the ride on what is a must-pass doc fix bill every year. >> host: and not exactly an extender but another provision included in this package to move 7.2 billion for community health measures. want you to respond to some concerns from some members of congress about language that could be included in there to restrict abortion rights.
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there was a statement from the finance committee chairman, ron wyden, in the senate saying there's been talk of including an abortion policy rider. he says that's a complete nonstarter, that has no place in a bill about access to care for america's seniors and children. >> guest: let's remember this bill is all about access. the provision that allows for funding for the community health centers, again, one of the funding cliffs that you encounter in the affordable care act which is actually being backfilled by this legislation similar to the state children's health insurance program. the reality is the hyde amendment language is what he's talking about there, prohibiting federal funds being used to pay for abortions. that is already in, in the funding for any community health center that is funded through the appropriations process. this is no different than business as usual. but, again do remember fundamentally every aspect of this bill is about access; access for seniors, access for kids, access for people in the community health centers.
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so it is an access bill. >> host: delano is up next, conway missouri, line for democrats. delano, good morning. >> caller: thank you very much for c-span. i can buy a cpap machine breathing apparatus, for one-third of what my insurance has to pay for it. why can't i do that? another problem, i went -- >> host: hey delano, he'll answer that, and then we'll get to your other question. >> guest: in fact, you can do that, because i do that myself. not wanting to disclose too much sensitive medical information, but purchase of a cpap machine, if a person has what's called a health savings account where you can draw the money out of an account to offset that cost a much more sensible way to go about that. i'm in your corner on that one. if i could expand health savings accounts -- and i do have a bill to do that -- actually, that would be one of the things it's not part of the sustainable growth rate repeal but that's one of the things i'd very much like to do because you're right, you pay for it up front
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it's a lot cheaper than renting it or letting your insurance company buy it. >> host: delano, go ahead. >> caller: i go for a skin doctor every year for a premaintenance cancer thing. anyway, i got the bill back, it was $557, and the doctor only got $57. where in the world did all the other money go? >> guest: well, not knowing more about the explanation of benefits you received back, this is -- when i referenced the fact that medicare does actually set prices medicare will set the price for that physician/patient interaction, probably a return patient medium intensity, whatever code that is, and the allowable charge of medicare is $50. it doesn't matter what the doctor writes on the chart, the amount that medicare is going to reimburse is what medicare is going to reimburse. and under current law a doctor who is a personning provider -- participating provider under
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medicare is not allowed to bill the difference what the doctor will usually charge or customary. again,s that is a -- that is a problem, and i hear from docs in particular a hot about that. a lot about that. this is one of the problems that you encounter when you allow the federal government to set the prices. >> host: kent is up in graham texas. line for independents. kent, good morning. >> caller: good morning. mike, i have trouble believing your sincerity. i wish you'd straight talk more. you just now talked about a charge master's just going to pay so much regardless. well, the most valuable person in a doctor's practice is that person that does the coding for them. i was amazed last year, and by the way, in april when we get the 2013 medicare payments, one of our fellas got a little over $343,000 from medicare. and by the way, you say they
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don't like medicare, they've learned to love medicare patients because of the money they can get out of the government for that. bun of the codes -- but one of the codes was an iron injection and i did the arithmetic on it, and that was 53 iron shots a day, and i have it hard to believe that physician did 53 iron shots a day. i think your sustainable growth, doesn't that indicate growth if they're being paid more money anyway? tell us what you're really talking about. you're saying that rate is not high enough and the doctors think they need more money than what they're being paid? >> guest: well, the point that the gentleman brings up is the sustainable growth rate formula by ratcheting down reimbursement every year has tended to drive utilization; that is, if you have fixed office costs that you have to make. but the other things that he's touching on and i don't think he quite said it is what about transactions that occur that are not legitimate. and that has been one of the big
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problems in medicare and medicaid for that matter is what about expend -- expenditures that really should not have been submitted? >> host: examples. >> guest: well, he gave with an example of someone who would have given, i forget the number he used but more iron shots than a human body could possibly absorb in a finite amount of time. and you know this type of practice occurs. if you had predictive modeling, you know visa and mastercard are pretty good about ferreting out fraudulent or inappropriate transactions. you can get a call from your visa or mastercard provider about unusual activity on your card. it is beyond me why there is not a predictive modeling regimen within the center for medicare and medicaid services that will identify these types of outliers and, essentially stop them before you start. medicare now, it pays all the
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bills that come across the counter, and then later on if it sees something that, hey we don't think this was legitimate it will try to track down that money. paying chase is the popular term that's used. everywhere else in the world has gone to predictive modeling. realistically, cms should as well. >> host: a comment from wild and wonderful on twitter many doctors have more staff working in billing than working in care delivery. too bad congress won't ask why. >> guest: well, i think congress has asked why. that is one of the things that has led to trying to get out from under this particular problem. you're not going to solve all of the problems with this, but this goes a long way towards getting that done. >> host: vera lee is waiting in south plainfield, new jersey. line for independents. good morning. >> caller: good morning. >> guest: good morning. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. my problem with what's going on in congress is that medicare is a result of forced savings by
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the government. i paid for medicare insurance for when i retire, but there is one way to get rid of to get rid of the budget problem. we have people in congress and in the senate if they can spend millions of dollars to get elected, they can put their hand in their pocket and pay for their own insurance. the only people who we should be paying insurance for, the government are the people who work in state or who have state and federal jobs who do not make $100,000 and something a year. i made a whole lot less than that, and i had to pay cobra $300 something a month for myself. these people in congress and the senate can afford to pay their own insurance. they've seen the hardship. get them off the federal dole. they can afford to do better and that money can go towards medicare.
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>> host: wants to put you on cobra and your colleagues. >> guest: well, in fact, the federal government does not pay for my insurance. special deal that was available that the president and the majority leader harry reid made for members of congress about a year and a half ago i said that's not right. i don't think that any other citizen would have the ability to receive a subsidy and lock it into the exchange. so i exempted myself, and i just went through like everyone else in october of 2013 most miserable experience i've ever had in my life trying to get an individual policy on the federal marketplace. as a consequence now, i'm paying $700 a month as a health insurance premium not offset, not subsidized. for that i get the opportunity then to cover a $6,000 deductible every year. my, my life was certainly not made better by the affordable care act. i appreciate the president said he wanted to fix things for people.
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i suspect there are a lot of people in the very same situation that i am who find that life is much harder now under the affordable care act. >> host: a chart with stats on the affordable care act from the washington times looking at the states that took up the medicaid expansion, the percentage of americans without health insurance in the five years under the affordable care act. that's noting that 9.7 million fewer uninsured, there are 9.7 million fewer uninsured americans since march 23, 2010. also looking at the tax credits, the cost of the marketplace health coverage in that chart as well. if you want to look up those numbers, it's in today's washington times. let's go to carol in salisbury north carolina line for republicans. carol, good morning. you're on with congressman burgess. >> caller: yes. i'm not sure that the people out there realize exactly what's going on out here or if they do
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realize why they are letting this go the way it is. >> caller: my insurance company's fighting backwards and forwards on which one was supposed to be paying the deal. after -- and being so sick after a while i got so tired of arguing and having to be on phone, here i was sick and i was having to fight with insurance people over who was to pay the bill. well at that point i just said,
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well, we'll drop this expensive insurance where my husband works. they'd already dropped my insurance where i worked, and i wound up on nothing but medicare. and at that point no doctors or hospitals want to deal with you at all because they don't get paid for their services. so you wind up -- and there's no winning game out here for the -- and i'm now 71, and i basically am with humana, and i have absolutely -- they don't want to pay your prescriptions, they don't want to pay your doctors. you virtually are just sitting out here with doctors that don't -- and hospitals that don't want to deal with you. they know exactly what you've got wrong with 'em and what you need to have done, but they know that they're going to get so little money for it that they just throw you aside because they've got so many other patients out here that have
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insurance that's going to pay them something. >> host: thanks for sharing your story. congressman burgess, your thoughts. >> guest: well the -- that is, what she's describing is a conundrum and the problem that's created with the fixed pricing in medicare and the problem that has been compounded every year when congress looks at the prospect of having a 2122 or 23% increase. they are likely to do better from the financial aspect that month. you know, it's -- this will not fix all of those problems, but at least it puts a back stop into what has been perennially one of the most corrosive problems in the practice of medicine and that is every year is congress going to cut my paycheck. >> if viewers want to follow this on the floor this week,
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what day are you expecting the debate to happen? >> guest: i am expecting the debate in the rules committee on wednesday at 3, beginning at 3:00 eastern -- >> host: of which you are a member. >> guest: of which i am a member so you might hear from me again. and then the debate on the floor, my understanding is -- and all these times are tentative of just like c-span -- we'll gun on the floor at nine -- given on the floor at nine a.m. aaron on thursday and with passage of the rule about an hour later, then the debate will on the bull -- occur on the bill itself, and that will occur likely sometime between 11 and 1 eastern time on thursday. >> host: try to get in one or two more calls, saeed is waiting, line for independents. good morning. >> caller: hi. good morning sir. i'm a physician, i'm a psychiatrist child psychiatrist. at this time of history, at this age in 2015 we have enough
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medications for different psychiatric problems like depression anxiety, schizophrenia that we treat the patients more properly in internal medicine rather than going through different medications and trying each one of them. when i prescribe a medication to patients after like two, three hours of evaluation my prescription goes to pharmacy and immediately gets rejected by insurance company, the managed care company and they offer a medication from '50s and '6s which one bottle of that -- '60s which one bottle of that can kill depressed and suicidal patients. or make them so agitated that they can get a gun and shoot people in order for them to get shot and killed. so what is my function in the middle of all these for evaluating patients and prescribing if a high school graduate is sitting there with a
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list in front of them and totally kind of stops my treatment and offers a medication that in '50s and '6s and after that so many people attempted -- committed suicide by that and also gets them so agitated that lots of these aimless shootings and killings in college in church, in school is as a result of people are being put on wrong medication that make them so agitated so restless the condition is called -- [inaudible] which makes people want to jump out of their skin. >> host: congressman burgess, give you a chance to respond. >> guest: of course, he's not talking about the medicare system so nothing that's pending in an sgr repeal will likely change that. but what he is talking about is -- and this has been a difficulty for years -- physician writes the
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prescription, and even if you put on the prescription pad no substitutions, generic prescribing not permitted sometimes the insurance companies tell the patient, this is covered, this is not. and the patient then participates in the decision well, i want the one where i only have to pay the $5 co-pay. you are likely going to see more of that activity as an unfortunate consequence, an unintended consequence of the affordable care act, the tier of medications now has become greatly expanded, and you'll read articles about the 32% of dollars spent on medications are for that specialty tier of medications. so it is, that is a looming crisis out there. not part of what we're talking about fix on the floor of the -- fixing on the floor of the house this week, but more in general. you know, as a physician it's my job to be the advocate for my patients and if that means
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spending time on an 800-number i don't want to do it, i've got a busy day, i've got patients waiting for me, but that's one of the things you have to do. you have to advocate for your patient, no, this patient cannot take this medication which i think is what he's talking about and explain the reason why. under current law there is the right of appeal and, certainly state commissioners of insurance -- if it is an individual policy that is governed by a state board of insurance -- there are avenues to pursue. does it take time? yes. is that unfortunate? yes. again, but that is a problem that is not going to go away and, in fact, may have been made worse under the affordable care act. >> host: the permanent medicare doc fix legislation is h.r. 1470. one of the cosponsors -- one of the original sponsors congressman michael burgess, and doctor, thank you so much for your time on "washington journal." >> guest: it went fast. thank you. thanks for having me on.
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>> well, the senate's back at 2:15 for more work on the 2016 budget resolution. earlier today house republicans met and members spoke after the caucus. [inaudible conversations] >> good morning. long before i served on the budget committee, i got a crash course in budgeting 101 as a single working mom. in those years raising three children on a nurse's salary, it taught me to live within my means and stretch my dollars and, frankly, i didn't have much of a choice.
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unfortunately, that concept is lost for many here in washington. for example, the president's latest budget would never balance despite the fact that it's calling for $2 trillion in new taxes. house republicans believe that we can do better, and that's why this week the house will vote on a balanced budget for a stronger america. our plan brings our books to balance in less than ten years without raising taxes. importantly for me as a nurse this budget would also fully repeal obamacare and giving us an opportunity to start over on health care reforms that put patients and their doctors in charge. not washington bureaucrats. families and businesses know what it's like to live within the real world of budgeting, and we believe it's time that washington learned to do the same. >> the president's health care
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law is five years olding and while it isn't cute like a real 5-year-old, it is clumsy, way more expensive than we'd hoped, and we need to keep it under close supervision, or it's likely to cause a lot of destruction. americans need a health care law built on their priorities, not those dictated from washington and on the whims of an executive who is inclined to overreach. five years of increased cost and wasteful bureaucratic problems is simply far too long. that is why the house has put forward the responsible budget that completely repeals the president's disastrous health care law in full including all of its tax increases, all the regulations and all the mandates. our budget paves the way for a better alternative that empowers americans by letting you choose the health care plan that fits your needs and by reducing costs and improving access through choice and competition.
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>> as lynn just noted, this week marks the five-year anniversary of the president's health care law, and despite the promises five years later, this legislations has not delivered what was promised. i wanted just to read some words from different corners of the country, voices that i believe deserve to be heard. a woman from georgia writes: i'm a 52-year-old i widow and only make $8.79 an hour. i lost my insurance and cannot afford to pay for it. a man from pennsylvania says: my family's health coverage was canceled and my new health care premiums increased 85% thanks to obamacare. a husband from california writes: our health care costs were affordable until this law became -- until this law came along. now the increase in cost puts a serious hurt on our budget. and a young man, family from my home state in washington, was
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overbilled by the state exchange and for three days didn't have the money they needed for food, gas or medicine. people are different, but the stories are repeated all across the country. obamacare's made lives worse. and that's why our balanced budget for a stronger america is so important. we're bringing it to the floor this week. it repeals obamacare, and it makes government accountable to you. american families all across this country balance their money to pay the bills. they afford, you know so that they can afford the co-pays at the doctor's office and send their kids to school. families have to prioritize. they have to save, they have to live within their means. the federal government needs to do our part. >> this is an important week in the house as we get ready to pass a budget tomorrow and then also move forward and completely repeal the sgr on thursday while also putting in place mandatory spending reforms that we haven't seen in decades reforms that
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will actually strengthen medicare for seniors. and if you look at our budget it's not only an important vision document that lays out our priorities and our plans to get our country back on the path to a balanced budget, as well as the kind of economic reforms that are needed to get hard working taxpayers the relief they need from a heavy-handed federal government and also to get our economy back on track. but there's something else that is in our budget that's very important to how things today in washington and -- work today in washington, and that is the reconciliation process that allows us to send a repeal of obamacare to president obama's desk with 51 votes in the senate. and as we look at the five-year anniversary yesterday of obamacare and how it's devastated families how it's caused millions of people across this country to lose the good health care that they have while facing higher costs and fewer. doctors to choose from, american people know how devastating that law is. so the strength of having a budget that lays out those priorities to tackle real
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problems that our country's facing, get our budget balanced again, get our economy moving again and also set the stage for repeal of obamacare and the ability to actually replace it with patient-centered performance. >> there's a lot that happens in this house that shows contrast, but there's no greater contrast than this week. a budget is a vision, it's a desire for the future. but it shows a contrast between republicans and democrats. there'll be a lot of budgets on the floor, some progressive, cbc, but only one final budget will pass. that budget balances. that budget doesn't have tax increases. that's difference between republican budget, the president's budget and the democrats. theirs has tax increases and theirs never balances. we believe in a future for this country, and we believe it could even be better than today.
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>> delivering a balanced budget that helps create more jobs, strengthens our economy, frankly, prosecute ground up. stark contrast to the president's budget which never balances, full of tax increases and a lot, lot more spending. we're also going to act week to strengthen medicare and make the first real structural entitlement reforms in nearly two decades. for washington this means the end of the doc fix. procedures, it means a stronger health care system and better health care, and for taxpayers it means real savings. >> [inaudible] >> i read that story this morning and, frankly, i was a
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bit shocked because there's no information revealed to me whatsoever. >> [inaudible] >> yeah, our whip counts have never been off on the floor. we're whipping the sgr vote today, so we're going to have a whip on the floor today for the vote on thursday, and we're continuing to work through questions that members have on the budget. frankly, our members have actually been coming together and the agreement that was reached last week between chairman pryce and chairman thornberry to represent the bond between our fiscal and defense hawks so we could bring a budget
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forward to the floor that actually satisfied the requests of both sides of our conferences to bring them together is going to be a very important moment for our conference that, again, budgets always a visionary document, but i think you're going to see a very unified house ore palin conference on the floor -- republican conference on the floor wednesday when we pass that budget and send it over to the senate. >> why would you wear socks that look like that? [laughter] i thought the circus was coming to town. >> they're actually here. [laughter] >> well, you better go catch up with the elephants. [laughter] do we have any more questions? that's nice. >> [inaudible] is it -- >> i was shocked by the fact that there were reports in this press article that information was being passed on from the
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israelis to members of congress. i'm not aware of that at all. >> [inaudible] >> i'm not sure what the information was but i'm baffled by it. >> [inaudible] are you confident that -- [inaudible] >> yeah, i feel i feel good about where we are with the doc fix. i have to say that the conversations that mrs. pelosi and i have had and now for the last two and a half months have been productive, they've been open, they've been honest. and while a lot of people wanted to weigh in from the other body and, frankly, from our own body, we've done a pretty good job of crafting, i think a very solid package. and i should make clear that we have no intentions of passing any kind of a short-term doc fix. we're -- we've got a good
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product, we're going to pass it here on thursday, and i hope the senate will move it as quickly as possible. >> last question. >> mr. mr. speaker, any reaction to senator ted cruz -- [inaudible] >> i have i have a real job to do right here. >> can you talk about -- [inaudible] >> i believe in the numbers, the budget that will pass. i think the way we're considering all of these budgets -- both democrat and republican budgets -- is, frankly, the most most democratic small d, way you can consider this. you know, the budget alternative that gets the most votes is what goes to final passage and i think that's a great way to do it. jonathan. >> [inaudible]
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>> well, i don't know that there is great opposition, at least not that i'm aware of. he may have some concerns -- [inaudible] we'll see. thanks. >> the if you missed any of this briefing, you can see it in it entirety, go to in a moment we'll go live to the senate floor as senators continue debate on amendments on the 2016 budget resolution. votes are scheduled for this afternoon at 4:30 eastern and now live to the senate floor. ms. mikulski: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: madam president i call up my amendment 362. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from maryland ms. mikulski, proposes
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an amendment numbered 362. ms. mikulski: madam president i ask that further reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. mikulski: madam president i would like to -- my amendment is about paycheck fairness, a topic i know the gentlelady is -- from nebraska is absolutely familiar with. and i come to the floor to finish the job that we began with lilly ledbetter to end pay discrimination in the workplace once and for all. that's why i'm offering this amendment, based on the bill that i've offered in the past three congresses. it's called the paycheck fairness act. my senate colleagues and i want to be sure that women get a raise, and the way we want to do that is to put more money in the family checkbook by putting change in the federal law book. my amendment will do three
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things. number one, it will stop retaliation in the workplace for sharing pay information. for years the famous lilly ledbetter was harassed and humiliated just for asking questions about her coworkers' salaries. in many workplaces around the country, you are forbidden to discuss sharing pay information even if you're the same lab technician computer operator, or others. this would stop retaliation simply for asking not only what do you make but what do others doing the same work do. it stops supporters also from using any reason to pay women less. oh they're breadwinners. oh he's a family man. oh gee, that he they they do a harder
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job when it is the same job. we have to make sure it is equal bayh pay for equal work. this bill also includes punitive danls for women who have been discriminated against. when the only deterrent against pay discrimination is the threat of paying women back pay discrimination can be just factored into the cost of doing business and treating it like loose change. now people say to me, hey senator barb, you led the fight on lilly ledbetter to make sure we had equal pay for equal work? didn't we solve that problem? well we made a good first dent. that bill kept the courthouse doors open for women who were discriminated against so that there wouldn't be a statute statute of limitations as defined by an original supreme court decision. but that was only a down payment. what this amendment does is says we need to change the law so that lily wouldn't have had to
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sue in the first place. this amendment says put an end to the incentives that cause employers to think paying women less is just loose change. this amendment would close loopholes in the law which allow pay discrimination to occur in the first place. it also would put an end to paycheck secrecy. yes, paycheck secrecy that makes it harder to uncover discrimination. it also would prohibit retaliation against women for even talking about pay differences loopholes that often stop women who have endured discrimination from being fairly compensated. you know, what are the facts? women still earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. it's even worse for women of color. african-american women earn 67 cents for every dollar. hispanic women earn 54 cents.
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for women closer to the age of retirement the wage gap increases to more than $ed -- $14,000 a year. it not only affects their way but it affects their retirement and social security. when you earn less, you get less in your social security benefit because you are making smaller contributions to your retirement retirement. women's social security benefits are about 71% of men's benefits, and that's not because of the mommy factor where women have taken time out of the workplace and the marketplace to be in the home with their children. women earn 23 cents less for every dollar a man earns even when she does the same job and has the same education. women don't get a 23% discount on their student loans. they don't get a 23% dis-clownts count on their -- discount on
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their utility bill. they don't get a 23% discount on their mortgage. so we end up paying the bill just for our ability to work. madam president, i could go on and tell you compelling stories about my constituents who have shared them with me. la toyia weaver -- and i hear from her -- she told me that she -- well, first of all she lives in great mills maryland, a single parent to three children. she worked in guest services at a hotel. she found out that her pay of $8 an hour -- $8 an hour -- was $2 less than new males in the same position. so a new guy working in the same job doing the same thing was paid $2 more. that makes a big difference when you're making $8 than making $10. ms. weaver filed an eeoc lawsuit and she prevailed.
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and you can't have to necessarily go to eeoc on every days. there was donna smith who lives on maryland's eastern shore. she worked as a retail clerk. she was also told thought not to discuss her -- she was also told not to discuss her wages but when she found out she was paid less than male clerks, a guy clerk whom she actually trained and was doing the same exact job -- again all the effort to go to the eeoc, found out that two other female workers were also discriminated against. no one would have known donna had she not sought out that information. so we can see that paycheck fairness is absolutely needed. madam president, there is a lot of mythology out there about the paycheck fairness act. number one -- myth number one: that the bill would require
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employers to cut the salaries of their male glees. -- male employees. employers are prohibited from lowering the wages of men to make up for the wages of women. another myth: that the bill is unnecessary. for american women who work full time are paid only 70 cents for every dollar made to their male counterparts it spheeks for itself. the wage gap is not merely a matter of choice in their occupation. they are paid less in the same occupation with the same education. here is another myth, that the bill would subject employers to criminal penalties for refusing to close wage information. no part of this bill provides for criminal penalties for employers for any conduct. there is no criminal penalty in this
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bill. the bill also -- another myth is that the government will require -- the bill would require the government to set salaries for federal employees. again, nothing in the paycheck fairness act allows federal government to set salaries for a public or a private employer. so, madam president i think that speaks for itself, and i have a factual document from the national women's law center. i ask unanimous consent that it be included in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. mikulski: so, madam president, here we are 2015. it's been almost 50 years since the first equal pay for -- bill was passed. for 50 years we've tried to play financial catch-up to get paid equal pay for equal work. and every time we make a reform,
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there's always other loopholes. we want to close the loopholes. we want to -- we want to end discrimination. we want to end retaliation. and, most of all, we want to end the fact that women often end up in their whole lifetime earning less. it affects the way they raise their family, it affects the way they pay into their pension the way they pay into their social security. and now we need to pay our respects to them and pass the paycheck fairness bill. madam president i yield the floor. mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: thank you. i want to thank senator mikulski for offering this really important amendment because i believe that real long-term economic growth is built from the middle out not the top down. and our government and our economy should be working for all families, not just the wealthiest few. we in congress need to be focused on raising wages and
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expanding economic security and making sure our workers have the opportunity to work hard and succeed, and that's exactly what the amendment that the senator from maryland has offered will do. it would build on the promise of the equal pay act to help close the pay gap between men and women. today on nearly half of our workforce isn't earning equal pay for equal work. in fact, women across the country, as we know, get paid just 78 cents for every dollar a man makes for the same work. that's not just unfair to women it hurts our families, it hurts our economy and we need to fix it. last year at a nearing in the health education labor and pensions committee we heard from a woman named carey. for five years kerrey worked for an auto snrier as a supervisor. she liked her job did it well, her boss gave her glowing performance reviews for work. but when the auto industry ran
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into trouble her company had to file for bankruptcy and it was through those bankruptcy court reports that carrie found out she was making significantly less than the men she super supervised. after all those years of hard work she found out her employer valued her work less just because she was a woman. she said she was heartbroken and embarrassed. but more than that, she told our committee last year that those years of lost wages affected her family for the rest of the her life. and she's not alone. across the country pay discrimination hurts women and families' ability to make ends meet and get ahead in the workplace. i want to thank the senator from maryland for her extraordinary leadership in the fight for equal pay and for bringing this important amendment forward today. this amendment will help move us towards an economy where women get a fair shot at pay equity in the workplace and set us up to tackle pay discrimination
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head-on. madam president pay discrimination, by the way isn't just unfair to women. it's bad for our families, and it's a real and persistent problem that hurts our economy. women's role in our economy has shifted dramatically in the last few decades. women now make up half of our workforce. 60% of families depend on earnings from both parents. more than ever today women are likely to be the primary breadwinners in their families. so we've got to make sure that working women can succeed in today's economy because their success is critical to families' economic security and to our nation'snation's security as a whole. closing the pay gap between men and women would add $446 billion to our economy. i hope we can all agree that in the 21st century workers should be paid fairly for the work they do, regardless of their gender. and i hope we can agree that we
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need to expand economic security for more families. that should be our mission to move our country forward. this amendment supports the basic principle of fairness in the workplace. it would help women families, and our nation's economy. and, madam president i just want to make this clear: i am urging my colleagues to vote for the mikulski amendment. the only proposal on the table right now that would move us towards a real solution to this problem. senator mikulski has been our leader on this issue and i hope republicans will join democrats on real solutions and work with us to create jobs, increase wages, and expand economic security that benefits all workers and families, not just the wealthiest few. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. mr. durbin: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: madam president this is an important moment in the senate each year, because we try to define what our values are and the way we spend our
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money. if you want to know a family's value, take a look at the family budget. are they putting some money away for the young son or daughter to go to college? making sure they can own a hoarnlings pay their bills on a regular basis or are they wasting 00 money on things they can't afford? the budget tells a story about values. and this budget presented by the republicans tells another story. it tells a story about america's future. i have a friend of mine in springfield, illinois, been a friend for years and years. ten years ago his wife was diagnosed with alzheimer's. his life changed dramatically. he could no longer go to work on a regular basis he devoted every waking minute to his wife. she is still alive today and struggling. but that family was different. their lives were different. families just like his family
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across america learn about the diagnosis of alzheimer's every day. you know how often we diagnose an american with alzheimer's? once every 68 seconds. the millions who now are afflicted by that disease many of them have a very tough future ahead of them and their families with them. what's that got to do with this political debate? it has a lot to do with it. it has to do with some basic things. first, should we continue to cut the money for medical research in america? the republican budget says yes. we can't afford medical research. really? well last year we spent $200 billion in medicare and medicaid on alzheimer's victims alone. $200 billion. and when we asked for $3 billion or $4 billion for more medical research in the hopes we can
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find a way to delay the onset of alzheimer's or god willing even find a cure for it, we're more than -- we're more than paid back the money we invested in research. but the republican budget says that's just something we can't afford in america today. and when it comes to those who are suffering from alzheimer's how do they get by? many of them get by with medicare which, of course, is the insurance policy for the elderly and disabled. but this budget cuts medicare. many a low-income -- many low-income victims of that disease and many others rely on medicaid but this budget makes dramatic cuts in medicaid. that's the vision that the republicans present to us in their budget. the vision of an america that cannot afford to do the research to find cures for diseases like alzheimer's, cancer diabetes the list goes on.
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and they see an america where we cannot afford to help people who are struggling to get by. this budget proposes taking 26 million americans off of health insurance. let me repeat that. 26 million americans off of health insurance. is that the answer to america's future? have you ever been the father of a sick child and not have health insurance? i have. i'll never forget it as long as i live. i felt helpless. and worried that my little daughter was not going to get the right care that she needed. thank god the day came when i was covered with health insurance, and could get her the best. but i think about the millions of americans who never saw that day and the fact that 26 million americans would lose health insurance because of the republican budget. we're a better nation than that.
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we should prepare for a better future than one where the have-not's are growing in number. the sad reality though, is the republican budget though it answers it's political prayer and eliminates the affordable care act still collects the revenue for affordable care act. they'll never be able to explain that one to us. and how will they explain to millions of seniors under medicare they are eliminating the program that reduces the cost of prescription drugs? these are seniors on fixed incomes trying to stay healthy and independent at home who depend on drugs that could be pretty expensive. the republican budget eliminates that provision in the affordable care act which helps those seniors pay for their prescription drugs the so-called doughnut hole. as you go through this lengthy list of what the republicans have done in their budget, i have to ask them, is their vision of america with fewer
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people having health insurance with fewer seniors being able to afford the prescription drugs they need to get by? cutting in medicaid where we provide prenatal care for moms so the baby is healthy. gore goodness sake, it's not only the right thing to do, it's the economic thing to do. a sick baby is a tough challenge for any family but it's a challenge for all of us, the medical bills that that premature baby with a problem might incur far exceed the cost of good prenatal care so mom's healthy and so is the baby. but that's another area of cutbacks when it comes to this republican budget. this budget is certainly not going to become the law of the land. i think even some republicans will have a struggle trying to vote for it or explain it. more importantly though, i hope this budget is a chance for us to have a conversation about
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what middle income america is going to look like in the future. i think that's the key to america's success. we talk a lot about income inequation. to put it in a few words it means a lot of families are working hard every single darn day and can't make their ends meet. they're living paycheck to paycheck. what are we doing for them? this republican budget cuts the available college assistance for their kids to go to school. that doesn't help that middle-income family. this republican budget doesn't invest in america when it comes to education. cutting back on the help to schools to make sure that they're producing graduates with the skills to compete in the 21st century. so if we really want to focus on helping middle-income families, we can't vote for this republican budget. it is a set of priorities for them which america really can't accept. we need to work, as senator sanders has said, our ranking member on the budget committee
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we need to work to give middle-income families in this country a fighting chance. this bill does not. this bill sadly makes too many cuts in too many critical areas. i'm going going to offer many to this -- an amend to this bill. see if you like it. my colleagues get to vote on it. here's what it says. we have a tax code of provisions to encourage businesses to do certain things. we give them deductions, credits, incentives to do things to drill for oil to build wind turbines, to do so many things, some good, some bad, depends on your point of view. here's what i suggest. i suggest we put a provision in our tax code that says we will provide a tax credit to companies that stay in the united states, don't bail out and head to a foreign country companies that invest in american jobs by maintaining or increasing the number of workers
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in the united states compared to the number of workers overseas, secondly you'll get a tax credit if your corporation pays fair wages by paying most employees a wailing so that a family of three doesn't have to depend on the government for a safety net program. that's about $15 an hour. your company keeps jobs in the united states and pays about $15 an hour as a minimum we'll give you a tax credit. and then we say provide quality health insurance for your employees. who would disagree with that one? and prepare your workers for retirement by companies providing a pension or 401(k) plan with fair employer contributions and last point your company supports our veterans our troops and people with disabilities by giving them a chance to work there. how about those companies? from where i'm sitting those are patriotic american companies that deserve a break in the tax
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code as much if not more than any other company. i'm going to bring that to the floor. let me colleagues vote on it. i hope that we can get a bipartisan consensus that we ought to create incentives for companies to stay in the united states to employ americans to pay a good wage, health insurance and pensions, and give a break to the veterans and people with disabilities who are applying for jobs. let's have some priorities that reflect the future of a growing, solid america an america with a growing middle class. i yield the floor. mr. sanders: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: madam president i rise in very strong support of senator mikulski's amendment on equal pay for equal work, for the women of our country. senator mikulski has been a
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tireless advocate for policies that bolster the american middle class and has been a champion for many many years for pay equity for women and i thank her very much for all that she has done and i also want to concur with the strong remarks of senator murray who has also been a champion for pay equity. to my mind, it is very hard to defend the current reality in which women continue to earn 78 cents on the dollar compared to men. and that's what we want to end that discrimination against women workers. this is an issue of justice but it is also an issue of economics because when we establish pay equity in this country, equal pay for equal work millions of women will receive higher pay and many of them and their families will leave the ranks of the poor. so this is an extraordinarily
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important amendment for justice, it's an important amendment for economic rights. madam president, the pay gap that we see in this country is found at every level of education, at every stage of a career so no matter how hard women work, it is next to impossible to overcome it because they move up the ranks but they're still -- there's still pay inequity. the pay equity gap has significant bearing on the economic status of female-led households. only 18% of families headed by single moms have economic security. only 18% of families headed by single moms have economic security. female-headed households are twice as likely to live in poverty as male-headed households and more than half of poor children live in
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female-hided households. it is no surprise that a lifetime of lower earnings results in fewer retirement savings and lower social security benefits for women. senior women are twice as likely as senior men to live in poverty, and the average senior woman receives approximately $4,000 less a year than a senior man. senior women are more likely than senior men to rely on social security as their sole source of income, especially if they are unmarried. madam president, my state of vermont has done better than most in terms of pay equity, and, in fact, is first in the nation in making sure that women get equal pay for equal work. but even in the state of vermont, which leads the nation in this area, women in my state
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are still only earning 91 cents for every dollar that a male makes. so we have done better than the rest of the country, we have more to do, but the rest of the country has a whole lot more to do if we are going to fulfill the promise of equal pay for equal work. so madam president, i hope very much that we will all be supporting senator mikulski's very important amendment. madam president, in terms of the overall republican budget and i say this in all due respect, one of the reasons i suspect that media is not particularly interested in this budget is when they look at it they find it to be so preposterous so unbelievable, so unrealistic that nobody really takes it seriously and certainly many of the major
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provisions in it are not going to be turned into law. let me go out on the limb that i think i am fairly safe in saying that president obama is not going to sign legislation that abolishes obamacare. maybe i'm wrong but i think it is fairly same to say that. but the republican budgeways a whole lot of time and energy by proposing the repeal of obamacare. and let me tell you what the repeal of the affordable care act would mean in this country. and i know people will think i'm exaggerating i'm not and if i am not telling the truth, i want my republican friends to come down here when they get the floor to say senator sanders was inaccurate. please tell me that. but we have read the legislation and i am not inaccurate. if you repeal the affordable care act it would eliminate
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health insurance coverage for 16 million people 16 million people would lose the health insurance they currently have. today, we are the only major country on earth that doesn't guarantee health care to all people -- people. despite the modest gains of the affordable care act, 35 million americans have no health insurance so the republicans say 35 million without insurance that's not enough, let's raise that number to 51 million by eliminating the affordable care act. but they go further than that. the republicans say that we should cut medicaid by $400 billion over the next decade. medicaid is the program that provides health insurance for lower-income americans and also, very significantly for older people who are in nursing homes.
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so this is not -- if you think this is just a low-income issue you think it's not a middle middle-class issue think again because that might be your mom who is 90 years of age who is in a nursing home which is being paid by medicaid. could be your dad who is dealing with alzheimer's in a nursing home being paid for by medicaid. and what the republicans propose is a $400 billion cut over the next decade, which would deny health insurance to an additional 11 million americans including millions of children. so you know, my arithmetic may not be too good, but i do think that if you add 16 billion who lose health insurance through the ending of the affordable care act to 11 million who lose health insurance by a $400 billion cut in medicaid, 16 plus
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11 is 26 million americans who would lose health insurance almost doubling the number of people who have health insurance. does anybody in their right mind take this proposal seriously? it is beyond comprehension. it would cause massive chaos disruption in the united states of america. this means that low-income, pregnant women who need to make sure as senator durbin mentioned a moment ago that they get the health care that they need when they are pregnant, they would lose their health insurance. a kid who is in a car which has an automobile accident, that child would lose his or her health insurance. a worker who feels a pain in his chest, needs to go to the doctor doesn't have any health insurance, doesn't go to the doctor dies -- well, that's the result of cutting 27 million people off of health insurance.
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so in a certain sense we needn't discuss the issue terribly much, because it is such an absurd proposal that i don't think there are too many people who would make it seriously. -- who would take it seriously. but we should also understand that when my republican colleagues talk about ending the affordable care act what they are also doing is denying for over 2 million young adults the right to stay on their parents' health insurance plan until the age of 26. as a result of the affordable care act if you are -- previously you would be dropped from health insurance your parents' health insurance when you were 21. the affordable care act keeps you on until 26. so suddenly if you're 24 years of age and you have health insurance through your parents' health program you're gone, you're out. the affordable care act would bring us back to a very dark age
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in america -- america's medical history. and that was the time, not so many years ago before the a.c.a. when if you had a preexisting condition. can you imagine -- now we think it is crazy. it is hard to imagine this existed seven eight years ago. a woman walks into an insurance company looking for health insurance. she said, yes, i had breast cancer ten years ago and i had an operation dealing with breast cancer. the and i insurance company said oh, you had breast cancer? we can't cover you. that might recur. somebody says, i had a heart attack. oh that's a preexisting condition. we don't want you. you might get sick again. incredibly enough then, the people who need insurance the most were people who insurance companies said, sorry, we are not going to provide insurance
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to you. the republican budget brings back those dark days. the republican budget will say to insurance companies again that being a woman is an illness, being pregnant is an illness, and insurance companies will be able to discriminate against women and charge them extra for the crime of being a woman. does that make sense to anybody? i don't think so. but that is, in fact, what is in the republican budget. madam president, we have worked long and hard -- this is an issue that has been dear to my heart for a very long time, and that is the nounal that many of us -- and that the the knowledge that many of our seniors cannot afford the prescription drugs they need because of the power of the pharmaceutical companies in this country. our people are forced to pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.
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and that's just a simple reality and a very serious problem. generic drug prices are soaring. and you have many americans and many seniors who have a have a right of illnesses. the doctor writes a prescription. you remember what happens? i remember talking to a doctor in the northern part of vermont. she said, her guess is that one out of four of her patients do not fill the prescriptions they write because they simply can't afford t and when you're older by definition you're often sicker and you need medicine. the republican budget resolution that we are debating now would increase prescription drug prices for some 4 million seniors and persons with disabilities who are on the medicare part-d program by reopening the doughnut hole. for years we have tried to close that hole, make sure that the elderly do not have to pay for prescription drug costs out of their own pockets. the republican budget would undo the progress that we have made.
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the bottom line of the republican budget suggests the huge philosophical divide that exists in this chamber. but, interestingly enough, i don't think it exists within the american people. and i think the more the american people understand about the republican budget, the more they would understand that something is fundamentally wrong with that budget. where many of us come from is we look at an america in which the wealthiest people are doing phenomenally well. i had a chart up yesterday which was to me extraordinary. it pointed out that in the last two years the 14 -- 14 wealthiest people in this country, all multibillionaires combined saw an increase in their wealth in an two-year period -- 14 people -- of $157
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billion. 14 people in a two-year period, $157 billion increase in their wealth. that's literally beyond comprehension. that increase in wealth in a two-year period is more wealth than the bottom 40% of the american people own in their entirety. some of us believe that when multibillionaires see a huge increase in their wealth such that the top .1% own almost more wealth than the bottom 90% that maybe they should be asked to pay more in taxes. that's what we believe. our republican colleagues disagree. they have nothing of significance to say about income and wealth inequality. and their view is that if you want to deal with the deficit and you want to deal with the
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national debt, the only way to go forward is to make horrendous catastrophic cuts in programs that middle-income and working-class people desperately need programs that they desperately need. so i've talked a little bit about the republican cuts in health care but i also should mention that there are major major cuts in education. i can tell you because i've had a number of town meetings on this issue in my state of vermont that almost all of the young people i talk to are extremely worried about the high cost of college and about the debts that are wrapped around their shoulders when they graduate college. what does the republican budget do to address the crisis of the
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affordability of college and the deep debts that millions of our young people face when they leave school? well instead of addressing the problem, they make it even worse. hard to believe but it is true. the republican budget would eliminate mandatory pell grants. pell grants are the federal program that helps low- and working-class -- low-income and working-class students get help in going to clenl. -- going to college. so at a time when it is harder to afford college the republican proposal eliminates mandatory pell grants, cutting this program by nearly $90 billion over the next ten years which would increase the cost of a college education to for more than 8 million americans. now, what can we say about that? people today can't afford to go to college. students are leaving college deeply in debt. what the republicans say is, well let's cut $90 billion in
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mandatory pell grant funding and increase the cost of a college education for more than 8 million americans. i can tell you that in vermont and throughout this country i know working-class families have very very difficult time finding quality affordable child care. the republican budget addresses this problem by making a bad situation worse and coming forward with a budget which would mean that 110,000 fewer young children would be able to enroll in head start over the next ten years. we need to expand head start. we need to expand preschool education. we need to expand child care. the most important years of a human being's life are zero to four. those little kids need the intellectual and emotional nourishment that good preschool
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education and child care provides them. the republican proposal -- knock 110,000 kids off of head start. under the republican budget, 1.9 million fewer students would receive the academic help they need to succeed in school by cutting about $12 billion in the title 1 education program, which is focused on the needs of lower-income kids. the individuals with disabilities education act would be cut by $10 bsm so here's the -- by $10 billion. so here's the point. at the end of the day what politics is about is which side are you on? are you on the side of millionaires and billionaires and large campaign contributors? or are you on the side of working families who are struggling to keep their heads above water economically, who are trying to figure out how they're going to send they are kids to college trying to figure out how they're going to help take care of their parents trying to figure out how they're
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going to pay their rent or in some cases even pay for their groceries. that's what this debate is about. and what the republicans are saying loudly and clearly is, no the rich are getting phenomenally richer. we're not going to ask them to pay a nickel more in taxes. corporations are enjoying record-breaking profits and you have major corporation after major corporation paying zero in federal income tax because they stash their money in tax havens so they can avoid all taxes to the united states government. well we're not going to ask them to pay a nickel more in taxes. and that is what this debate is about. which side are you on? and i think that the vast majority of the people in this country want the united states senate to stand up for the middle class for the working families of this country and ask the billionaires and the large multinational corporations to start paying their fair share of taxes. and with that, madam president
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i would yield the floor. i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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siz. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president last month president obama released his fiscal year 2016 budget proposal. americans could be frirch for thinking it was -- for given for thinking it was created in a vacuum since it ignores our fiscal reality. when the president took office our debt was $2.6 trillion. for the past six years of the president's administration our national debt has increased by more than $7.5 trillion to a dangerously high $18.2 trillion. that kind of debt slows economic
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growth threatens government programs like social security and medicare and jeopardizes our nation's future. but apparently the president isn't concerned because the president's budget proposal would increase our national debt to a staggering $25 trillion and plus over the next ten years. let me repeat that, mr. president. over the next ten years the president's budget would increase our national debt to more than $25 trillion. mr. president, i don't need to tell the american people that that kind of debt is unsustainable. american families know that you can't keep racking up debt indefinitely and they know that the solution to being in debt is not increasing spending. it's too bad nobody in the white house has that same kind of common sense. mr. president, the president's budget would increase spending by 65% over the next ten years. if a family already in debt tried increasing spending that
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way, they would very quickly end up bankrupt. they'd lose their home, their cars their credit. well the government, mr. president, works the same way. the government may be able to keep up appearances a little longer but sooner or later unchecked government spending results in financial ruin. it's happened in other countries and it will happen here if we don't take action. if we keep racking up debt the way we've been going we're not going to be able to pay for our priorities. social security, medicare, national defense national security infrastructure, all these priorities could face huge cuts if we don't get our nation on a sound fiscal footing. last week senate republicans introduced a budget blueprint for fiscal year 2016 that would balance the budget in ten years and put our nation on a path to fiscal health. instead of ignoring our nation's
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fiscal problems it promotes spending restraint and creates a framework for congress and the president to come together on long-term solutions. while it's not a perfect plan, it doesn't solve every one of our nation's problems, it gets things moving in the right direction. first, the senate republican budget balances. the president's budget never balances not in ten years not in 75 years not ever. the president may think we can keep spending more than we take in indefinitely but the fact is we can't. we need to get to a place where balanced budgets not deficits, are the new normal. under senate republicans' budget our nation would achieve a $3 billion surplus by the year 2025. and our budget encourages honest accounting. for example our budget would provide for the congressional budget office to score legislation increasing the deficit by $5 billion or more not just over ten years but
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over 40. typically the congressional budget office estimates the cost of legislation over a ten-year period but these estimates can be misleading because many pieces of legislation start out costing relatively little but end up costing huge amounts in the long term. by looking at the 40-year cost of legislation instead of the ten year cost, we can get a much clearer view of a bill's true cost and the effect it will have on the debt. our budget also makes economic growth a priority. almost six years after the recession ended millions of americans are still struggling and opportunities for advancement are still few and far between. a big reason for that is the oppressive big-government policies and deficit spending of the obama administration. our budget would help get the government off the back of the economy by limiting the growth of spending and reducing the debt. on the job front senate republicans' budget would pave the way for the removal of
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inefficient and ineffective government regulations that are making it difficult and expensive for many businesses to hire new workers and to create new opportunities. our budget also lays the groundwork for an overhaul of our outdated tax code which needs to be reformed to lessen the tax burden facing families and to encourage businesses to create american jobs. mr. president, yesterday we celebrated the fifth anniversary of the president's budget-busting health care law. five years on the president's health care law has resulted in higher costs lost health care plans, reduced access to doctors, and new burdens on businesses large and small. the health law's latest disasters include incorrect tax forms, dispatched to nearly one million americans and surprise tax bills for tens of thousands of households in this country. it's no surprise that according to a recent poll, nearly 60% of voters have an unfavorable view
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of the democrats' signature law. senate republicans promised the american people that we would do our best to repeal obamacare and replace it with real health care reform and our budget provides the framework for that process to move forward. obamacare has failed to provide the health care solutions that the president promised. it's time to replace this law with reforms that will actually make health care more affordable and accessible and that won't put government between patients and doctors. finally, mr. president our budget would start the process of putting major entitlement programs like social security and medicare on a sounder footing going forward. right now the social security trust fund is headed toward bankruptcy. if we don't take action, social security recipients could be facing a 25% cut in benefits in
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2033. medicare faces similar challenges to those faced by the social security program. under the worst case scenario, the medicare trust fund could become insolvent as early as 2021. that's just six short years away. senate republicans' budget would help preserve medicare by extending the trust fund solvency for an additional five years which would protect retirees' benefits while giving policymakers additional time to ensure that this program provides support to seniors for decades to come. mr. president, our country is not in the best fiscal shape but it's not too late to do something about it. senate republicans have proposed and produced a responsible budget that will fund our nation's priorities while restraining spending growth and driving down our nation's deficit. this budget will give the american people a more efficient, a more effective and
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a more accountable government. and i look forward mr. president, to passing it this week and to getting our nation back on the path to fiscal health which starts with a balanced budget. we can't continue down the path that we are on, mr. president. the american people deserve better. we should give them better. and for the first time in most of the years that i have been here we're actually going to have a budget on the floor of the united states senate that balances in ten years. and that's something i think the american people who sit around their households and sit around their kitchen tables trying to make these hard decisions for themselves and their families, that's what they deserve and that's what they expect, and that's what we're going to deliver. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. mrs. fischer: i ask unanimous
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consent to set aside the pending amendments and call up my amendment number 409. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from nebraska mrs. fischer, proposes an amendment numbered 409. at the appropriate place insert the following -- mrs. fischer: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. fischer: mr. president as a strong supporter of equal pay for equal work, i am pleased to offer this amendment to combat pay discrimination in the workplace. our solution provides a reasonable fact-based approach to equip americans with the knowledge and the tools that they need to fight discrimination. this amendment contains language similar to president obama's april, 2014, executive order clearly stating that employees cannot be punished for exercising their first amendment rights by speaking with
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employers or co-workers about their wages. furthermore, this amendment does not authorize any new federal regulations, nor does it compel employers to disclose salary information. it simply prevents punitive action against employees seeking information. women want good-paying jobs, and that means that we need policies to promote economic growth and opportunities for all americans. mr. president, this is a simple amendment. this is an amendment that would create a deficit-neutral reserve fund to promote equal pay by reinforcing a commitment to existing law. every senator in here supports equal pay for equal work. that is existing law. so this amendment is a chance to
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not just reaffirm support for the principle of equal pay for equal work but also for free speech. this free speech includes the right to discuss wage information with co-workers. this amendment would prevent retaliation from employers against employees who discuss wages with other employees or seek such information from their employers. and importantly this amendment does not authorize any new federal regulations nor does it compel employers to disclose that salary information. it simply prevents punitive action against employees who seek or share wage information. mr. president, i believe this amendment is something all of us in this chamber can support. thank you. i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the republican whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president budgets are all about priorities, and it's about living within your means and not mortgaging our children's future by overspending money that we don't have that we're going to have to ask them to repay. when it comes to priorities, i can't think of a higher priority for the federal government -- i'm not talking about state or local government. i'm talking about the federal government. i can't think of a higher priority for the federal government than national security. that was really one of the basic reasons the united states of america was originally created
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is for mutual defense and national security. this budget importantly helps set the course for the future security of not only this country but also the world by funding our military services. it's no secret because we see it in the headlines every day we see it on television, we see it online. we are living in an increasingly dangerous world. we would prefer that it be otherwise, but the truth is different. all we need to do is take a look at the stories from -- well, let's just pick last week. russia's threatening to point nuclear weapons at danish military ships trying to bully another european country into not playing a role in nato and its missile defense shield in
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particular. in the middle east, yemen is on the brink of a civil war that would bring even more instability to an already unstable region. and then there's iran. just this last weekend the supreme leader of the regime that the obama administration is so committed to working out a nuclear deal with called for -- quote -- death to america close quote. mr. president, the american people understand that this is a -- an increasingly dangerous world, and we are not safer today than we were when this administration started. in fact, things are more tenuous, less stable. last month the director of national intelligence, james clapper, testified before congress that after the final analysis is complete, the year 2014 is likely to go down as the most lethal year for global
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terrorism in the 45 years that such data has been compiled, and that's a quote. quote -- "the most lethal year for global terrorism in the 45 years such data has been compiled." close quote. preliminary data for just the first nine months of 2014 show nearly 13,000 terrorist attacks across the world that have taken the lives of 31,000 people. just the first nine months of 2014. with so many different threats out there and untold twists and turns in global security in the coming months and years we need a national defense that ensures our armed services are prepared, not just to respond to today's threats but tomorrow's threats whenever and wherever they occur. the brave men and women who serve in the armed forces are
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without a doubt the best in the world, but they can't fight wars and they can't keep us safe, they can't maintain the peace without the backing from congress to ensure that they have the resources that they need. this budget that we will pass this week does just that. it keeps that sacred bond and commitment to our men and women in uniform and it in effect says to them if you're brave enough and if you're patriotic enough to serve in the united states military, we will make sure that you have the resources necessary to do your job. the budget we're debating today provides $612 billion in defense spending for this year. now, some people may say well, that's too much money. well the fact of the matter is we know that the united states is the one irreplaceable
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national security force in the world, not just for us but also for our friends and allies, and a strong american, as ronald reagan demonstrated, a strong america means a more peaceful world. ironically those who want to slash our defense spending and say we really can't afford it are really sending a signal that america is retreating from the world stage and when america retreats and its leadership recedes, then the bullies and thugs and tyrants fill that gap. it's just a law of nature. this budget will provide certainty and stability and funding for our armed services as they will not be required to make across-the-board spending cuts this year. in fact, under our budget, defense spending increases every year after fiscal year 2016. but the truth is we're not -- we can't -- we don't have a crystal
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ball. we can't forecast future world events that our armed services will need to respond to. that's why this budget also includes a deficit-neutral reserve fund to allow our military to react to a changing threat situation and make additional investments as necessary throughout the ten-year budget window. this fund could be used to further invest in world-class training for our armed services or otherwise enhance military readiness or even modernize critical military platforms. in other words this fund will help congress work together to increase the defense spending further and keep our commitments, not just to the brave volunteers who work in the united states military but our commitment as members of congress to do our job and to make sure that the federal government does its job when it comes to national security, and it does so while maintaining fiscal discipline, and i'm
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committed to working with my colleagues to achieve both of these goals. it is so important for our military to stay prepared because the problems facing our country have rarely been more significant. that's not just my assessment. that's the assessment of dr. henry kissinger the former secretary of state. earlier this year at the senate armed services committee dr. kissinger said, and i quote the united states has not faced a more diverse and complex array of crises since the end of the second world war end quote. let me say that again. "the united states has not faced a more diverse and complex array of crises since the end of the second world war." it the scale of the challenges we face is matched by the consequences of us handling these challenges poorly and failing to meet our
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responsibilities as a member of congress to make sure that our men and women in uniform have the resources they need to do the job that we've asked them to do and which they have volunteered to do. that's why it's so vitally important that we continue our commitment to our armed services that we fund them fully and we give them the flexibility to react to changing conditions around the world. this budget does all of that. as threats continue to mount this budget will ensure that the united states military remains unrivaled and that it has the tools it needs to keep our country and the rest of the world peaceful and safe. mr. president, later on this afternoon, we're going to give all members of the united states senate a chance to vote on the president's proposed budget. i will vote no.
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that's probably no surprise to anyone but i think everyone in this chamber deserves the opportunity to express themselves by voting on the president's proposed budget. so at this time i would ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendments and call up my amendment number 357. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from texas, mr. cornyn, proposes an amendment numbered 357 strike all after the resolveing clause and up certificate the following -- mr. cornyn: i ask unanimous consent the reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: i thank the chair and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. mccain: i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be further suspended and that i be allowed to address the senate as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: and if the senator from south carolina comes to the floor which i believe he is, i be allowed to engage in collie with the senator from south carolina.
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mr. president, -- colloquy with the senator from south carolina. mr. president, sunday i was in the city of chicago payroll. i had been invited by the american ukranian community there to speak to a large gathering. there are many ukranian americans that have chosen the city of chicago to live and work and made an enormous contribution to the city and the state of illinois. and i spoke to several hundred some of whom had not that long ago been in the ukraine and it was very moving because these people who love america but also love the country of their birth or origin are now watching their country being dismembered by vladimir putin and the russians and watching the united states of america fail to help them
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literally at all. in case my colleagues have forgotten, the united states of america, this president has refused to provide not only defensive weapons to ukraine i would remind you what we all know that there are literally hundreds if not thousands of russian troops inside of eastern ukraine. russian weapons remember that it was russian equipment if not russians themselves that shot down the malaysian airliner. and we have sat by and watched it on the dilutionary view of the president of the united states that he doesn't want to -- quote -- "provoke vladimir putin." the senator from south carolina and i predicted every single move that vladimir putin and i'm happy to be sanctioned again by
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putin, i wear it as a badge of honor. so we've watched as they went into crimea in order that vladimir putin could have the naval base at sevastopol. we sanctioned have been imposed on vladimir putin none of which have had any significant effect and the aggression continues. now there is a pause while more russian equipment comes into eastern ukraine and his next target will be the city of mariopo so he can complete his land bridge to crimea. right now he's having to resupply crimea from land and sea which is very expensive. and then depending on whether he gets way with it or not the pressure will increase on moldova and then pressures are
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already being exerted on the baltic countries as well. and our european friends with the leadership of the united states of america is conducting itself in the finest transition of neville chamberlain. it was in the 1930's when we watched hitler go into one area of another, usually in the name of -- quote -- "german-speaking peoples." so i must say that the people, the wonderful ukranian american group that i spoke to on saturday is puzzled sad and angry that the united states of america will not even give them weapons with which to defend themselves. we have given them, my dear friends, m.r.e.'s. we've gone from the west and democracy's arsenal to the west's linen closet.
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so i say that, again this is a shameful chapter in american shameful. it's shameful that we will not at least provide these people with weapons to defend themselves as they watch for the first 70 years -- for the first time in 70 years a european nation being dismembered and have no doubt about vladimir putin's ambitions. it's the restoration of the russian empire, and no one should have any illusions about that. and unless a stand is taken day after day week after week, vladimir putin diverting attention from his economic troubles will continue to commitment aggression until he feels he has restored the old russian empire. and we are writing a shameful chapter in american history.
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the nation that used to stand up for people who were struggling for freedom and assist them -- and i would remind my colleagues the ukrainians are not asking for a single american boot on the ground. they are just asking for weapons to defend themselves. isn't that shameful. now, mr. president i'd like to switch a bit to the middle east. first let me remind you of a couple of comments recently in recent months that the president of the united states has made. one concerning isis. isis which has now moved into africa libya all -- and tunisia, recent attacks, of course we know about their caliphate they have set up in iraq and syria bobbyoer who an has -- hochbrueckner ower who
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am has said and the analogy speaking of isis, the president said the analogy we use around here sometimes and i think it's accurate as the if a j.v. team puts on lakers uniforms, that doesn't make them kobe bryant. i say to my colleagues, i'm not making that up. that's what the president of the united states said about isis. then he said recently -- quote -- "over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country. we've targeted al qaeda's affiliate in yemen. in yemen. and recently eliminated the top commander of its affiliate in somalia. this tragic of taking out terrorists who threaten us while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in yemen and somalia for years. is one that we have successfully pursued in yemen and somalia for years.
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again, i tell my colleagues, i am not making this up. then, of course, iran. the white house has repeatedly slammed the israeli prime minister for comments made during an election campaign, statements he has clarified or apologized for but the white house continues to threaten a reassessment of american policy towards israel because words matter. that's what the white house spokesman said, words matter. but when iran's ayatollah khomeini chanted death to america in a recent audience -- in a recent address the white house dismissed the remarks as aimed at a domestic political audience. general petraeus said on march 20 the islamic state isn't our biggest problem in iraq. our biggest problem in iraq
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according to general petraeus, is iran. and he's right. isis is a terrible and awful disease that is afflicting the middle east and africa, but when you look at what the iranians are doing they are in sanaa in yemen they are in baghdad, they are in beirut and in damascus. even as we speak mr. sole mainy, the head of the level he revolutionary guard is leading the fight in particular treat. this -- tikrit. these are the ones who cents copper tips while our troops were there fighting and killed hundreds hundreds of american soldiers and marines while we watch them retake the city of
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tikrit and then we'll get the credit with the iraqi people. so the president of the united states -- david petraeus in answer to a question said you've had interactions with him in the past, could you talk about those. he met with a senior iraqi and conveyed the message you should be aware that i control iran's policy for iraq, syria lebanon, gaza and afghanistan. that's what solomeini claimed. it was probably not true at the time but there is very little doubt that solomeini and the iranians are on the move. and our arab friends whether they be the saudis or the u.a.e. or many others payroll are keenly aware of this movement and success of the iranians and
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very frankly they do not understand this faustian bargain that is now being attempted to be concluded by this administration and the iranians in the form of a nuclear agreement. somehow thinking that if there is this nuclear agreement and i'm not on the floor today to talk about it, that somehow there will be a whole new relationship with iran. the same people that recently said death to israel. so you can understand, you can understand why our friends in the middle east and the sunni arab countries are finding their own way developingor own strategy and have no confidence in the united states of america. now, lately there has been a lot of pressure on israel as a result of the only free and fair election that you will see take place in that entire part of the world, there's been a harsh
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criticism of the things that prime minister netanyahu during that campaign. i would point out to my colleagues sometimes things are said in campaigns that maybe we say in the heat of the campaign and maybe it's okay if we apologize for it. so today, one of the most astute observers in my view, the brett stevens of "the wall street journal" has some advice for the israelis. and i quote from his article in this morning's "wall street journal" entitled "the orwellian obama presidency he says" here is my advice to the israeli government. along with every other country being treated disdainfully by this crass administration, repay contempt with contempt. mr. obama plays to classic bully type. he abusive and surly only towards those he feels are either too weak or too polite to hit back. the saudis figured that out in
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2013 after mr. obama failed to honor his promises on syria. they turned down a seat on the security council, spoke openly about acquiring nuclear weapons from pakistan and tanked the price of oil mainly as a weapon against iran. now mr. obama is nothing if not solicitous of the saudi highnesses. the israelis will need to chart their own path of resistance. on the nuclear dole, they may have to go rogue. let's hope their warnings have not been mere bluffs. israel survived its first 19 years without meaningful u.s. patronage. for now all it has to do is get through the next 22 admittedly long months. so i note the presence of my colleague from south carolina, and i guess my question to him is how in the world do we
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justify this delusionary idea that somehow an agreement with iran on nuclear weapons -- and i'm not asking to go into the details of it now because he and i are in agreement -- it is an agreement, as henry kissinger once described to eliminate nuclear weaponsnuclear weapons and is now designed to delay development of nuclear weapons. how do we translate into somehow the belief that people who chant "death to america" are going to be our friends particular any if light of their aggression throughout the region and their successful movement in these parts of the world? mr. graham: if i could give you my best answer to that, number one senator mccain, you have been right more than wrong over the last four years if we made the choices the president chose.
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if we don't leave all of our troops mind in iraq, all of our gains will become unraveled. the sectarian rise in violence was a direct result, i think of american troops leaving iraq. we had a good thing going. after the surge. it did work. after drawing a red line with assad, and doing nothing about it isil was able to fill in that vacuum. given iran's behavior today what would they do with the extra money that would come into their coffers if sanctions were lifted? let's say you got a nuclear deal tomorrow and as a result of that deal, sanctions would be lifted. without a nuclear program the ayatollahs are wreaking havoc throughout the region. the pro-american government in yemen has been taken down by hewitthuti militias.
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is asad is a puppet of -- assad is a puppet of iran. john kerry said that assad is iran's puppet. you have hezbollah who is an agent of assad. you've got shia militias on the ground today in iraq being led by the leader of the revolutionary guard in iran. so here's the answer to your question: how could anybody believe that the money we would give them to relieve sanctions would go to hospitals and schools? don't you think the best evidence of what they would do with money is what they're doing today? so the administration has never tied behavior to sanctions relief. so my big fear, senator mccain is that not only would the arabs want a weapon of their own, that the money we gave the iranians would go into their
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missile program to hit us, would go into further destabilizing the mideast. do you agree that given iran's behavior, there is not one ounce of moderation in this regime? do you agree with me that there are no moderates in charge of iran that when president obama speaks to the iranian people urging them to argue for this deal that they have no voice that the last time the iranian people rose up to petition their government they got gunned down? do you agree with me that president obama has no idea what's going on inside iran and he has no understanding what this regime is up to with the money they already have? mr. mccain: could i just respond to my friend. i wish that the president of the united states who issued some comment to the iranian people about the necessity of a nuclear agreement would have spoken up in 2009 when thousands and thousands of iranians were on the streets in tehran protesting a corrupt election and wanting freedom, and he refused to --
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chanting "obama, obama, are you with us or are you with them?" and he refused to speak out in their behalf. that's when he should have spoken up for -- to the iranian people. and i'd also ask my friend is there anybody in iran who's free to speak up? you either get killed or you get put in prison if you speak up. so my question is, who was the president of the united states speaking to with those remarks? mr. graham: all i can say it would be like telling the north koreans to speak up. maybe a bit of an extreme example but not too much. the point that we're trying to make to president obama is that if you believe there is a moderate element in iran, who are they? who is in charge of this government that you're trying to empower at the expense of the hard-liners? the assembly of experts are the people that pick the next ayatollah. on march 10 they had an election. i think it was 46-24.
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ayatollah yezid -- i don't want to mispronounce his name. one to be in charge of the assembly of experts. their number-one goal is to pick the next ayatollah. he is widely known to be the hardest of the hard-liners. so what i want the administration to explain to us, the congress, who are the moderates and how do you square that circle with the election of the most hard-line ayatollah to pick the next ayatollah? what information do you have that there's a moderate element that we can empower in iran? senator mccain, could you name one moderate voice that has a real say in the iranian government? mr. mccain: not any that's alive. i am sure that there are many moderate voices in the ayatollah ayatollah's prisons throughout iran by the tens of thousands. but i would also ask my
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colleague, isn't it true that every manifestation of iranian behavior whether it be in baghdad where they now have significant control in beirut where hezbollah basically has control of the country in did a mass cass -- bashar -- in in damascus. bashar assad with a not be ah. around today if it had not been for the iranian revolutionary guard bringing in equipment and now we see sole see solamaini and the people are thanking him for freeing tikrit from the forces of isis. and one other comment i know that my colleagues are on the floor. but david petraeus, probably the most brilliant military officer i have ever had the honor of
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knowing, made a very interesting comment in an interview the other day and i'd like your comment on it. he said, the major threat in the middle east and in the world today is not isis. it is not isis. he said it was iran. and i think when you look at a map, you see where the iranians are now in control but you have to give great credence to general petraeus' assessment. would you agree? mr. graham: let me not only tell you why i agree but here's about what's to happen in the mideast. because of our lack of leadership the iranians have gone on a rampage. you had a very august group of people today some of the smartest people in the mideast in the country leading think tank folks came before your committee today and i asked them a question. do you agree with me that iran is wreak beinging chaff vok. three out of -- wreaking havoc.
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three out of four said yes. it is clear that the iranian regime is projecting power in the most disruptive manner in recent memory. they are backing people that took down the pro-yemen government and now we've lost the ability to follow al qaeda in the arabian pen nings peninsula. that assad wouldn't last, as you said five minutes and the assad regime has killed 225,000 people and driven over a million people out of pressure, putting pressure on lebanon and jordan. the shia militia on the ground today are probably war criminals by any classic definition and they're being led by the head of the sunni revolutionary guard. mr. mccain: responsible for the deaths of hundreds and hundreds of american marines and soldiers. what do we tell their mothers? mr. graham: exactly. so the point we're trying to make to the president and members of this body is that iran is on the rampage without a
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nuclear weapon. clearly they're not a moderate regime trying to live peacefully with their neighbors. they're trying to disrupt the whole mideast and have influence like any other time. here's what's going to happen: the arabs in the region are going to push back. they no longer trust us. remember when the head of the saudi arabian intelligence community said, it is better to be america's enemy than her friend. and we heard this twice in the mideast on our recent tour, that people believe iran is getting a better deal from america being her enemy than the traditional friends of this kufnlt country. so here's what's going to happen. turkey is going to align with the sunni-arab world and they're going to go after iran themselves and we're going to have a sunni shia war that you haven't seen in a thousand yours because without american learningleadership the whole place is falling apart. here is the legacy of barack obama:
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he tried to change the mideast by giving speeches. and every time he was told by military leaders you should do "a," he did "b." and he's reached tout ayatollahs not understanding who he's talking to. and he's empowered the most brutal vicious murderers on the planet today in iran. this ayatollah in iran is not a good man. he has blood on his hand. he is talking to the people who killed our soldiers by the hundreds. he's giving them resources they wouldn't have otherwise. and he's making a deal with the devil. and at the end of the day, this is blowing up in our face, and if the president does self-correct we're all in trouble. and if this congress sits on the sidelines and allows this nuclear deal with iran to go unchecked, then we don't look at it and vote on it, then we own the consequence of it. to every member of this body: you have an new mexico duty of durve an -- you have an independent duty to make sure
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that the deal is a good deal, not a nightmare. what we're asking you to do is take your independent duty seriously. you have a check and balance-and-balance responsibility. do not let this administration go to the united nations and bypass us. if it is a good deal, we'll vote for t here's what i'm telling you as strongly as i know how to tell you: our policies in the i'd mideast are failing. iran is the biggest winner and all our traditional allies are in a world of hurt and are going to take matters into their own hands. so senator mccain, thank you for your leadership, thank you for telling america the right choices, even they they're the hard -- even though they're the hard choices. i will continue to work with you as long as i can to speak truth it what i think is the biggest foreign policy disaster in my lifetime unfolding before our very eyes. mr. mccain: thank you. i ask unanimous consent that "the wall street journal" article entitled "the orwellian obama presidency" be included in the record and i thank my
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colleagues for their patience. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: before the senator from arizona and from south carolina leave the floor i just want to come here and just say a couple of words about their contribution to our collective efforts on the budget. as i said a moment, a the number-one priority for the federal government is national security. and while we are all concerned about runaway spending -- and the chairman of the budget committee has been quite determined to rein that in by producing a balanced budget over the next ten years -- it's due to the leadership of the senator from arizona and the senator from south carolina, along with our other colleagues on the budget committee who also happen to serve on the armed services committee, who i think have led us to a much better place a place where we can all be -- feel better that we are closer to making sure that our military
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has the resources they need in order to meet the commitments we've asked them to make. and so i just wanted to come to the floor -- we maybe have a few things we need to still talk about and we'll keep talking until we get it right. but the fact of the matter is, without the leadership of the senator from arizona the senator from south carolina, and others on the budget committee we wouldn't be where we are today, and i think able to hold our head up high and say we believe in our duty to our men and women in uniform, we believe in america's leadership role in the world and we will not -- we will not sh not shrink from that. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. a senator: mr. president, is the senate in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. sanders: may i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: mr. president i see the ranking member of the budget committee is on the floor, and if he would not have any objection, i would like to proceed to, on behalf of senator wyden and chairman, ranking member sanders and myself, set aside the pending amendment and call up amendment number 471. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from rhode island, mr. whitehouse, for mr. wyden and others, proposes an amendment numbered 471. mr. whitehouse: mr. president may i ask unanimous consent that further reading of the amendment be dispensed with? the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you very much mr. president.
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mr. president, for my colleagues , this is an amendment that relates to protecting social security. social security is a program that has been an enormous success, that at the heart of the american middle class and that represents a solemn promise that our seniors have earned over a lifetime of work. it makes a real difference in real people's lives. it is the difference between comfort and poverty for over 20 million americans. and rhode island is a state where we count on social security. we value social security. we know how important it is. and what i've heard firsthand from rhode island seniors over and over again is that they want to make sure that this program is solid and remains strong, not just for them but for their children and for their grandchildren. sadly, for decades the history of the republican party has been one of repeated attempts to
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undermine this bedrock of middle-class retirement security. proposing over and over again various types of security cuts and, believe it or not even to turn social security's assets over to wall street to manage. this democrat amendment establishes a point of order against any legislation that would reduce social security benefits, that would increase the social security retirement age or that would privatize the program. this would help our moderate friends protect social security from right-wing attacks and it would ensure that seniors as a part of their american experience can continue to count on benefits they have earned. social security is at present projected to remain fully solvent through 2033. it does not drive our current budget deficits and should not
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be sacrificed to the quarrels over the budget. ultimately i think we will need to strengthen social security. and when we do, simply asking the wealthiest americans to pay their fair share into the system can make that difference. simply asking the wealthiest americans to pay their fair share into the system can extend it for another 50 years while also making our tax system fairer to the middle class. so it's a true win-win and we want to make sure that we do not have to watch rhode island seniors, seniors across the country pay the price for a deficit that they had no part in creating. so with those remarks i yield the floor. mr. sanders: mr. president, i want to thank -- the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: i want to thank
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the senator from rhode island not only for his important remarks today but for the work that he has been doing for years to protect and defend social security. let's be clear about a number of facts. when people jump up and they say social security is going broke not quite true. as senator whitehouse indicated social security can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible american for the next 18 years. when other people jump up and say social security is contributing to the deficit also not quite accurate,s because as everybody knows social security is funded by the payroll tax an independent source of revenue for social security. now, the fact is that for many, many years in a variety of ways my republican colleagues have been tempting to either cut social security or in the extreme case, privatize social
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security and allow -- force americans to go to wall retirement benefits. and while this budget does not include a provision to cut social security, what i will say is if my memory is correct that in three out of the four hearings held by the budget committee that there were republican representatives, people who were asked to testify who did talk about various ways to cut social security. so what this amendment does, it establishes a deficit-neutral reserve fund, a budget point of order ... it establishes a budget point of order which prevents benefit cuts a raise in the retirement age or the privatization of
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social security benefits. that is what it does. now, you can hear a lot of people coming up here and say well, we want to preserve social security. what they really mean is in order to preserve social security, they want to cut social security benefits maybe not for the people today on social security but for future beneficiaries. they say thats' the only way we can protect social security. well, that is not accurate. mr. president, i introduced legislation which in fact makes social security not l only solvent until the year 2065 -- 50 years from today -- but also expands benefits. and we do that by saying that it is currently really absurd that a multimillionaire is paying the same amount of money into the social security trust fund as somebody making $118,000.
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there are some people who are paying all of their social -- very very wealthy people who are paying all of their social security taxes in the first day or two of the year. so right now you have a situation where millions of people in this country depend upon social security, people who are getting benefits of $12,000 $13,000, $14,000 a year. that is how they are living. those benefits should not be cut. and when you talk about a so-called chained c.p.i., which cuts colas for seniors and disabled vets, what you are talking about is cutting social security benefits for an average 65-year-old by more than $658 a year by the time that person reaches 75 at a cut of more than
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$1,100 a year, by the time that person reaches 85. those are very significant cuts for people who are trying to live on $13,000 or $14,000 a year. so here is the argument. is social security important? obviously it is. as the middle class continues to decline, social security is enormously important for the elderly and the disabled people of this country. point number two do we have to cut benefits in order to save social security? and the answer is obviously yes. but we're back to the same old question that we debate all day here. our republican friends seem absolutely determined not to ask the wealthiest people of this country who are doing phenomenally well to contribute to the well-being of the american people. that's this overall budget. but on the issue of social security what we have got to do is raise the cap, which is now
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at $118,000. and if we do that, starting at $250,000 just doing that will enable us to expand social security to the year 2065 and expand benefits for lower-income seniors. so this point of order is enormously important. what it says is that there will be a need for 60 votes for any effort to cut social security, to raise the retirement. there are some people i don't know what world they're living in who come forward and say let's raise the social security retirement age to 70. let's have people out there working at 68, 69, 70 years of age. let's force them to keep working before they get their benefits. my god, that is a horrendous idea.
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or let's cut colas, cost of living adjustments for disabled vets. what a terrible idea. so there is a way to extend social security for many decades to expand benefits, and what this amendment says is do not cut social security. now, i think a number of my republican friends will say well we're not going to cut social security for anybody on social security today. not good enough. there are people out there who are 50, 55, 60, 63, 64, who want to know that the benefits they get are the benefits that they will be able to live on. don't cut against for working people and that is what this amendment is very -- this very important amendment is about. senator whitehouse, did you want to add anything? mr. whitehouse: i just wanted to --
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mr. enzi: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i would ask unanimous consent that the time until 4:40 today be equally divided between the managers or their designees and that at 4:40, the senate vote in relation to the following amendments in the order listed with no second-degree amendments in order prior to the votes -- sanders number 474 with a side-by-side with senator ayotte senator ayotte number 400 on vets, fischer number 409 side by side to mikulski, mikulski number 362 equal pay hatch amendment, the text of which is at the desk. wyden number 471 social security. cornyn number 357 president's budget. i further ask consent that there be two minutes equally divided between the managers or their designees prior to each vote and that all votes after the first in this series be ten minutes in length. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. enzi: for the information of all senators, there will be up to seven roll call votes at
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4:40 p.m. i yield the floor. mr. sanders: senator whitehouse. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: thank you senator sanders. i just wanted to add my support to our ranking recommend's remarks. at present somebody making $110 million a year -- and there are people making $110 million a year in this country -- will make the same contribution or less to social security than somebody making $110,000 a year in salary. at best, they'll pay the same, despite the fact that they're making a thousand times more. at worst they'll pay even less into it because they have treated their income as capital gains and they've dodged the
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payroll tax on it. and to me, that makes no sense particularly when more and more of our national income is moving up into the top 1%, the top 2%, the top .1%. in fact, there has been a pronounced effect on social security's balances just from the increased income inequality. more and more of the income generated in the united states of america is moving to the wealthiest people, and that means that the amount of income under $110,000 that is subject to taxation for social security is a smaller fraction of the total income package than it has been before, and that means that less income supports social security and that is a significant part of why social security is underfunded and why
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we only last for the next 18 years instead of longer. so first of all i think social security is so important that even if there weren't this fairness discrepancies it's worth it to our country to have people know that they and their aunts and their uncles and their grandparents have the security of social security, and we should protect it at virtually all costs. but even if that alone weren't sufficient the fact that somebody making -- everybody making under $110,000 supports social security and the billionaires make no greater contribution and perhaps less of a contribution than regular working folks it's completely backwards and completely wrong but unfortunately that's the principle that is the principle of primacy in this republican budget. the principle of primacy in this republican budget is that every tax loophole is sacred. every tax loophole is nonnegotiable. every tax loophole is to be
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defended at all costs. it doesn't matter what you have to cut. it doesn't matter what harm you have to do to social security or other programs. nothing matters as much to this republican budget as protecting every tax loophole. and when you consider who has the clout around here in this country to get tax loopholes guess what? it's the corporations and it's the wealthy. those are the guys who really do the miss chief. now, there are other tax protections for the middle class. nobody wants to change those. but these tax loopholes that move jobs overseas and pay for that that allow companies to pretend that their intellectual properties in another country when they only have half a dozen employees there and they are running big time across our country because they locate ourselves for tax purposes and a tax haven, there is no benefit to that. we should fix that, but in this budget all of that is kept sacred. it is the highest primary principle of this budget to
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defend every corporate tax loophole and every loophole that helps millionaires and billionaires. and i just happen to think that that is wrong. we have brought this up over and over again in the hearings in the budget committee. we have heard from experts not only experts brought in by the democrats, we have even heard from experts brought in by the republicans that revenue has to be the -- part of the solution to our deficit and that many of these tax loopholes are -- there's no justification for them and even with that testimony, even with that support in the record, still this budget stands by its principle of republican primacy and that is that every tax loophole is sacred. with that, i'll yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: may i inquire how much time there remains on the democratic side? the presiding officer: six and a half minutes. mr. sanders: thank you. this is a very important amendment, and i hope the
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american people are listening. social security is probably the most important federal program ever developed in the modern history of this country. it is an enormously popular program and has been an enormously effective program. the truth is what it has done is significantly reduce poverty among seniors. before social security, about 50% of seniors lived in poverty. today, while the number is too high, it is somewhere around 10%. and the extraordinary beauty of social security is that in good times and in bad times in economic boom, in depression, recession, social security has paid out every check owed to every eligible american without fail. no one has ever received a check which said, you know, we're in the middle of a recession, we have to cut your benefits in half. that hasn't been the case. we take it for granted but that
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is an extraordinary record. because we have a number of republicans who simply do not like government programs, there has been for many, many years an effort to either cut social security or to privatize social security give it over to wall street. and what we hear is a lot of misleading arguments. the argument is, well, social security is unsustainable. it's not going to be there and they throw out all of these reasons. but the answer is social security is absolutely sustainable, but as senator whitehouse just indicated, we have to deal with issues like income and wealth inequality which has resulted in a significant reduction in the solvency of social security because people's incomes have not risen. therefore, they contribute less into the social security trust fund or many other people have gone way above the cap and are still paying less than they
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should. so what the republican solution seems to be and what i think we will be bringing up a side-by-side amendment to do is to say well, we're not going to cut social security benefits for those in the program right now but essentially what they are saying what their language is is they will cut benefits for future retirees, people who are 55 people who are 60, people who are 63 years of age. and when you have so many seniors, so many elderly people struggling right now to make ends meet, i think about the last thing in the world that you want to do is to cut social security. mr. president, over half of all americans have less than $10,000 in savings and these people when they reach social security age do not want to see their
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benefits cut. two-thirds of seniors depend on social security for more than half of their income, and one-third depend on social security for almost all of their income. these people do not want to see their benefits cut. just two weeks ago senator whitehouse and i accepted petitions from two million people two million people who gave us petitions which said loudly and clearly do not cut social security, and in the polling that i have seen in these tough economic times republicans say do not cut social security, democrats say do not cut social security, independents say do not cut social security. and yet what our republican friends are saying is that if you are 55, if you are 60, if you are 63, you're not on social security yet beware because we
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are prepared to cut your social security. maybe we'll raise the retirement age or maybe we will cut your colas through a so-called chained c.p.i. and i would say also as the former chairman of the senate veterans' committee virtually every veterans' organization has been loud and clear in opposition to the chained c.p.i. because they understand the chained c.p.i. does not just cut benefits for seniors it cuts benefits for disabled veterans. do we really want to be cutting benefits for disabled veterans? i would hope that we would not. so this is a very important amendment, and it's an amendment that says you stand with the overwhelming majority of the american people who say do not cut social security. yes, let's move forward to make it solvent beyond the 18 years that it is solvent but do not cut benefits, do not cut colas
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do not raise the retirement age. and with that, mr. president i would yield the floor. mr. enzi: mr. president i'd yield three minutes to the senator from new hampshire. the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. ms. ayotte: thank you mr. president. i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendments and to call up my amendment number 400. the presiding officer: without objection -- is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from new hampshire, ms. ayotte proposes amendment number 400. ms. ayotte: mr. president i ask the reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. ayotte: thank you mr. president. last year in this body, we heard and saw evidence about what was happening at some of our v.a. facilities. the manipulated wait lists the delays that our veterans had to endure and unfortunately some of our veterans died waiting for
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care. we passed a bipartisan bill, one that we all worked together on, and i appreciate that senator sanders worked very hard on. the veterans' choice program was part of that bipartisan bill, but this program has yet to be implemented in the way that this body intended. the goal was to expedite care for veterans that had been waiting longer than 30 days or live farther than 40 miles away from the v.a. hospital. in my home state of new hampshire, we don't have a full service veterans hospital, so too often our veterans are driving long distances to massachusetts or to other locations to get the care that they earned for having served and sacrificed so much for our country. recently a study conducted by the v.f.w. found that 92% of program-eligible veterans, they were interested in non-v.a. options or private care options that they could go to, but yet that same survey found that 80%
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of eligible veterans were unable to access the veterans choice program. yet barely two months into the program's starting and putting in place that we worked on on a bipartisan basis in this congress the administration announced plans to divert money from this important program saying it was underutilized. let's be clear it's underutilized because the v.a. is not implementing it properly. veterans are not being told their rights, and we owe this to them to get this veterans choice program right and to give veterans the choice that they want for private care options so they aren't driving or waiting in line, given what they have done for our country. our veterans chose to fight on our behalf. we should honor the work that we did together and ensure that this program is properly implemented by the v.a. which is not happening right now. our veterans want this choice. let's get this veterans choice program right. i would urge my colleagues to
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support my amendment which again, is an amendment designed to support what we intended in this body to ensure that veterans don't have to wait in line that they can exercise private care options when they want to, giving them the choice for the sacrifices they have made for this country. they deserve nothing less. the presiding officer: senator your time has expired. the presiding officer: thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i yield two minutes to the senator from arkansas. the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. cotton: i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendments and call up my amendment, number 481. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from arkansas mr. cotton, proposes amendment numbered 481. at the appropriate place -- mr. cotton: i ask consent the reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cotton: since its founding
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in 1948 israel has been a steadfast aleye in the middle east. the u.s.-israel relationship is built on mutual respect for common values including a commitment to democracy the rule of law individual liberty and ethnic and religious diversity. last week president obama and other administration officials suggested a fundamental rethinking of this alliance citing prime minister netanyahu's simple restatement of fact there can be no palestinian state until conditions change on the ground. the palestinian authority must at a minimum reject -- eject hamas, reclaim the gaza strip and recognize israel's right to exist as a jewish state. further, prime minister netanyahu's recent reiterateed these points ants his support for a two-state solution in principle. in this light anyone that we should rethink our commitment is shortsighted because the united nations has kitchenly employed a
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double standard in its treatment of israel making false allegations against israel while ignoring worse behavior by other countries. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. cottop: i ask unanimous consent for 30 seconds to conclude. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cotton: the human rights council has focused on israel, the general assembly has passed 21 resolutions simmling out resolution. should it take unfair and scrim tray actions against israel ornament to impose a final settlement. my hope it should not be necessary but this congress should be prepared to defend the u.s.-israel alliance. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendments and hall up hatch amendment 498. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from wyoming, mr. enzi, for
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mr. hatch proposes an amendment numbered 498. mr. enzi: i ask unanimous consent the reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. who yields time? mr. sanders: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up my amendment number 474. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from vermont, mr. sanders proposes an amendment numbered 474. mr. sanders: i ask consent that further reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: this side-by-side is a simple and noncontroversial
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amendment, and what it simply says is that the v.a. -- it creates a deficit-neutral reserve fund so the v.a. a can have the health care professionals, the doctors and nurses that it needs to make sure that the v.a. is providing quality care to all of our veterans in a timely manner. that's about it. from what i heard -- i will speak to senator ayotte a little bit later but my understanding is her amendment is simply making through that v.a. implements the law that we passed and -- there you are. i don't have any objection to that. i don't know that anyone should. and how many simply says that we want the v.a. to have the medical personnel doctors nurses and staff that it needs to provide quality and timely health care to our veterans and
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i would hope that that would receive unanimous support. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. sanders: thank you.
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the presiding officer: under the previous order there will now be top minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote in relation to amendment number 474 offered by the senator from vermont, mr. sanders. mr. sanders: mr. president this is a simple and straightforward amendment. as senator ayotte mentioned a moment ago we have had problems at the v.a., no question about it, veterans have waited too long to get the
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timely care that they need. what this amendment does is establish a deficit neutral reserve fund to hire more health care professionals for the department and ensure timely access to health care for all veterans. if you talk to veterans' organizations, they think the care in the v.a. is food once people get in there. i want to make sure's we have the doctors and nurses to provide the quality and timely care that our veterans deserve. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: madam president i don't think that we have a problem with your amendment and again, i'd ask if you'd be willing to voice vote it. mr. sanders: yes. mr. enzi: we can voice vote that then. the presiding officer: if there is no further debate, all those in favor say aye. all opposed say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the amendment is agreed to.
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there will now be two minutes equally divided on the vote on amendment 400. the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: do you want to change a places here? the presiding officer: yes thank you. ms. ayotte: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. ms. ayotte: mr. president, i would urge a yes vote on amendment 400 because we have,
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unfortunately, seen the bipartisan work that we've done on the veterans choice card has not been properly implemented by the v.a. our veterans want that choice of private care. it's obviously something the senator from vermont worked on very hard, this has bipartisan support and i would urge my colleagues to make sure we get this right for our veterans and that's what my amendment does. mr. sanders: would the senator accept a voice vote on this? ms. ayotte: i would. the presiding officer: if there is no further debate --. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: i want to thank my colleague from new hampshire for her work on this amendment with my office. we have successfully reached language that i think moves us forward in the right direction i also want to thank my no colleague, senator sanders for his tireless efforts on behalf of veterans, indicated by his amendment which is fully come compatible with senator ayotte's and i urge support of this
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amendment. the presiding officer: is there any other debate? the question is on the amendment. all in favor say aye. all those opposed. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the amendment is accepted. under the previous order there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to the vote in relation to amendment number 409 offered by the senator from nebraska, mrs. fischer. mrs. fischer: thank you mr. president. this amendment i think reflects the desire for all of us to reassert and reaffirm our support for equal pay for equal work. senator mikulski spoke earlier about an amendment that i question because it ends merit pay which i think hurts workplace flexibility and truly limits career opportunities for women. my amendment again reaffirms that support equally divided but it also affirms support for free
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speech because free speech includes the right to discuss wage information with fellow coworkers, and that reflects the president's action that he took in 2014 to prevent that retaliation from employers against employees who discuss wages with other employees or seek such information from their employers. this is an amendment i bleb all of us can support. it reaffirms equal pay for equal work an the nonretail reagan administration clause. thank you, madam president. mr. sanders: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: i appreciate senator fischer for offering their sided-by-side on equal pay. i am glad to see that this is a stronger amendment than what my republican colleagues have offered in the past. however, this amendment still does not go far enough. in my view, senator mikulski's amendment is a far better
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alternative. it is not enough to ban retaliation against discussing salary information. this amendment would not allow women to act on any information they discovered. it would not give women their day in court and the opportunity to recover money owed to them after months, sometimes years of discrimination. i would urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the yeas and nays are ordered. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or to change their vote? if not the ayes are 56. and the nays are 43. and the amendment is agreed to. under the previous order, there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote in relation to amendment number 362 offered by the senator from maryland, ms. mikulski. the senate will be in order. order in the chamber please.
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ms. mikulski: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: madam president i rise to urge the senate to pass the mikulski amendment on paycheck fairness. this finishes the job that we started with lilly ledbetter. what it does is not wishful thinking but the real deal where employers would be prohibited from retaliation for sharing pay information. punitive damages would be allowed so it would be a real deterrent for discriminating on pay. and it stops employers from using any reason to pay women less where they fabricate oh, he's the head of a household or
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whatever. so -- madam president the senate is not in order. the presiding officer: would the senate be in order please. ms. mikulski: i also then remind my colleagues that in addition to what it does, i will tell you what it does not do. this bill would not require an employer to cut the salaries of men employees. this bill would not have any criminal penalties in it for refusing to disclose wage information. and this bill does not require the government to set salaries for federal employees or anybody. what this bill does -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: vote "no" on the mikulski amendment. the specificity of it makes it corrosive to the privilege of the budget.
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the budget resolution is focused on expanding economic growth and what that growth comes from new jobs over one million jobs according to c.b.o. for our budget to take full effect. as the economy grows pughts more people to work is our best strategy for increasing the pay for men and women. we all went women and men to earn equivalent pay for the same job at the same firm. that's why congress enacted the equal pay act of 1963 that prohibits discrimination in pay on the basis of gender for substantially similar work and congress also passed title 7 of the civil rights act to prohibit businesses from discriminating on the basis of sex. these laws empower women to demand equal pay and they have. the gap has been narrowing. i would ask you though, to vote "no" on this amendment because of its specificity. it is corrosive to the privilege of the budget. the presiding officer: the question is on amendment number 362.
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we ask for the yeas and nays. is there a sufficient second? there is a sufficient second. the yeas and nays are ordered. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or to change their vote? if not, the ayes are 45 and the nays are 54. the amendment is not agreed to. under the previous order -- could i have order in the chamber, please. under the previous order there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to
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a vote in relation to amendment number 498 offered by the senator from wyoming mr. enzi, for mr. hatch. the senate will be in order please. could you please take your conversations to the hallway. mr. hatch: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: we're still not in order. the presiding officer: will the senate please come to order. mr. hatch: madam president saving social security will require congress to work in a bipartisan fashion but most of all it will require presidential leadership. in 2009, president obama held a fiscal responsibility summit to talk about the need for entitlement reform. during the summit, the president said -- quote -- "what we have done is kicked this can down the road. we are now at the end of the road and we are not in a
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position to kick it any further. we have to signal seriousness on this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else's." unquote. i agree with what the president said then even if he hasn't exactly followed his own advice. it's time to roll of our sleeves and get to work. every are year we delay makes it more difficult to implement reforms that will allow changes for future beneficiaries. delay makes it more difficult for hardworking americans to gradually adjust their plans and makes it more likely they will be hit with an uncertainty blow to taxes. my amendment calls for congress to consider legislation submitted by president obama to protect current beneficiaries and save social security for fusions. i urge my colleagues to oppose the wyden amendment. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. hatch: i thank the chair. mr. sanders: madam president could we have order please. the presiding officer: could we
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please have order in the chamber. mr. sanders: madam president this is a very important amendment and i hope the american people listen carefully to what is in it. as senator hatch indicated it protects current beneficiaries. in other words, they're not going to cut benefits for those who are currently on social security. but if you're 63 years of age 64 years of age, 65 years of age, watch out. they're going after you. so i would suggest that there is a way to extend the solvency of social security, deals with raising the cap asking wealthy people to contribute more. we can make social security solvent for the next 50 years without cutting benefits for anybody. i urge a no vote on the hatch amendment. the presiding officer: the question occurs on amendment 498. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be a sufficient second. the yeas and nays are ordered.
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the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: the yeas are 75, the nays will are 24. the amendment is agreed to. there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote in relation to amendment 47 is ^ offered 1 offered by the 010 sphrr rhode island -- offered by the senator from oregon, mr. wyden. mr. wyden: mr. president, the senate is not in order. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: colleagues, social security is a promise between workers and seniors that it should never be broken, and social security benefits ought to be protected and should not be cut. the congress needs to take steps to ensure that social security can pay full benefits for future generations and it must avoid
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creating artificial roadblocks to the proper use of social security trust funds. the house of representatives has refused to do that even though social security trust funds today have a balance of $2.8 trillion and should be able to pay all earned benefits until 2033. support this amendment don't privatize social security. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: mr. president i know all of my comeetion are committed to -- colleagues are committed to social security. we all want social security to be there for tomorrow's seniors as well as today's. however, the wyden amendment is not germane to the budget resolution. the finance committee has jurisdiction over the social security program both the benefit structure and how i.t. financed. the budget committee has no purview over the social security program. moreover the wyden amendment instructs the finance committee how to write the legislation language that's not appropriate for a budget resolution. in fact, it's corrosive.
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it damages the privilege of the budget. for this reason i'm compelled as chairman of the budget committee to raise a point of order against the wyden amendment. i make a point of order that this amendment violates section 305-b-2 of the congressional budget act of 1974. and i ask for the yeas and nays. mr. wyden: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: -- the sno rt from vermont. mr. sanders: mr. president this amendment is very clear. unlike the hatch amendment this amendment says we do not support cuts to social security, not for current beneficiaries not for future beneficiaries. that's what this amendment is about. mr. wyden: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: pursuant to section 904 of the congressional congressional budget act of 197 4-rbg9 i move to waive all applicable sections of the act for purposes of this pending amendment of i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll.
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the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to vote or change their vote? if not on this vote the yeas are 51. the nays are 48. three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn not having voted in the affirmative the motion is not agreed to.
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the point of order is sustained and the motion falls. under the previous order there will be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote in relation to amendment number 357 offered by the senator from texas, mr. cornyn. mr. cornyn: mr. president the senate is not in order. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. the senate will be in order. members will take their conversations off the floor. mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president president obama's budget has gotten some pretty rough coverage in the media recently. for example "the los angeles times" called the president's annual budget a strange almost fictional document. in "politico" it was written as he prepares to deliver his budget monday president barack obama is lurching to the level level -- to the left.
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in another article it is called a progressive dream version obama untethered from earlier centrist leanings. the president's budgeteer has not gotten great voting history. since 2007 is got two votes for the budget. this is an opportunity to suppress screws on president obama's -- this is an opportunity to express views on president obama's budget. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: mr. president, i don't know whose budget senator cornyn is representing but it is not the president's. the president's budget represents minimum wage. the president's budget includes two years of free community college. that's what the american people want not in senator cornyn's proposal. the president's budget talks about a fair tax proposal, not more tax breaks for
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billionaires. not in the cornyn proposal. so i'm going to vote "no" because i'm not quite sure what is in senator cornyn's proposal but certainly it is not what president obama presented to the american people. mr. cornyn: mr. president, do i have any time remaining? the presiding officer: the senator has six seconds. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i would just say to my friend, this is the president's proposed budget. senators can vote "yes" or "no" i'm glad to hear the ranking member of the budget committee senator sanders is going to vote "no." i'm going to vote "no" and encourage all senators to vote "no." the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. the senator has 20 seconds remaining. mr. sanders: one second? the presiding officer: 20 seconds. mr. sanders: if senator cornyn would like to bring to the floor a proposal of two years of community college which is in the president's budget, i invite you to do that. are you for that, senator cornyn? if senator cornyn wants to bring a proposal to raise the wage to
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$10.10 an hour i invite him to do that. the presiding officer: time for debate has expired. the question occurs on the amendment. is there a sufficient second? appears to be a sufficient second. the clerk will call the roll. vote: vote:
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the presiding officer: does anyone wish to vote or change their vote? if not on this amendment the yeas are 1 the nays are 98. the amendment is not agreed to. mr. enzi: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: mr. president i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendments and call up the kirk amendment number 545. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from wyoming, mr. enzi, proposes amendment numbered 545 for mr. kirk. mr. enzi: i ask the reading be dispensed with. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota.
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mr. rounds: i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up my amendment number 412. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report the amendment. mr. rounds: mr. president i ask consent the reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the amendment by number. the clerk: the senator from south dakota, mr. rounds, proposes amendment number 412. the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. rounds: thank you mr. president. my amendment aims to prevent the environmental protection agency and u.s. fish and wildlife service from entering into settlement agreements without seeking approval from state counties and local governments that would be affected by the settlement. all too often rather than writing and implementing environmental regulations in an open transparent process environmental regulations are implemented as the result of citizen suits that establish arbitrary, timeliness that force the agency to rush through the
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regulatory process. as a result, regulations that affect all sectors of the economy are implemented without following a proper administrative -- following proper administrative procedures. mr. president, it's unfortunate but legislating by lawsuit has become commonplace as agencies repeatedly miss deadlines and are challenged by citizens' suits alleging improper agency action. a 2014 report boy the government accountability office found that legal mandates do influence an agency's selection of regulatory options. these lawsuits leave inadequate time for agencies to analyze the options available to them. as a result of this shortened timeline, agencies cannot do a proper analysis of proposed regulations. this leads to inadequate time for notice and comment. it seeps citizens in the dark about economic impacts of significant regulations and does not allow for state and local governments to provide input regarding how these regulations will affect them.
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for example in 2011, the u.s. fish and wildlife service entered into a settlement agreement with environmental groups that will lead to the potential listing of more than 250 species. millions of acres across the united states will be impacted, and yet no state or local government was allowed to get input into the process. similarly, the environmental protection agency has entered into settlement agreements on things like regional haze which have no impact on public health but cost billions of dollars in impacted states. while the e.p.a. is willing to talk to radical environmental groups in the settlement process, they did not consult with the impacted states or communities. a vote for this amendment is a vote to say we should fix the problem and ensure that our state and local governments are given a stay in settlement agreements that will have impacts within their borders. a vote against this amendment is a vote against transparency and a vote to give radical
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environmental groups more say in the process than the states or local governments where the impacts actually occur. mr. president, i would urge my colleagues to support this amendment. thank you. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. coons: i've come to the floor to speak about our budget and how the choices we will make over the next few days reflect our values and priorities. as someone who has had to as a countywide elected official write and balance budgets i've long viewed them not just as a collection of numbers but a statement about our basic values and a reflection of what we hold dear. we can say we believe in this or that but at the end of the day our budgets tell the story. over the last two years in this body following the hard work of democratic senators patty murray and barbara mikulski, we've taken important strides to stabilize our government's
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finances invest in our middle class and protect the most vulnerable among us. after today few really hard years our economy has begun to heal and to grow again. we are now in the longest period of uninterprinted job both in the private sector in our nation 's history. today our at unemployment rate stands at 5.5% and our deficit has fallen nearly two-thirds since the depths of the great recession. at a time when economies are steadily slowing down, ours remains relatively speaking a global bright spot. mr. president, we need to continue on this path. we need to invest in this growth and in my view this is the wrong time to hit the brakes on our economy's resurgence. unfortunately, the budget proposed by senate republicans misses the mark and would i fear, reverse many of these gains. it denies our basic values by balancing the budget on the backs of the poor and middle class. while cutting investments essential to our nation's
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competitiveness and future. it relies on some budget game particulars actually increase defense spending while making broad cuts elsewhere and uses overly rosie protections -- rosy protections that have proven false. it does this while protecting tax breaks for the wealthiest and corporations at the expense of working families. it's my hope we can reach a budget that is responsible balanced and fair that takes stock of our needs today and a what the future will demand of us. i'd like to outline broadly what i think our budget priorities should be. first we need a budget that preserves our social northwest by building a circle of protection around the most vulnerable among us and protecting the promises we have made to our seniors. part of the bargain we make in this country is when one of ouric neighbors falls on truly hard times their country offers a handout. we need to ensure these basic protections to health care, food and a home are there for
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our neighbors in deepest need. it's also part of that same bargain that after a lifetime of work you'll able to retire with dignity and some security. as workers we all pay into medicare and social security and we need to ensure as future generations grow up raise their families contribute to our economy, the benefits they've spent their lives paying into will be there for them just as they were for previous generations. yes, we should have a conversation about how to responsibly bring our 0 long-term health care costs under control but we can't do it the way this legislation does -- this budget does by shifting costs to seniors and the poor. for retired delawarans, for instance the republican budget would reverse a reform in the affordable care act and raise prescription drug costs by an average of $1,100 per year. second just as year there for each other when times are hard we must rebound and grow together by making specific and thoughtful investments in our future.
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we need a budget that understands without critical investments in infrastructure and research and science our economy will struggle to grow and to support a strong middle class we need a budget that invests in our middle class an economy built on growth and opportunity. these investments in growth are the basic building blocks of our economy. they make up our economic backbone and create the dynamism to flourish. growth however requires infrastructure. weave we have a roughing $3.2 trillion infrastructure debt investments due by 2020 and every year we put on investing in our roads and bridges and tunnels and ports every year we fall behind our competitors, we make it harder for our businesses to grow and create jobs. growth also requires investing in research and development. our long-term competitiveness depends on our ability to innovate faster than our competitors. and although our businesses already invest a huge amendment
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in r&d the federal government plays a critical role through the national labs and other grant programs that either directly invest in or incentivize the research that leads to innovation. finally, growth in our country ensures -- requires ensuring every child has access to a quality education. it requires making it easier for families to send their kids to college and easier for young people to manage the costs of their college through managing student loans after school. and requires strengthening the real connection between the classroom and workplace so education can be a sturdier rung to a longer ladder of opportunity. throughout our history the middle class has thrived and the economy strong when we make these investments in the economy and the middle class. we need a budget that continues those investments. finally we need a budget that lowers the deficit responsibly in a way that's fair and forward looking, not done on the backs
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of the middle class and poor and kills jobs and stifles growth. over the last few years we've done a lot to get our deficit under control. using about three-quarters spending cuts and about a quarter increased revenue. we've also benefited from a steadily growing economy which has lowered our defendants deficits. as we move forward we need balanced deficit reduction that preserves investments in our future. that will mean raising some revenues by asking the wealthy and corporations to pay a bit more just as it will mean making hard choices over the long run about the true causes of deficits and debts. but let's be clear. we can do this while investing in our future and keeping our promises to our seniors to our veterans to each other. the best way to lower our deficits is to grow our economy and we need to invest in that growth. after all an airplane needs its engine to take off even into strong headwinds. over the coming days we will be
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voting on a series of investments that will say a lot about our values and priorities and i'd urge my colleagues to keep in mind that which has always powered our economy and will continue to in the future, an economy that gives families a fair shot, invests in the middle school and those fighting to get into the middle school, that's how we build an economy and i hope we will dedicate ourselves to a budget that will yield us far into the future. thank you, mr. president and i yield the floor. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: mr. president is -- are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call.
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mr. rubio: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rubio: i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendments and call up my amendment number 423 as modified with the changes at the desk. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from florida, mr. rubio proposes amendment numbered 423 as modified. mr. rubio: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rubio: thank you mr. president. so during this administration -- let me begin by saying i believe defense spending is the most important obligation of the federal government. that doesn't mean we throw money away or put money in places where it doesn't belong or fund projects that have no utility but it does mean that the most thing the federal government does for america is defend it. and we have benefited from the fact that for the last hundred years america has had the most powerful military force on the planet. this is especially true since the end of the second world war.
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there have been times in our history when we've tried to save money by cutting back on defense spending and each and every time has forced us to come back later and spend more to make up for it. interesting to point that in times in the past we've taken what they call a peace dividend this idea that the world is no longer unstable or unsafe, and we can now spend less on defense each and every time we've had to come back and make up for it later as a new threat emerged. i don't think we can make the argument this is a time when the world is stable or peaceful yet this is a time of dramatic reductions of defense spending. during this administration first came defense cuts of over $480 billion over ten years. adding insult to injury, by the way, was the savings found in the defense budget were redirected to our already bloated domestic programs. secretary gates wrote in his men and women reports about the extent he was forced to cut cost saying -- quote -- "no other department had done anything comparable even proportionately"
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-- end quote. this was followed by tepees of billions more in defense cuts through sequestration which will add up to over a trillion dollars in the next decade deother spite the warnings of three secretaries of defense and our entire military leadership. all in all inflation adjusted defense spending has declined 21% since 2010 and even if we count the draw coins in iraq and afghanistan it's 12%. this is happening, by the way at the same time as china is undergoing the most expansive most aggressive defense increase in modern history. at a time when russia despite being eviscerated by economic sanctions has held their defense spending largely harmless. at a time when the rise of radical islam around the world both the rise of isis, the existence of al qaeda and others pose an ongoing throat to the united states, this at a time many of our adversaries like
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north korea and iran are developing long-range rocket capabilities that can reach the continental united states. this is the worst possible time to be reducing our defense spending and yet that is what we are doing and we are setting ourselves up for danger.i would recognize that people who have worked hard on this budget are trying to find new ways to address this through contingency funding. ultimately that may be where wind up. before we do, it is important for this body to have a serious debate about how we're underfunding defense spending in this country and the dangers it poses for our future, and that is the purpose of this amendment. the purpose of this amendment is to replace the defense numbers in this budget with the pronled fiscal year 2016 number with the gates budget. this was the last defense budget put solely together on the threats we face and the requisite military needs to deal with t it is the budget that the panel stated was the minimum
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required to reverse course and set the military on more stable footing. with that, mr. president i ask unanimous consent that i be athrowed enter into a colloquy with -- allowed to enter into a colloquy with my colleague from arkansas senator cotton. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rubio: and i will ask senator cotton, who has extensive experience in the military and in the house the dangers this poses what it means for the long-term security of the united states. mr. cotton: i thank the gentleman from florida and i am pleased to offer this amendment with him. while i respect the work of the budget committee i also call attention to the committee that they would spend $577 billion on defense next year which would eliminate sequestration. i suggest as the gentleman from florida did that we need to look to the views of the national defense panel which did draw from secretary gate's
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fiscal year 2012 budget projecting into fiscal year 2016. why? secretary gates had a reputation as a reformer. it's hard to say there is much fat left. second as the gentleman from florida pointed out, that was the last time the department of defense engaged in what we should do in this body, which is the budgeting for the military based on the threats that we face and the strategy we need, not having a strategy that is driven impi the budget. -- by the budget. but that's not enough. as the national defense panel said itself, that project is not enough. why is it not enough? some of the threats that the gentleman from florida identified. in the last four years of what we sandinistan the islamic state on the rise, rampaging across iraq and syria. iran racing toward a nuclear werntion even as it exerts greater control and dominance over baghdad do damascus.
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we've seen russian revisionism shooting a civilian airliner out of the sky in the heart of europe and china on the rise developing military capabilities that are quite clearly directed against the united states and our allies in the first island chain. that is why we need this debate. that is why we need the military budget the gentleman from florida and i are proposing because the eyes of the world are upon us, not just ouren miss but our allies as well wondering if america will not only have the resolve to stand by its commitments but if it will have the capabilities to stand by those commitments whoever the commander in chief may be. there's one final important group whose eyes are on this institution this week. it's our soldiers, our sailors our airmen, and our marines who are wondering if the elected representatives of the people will stand with them, will provide them the resources they need to be ready to be trained equipped ready to fight our nation's wars, so they don't
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have to fight them in the first place. i learned today i had a great benefit of being able to meet with a group of army majors and captains the midcareer officers just like the midcareer noncommissioned officers who are the backbone of our military. two of those men i started officer candidate school with at fort bennett. to a person they all said that training is down, families are strained operations are stressed equipment is overused, and they wanted to know, will the congress of the united states give them the tools they need to fight and win our country's wars. that's why i'm frowd stand here with the -- proud to stand here with the gentleman from florida and offer this amendment and say, yes, we will stand by them. and, yes, we will make sure that they are ready to fight and win our wars, so they don't have to
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win -- or they don't have to fight them in the first place. now, i would be happy to yield back to the gentleman from florida. mr. rubio: i have not much to add to what the senator from arkansas has pointed out, as he well knows the importance of the promises we made. we will never put them in an unfair fight. they will be the best trained and best equipped and best taken care of fighting men and women on the planet. we cannot keep that promise at the rate we're going today. i would add one more point. that is that much of world security today is based upon american military alliances that are built upon military assurances. so, for example in the asian pacific region where the allies in the region look to an american umbrella of defense to provide them certainty in face of real risks whether it is territorial claims made by china or the nuclear threat of north korea. why haven't the south koreans developed their own nuclear weapon? because they believe the united
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states will be there to help them defend themselves. why have the japanese never felt compelled to use their technological know-thousand built a -- know-how to build a nuclear program? because they believe the united states is their ally and will come to their defense. the japanese have a very capable military force despite not being called to military force. the south koreans are very impressive fighting force and a very courageous history. but that american security alliance in the region is critical to the long-term stability and security of that region a region where a lot of global growth is happening on the economic front where 50% 60%, 70% of global commerce transits through the sea. and the u.s. presence in the region is critical for the defense of the region. the same is true of the nato a lines in europe -- alliance in yiewmplet the same is true if a terrible deal, god forbid, is arrived by this administration in iran. our partners and allies in the
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region particularly saudi arabia and others, are going it look to the united states and say, what are you going to do to protect us from an iranian nuclear weapon, from the missiles that they're able to acquire? so what's going to happen when they turn and we say to them, we're with you we're going to be there we're going to continue to work with you and live up to our dweans capability -- defense capabilities but don't have the capabilities to meet our obligations? you have to have something to pivot with. if we've eviscerated our military our naval capacity, if we are on pace as we are now have the smallest air force and the smallest navy that we've had in a very long time, we can say whatever we want, our allies won't believe us because we won't have the capabilities to meet t it. when we talk about modernization we are not talking about the commander in chief today. when we talk about how much money we're going to spend on modernizing our military capabilities what we're deciding are what are the technologies and tools that are going to be available to a
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future commander in chief in five ten or 15 years. these innovative systems that we use today that allow an improved targeting, our intelligence-gathering capabilities, that have made us the premier fighting force in all of history. all of those things were developed a decade ago or longer through years of innovation. so if we cut back on that now in ten years a future commander in chief will be faced with the threat to our national security and it will not have the latest, greatest technology on the plan tote address it. -- to address it. what about the acimetry cal capabilities that others are developing? they build weapons to destroy aircraft carriers. and as we try to adjust to that threat what's going to happen in a few years if we don't keep pace? the absence of a long-range bomber a navy that's headed for a calf catastrophic low number of
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ships in all of these things need to be confronted, not to mention that we are not modernizing at an efficient and effective rate our nuclear arsenal in a world where others have significant stockpiles of weapons, particularly the russians. all of these things are important and these are long-range long-term decisions that will have an impact on a future congress, a future commander in chief and on you are a children and grandchildren who will be the ones who have have to live in that world. i promise you a world where america is no longer the most capable fighting force on the plan set a world that is more chaotic and less safe. i look forward to have a debate on this and i encourage my colleagues to rally around these numbers. this is what we should be funding defense at, as my colleague, the senator from arkansas accurately pointed out out. and i am honored to work with him on this. we should have defense spending that should drive -- the strategy should not be driven by the defense spending. the defense spending should be driving the strategy. in essence to put it
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succinctly, we should not have a strategy that's based on limited resources. we're going to have to do the best we can with limited resourcerheasun suh sources. we should -- we're going to have to do the best we can with limited resources. that is not what we're doing here. we're setting a dangerous precedent. we are putting at risk the national security of this country. and once you've made that decision it is very difficult to reverse in a timely way. we have learned this lesson the hard way multiple times in our history. i hope we don't have to learn if again. i look forward to working with the senator from arkansas on this amendment weekend my colleagues with great respect for the work that's gone into this budget and the work of many others that are equollly committed to -- equally committed to the defense of our kufnltcountry. i acknowledge the hard work they've put in to finding a solution to get more known into defense. but it is not enough. the sooner we deal with this, the safer our country is going to be. with that, mr. president, i
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would yield the floor.
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mr. whitehouse: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. in response to the colloquy that just transpired, i would simply say that for all of the ernest and i'm sure -- earnest and i'm sure sincere spirit behind it there's no willingness to even
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close one corporate tax loophole to support our nation's defense which i think puts into some context the priority in which that's held as a practical matter as opposed to a theoretical matter. but i've come to the floor today to urge this chamber to wake up to the urgent threat of climate change. i've done this every week that the national is in session for nearly three years. today is my 94th time. i've asked my colleagues to heed the warnings from our scientist scientists, from our military, and national security professionals, from many of our leading american corporations and executives, from their own home state universities and from so many of our faith leaders. since it's budget week, we would do well to also consider that for years the government
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accountability office has placed climate change on its biennial high-risk list of the greatest fiscal challenges facing the federal government. but even so, there's no attention from the other side. this risk is particularly great in coastal areas like in my home state of rhode island where sea levels rise ever closer to infrastructure and property and extreme weather exacts an ever-heavier toll. secretary of the treasury lu put it pretty plainly. if the fiscal burden from climate change continues to rise, it will create budgetary pressures that will force large trade-offs. these trade-offs would make it more challenging to invest in growth, meet the needs of an
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aging population, and to provide for our national defense. my republicans want -- my republican colleagues want to slash spending. indeed, they have almost a fixation on slashing spending. they say that they do not want to leave a financial mess for future generations to bear, but they ignore the need to slash our carbon emissions and don't care a bit about leaving an environmental mess for future generations to bear. they refuse because the polluters and their allies have built a fearsome political machine since citizens united and the polluters demand that republicans follow their denier script. well unfortunately nature won't wait for our politics to sort themselves out and nowhere are these changes occurring more
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clearly than in our oceans. the changes in our oceans are real and they are measurable. they follow the laws of biology of chemistry and of physics. our steady flood of carbon pollution has real consequences. scientists from the university of california, stanford and rutgers recently published a pier-reviewed -- peer-reviewed paper in science magazine on rear defaw nation. it's a big word for widespread loss of animal life in the ocean. human activities, they argue including overfishing pollution and carbon emissions are wiping out sea life. populations of marine vitter brats, including -- marine
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vertebrates have decreased by an average of 22% over the last four years. fish have declined by nearly 40%. major fish species have crashed 90%. coral is having massive leaching and dieoff. we are living, the authors say in a time of -- and i'll quote them -- "empty reefs empty estuaries and empty bays." how is it that carbon pollution changes the ocean environment? pretty simply. greenhouse gases in the atmosphere trap heat. that's not news. we've known that since abraham lincoln was president and much of that heat goes right into the ocean. globally, the oceans absorb more than 90% of the heat captured by
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greenhouse gases. well all that heat disrupts marine life. court of appeals, for example will expel the algae living in their tissues when water is too warm causing the coral to turn completely white and die in what's known as coral bleaching. other species that aren't stuck in one place like coral are literally swimming away. we've seen fish accustomed to specific temperatures migrating to cooler waters. along the entire northeast seaboard, the movement of fish further north into deeper waters is well documented. noaa has even developed tools to allow fisheries managers and scientists to go online and track the movements of different species through time. i've had fishermen back home tell me they're catching fish
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their fathers and grandfathers never saw come up in their nets. as one rhode island fisherman told me, sheldon it's getting weird out there. 40% of fishermen in the northeast reported catching new fish species in places where they wouldn't expect to find them in a recent center for american progress survey. among them, those who believe climate change is happening outnumber deniers by 4-1. just last week, the providence journal, my home state paper reported on the continuing loss of the ice smelt from the waters of the northeast. the smelt lives in estuaries and bays in the wintertime, making it once upon a time a favorite for ice fishermen but now where the ice fishing cottages used to cover the ice, there are very few. that fishery has crashed. in narragansett bay the winter
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flounder fishery has crashed. from maine comes a recent "newsweek" article by our former republican colleague olympia snowe. it's titled rather bluntly -- "lack of action on climate change is costing fishing jobs." senator snowe reports that the shrimp fishery in the gulf of maine was closed this winter for the second year in a row because the shrimp are nowhere to be found. the shrimp fishery has crashed and the crash has been precipitous. as recently as 2010, shrimpers in the gulf of maine hauled in 12 million pounds of northern shrimp. by the time they had to close the fishery the catch was down to less than 600,000 pounds. one likely culprit is warming seas. the gulf of maine is at the southern end of the shrimp's range and the gulf of maine is
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warming exceptionally fast. an estimate from the gulf of maine research institute shows that water temperatures in the gulf rose eight times faster than the global average in recent years. the rapid changes in the gulf of maine are causing things to get strange for the other fisheries as well. our colleague angus king has come to the floor repeatedly to describe the northward march of the iconic maine lobster. cod populations in the gulf of maine suffered for years from overfishing. now the cod are struggling to recover as temperatures in the gulf increase. the cod might not return. instead, seeking out cooler water elsewhere. another scientific fact. warmer temperatures make oxygen less soluble in water. where oxygen is too low for marine life to flourish, that creates dead zones which are growing around our oceans in
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size and in number. if carbon pollution continues at pace global oxygen levels in the ocean are predicted to drop by more than 3% over the century. do we tell the fish to hold their breath while we wait to wake up? carbon pollution also makes the oceans more acidic, another scientific fact. and ocean water has absorbed roughly a quarter of all historic carbon dioxide emissions. driving up the p.h. level of the oceans at rates not seen in perhaps the last 300 million years. to put 300 million years in context, that's more than a thousand times as long as our species has been on on the this planet -- has been on this planet. we are gambling with very big changes that we have never seen in human time and that are a long way back in geologic time.
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acidifying waters make it harder for animals such as oysters or even the humble terrapod, a main component of the salmon diet and a lot of other creatures out there at the base of the oceanic food chain to make their shells and develop properly from juveniles to adults. increasingly those acidic oceans are hurting u.s. shellfish and shellfish are a billion dollar american industry. more acidic waters have already cost the oyster industry in the pacific northwest more than $110 million putting 3,200 jobs at risk. the pacific northwest is being hit first by ocean acid if i occasion but the effects are -- acidification but the effects are expected to be felt hard east in the northeast near my home. conditions in the northeast will jeopardize the $14 million
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annual mollusk harvest in my state of rhode island, putting my home state's coastal communities at real risk of economic harm. bill mook, president of mook's seafood farm in maine testified last summer about the decline in oyster larvae that he has linked to more acidic water. as he said, delicate shellfish hatcheries are -- quote -- canaries in the coal mine, end quote, the first victims of a growing menace. and yet mr. president we still don't listen. from coast to coast and poll -- pole to pole, the oceans are warning us, and we still do not listen. the authors of the science magazine paper warned that we are headed into -- and i'll quote them -- an era of global chemical warfare on the oceans.
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an era of global chemical warfare on the oceans. and we won't listen. mr. president, we must wake up to the warnings that are coming from our oceans. the evidence is there for everyone to see. it's a matter of measurement basic measurement of temperature, of p.h., of sea level, real high school science class stuff that are showing us these changes and yet we won't listen. fishermen in rhode island and across the country are already feeling these changes. they see them around them. and colleagues, if you're not a scientist, go ask the coastal and ocean scientists at your home state university. they'll give you the answer. let me conclude, mr. president by going back to what senator
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snowe wrote. quote -- "the loss of maine's $5 million shrimp fishery should serve as a warning. a similar blow to our $300 million lobster fishery must be avoided at all costs. that will require honest, fact-based discussion and a genuine bipartisan commitment to solutions." well we've had neither around here for a long time. there has been no honest, fact-based discussion, and there has been no bipartisan commitment to solutions and that has to change. i hope that senator snowe's fellow republicans here in the senate will join with us democrats in that honest fact-based discussion and in a genuine bipartisan commitment to solutions. i hope our colleagues will
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unshackle themselves from the fossil fuel industry, which is an industry riddled with appalling conflicts of interest on this subject. and wake the heck up. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. daines: i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendments and call up my amendment number 388. the presiding officer: is there an objection? without objection the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from montana, mr. daines, proposes an amendment numbered 388. mr. daines: i ask consent that the reading of the amendment be
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dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. daines: madam president as a fifth generation montanan and avid sportsman i know firsthand how important montana's lands and resources are to our economy and our way of life. i also know how important it is for montanans to play a strong role in the management of these precious parts of our state. you know, in montana we understand that our resource use must be done responsibly. we understand the importance of protecting our state's treasures so that future generations may continue to have the same experiences and job opportunities we have today. we also know that the montanans who use and live on the land every day best understand how to best protect those resources but unfortunately the obama administration's persistent efforts to stretch the true intent of the antiquities act threatens montanans' ability to
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manage our state's resources and it's a trend we're seeing across other states as well. too often these unilateral designations completely ignore the needs of the local community, the farmers and ranchers the sportsmen and the small business owners directly impacted by these new designations. my amendment will establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund for legislation to ensure states and local governments support national monument designations. this amendment in no way precludes the president from proposing a national monument. however, any bill or designation that has an impact for land management must be locally driven not spearheaded in washington and must have local government and state support as well. this amendment ensures the people affected most by these designations have a seat at the table and their voices are
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heard. madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. daines: i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendments and call up my amendment number 389. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from montana, mr. daines, proposes an amendment numbered 389. mr. daines: i ask unanimous consent the reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. daines: madam president i offer amendment 389 to the budget resolution to establish a deficit neutral reserve to hold members of congress accountable for failing to pass a balanced budget. do you know washington has balanced its budget only five times in the last five decades. let me say that again. washington has only balanced its budget five times in the last 50
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years. this is completely unacceptable. and it threatens the prosperity of future generations. by strengthening the accountability and demanding results, my amendment will help restore fiscal responsibility, i'd call it fiscal sanity, in washington. i have introduced related legislation, the balanced budget accountability act which would terminate the salaries of members of the house and the senate if their respective chamber does not pass a balanced budget. simply put no balanced budget no pay. it's time to hold congress accountable to the taxpayer. it's time to hit the members of congress in their pocketbooks if they can't pass a balanced budget. chairman enzi's budget meets this commonsense principle and by passing my amendment to the budget resolution, we will
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reinforce our commitment to passing similar balanced budgets in the future. thank you and yield back my time.
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the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mrs. capito: i ask unanimous consent that the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. capito: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mrs. capito: before turning to the budget resolution pending before the senate this week i'd like to first discuss the nomination of loretta lynch to be attorney general. last week i met with loretta lynch to discuss the legality of president obama's executive actions and her views concerned me. president obama and his administration have a record of overstepping legal authority on immigration, implementation of
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the affordable care act and imposing anti-energy regulations. despite her qualifications, i am just not confident that loretta lynch will exercise the independence needed to stand up for the proper separation of powers and i will not support her nomination. turning to the budget, i rise today in strong support of this resolution that delivers on the promise to balance our budget without increasing taxes. west virginia he families and families across our country understand they cannot continually spend more money than they take in. each month families have to balance their budgets. and dedecide how to spend their limited resources make tough choices, set priorities, and account for unexpected expenses. unfortunately, annual deficits are routine for the federal government. but we have recently endured four straight years with an annual deficit of at least $1 trillion. despite recent drops our
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national debt now stands at $18 trillion. that totals more than $56,000 for every american. american families cannot withstand spending more than they earn month to month and neither should the federal government. the debate on this budget resolution brings the senate to an important crossroads. we can choose the president's path which increases taxes and adds another $6 trillion to our national debt, or we can choose to support the responsible budget on the senate floor this week. if we fail to make the tough decisions to reduce our federal spending, we will leave mountains of debt to our children and our grandchildren. our first responsibility as leaders should be to leave our country better than and stronger -- better and stronger for the next generation of americans. that starts by taking steps to balance our budget and this budget balances in ten years. this legislation provides -- this budget provide roy every
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provides us with the ability to address evolving threats from 'tis. when womennians hear with isis, the failing state of iraq, the first thing we think about is the safety and security of our own families. terrorism hits close to home and we must ensure that we have the flexibility to fund a strong national defense. like american families we must have flexibility to account for unexpected expenses and unexpected threats as they arise. this budget resolution gives us the ability to pass a long-term highway bill that is paid for. we must invest in our nation's roads and bridges and do so in a fiscally responsible way. this budget resolution paves the way for an extension of the state children's health insurance program a bipartisan initiative which will hopefully be considered by the senate in short order. and this budget facility indicates changes to help our
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rural hospitals provide critical services to our communities. our nation's priorities are reflected in this becoming. i want to draw special attention to the energy provisions in this budget. an energy economy is a jobs economy. energy is at the forefront of many west virginians' minds whether we're paying for our monthly energy bill, or checking the gas prices. the production of coal and natural gas also accounts for tens of thousands of jobs in west virginia. in recent years we've seen what advances in energy technology can do to broaden energy production and benefit the broader economy. the shale boom has made the united states a leading producer of both oil and natural gas. in benefits are felt by americans every time they fill up their tank, and balance their budgets at the end of the month. in my state of west virginia marcellus shale natural gas production is creating jobs and providing the opportunity to
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expand downstream manufacturing. but the federal government policies can hamstring our economy by slowing the production and the use of resources. west virginia, unfortunately has seen that firsthand in our state's coal mining industry where thousands of jobs have been lost. just last week, a.e.p. issued layoff notes at three plants. these closures are years ahead of schedule and are solely because of the federal government's e.p.a. mats rule. and yesterday they announced they are idling the paint creek pant which employs 400 people. the e.p.a. regulations were cited as part of the rob problem. the upcoming regulations for carbon will have a more devastating effect. finding reports from well respected analysis firms shows that costs could get up to
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$479 billion over a 15-year period causing double-digit electricity prices in 43 states -- increases in 4 states. over half the country's power comes from coal yet e.p.a. is predicting by effectively eliminating and a half of our energy production when will reduce electricity prices by 8%. somehow that just doesn't add up. how does this impact our federal budget? an energy economy that works will provide the low cost reliable electricity to power our broader economy. by contrast, excessive regulation not only means fewer -- excessive regulation not only means fewer people working in my state's energy sector. higher costs less reliable energy is a tax against manufacturing and job growth across the country. that means fewer individuals working, fewer businesses providing jobs and ultimately
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fewer government revenues. the budget resolution before us this week recognizes the importance of american energy production. the reserve funds in this legislation thug will improve our energy infrastructure, reform environmental regulations and promote job growth. to supplement the provisions already are in the budget i have filed several amendments to strengthen our energy security. last year the administration reached a climate agreement with china. that agreement requires short-term carbon emissions reductions here in the united states but china is allowed to continue increasing its carbon emissions until 2030. that disparity could place the united states at a significant economic disadvantage. my amendment would block any international environmental agreement that would result in serious harm to the united states economy. i've also filed an amendment that would block e.p.a. from
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timizing proposing or issuing any regulation that would reduce the reliability of the electricity grid. our economy relies on electricity being available. families expect that the lights will come on when they flip the switch. they expect to have heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. this simple amendment says no regulation from e.p.a. can imperfectly -- imperil access to reliable electricity. makes accepts to me. i urge my colleagues to support the balanced budget that is before the senate this week including these amendments and to support policies that will allow our economy to benefit from america's vast energy resources. the jobs and the revenues that come from energy production can play a significant role in a responsible federal budget. the american people elected us to make government more efficient, effective and accountable. american families must live within a budget. states must adhere to a budget. and it's time to for the federal
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government to do the same. mr. president, i yield back the remainder of my time. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: mr. president, i ask consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: the senate is in a period of morning business. mr. casey: thank you mr. president. i rise to talk tonight about one issue, the issue is children in the context -- two separate contexts one is the budget that we're debating now and we'll continue to vote on all week and then the second is with regard to the children's health insurance program. let me just start with a premise that those of us who are elected in both houses of the congress and in both parties i think are charged with a basic responsibility to our children, doesn't matter where we live or what state we represent or what district in the case of the
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house, i think we're charged with that responsibility. a long time ago hubert humphrey who served in this chamber for so many years and was so well known across the country, set forth a moral test of government. he talked about the moral test is how government treats those in the dawn of life, those in the shadows of life, and those in the twilight of life. of course, we're talking about the dawn of life, we're talking about children. and i think that test is still appropriate. and should be -- we should try our best to adhere to it in terms of public policy and especially when it comes to the budget. the budget, of course, is a reflection of who we are as a country, what our values are. it's in a sense a mirror into which we look or should be looking to see who we are. and if we're not setting forth policy and being strong advocates for our children, we may as well not -- may as well not be here. so i think there is a test that
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each one of us must face when it comes to what we're doing on behalf of children. i also believe in a very real sense that the programs, the strategies the expenditures that we make on behalf of children are in fact an investment an investment in the long-term economy of the united states. this isn't just the right thipg to do, it's also the best thing we could do for a growing economy for our fiscal situation years from now. if kids are healthier they'll get better jobs. if they learn more when they're younger, they're going to earn more when they're older. that's not just a rhyme. it's true, and all the studies show it. so i believe this budget debate is a time to reflect upon what will happen to our children. i have real concerns about the budget as it relates to children, and again these are in
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our society the folks that are powerless and in many cases voiceless. they're not voting. they don't have a lobbyist. they don't have a high-paid strategist or voice for their needs. because they are powerless and because they are in a sense voiceless, it is up to us to speak on their behalf, and we speak with our votes; we speak with our work. so what are we doing -- what's the proposal in this budget? let me just walk through some of the numbers. according to one of the leading advocacy organizations in the united states, first focus discretionary investments make up nearly one-third of all federal investments that go to children. so what we do on the discretionary part of the budget which by definition because it is discretionary we have decisions to make about it year after year, because of that we've got to be very careful when it comes to these
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decisions, whether it's the budget resolution, whether it's the authorization process or whether it's in fact, of course, the appropriations process. this funding the so-called discretionary non-mandatory if i can call it that, part of the budget includes programs like head start child-care assistance housing supports, special education just to name a few examples that have a direct and substantial impact upon our children. the republican budget that we're debating this week cuts $236 billion over ten years in the non-defense discretionary part of the budget. non-defense discretionary is a long way of saying the part of the budget that we vote on and will have votes on that relate to the appropriations. so $236 billion over ten years
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is the cut. that cut, i would argue falls disproportionately in a substantial way upon children. so what do these cuts mean for children and for families? and, of course, you can't separate one from the other. look at head start. 35,000 children would be cut from head start somed some 1,250 children in par just pennsylvania, just an example in one state. how bad off willi think we're worse off if we do that. this is a program that has been in existence for 50 years. it's helped a lot of children succeed. our state director, the state director from my office in
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pennsylvania just left our staff recently, served with distinction. ed williams his name was. he was a head start kivmentd i -- he was a head start kid. i meet people all the times that are leading very successful lives in the private sector, in the public sector. ed is just one example after having had the benefit of head start, to get a hard start in life because of disadvantages that certain children face. how about students with disabilities? a $347 million cut to funding for students with disabilities which means a little more than $12 million less for pennsylvania children with disabilities. how about housing? $ed133,000 fewer housing vouchers. that adds up to 620 families in pennsylvania that if they had
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those vouchers would be able to avoid decent and safe housing. what are we getting for that? not an experimental program a program that we know works a program that's been in existence for a long time to help folks. we know that when we invest early in a child's life, we see a great return on investment. all the studies show this. it's irrefutable. you spend a buck, you get a lot more than a buck back. by some estimates the bang for the buck is in the double figures. in one study spend a buck on early learning, get $17 back for the $1 that you spent. i mentioned before that if we make investments in children in terms of their early learning, they will in fact learn more now and earn more later. that's what we should be focused on when it comes to our children when it comes to their ability to succeed in school,
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and of course when it comes to their ability to get a good job and to be part of a growing economy. the budget also makes -- the budget proposal makes deep cuts in many other investments that protect our most vulnerable children including the supplemental nutritional assistance program. snap. that of course provides nutrition aid. if we were doing the right thipg has a nation -- and we're not there yet -- we would make sure that children have enough to eat. that would be one pillar of our protection for children. we're not there yet but the snap program helped substantially on that. we would make sure they have early learning opportunities. we talked about that. we'll talk about it more. we would make sthiewr they have access to health care. that's why we have medicaid for poor children. that's why we have the children's health insurance program for others. that's why so many
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private-sector companies provide coverage that covers children of their employees. but if we're doing at least those three things -- early learning food security or food and nutrition, as well as health care -- we're going to be doing what's right for our chin. -- for our children. so we have to examine this budget, i would argue and apply a kids' test, not a special interest test, not a lobbyist test not a who is powerful test not a test about who has the most to gain from this budget but who might have the most to lose, and one of those groups, i would argue are our children. when it comes to the snap program, according to feeding america -- another great advocacy group -- nearly half of all snap participants are children and according to another organization we rely upon for analysis, the center on
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budget and policy priorities, investments in snap lifted 2.1 million children out of poverty in 2013. so why would we cut a program like that that would disproportionately and adversely impact our children? what do we gain for that as a country? what do we gain when fewer and fewer children are helped with a nutrition program that will make sure they have enough to eat? in addition to snap, the republican budget would roll back significant progress we've made for children who qualify for the child tax credit or the earned-income tax credit. if the improvements to these credits are allowed to lapse the center on budget and policy and priorities estimate that 1 million children will fall back into poverty. i think people in both parties would argue that these two -- and maybe especially the earned-income tax credit -- are one of the best, some would
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argue "the best" -- the best -- poverty-reduction strategies we've ever had in place in our law in our policy. so i think if the earned-income tax credit is keeping children out of poverty, we should make sure that it remains in place and remains a program that -- or a tax strategy that can help prevent one million children from falling back into poverty. we should also be using the tax code to help working families rise into the middle class those families who may not be there yet but instead the republican budget does nothing to prevent tax increases averaging $1,100 for 12 million families and students paying for college, and $,000 $9,000 for 16
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million families with children. as many as 486,000 pennsylvania families could benefit from the earned-income tax credit, the child tax credit, and the opportunity tax credit in 2015. all good ideas all impacted adversely by the budget. finally, i will conclude with medicaid. medicaid for some people is some program far away that they don't think affects their lives. well a lot of families -- lower-income families, middle-class families even -- benefit from the long-term care part of medicaid. a lot of families out there may not know that medicaid is the reason that their mother or father or loved one could be in a nursing home. what does it mean for kids? well medicaid for so many children millions of them, is
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the only health care that they have. the good news is that it's very good health care for a lot of children. they get access to early periodic screening and diagnostic testing. so they get the screening and the testing they need so that we can provide the kind of health care that that child needs that you cannot provide unless you do that screening for those children. it provides quality health care for millions of children in the country. we should remember that when people make proposals around here to slash medicaid. some by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade. that's a direct hit a direct hit on children. based on calculations from the white house the republican budget proposal would block grant medicaid funding to pennsylvania by more than $41 billion over ten years.
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i don't know how the commonwealth of pennsylvania or any state is going to be better off when we -- when medicaid is block granted. the sent back to the states hoping just hoping that maybe the states can pick up the cost. that makes no sense. our state is going to be worse off if we lose $40 billion or even a number lower than that over the next ten years on medicaid. 47%, by one estimate last fall -- 47% of ruler children, children who live in rural areas, are the beneficiaries of either medicaid or the children's health insurance program. so when those folks talk about cutting medicaid or not doing what i hope we can do, which is to extend the children's health insurance program for the next four years not only two, they should remember that 47% of rural children benefit from
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those programs. children when it comes to medicaid may only make up 20% of the cost of medicaid but half of the enrollees in medicaid are children. so they are -- they might only be 20% of the cost, but they're half of the enrollees. we know that medicaid was created 50 years ago. the government put forth a promise, which is the test i started with about children in the dawn of their life. the promise was to ensure that the most vulnerable members of society had access to health care. pretty simple promise and pretty easy to understand our obligation when we recite that promise. so whether it's our kids or whether it's older americans who need to get nursing home care or whether it's americans -- many of them children -- with disabilities medicaid ensures
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that access to health care. medicaid is the promise that we must keep to folks who need nursing home care, to children who are poor and will not have health insurance without medicaid and, of course, to individuals with disabilities. so we've got -- we have got a long way to go to approve prove that we're keeping that promise. mr. president, i will conclude with some thoughts about the children's health insurance program. we all know that this is a -- not only a bipartisan program but a very successful program. from 1997 when it was enacted to the year 2012, the uninsured rate for children fell by half from 14% to 7% across the country, a remarkable achievement. it means we're not there yet because we still have 7% uninsured. but that is a substantial step forward, a substantial measure
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of progress for the country. this program the children's health insurance program along with medicaid, is helping to reduce disparities in health care which are affecting low-income children across the country. without legislative action to extend funding beyond september 30 of this year over 10 million children across america are at risk of losing their comprehensive, affordable -- let me say that again comprehensive and affordable quality care, including by one estimate 270,000 children in pennsylvania. about two million of the children currently enrolled in chip would likely end up uninsured while the others would beltways higher premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs. so we should do the right thing and make sure that we have funding in place for four years for the children's health insurance program not just two. unfortunately, what we're hearing from the proposal sent
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to us by the house is that that four-year commitment is -- is only two years so we have a lot of work to do. i believe the right thing to do on chip is to enact what senate democrats have proposed, a four-year so-called clean extension of the children's health insurance program as soon as possible. that's senate bill 522. that would be the right thing to do. so we can -- we can give speeches and talk a lot about how we all support kids, and that's nice to say that and it's nice to vote once in a while for programs and strategies that help kids, but i believe the test is a lot tougher than that. the test will come on this budget vote, a test whether or not we support the children, and if we're cutting medicaid by
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hundreds of billions of dollars over the next ten years and if we're cutting the snap program by tens of billions of dollars or more, maybe even higher than that over the next ten years and if we're not doing the right thing on children's health insurance and i could go down a longer list, then we're not doing what we need to do for children. the folks that don't have lobbyists, they don't get campaign contributions they don't have power and they may be voiceless, but we have an obligation in both parties and in both houses to be their voice. but i'm afraid we're headed down a road with this budget that harms children substantially and i hope that we in the next couple of days make the right decisions for our children. mr. president, with that, i would yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: will the senator withhold his request?
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mr. casey: i will withhold. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mrs. capito: i ask unanimous consent that the committee on majority be discharged from further consideration of s. 301 and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. 301 a bill to require the secretary of the treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the centennial of boy's town and for other purposes. the presiding officer: is there objection? mrs. capito: i ask unanimous consent that the bill be read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. capito: mr. president i ask unanimous consent that the committee on foreign relations be discharged from further consideration and the senate now proceed to s. res. 72. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 72, expressing the sense of the senate regarding the january 24, 2015 attacks carried out by
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russian-backed rebels and so forth. mrs. capito: i ask unanimous consent -- the presiding officer: without objection, the committee is discharged. the senate will proceed to the measure. mrs. capito: i ask unanimous consent that the lee amendment be agreed to and that the senate now vote on passage of the resolution as amended. the presiding officer: without objection. the question occurs on passage of the resolution as amended. hearing no further debate, all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the resolution as amended is passed. mrs. capito: i ask unanimous consent that the preamble be agreed to, the leahy amendment to the title be agreed to and the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. capito: mr. president i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 110 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution
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110, expressing the sense of the senate about a strategy for the internet of things to promote economic growth and consumer empowerment. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mrs. capito: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to the preamble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. capito: mr. president i ask unanimous consent that the president of the senate be authorized to appoint a committee on the part of the senate to join with a like committee on the part of the house of representatives to escort his excellency muhammad asraf ghani into the house chamber for the joint meeting at 11:00 a.m. on wednesday march 25 2015. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. capito: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today it adjourn until 9:30 a.m. wednesday march 25. following the prayer and pledge, the morning business be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date
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and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day. following leader remarks the senate resume consideration of s. con. res. 11 with 18 hours of debate time remaining and that the time until 10:30 a.m. be equally divided and controlled by the two managers or designees. further, that the senate recess subject to the call of the chair at 10:30 a.m. to allow for the joint meeting of congress. lastly that all time during the recess count against the remaining debate time on the budget resolution. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. capito: if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until 9:30 a.m.
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>> host: john shaw joins us a correspondent for market news international to talk about the 2016 gop budget plans in the house and senate taking them up this week. what are the main details of this plan and how do they differ from one another? >> guest: while they are both ten-year plans that purport to balance the budget within a decade. both plans by tom price in the
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house and mike enzi in the senate effectively get $5.5 trillion in ten-year budget savings, about half of that comes from little less comes from have a repealing the affordable health care. there were unspecified savings in entitlement programs such as medicaid and medicare and also there's going to be discretionary savings. it's a $5.5 trillion over a decade. they reach balanced at least on paper. i think a lot of budget experts think they are perhaps optimistic growth assumptions that probably will not pan out. of course the president will not allow his affordable care act to be repealed. so it's above the upper -- budget that republicans are determined to have a balanced budget plan and it seems driven very intently by reaching balance actually a slight surplus at the end of the budget window. budget experts are little bit skeptical that it would actually
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reach balance but they do credit republicans are putting together a package that it leads to drives deficits down. >> host: one of the main sticking point seems to be this extra funding for the department of defense and for current wars. how are they dealing with this issue in the house? >> guest: well one of the big debates is whether they should adhere to the budget enforcement agreement and particularly the discretionary spending both defense and non-defense and what republicans have said is they will adhere to the defense cap which is 523 billion that they are also using with house minority whip steny hoyer called a slush fund. this is a special bond that was created to fund the wars in iraq and afghanistan. it has been used fairly aggressively in the last couple of years a sort of a separate defense budget where they can tap into to pay for other defense operations outside the base budget. so the house and senate republicans used this overseas account.
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it's called okot is the acronym. they use it aggressively with 94, $95 billion. democrats argue this is effectively the second defense budget as it were and they say republicans are using bad while purporting to adhere to defense caps. so they say it's a shell game that disguises what they really trying to do. >> host: it was her that the house is going to use a procedure called to clean up the hill to consider amendments on the floor on thursday. what is queen of the hill and why do they need to use it? >> guest: what they're looking to do is to have votes on six different alternatives basically three democratic plans, three republican plans and they are doing this process called queen of the hill which i have seen a couple times before in the early 90s. it allows people to vote on multiple budgets actually vote for multiple budgets and it's usually set up in such a way that the budget that the leadership wants to have passed is reserved for the ants.
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so what the house republican leadership is doing is having the final vote on a budget that is very similar to the budget that was passed in the house budget committee last week by tom price but it also will have to billion additional dollars for defense programs. this one is being set up for the one that the house republican leadership wants to have passed. the speaker said it's the version that he wants to see approved by the house. so i think the notion is a would allow people to vote on various alternatives that structure the post in such a way that the final vote is on the plan that the leadership wants to have prevailed. >> host: in addition to the two republican plans you mention some alternatives, for alternatives including one from house democrats. how does their plan different in the gop's? >> guest: quite substantially. i think in the last year democrats have a deficit of
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$7 billion. they have significant tax increases. they have lots of spending on investments and they say they will focus generating growth than to balance the federal budget. this is a plan that is the democratic agenda. it is based on what they call the architecture of president obama's budget which was introduced in early february. >> host: john we will be keeping tabs on you and on capitol hill and if anyone wants to bali one twitter and follow your reporting and m. and i news market thank you very much for joining us. >> guest: thank you very much.
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ahead of the secret service joseph clancy was back on capitol hill for more questions about an incident at the white house involving two agents who allegedly drove into a security barrier while intoxicated. that's next on c-span2.
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