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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  April 21, 2015 10:00am-12:01pm EDT

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the measure stalled over abortion provisions. bill managers say they're close to a compromise. live coverage now of the senate. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. our father in heaven, your grace continues to sustain us in times of misfortune or prosperity. we're grateful for your loving
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purposes that continually crown our years with goodness. today, enable our lawmakers to see with faith's eyes each blessing that comes disguised as adversity and each temptation that hides beneath the mask of prosperity. make them grateful for disasters averted and advancements made. lord let your love touch our world because of their labors, as you make the ambassadors of your
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purposes. protect our senators and teach them your paths. prosper the work of their hands, as you keep them from stumbling or slipping. we pray in your great name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c, april 21 2015. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1 paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable tom cotton a senator from the state of arkansas,
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to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g.hatch, president pro tempore. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: president obama recently claimed this to be national crime victims' rights week a stark reminder of the countless victims of modern slavery who continue to suffer exploitation at the hands of human traffickers a stark reminder of the need to pass the justice for victims of trafficking act a bill that victims groups and advocates called the most comprehensive piece of antitrafficking legislation currently pending. it provides unprecedented support to victims of domestic trafficking who are all too often invisible and underserved. this group further said, as leaders in the antitrafficking antiviolence child welfare civil rights, run away and homeless youth and human rights movements, we urge congress to pass this critical piece of legislation. there have been good-faict
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negotiations to resolve the impasse that presented the senate -- prevented the senate from moving forward on this bill. i'm glad we can say there is a bipartisan proposal that will allow us to complete action on this legislation so we can provide help to the victims who desperately need it. as soon as we finish the trafficking bill, as i've indicated for some time now we'll move to the president's nominee for attorney general hopefully in the next day or so. i particularly want to thank the senior senator from texas for leading these negotiations and for his continued diligence on this important issue. there is rule of law no stronger add voa -- there is really no stronger advocate for victims of human trafficking than senator cornyn. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: after weeks of stalling on the bipartisan human trafficking bill our republican
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colleagues have agreed not to expand the scope of the hyde language. democrats and republicans have come to agreement on a path forward on this pointless con triefd -- contrived fight. this is really good news. i thank the senior senator from washington senator patty murray, for the work that she put in brokering this compromise. but i have to say and throw a bouquet to amy klobuchar who has worked so hard on this for weeks and weeks and she has been very relentless in working toward an agreement on this. she's worked consistently to arrive at the conclusion that we have arrived at. i express my appreciation to senator leahy on the judiciary committee, who has been available for us at any given time to help us work through these issues. it wasn't easy, but with their
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efforts, the senators i've mentioned, it has been extremely important in fighting human trafficking, and that's really, really very important for us to do. but we also reject efforts to further obstruct a woman's access to services they deserve and need and we believe is within the law. i also want to say something about senator cornyn. john cornyn, i talked to him on thursday, and we thought we had something worked out. he's been very reasonable in helping us arrive at a conclusion and i express my appreciation to him publicly for that. this compromise is evidence that when democrats and republicans sit down together and work toward a solution, good things can happen. the senate needs more of this. but, mr. president let's hope the post agreement amendments don't ruin the agreement that we've reached. each side is going to have to be
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cautious in what they offer because any one of those amendments as we know, can cause a mini filibuster or a maxie filibuster, according to how you look at it. we don't need to get involved in that. we need to move forward on this legislation. we're going to have opportunities on other matters to offer amendments. i think we better be very, very careful on amendments that are offered. i say to my republican colleagues be very careful that you don't destroy this human trafficking legislation that is so important. you can do it with, i looked at some of the amendments talked about being offered. my senators are not going to sit back like shrinking violets and let this stuff go forward without responding in a fashion that will also cause difficult votes for my republican
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colleagues. so let's get rid of this quickly let's get loretta lynch confirmed quickly and move on to other matters. mr. president, on another subject, it's extremely difficult to compare one congress to another. each congress is unique. changing times shifting issues and new administrations with which to work. but one manner of gauging the success of a congress is simply tallying the number of presidential nominees that have confirmed. after all offering advice and consent on nominees is the senate's constitutional duty. if we're to use confirmations as a measuring stick by all accounts the majority leader and senate republicans are failing in spectacular fashion. so far this year the senate confirmed 21 nominees. four months, 21 nominees. unheard of to have such a small small number. that trend continues. the republican-led congress will
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have 63 nominees this year, 2015. by contrast, in 2007, my first year as majority leader during the bush administration, the senate confirmed 276 executive and judicial nominees. it didn't matter that democrats weren't working with the republican administration. mr. president, my disagreement with president george w. bush have been well documented and that's an stawmented but i worked with him because democrats knew and i knew it was only fair to give the president the team he needed to lead the country. doesn't president obama deserve the same? of course he does. in 2007 each democratic committee chair worked to move president bush's nominees through committees and the senate floor and a reasonable amount of time. yet we're seeing the opposite from the republican chairman this year. they're refusing to even do hearings. with no hearing there will be no nominations. in fact, republicans are committed to holding up as many
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of the president's nominees as possible. here's what one senior republican senator said in the last few days. if you jam nominees through it will be a long time before i approve of them. mr. president, what i say to that if this is a tantrum the republicans are having for changing the senate rules as we were forced to do, then revenge is not an effective way to govern. if it really is the case that republicans loathe the changes to the senate rules why don't they do something about it? we're four months into this congress and the majority leader had ample opportunity which he has had to undo the changes we made. so change them if you don't like them. it's clear that the republican plan for pay back to senators on allowing consideration on president nominations to a trickle. throwing a tantrum is not what the american people expect from their leaders. it is not fair to the president or the american people who elected him or the dedicated
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public servants who are wanting to serve our country. ten years ago a young senator from texas said -- quote -- "i would hope that no one in this body would feel it necessary to bring all the leftover angst of the campaign season to bear against a bright and honorable nominee." close quote. and yet this is what the senior senator from texas and his party are doing today doing exactly what he said shouldn't be done. america continues to look in disbelief as republicans delay loretta lynch's confirmation because they can. this is outrageous. one only need look at the recent poll today to find out the work done by the republican senate has been an absolute flop. so i certainly hope this is not what we are to expect during the duration of president obama's term. i hope my republican colleagues
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would demonstrate leadership and move the president's nominees. again, look at the cnn poll, i say to my republican colleagues. it is a disaster for you. it's not only fair to move forward on president obama's nominations, but it's the sworn duty the republicans have as members of the united states senate. mr. president, what are we going to do today? what are you going to tell us we're going to do? the presiding officer: under the previous order the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order the senate will be in a period of morning business for one hour with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each and with the time equally divided, the majority controlling the first half and the democrats controlling the second half. mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business for one minute. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mrs. murray: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senator from minnesota be given one minute in morning business prior to the republican time.
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the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mrs. murray: thank you mr. president. mr. president, from the very beginning of this discussion on the trafficking bill and the underlying issue members on both side of the aisle agreed we need to get this bill back on track as the bipartisan effort it should be. because without question, survivors of trafficking deserve our support. senator klobuchar has done an amazing job getting us to this point to get this bill done, and i'm pleased that we were able to reach a deal that now gets this done in a way that does not expand restrictions on women's health to non-taxpayer dollars or to new programs and provides survivors with real dedicated funds for the support and services they need. no compromise is perfect. i'm sure that are senator cornyn would say the same thing. i believe there's more we can and must do when it comes to strengthening women's access to quality health care. but i'm very pleased that senator cornyn and i along with a number of other senators on our side, including senator klobuchar, were able to work
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together in a bipartisan way to get this done. and i want to thank him and all his colleagues for their work to get us to this point. i hope we can get this legislation now passed very quickly for survivors and move on to continue working together on the many challenges our country faces. thank you. i yield the floor. ms. klobuchar: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i am very happy today that we have reached an agreement and i want to thank senator murray for her leadership, senator reid, senator mcconnell and senator cornyn. the two of us have worked on this issue for years and finally we're going to be able to move these really important bills forward. what this compromise does is set up two funds. the first uses senator cornyn's fund, which is fees on perpetrators, and uses that for things like shelters and law enforcement, things that we envisioned would be used for people to combat sex
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trafficking. the second fund is a medical fund and it's really based on the same principle that we used with the s.g.r. fund that we just voted on. that bill passed 92-8. the fund would receive a minimum of $5 million and would be matched up to $30 million as funding that the cornyn fund goes up, and so it really is a parallel fund, but serving the exact same purpose. and this is a way that we were able to eliminate extraneous provisions but still keep the spirit of this really important bill and allow us to move on to my bill, the stop exploitation trafficking act which really is about not prosecuting kids under 18. huge bipartisan support over in the house. passed unanimously through the judiciary committee and will be one of the amendments to this bill. i want to again thank senator murray for her leadership. we've been a team on this, and we've been able to work with senator cornyn and our friends across the aisle to get this
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done and it is also time, i will end by saying, to confirm the next attorney general of the united states, loretta lynch. thank you. i yield the floor. mr. thune: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: mr. president i'm pleased as well to hear that we got an agreement on the human trafficking legislation. it's something that should be above politics. unfortunately, anything around here it seems gets sucked into politics from time to time, but it was important that we get an agreement on this, that we be able to advance this legislation, and i'm pleased to hear yet another accomplishment that has happened here in the united states senate since we've gotten things sort of opened up and functioning again. and, mr. president i just want to say that, you know, last year when republicans were running for office, we promised that if we were reelected, we would get washington working again for american families. and that wasn't a campaign
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slogan. that was a commitment. and i i'm proud to report that after 100 days in office, republicans are making significant progress. to start with, republicans have gotten the senate just functioning again on a basic level, from an operations standpoint day to day. the law-making process in the senate had largely ground to a halt. instead of bills being drafted in committee and brought to the floor for open debate and amendment, bills were drafted behind closed doors. members of the minority party were shut out of the process and so were many rank-and-file democrats. last year democrat leadership allowed a total -- a total mr. president -- of 15 amendment votes, slightly over one amendment vote per month in the world's greatest deliberative body known for unlimited oaments -- unlimited amendments and unlimited debate. contrast that to the first 100
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days of republican control. the senate has held more than 100 amendment roll call votes. the more than half of those votes have been on democrat amendments. mr. president, when you shut one party out of the legislative process in the senate, you shut out the voices of millions of americans. republicans experienced that under democrat controllings control and we were determined to make sure that things were different this year. since republicans took control of the senate, members of both parties have had the opportunity to make their voices heard and we're seeing a lot more bipartisan legislation as a result. in the past three and a half months the republican-led senate has approved 12 bipartisan bills. we passed bipartisan legislation to approve the keystone pipeline. we passed a bipartisan bill to prevent suicides among vents. we passed a bipartisan reauthorization of the terrorism risk insurance program and a bipartisan bill to provide restitution for victims of child
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pornography. and last week we passed the first significant bipartisan reform of medicare in years. last week also brought the announcement of a new bipartisan agreement, a bill to reauthorize trade promotion authority. with 96% of the world's population and consumers outside the borders of the united states trade is essential to economic growth. since 2009, increasing exports have accounted for more than 1.6 million new jobs in the united states. manufacturing jobs that depend on exports pay on average 13% to 18% more. u.s. farmers ranchers rye ranchers rely on access to foreign markets. farmers and ranchers in south dakota where agriculture is the number-one industry depend on exports for a substantial part of their income. and exports of major south
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dakota crops like soybeans and corn have soared over the past few years. in 2013, total agricultural exports from south dakota totaled $3.8 billion. mr. president, previous free and fair trade agreements have been a boone boon to america's farmers and ranchers. countries with which our nation has free trade agreements purchased 12 times more goods per capita from the united states than non-free trade agreement countries. since 1934, almost all of the united states free trade agreements have been negotiated using trade promotion authority or a similar streamlined process. trade promotion authority is designed to put the united states in the strongest possible position when negotiating trade agreements. under t.p.a., congress sets guidelines for trade negotiations and outlines the priorities that congress must
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follow. congress promises a simple up-or-down vote on the resulting trade agreement instead of a long amendment process that could leave the final deal looking nothing like the original one. that simple up-or-down vote, mr. president, is the key. it lets our negotiating partners know that congress and trade negotiators are on the same page when it comes to the content of trade agreements, which gives other countries the confidence they need to put their best offers on the table. that allows for a successful and timely conclusion of negotiations. currently the administration is negotiating two major trade agreements that have the potential to vastly expand the market for american goods and services in the e.u. and in the pacific. the trans-pacific partnership is being negotiated with a number of asian pacific nations including new new zealand and vietnam. currently american goods face
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heavy tariffs in many of these countries. tariffs on consumer goods in trans-pacific partnership countries reach as high as 85% 85% while tariffs on agricultural products range even higher. poultry tariffs in trans-pacific partnership countries, for example, go up to 240%. that is a tremendous burden on american producers. american farmers ranchers, manufacturers, and consumers would all benefit from the conclusion of the trans-pacific partnership agreement and the u.s.-e.u. trade agreement. these trade deals remove many of the barriers currently facing u.s. products in these regions which would allow american goods to compete on a level playing field with their foreign counterparts. reauthorizing trade promotion authority is essential to bringing these two agreements to a successful and timely conclusion. the bipartisan trade promotion authority bill that was introduced last week by the
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senior senators from utah and oregon reauthorizes this key tool and includes a number of important updates like provisions to strengthen the transparency of the negotiating process and ensuring that the american people stay informed. it also contains provisions that i pushed forward to require negotiators to ensure -- with the importance of digital trade in the 231st century economy, it is essential that any new trade promotion authorization includes new guidelines specifically targeted at digital trade. i previously introduced legislation to help ensure that the free flow of digital goods is protected. mr. president, the best way to solve the challenges facing our nation is for democrats and republicans to come together to develop solutions. we've done a lot of that so far
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in the republican-led senate, and i look forward to doing a lot more of it. and i hope those democrats who have opposed trade promotion authority in the past will join the white house and senate republicans to pass this important bill for american workers and businesses and make a t.p.a. reauthorization our next bipartisan achievement. and, mr. president, i would add that after that, we also have a bill that would require congress to approve any nuclear arms agreement with iran, also a very big bipartisan bill as it was reported out of the senate foreign relations committee. these are things that can be accomplishments for the american people and starts with getting the senate functioning and operating again where people have the opportunity to come down to debate these issues, to offer amendments, to get those amendments voted on. that's what our commitment has been here in the united states
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senate. and, mr. president, i would argue -- and i think the record bears this out -- that it's making a very consequential difference in terms of the things we're able to get done for the american people. and i certainly hope that we can continue that pattern. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. vitter: thank you mr. president. mr. president, i rise in strong support of s. 984, the steve gleason act to help thousands of victims of a.l.s. and other related diseases all across the united states. this bipartisan, straightforward bill would give immediate relief to those folks folks with a.l.s. or lou gehrig's disease who are facing significant problems accessing necessary medical equipment as a result of three recent changes in medicare that prohibit access on every
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level. now, it's important to note, mr. president, this wasn't a problem until the administration governing medicare made it a problem a few months ago. they affirm affirmatively changed policy changed rules that created these significant access problems. and we're talking about devices that are critical for patients who have lost their ability to speak, to communicate directly with friends family, doctors to call 911 in case of emergencies, to write letters to loved ones. these devices allow these patients to speak and communicate in light of their loss of voice and other functions. this issue was first brought before congress last year when thousands of patients, patient advocates, and device manufacturers brought to our attention the devastating consequences of this new medicare policy.
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patients were having their devices actually taken away. many were not allowed to own their device or were not permitted to unlock the devices in order to use all of the technological functions all of which continue to be problems and prevent patients from leading much more independent lives. as a result, members on both sides of the aisle wrote a letter with more than 220 members advocating on behalf of this patient population to reverse the medicare administration decision. the senate has that same opportunity for bipartisanship today, to support this legislation on a strong bipartisan basis. and in that spirit i want to thank senator klobuchar from minnesota, senator king from maine, who have been completely supportive and aggressive in getting this important bill to the finish line. they understand the importance of putting patients first and fixing this extremely misguided
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and harmful medicare regulation that's had a truly devastateing impact on the lives of a.l.s. patients as well as stroke victims and other folks facing significant paralysis. on tuesday evening before the senate overwhelmingly passed a permanent doc fix the senator from oregon and i reached an agreement that he would run the hotline on this legislation steve gleason act and passed pass -- and pass this bill for our constituents. that's what we're working on today, and that's what i absolutely hope to complete today, to get this necessary important bipartisan language across the finish line. of course, the a.l.s. association, a national network group, is completely supportive. and i'd like to submit for the record a letter dated january 27 2015, on this topic from the
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a.l.s. association. i ask unanimous consent for that to be submitted to the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. vitter: the association has reached out to members all across the country and put in very concrete terms what this means to their members. and i'll give you one brief but very moving and significant example. it happens to be a woman from oregon the state of the ranking member of the committee. she was diagnosed with a.l.s. in january 2014. her disease unfortunately has progressed rapidly. she is now close to fully paralyzed and has very limited use of her arms and hands requiring loved wounds to be -- loved ones to be with her at all times. her respiratory system is also affected. she is struggling with the decision whether to have
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tracheotomy procedure or to enroll in who hospice and essentially prepare to die. her preference is to continue living as she still enjoys life. one important factor in the decision for her is that being able to communicate is a tremendous concern. while she still has some vocal ability to speak and to be understood currently she knows that going on the vent will be the end of her spoken voice and her ability to vocalize. and and she's very worried if she goes on the vent and prolong her life they may lose her ability to communicate with the world because of the changes in medicare policy that prevent her from accessing e-mail and the internet via this technology we're talking about. she's also very concerned that medicare will deny coverage for the eye tracking technology she will need in order to use the s.g.d., this significant technology we're talking about.
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so bottom line, she's worried that if she decides to continue living using mechanical ventilation she'll face the prospect of being locked up, having no means to communicate to help direct her care and her life. because of the limitations of s.g.d. coverage, she may actually choose dying over living because of that factor. it doesn't get more direct than that mr. president. it doesn't get more stark than that. why we need to give these patients access to important communication technology through the steve glieson act. why we need to act today. why we cannot delay this any further. of course steve glieson, for whom this act is named is a superb advocate for the a.l.s. community. he's a former new orleans saints player who famously blocked a
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punt during the saints' first game back in the superdome after hurricane katrina. after that the tremendous feat and his nfl career, steve was diagnosed with a.l.s. just as he gave the city of new orleans hope to rebuild after a devastating storm through his organization, "team glieson" he gives the a.l.s. community and their families hope with his "no white flags" message. steve was my guest to the state of state of the union speech this past january and the during his visit to washington, we met with the secretary of health and human services sylvia burwell and started gain human momentum for this steve glieson act. this bill again reinstates long-standing medicare policy medicare policy that was solid and true to these patients until recently to offer immediate
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relief for patients experiencing incredible difficulty accessing this important technology and equipment. and this act expands access to advancements in technology in a fiscally responsible way. michelle glieson steve's wife, summed up the story of a.l.s. patients and their loved ones -- quote -- "what causes me the most pain is the loss of his voice. i love hearing his voice. i want him to talk to me and to our son river. this disease takes his body. to take his voice just seems unfair." well, mr. president, we can offer a voice -- maybe not the same but a voice -- for these struggling patients. this was their lifeline. this was due to them until recently and now it's not because of this medicare change. i urge all of my colleagues
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mr. president, to come together around this bipartisan legislation pass this today and give a voice a real voice a meaningful voice to these struggling victims. and this is going to become law because we have assurances from house leadership that they're eager to bring the bill to the house floor they're eager to finish this important work to change the lives of patients across the country by giving them a voice back. mr. president, i urge us to come together to do this today to not delay to not wait longer and reinstate the voice for a.l.s. patients struggling in this way all around the country. mr. president, i yield the floor and i request 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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s
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mrs. gillibrand: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mrs. gillibrand: i'd like to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. gillibrand: i rise to speak about two bipartisan bills that would help to modernize the way this country approaches
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cybersecurity. congress needs to get with the times and realize the internet is no longer a new concept. swiping a credit card, conducting online banking storing prescription records online these are not new activities. the cloud is no longer new. hackers are no longer new. so why are we still so taken aback, in shock every time we suffer another major cyber attack? why are we still not requiring that consumers be notified when their information has been stolen? why aren't we unleashing law enforcement to go after cyber criminals? if we want to defend against 21st century threats then we have to bring our laws into the 21st century. we have to get out of the mind-set that the only way we can be hurt is from an actual physical attack. hackers don't operate on battlefields. they operate in basements and in cubicles. our approach to cyber security
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so far has been certifiably wrong. we have the largest defense budget in the world by far but that hasn't stopped our hospitals and banks from falling victim to a near constant barrage of attacks. last year data breaches in this country hit a record high. they were up more than 27% from the year before. and in new york state between 2006 and 2013, we had nearly 5,000 individual data breaches that were reported by businesses not-for profits and government entities. in the same period 23 million personal records of new yorkers were exposed to criminals. and that's just my home state. imagine hour big this number actually is nationwide. we're long overdue for a new national approach to cyber security and i'm introducing two bills that would finally
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make this happen. the first is the data breach notification and punishing cyber criminals act. it would set for the first time a national standard for how and when victims of cyber attack will be informed. when an attack takes place on a business, for example one that has your financial data or medical information this law would require that you are informed quickly with information about what was targeted, what was taken and whether you were personally affected. and this bill would seriously increase the penalties on people found guilty of hacking in cyber crime. it would raise the allowable fines and imprisonment sentences for many of the most common cyber crimes, including identity theft and theft of personal information. the second bill is the cyber security information sharing credit act a bill that would
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incentivize america's businesses to share cyber security information critical to preventing attacks without having to involve their competitors. instead businesses would be encouraged with significant tax credits to adopt the preferred most efficient method for information sharing. that is membership in private- sector specific cyber security networks designed to protect an industry such as health care or hospitals from attack. at the individual level companies, hospitals and banks can only do so much to protect us. any good cyber defense has to involve information sharing so that patterns can be recognized, industries can bolster their defenses and the same hacks aren't just repeated over and over again. to modernize america's approach to cyber security, we as individuals have to take action. companies have to take action. law enforcement has to take
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action. and local governments must take action. but most importantly and most urgently congress has to take action. we desperately need to modernize our cyber security laws. i urge my colleagues to support these two bills. thank you and i yield the floor and suggest there's an absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: quorum call:
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mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: thank you
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mr. president. we're in morning business, as i understand? the presiding officer: the senator is correct. there's five and a half minutes remaining. mr. durbin: thank you, very much. it's been 165 days, five and a half months, since the nomination of loretta lynch to be attorney general has been announced. she has been pending on the senate executive calendar for nearly two months. she was reported out of the senate judiciary committee on a bipartisan vote, nine democrats three republicans on february 26. this is a new record, sadly in terms of delay in a appointing an attorney general. the last seven nominees to be attorney general of the united states combined -- combined -- waited on the senate floor 24 months. pardon me, 24 days. seven nominees, 24 days.
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sadly ms. lynch has now been waiting over 50 days. why? what is it about this nominee that causes so much of a problem problem? well nothing came up at the judiciary committee hearing to suggest a problem. yes, she was appointed by barack obama -- wants to be appointed. yes, she has said she will serve this president. but when it came to her personally nothing. in fact, we have this tradition: after the nominee has testified under oath, then experts are brought in. each party can bring an expert in to testify for or against the attorney general nominee. senator patrick leahy the ranking democrat on judiciary said to the assembled group -- i think might have been 10 or 12 of these outside witnesses -- which of you by show of hands objects to the nomination of
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loretta lynch for attorney general? not a single one raised his hand. none. so even the witnesses that were brought to speak in negative terms all conceded that she should be attorney general. mr. president, that's require. -- that's rare. it's rare to have a nominee with that kind of affirmation come out of the senate judiciary committee. and for good reason. when you look at her record, you can understand why. this young woman has an extraordinary record of service. she grew up in north carolina as the daughter of a minister and a school librarian. her dad was there and her father was smiling as she recalled those instances when she was a very young girl and he would sit her on his shoulders and take her to see the civil rights events that occurred when
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she was so young. she received her undergraduate and law degrees from harvard university. private sector experience in prestigious law firms twice confirmed unanimously by the senate to serve as attorney for the even descrirkt district of new york. her nomination has been endorsed by such a wide range of groups representing law enforcement prosecutors, bar associations, business leaders civil rights organizations and former justice department officials from both democratic and republican administrations. and in what may be one of the most amazing ironies of this whole situation, loretta lynch has been recognized as a leader when it comes to prosecuting human traffickers. why is that significant? because the republican leader announced that he was holding up her nomination until we passed a bill on human trafficking.
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here is a woman who as a prosecutor rand a professional has prosecuted the -- and a professional has prosecuted the people in -- because of a political debate on the floor of the senate for almost four weeks. under ms. lithuania's leadership her u.s. attorney's office has brought many important prosecutions in human trafficking. in u.s. v. lopez perez three brothers were convicted for running a human trafficking ring involving 14- and 15-year-old girls. ms. lynch was also involved in the successful prosecution of the grenado her hernandez sex trafficking ring. in u.s. v. johnson ms. loretta lynch was involved in a prosecution where a queens man was convicted for
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trafficking and prostituting a 16-year-old girl out of his home. this nominee for attorney general knows more about the subject than most. and has a record to approve it. -- to prove it. the executive director of rights for girls is one of the nation's leading anti-trafficking advocates. she said, "it is clear that as the top prosecutor in brooklyn, new york, loretta lynch has a strong record of being tough on crime and human trafficking." and she is being held up on the floor because of our failure to pass a bill on that same subject. here's what the president of the national district attorneys association, michael moore said about ms. loretta lynch when he wrote to express his organization's strong support. i quote "as prosecutors facing challenges in the field from human trafficking to gangs and drug traffickers our membership feels that ms. lynch understands the operational nature of these challenges and will be a strong,
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independent voice at the helm of the department." calling a vote on ms. lynch and confirming her would be a big step forward in the fight against trafficking. it's time to end this delay and obstruction. this extraordinary woman nominated by the president of the united states to be the first african-american wellcome to serve as attorney general should have been approved by the senate long ago. while she has been waiting patiently for a long, long time, we have interrupted the business of the senate to approve the president's appointments as assistant secretary of transportation assistant secretary of commerce, federal mine safety and health review commissioners, the federal retirement threft investment board members the under secretary for management at the department of homeland security, the chairman of the national indian gaming commission, and several federal judges. we've had more than adequate opportunity to call ms. lynch for approval. let us not leave washington in
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week without voting on loretta lynch to be our next attorney general. i voted for her in committee and will proudly support her nomination in the hopes that it will come to the floor this weefnlgt mr. president i yield the floor and suggest 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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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of s. 178, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 26, s. 178 a bill to provide
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justice for the victims of trafficking. mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president i realize the devil is always in the details and i see the distinguished senior senator from texas on the floor. i hope we are getting somewhere on trafficking. it has taken overlong, i appreciate the fact this body when we were doing the violence against women act voted for the sex trafficking amendment that i proposed during that, and the majority of the senators then voted for the final violence against women act which included sex trafficking and that that bill has been signed into law. we should continue on this one
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which adds to what we did a couple years ago. but i'm concerned as i've said many times that we've held up loretta lynch because of this. i cannot see what the the core larry -- the core layery is. we've had my friends on the aisle tell me they've had to wait for three or four days for a republican nominee on the floor to get confirmed that that's too long and they warn us of the concerns about national security. well, loretta lynch has waited 54 days. i want to put this in -- in
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some kind of concept of where that is. attorney general holder waited five days. attorney general mukasey waited two days. attorney general gonzalez waited eight days. attorney general ashcroft waited two days. attorney general reno waited one day. attorney general barr waited five days. attorney general thornburgh waited one day. so if we take those seven most recent attorneys general and take all the time they waited and add it all together, it comes to 24 days. of course, loretta lynch has waited 54 days, more than twice as long as the seven most recent attorneys general combined. and then we still have the deputy attorney general whose
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background is virtually the same as loretta lynch both of them highly respected prosecutors both who have prosecuted the matters involving the things we're trying to stop here on the floor prosecuted terrorists, prosecuted traffickers troughed white-collar crimes. and once we get loretta lynch we have to get her deputy. incidentally their testimony is basically the same before the senate judiciary committee. so i hope both of them, both of them are confirmed. both are women who are highly qualified but it's taken too long. it creates a morale problem at the department of justice one of our first lines against
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terrorists and organized crime and others. we have some superb men and women who work at the department of justice. some came here during republican administrations, some came here during democratic administrations. i've met so many of them from both republican and democratic administrations, i'm just so impressed with the men and women who are there and their dedication. most of them could leave go to a law firm, make a lot more money. they're dedicated to this country. but it's demoralizing to them to behold the position of attorney general in -- in limbo. we shouldn't. the department of justice is something that we should keep as much out of politics. we should remember, too, it's not the secretary of justice like we have the secretary of commerce and secretary of agriculture and so on, a member
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member -- somebody suggested a member of the president's staff. this is the attorney general of the united states. they represent you they represent me, they represent everybody. i told the story often when i was a young law student and -- at georgetown. the then attorney general invited four or five students from different law schools and reviewed our grades and invited us in, actually spent an hour with him. encouraging us to come with the department of justice. i remember one of the questions i asked the attorney general i said if you're attorney general of the united states and you're asked to prosecute somebody who is close to the president what do you do? he said, well, if they should be prosecuted they'll be treated the same as anybody else, and
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we'll prosecuted prosecute them. subsequently -- and i declined the offer to come there. i was homesick, wanted to get back home to vermont both my wife and i wanted to get back, i wanted to practice law there which i did and became a prosecutor there. but i thought of this with the -- what the attorney general said because subsequently a man in illinois who was critical to the election of the then president ran afoul of the law. the attorney general signed off on this prosecution. and when asked by some of the staff, well, are you sure you're okay with this, he says commit a crime we should be, he said i probably won't go to many family reunions for a few weeks after doing this. this was of course attorney general robert kennedy. the man he prosecuted had been
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critical to the election of his brother, john kennedy as president. i always admired that, that he was willing to do that. he put his duties as a prosecutor first ahead of any political duties. and i believe loretta lynch will do the same. i realize sometimes the young law students can be very impressionable but i've never forgotten that. never forgotten that time sitting there with attorney general kennedy. i've never forgotten how i had to wrestle with do i turn down this offer. but it was a family decision, and one i've never regretted. i wept back to vermont. and things turned out all right.
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i've had the privilege of representing vermont for over 40 years in this body. but that's something i've always remembered. it's one of the reasons i put on the judiciary committee, one of the reasons i took when it was offered to me the chairmanship of it, one of the reasons i'm ranking member now. i believe very strongly that we have some of the -- incidentally mr. president you should know that the men and women who work there, both sides of the aisle are brilliant lawyers hardworking people. christine lucius is my chief and there, i don't know a better lawyer anywhere than she is. or anybody who works harder than she does. but we have a lot before the judiciary committee. senator grassley is my friend, we've been friends for over 30
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years. i won't speak for him but i suspect he'd say we have things to get going too. so i hope that we're able to get this trafficking matter taken care of and get the attorney general and the deputy attorney general confirmed. now, at this time in the last two years of president bush's term his second term, the democrats had come back in the majority. i wanted to show that we would keep partisanship out of it and i think as chairman i moved 14 or 15 judges of president bush's through by this time. 14 or 15 of them. moved them far more rapidly than
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republicans had during the end of president clinton's term. i am glad we've been able to confirm one judge the judge from texas who -- two two judges i'm sorry the first was a judge from texas whom i supported, and i've complimented the two senators from texas because of their work in picking somebody who would be the judge first and foremost, not without -- without reference to whatever their political background is, and -- but i would hope that we could now start doing what we did with president bush and confirm more. let us get back to this, let's get judges out of politics, out of us making it political. i'm afraid there is going to be good men and women who will
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decline the cut in pay and everything else to become a federal judge if they think they have to put their life on hold for six months or a year to get that even more so for key positions like attorney general, deputy attorney general, and others. in the department of justice. we can fight over things that may get more into the political area commerce and so on, but this should be out of that, and the distinguished senior senator from texas a judge and prosecutorial background. he and i have worked closely together on a number of issues. the freedom of information act being one. i suspect we'll work together on a number of issues to come forward. let's get past this roadblock and get on to some other things, and i see him on the floor and i will yield the floor mr. president.
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the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president i came to the floor to talk about the work of the senate and particularly the justice for victims of trafficking act but i would say to my -- my colleague and friend who i have worked with on so many important issues that i also look forward to once we get past today's business that we look forward to working together with you on patent reform, criminal justice reform. also to continue our i think very productive partnership on open government and transparency particularly freedom of information act legislation. but, mr. president before i talk about the justice of victims of -- for victims of trafficking act, i have to note
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it's my responsibility, my duty, my honor to note that today is a very important day in texas. this is the san jacinto day. this is the official state holiday that honors texas independence where 910 soldiers led by general sam houston won the decisive battle of the texas revolution. so it's not the battle of the alamo that gave texas its independence. that's the one that people perhaps remember the most. maybe because it's the movies and books that have been written about that. actually the battle of the alamo didn't turn out too well. virtually everybody was killed, but it gave rise to the opportunity for these 910 men led by general sam houston on san jacinto day to win the decisive battle of the texas revolution. now almost 180 years later i think it's only appropriate and fitting that we recognize their
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bravery and their sacrifices in pursuit of our dream of freedom. but on the subject of the justice for victims of trafficking act this has been a strange experience starting as we did on something that passed unanimously in the judiciary committee. 30 cosponsors on a bipartisan basis, and all of a sudden to have this legislation stuck here in the united states senate. and i won't relitigate the reasons for that because frankly, i think we have now found a way forward for this legislation. as the majority, senator mcconnell and the democratic leader senator reid announced this morning. it's going to take a little bit more work by the senate. there are perhaps a handful of amendments that we'll have an opportunity to vote on, although
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i know the desire by everyone is for us to finish this trafficking bill as soon as we can and then we can address the concerns that the ranking member from vermont senator leahy has about the attorney general nomination. senator mcconnell has made very clear that once we get trafficking resolved, which it appears we will -- we are on a path to doing then we can turn to the lynch nomination. but i've actually been somewhat surprised and more optimistic than i have been in a long time about how the senate is beginning to work again from passing a budget to dealing with the broken doc fix that had been the law of the land since 1997 which had required us to come back and patch every six months to a year, and the reforms that actually were negotiated by speaker boehner and leader pelosi in the house which we passed by an overwhelming margin here in the senate.
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and then if you consider our -- what happened in the foreign relations committee on the iran sanctions issue a unanimous vote the health, education labor committee senator -- senator alexander senator murray announcing an agreement to move forward on the reauthorization of early childhood education. we have some very good progress that's being made, for example on trade. i just came from the senate sentence feet. -- from the senate finance committee. i think there is a path forward on the trade promotion authority and consideration of the transpacific partnership. the truth is that the united states has roughly 20% of the
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world's purchasing four, which means 80% of the purchasing power in the world lies beyond our borders. we have 5% of the world's population meaning 95% of the world's population lies beyond our borders. and the opportunities we have to grow our economy and help small and medium-sized businesses and the people, the middle-class families that work at those businesses is very exciting. so the point is i think we are are -- we've -- after a long period of dysfunction in the united states senate, we are starting to see the united states senate work again the way it should work, the way it has historically worked through the committees to build consensus on legislation that can then come to the floor to have senators, whether they be in the majority or the minority, to offer constructive suggestions about how to solve our nation's biggest challenges, and then to work together to send these to the president and get his
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signature. so there is a lot of positive things happening in the united states senate, and i hope for even more positive things to occur in the near future. but i have been focused like a laser for some time now on justice for the victims of human trafficking. when i think for a minute about the fact that the typical victim of human trafficking is a 12 to 13-year-old girl who has been sold essentially into sex slavery and who has lost control over her life and perhaps to their mind, to her mind her future i can't think of a more compelling need for the united states senate than to try to offer a lifeline to these victims of human trafficking and that's what this legislation that hopefully we will act on today, perhaps no later than tomorrow is designed to do. it creates a fund that could be
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as high as $30 million not from taxes but from fines and penalties paid by people who commit sexual offenses and basically represent the demand side of the human trafficking equation. and we have found a way now on a bipartisan basis to move this legislation forward so we can offer a hand to rescue these victims of human trafficking. we can give them an opportunity to heal and we can provide them some hope for a better future. you know, i know all of us by virtue of our -- the privilege of office that we serve in have heard stories from constituents about human trafficking and i remember quite clearly brooke axtel of austin, texas who now works with a number of nonprofits and has basically turned her tragic story into serving others who have likewise
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become victims of human trafficking. brooke's story is really almost beyond belief. she says at age 7, she was sexually abused. she was literally held captive in a basement and sold to men who would pay money to have sex with her a 7-year-old child. brooke has brought to light her pain and has begun to heal as a result of having been rescued been given a helping hand, but she has now turned her tragic story into hope by honorably helping others find a way out of a life she herself experienced. she found a group called survivor healing and empowerment, which is a healing community of survivors of rape, abusive and sex trafficking. another horrific story that i've heard, i'm sure just like all
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members of the senate have heard coming from their states, because this is not something isolated in one state, this is a national -- indeed, it's an international phenomenon, but another woman i've had the privilege of meeting with who shared her story with me is melissa woodward from the dallas-fort worth area. melissa was 12 years old when she was sold into the sex trade by a family member. unbelievable. eventually, she was pulled out of school to be trafficked full time when she was in the sixth grade. her life, as she describes it, became a prison. she was literally chained to a bed in a warehouse she says, and endured regular beatings and obviously sexual assaults. she was even once -- there was even once an attempt to set her on fire by one of her abusers. and all the while she says she was forced to serve between five and 30 men every day.
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she said she wished she was dead. as heart breaking as melissa's story is, just as sad is the way she was treated after she escaped her captors. and one of the big changes in the way we have approached victims of human trafficking at one point we claimed that they were the criminal because they had engaged in prostitution, but the idea of a child prostitute is an oxymoron. a child cannot consent to a life of prostitution, and what we find in looking at the victims of human trafficking is many of them are manipulated and coerce ed and forced to engage in this sex activity for the economic benefit of their johns or their pimps or their traffickers. this is all about money. this is about the face of evil
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that treats human beings as an object a thing without the basic dignity and respect which all human beings are entitled to. but as i said, one of the problems with the way we used to treat victims of human trafficking is we treated them like the criminal, and that was all too common an outcome for trafficking victims who were labeled as prostitutes and left with very few options but to ultimately return to a nightmare that sadly exists in our country. that is beginning to change. it needs to change even more, which is another reason why we need to pass this bill. this is the kind of legislation that i think in many ways is unique because it is a nonpartisan piece of legislation. all this legislation is designed to do is to help the victims of human trafficking get rescued
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and then begin to heal and to get on with their lives. it's designed to provide much-needed resources for victims of human trafficking plain and simple. it may be nothing more than a safe place to sleep. protected from the people who would continue to abusive them. and it's designed to help people like brooke, melissa and so many others the tens of thousands of victims of human trafficking. this legislation would not only provide help for those victims but would ensure that children like melissa are treated like victims and not criminals. it would also add law enforcement tools to help authorities rescue victims and to take down human traffickers and the organized criminal networks who support them. that's an important point because human trafficking is not a mom and pop business. this is run by organized crime
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and criminal networks, some of them international or transnational. so mr. president i want to thank my colleagues for caring for caring about people like melissa and brooke and the many examples of human trafficking that we've all been introduced to and i want to particularly express my gratitude to all of our colleagues for working on this and not giving up until we found a pathway toward success. this body's consideration of this bill has proven that compromise and bipartisanship need not be relics of the past in today's washington, but they are very much alive and well, particularly when the need is so very great as it is in this area. so now for the sake of these victims, let's get this important legislation passed and provide crucial help to the children trapped in modern-day
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slavery. i want to conclude, mr. president, by saying a few thank yous. i know it's premature but we would have not gotten this far were it not for the help of rights for girls coalition international, coalition against trafficking of women the national association to protect children and members of our staff here in the united states senate who have worked so fard to get us where we are today. i want to express my gratitude to senator klobuchar senator murray senator reid on the other side of the aisle who've worked so closely with us. and, of course, the chairman of the judiciary committee, senator grassley and particularly i want to single out the majority leader senator mcconnell who said we would not move to the nomination for attorney general of the united states until we get this done

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