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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  May 12, 2015 10:00am-12:31pm EDT

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this congress and if it fails to move forward could be a stinging rebuke of the president by members of his own party. what happens today with trade promotion authority could also deal with pacific region country. you didn't -- you can read more at as we take you live to the floor of the u.s. senate. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain dr. barry black will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. free us from hindrances eternal lord, preserve us in our pilgrimage through this life. using us as your light to a dark world. free us from hindrances that keep us from accomplishing
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your purposes on earth. today, abide with our senators. give light to guide them faith to inspire them, courage to motivate them and compassion to unite them now and evermore. help them in the making of laws to execute justice and to set the captives free. protect them in their work and keep them from those things that lead to ruin. give them faith to see beyond today. to sow the seeds and cultivate
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the soil that will bring our nation a bountiful harvest. we pray in your holy name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our 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. mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: the senate will have the opportunity this afternoon to open the legislative process for a broad
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21st century american trade agenda. let me remind senators that the vote we're taking today is not a vote to approve or disapprove of trade promotion authority. in fact, the bill we'll be voting to proceed to is simply a place holder that will allow us to open a broad debate on trade that our country very much needs. voting yes to open debate on the 21st century american trade agenda offers every member of this body the chance to stand up for american workers american farmers, american entrepreneurs and american manufacturers. it's a chance to stand with americans for economic growth, opportunity and good jobs. selling products stamped made in america to the many customers who live beyond our borders is
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key. that's true across our entire country. it's true in my home state of kentucky. we know that kentucky already boasts more than half a million jobs related to trade. we know that nearly a quarter of kentucky's manufacturing workers depend on exports for their jobs. and, mr. president, we know that manufacturing jobs tied to exports pay about 18% more than nonexport-related jobs. so there is every reason to knock down more unfair international trade barriers and bring more benefits back to americans right here at home. according to one estimate, kentucky alone can see thousands more jobs and millions, millions more in economic investment if we enact smart agreements with countries in europe and in the pacific. we also know how important these types of agreements are to our national security.
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especially in the pacific region. just last week, seven former defense secretaries from both parties wrote to express their strongest possible support for the bill before us today. the stakes are clear they wrote. there are tremendous strategic benefits and america's prestige influence and leadership are on the line. if we care about preserving and extending american leadership in the 21st century then we cannot see the most dynamic region in the -- cede the most dynamic region in the world to china. it's true from a national security perspective and it's true from an economic perspective. but first we need fair and enforceable trade legislation that expands congressional oversight over the administration and sets clear rules and procedures for our trade negotiators. we have all those things in the bipartisan congressional trade priorities and accountability
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act. a bill that passed out of the finance committee 20-6 with strong support from both parties. we should start the process of building on that bipartisan momentum right now. i know the opportunity to consider complex legislation via the regular order became too uncommon in recent years but that's changing now. the senate may still be a little rusty, though, so i want to be clear about what today's vote is. this is a vote to begin a process. this is a vote to begin a debate on a broad trade agenda. yes, t.p.a. will be part of that debate but trade adjustment assistance or t.a.a. will be also. now, there are many members on my side of the aisle who have real reservations about t.a.a.
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i do as well. but i expect that at the end of this process after the senate works its will, that t.a.a., trade adjustment assistance, will be part of a package that the senate sends to the house. the top democrat on the finance committee made it clear at the markup of these trade bills that t.a.a. needed to run alongside t.p.a. i know that the chairman of the committee, senator hatch has also been working toward that end. now, the finance committee didn't just mark up t.p.a. and t.a.a. it also marked up the african growth and opportunity act and passed a generalized system of preferences bill by voice vote. it reported a customs and enforcement bill by voice vote, too. so while t.p.a. is clearly the centerpiece of the trade agenda before us, there is also bipartisan support for other bills reported by the finance
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committee. i know we've heard some concern that these bills might get left behind. i don't think that was anybody's intent. i expect to have a robust amendment process that will allow trade-related amendments to be offered and considered, including on the subject matters that the committee dealt with. the underlying substitute will be a compromise between the two parties marrying t.a.a. and t.p.a. but let me repeat so there's no misunderstanding, the measure before us will be open for amendment and i expect that other trade policies considered by the committee and possibly even more will be debated on the floor. i also expect that chairman hatch and senator wyden will be working hard to get as much done as they can on all of these proposals. i know that chairman hatch wants
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to find a path forward on all of these bills. i know that senator wyden and chairman ryan spent a lot of time working through t.a.a., and despite the objections of many on our side, it is likely to be included in any trade bill that passes the senate. i'm confident that an enduring agreement can be found if the senate is allowed to work its will and debate openly, and that's what we intend to have happen on this bill. so i repeat, all we're voting on today is whether to have the debate at all. if there are senators with concerns about particular details of the trade agenda before us, that's all the more reason to vote to debate it. let's have these conversations in an open and transparent way. let's give the american people a full-throated debate on an important issue. but we can't debate any of the provisions senators want to
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consider if they vote to filibuster even getting on the bill so i'm calling on colleagues to prove they're serious, prove they're serious about wanting to pass this legislation rather than simply looking for new and creative ways to defeat it. voting to proceed is the way you have an opportunity to prove you want to pass trade promotion authority. all the good committee work i mentioned demonstrates a real hunger to process bipartisan trade legislation so let's vote to build on that today. let's vote to open debate on a 21st century american trade agenda. let's not slam the door on even the opportunity of having that debate. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the minority leader. mr. reid: yesterday the national football league punished one of its most recognizable players for having
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tampered with game balls. i find it stunning that the national football league is more concerned about how much air is in a football than with a racist franchise name that denigrates native americans across the country. the redskins name is a racist name. so i wish the commissioner would act as swiftly and decisively in changing the name of the d.c. team as he did about not enough air in a football. mr. president, we know later today the senate will vote on whether to move forward with consideration of trade legislation. what we do not know, other than what the leader just said, what's going to be on the matter before us, it seems to me we said that there will be t.p.a. and t.a.a. in the bill, and that dealing with africa and these other provisions dealing with customs won't be in the bill. that's unfortunate. in april the senate finance committee reported four bills out of the committee. each of these four bills
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addressed different trade issues. several of these bills contained amendments that the senate has spent months or years working to pass. as i stand here today senate democrats still don't know for sure the procedure of the republican leader, and i would say to my friend, the republican leader and everyone that i've -- that hears me say this is that using the logic of the republican leader then he should move to these four bills. he wants a robust amendment process which he talks about all the time, why doesn't he put this legislation before this body and we'll have a robust amendment process? the ranking member of the finance committee is here, is an experienced legislator, and he knows, he knows. he was here before the republicans put skids on any legislation for four years. he knows what the process was before then and he knows what the process is today and he knows the reason there have been a few things accomplished this
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work period -- and i mean a few -- is because we've cooperated with the republicans. we still want to do that, but if the republican leader is concerned about a robust amendment process put everything the committee reported out and that's why we have been led by the good senior senator from oregon the way we have been. i have been very clear mr. president, i'm not a fan of fast-track but it's important to remember that the senate's ongoing debate about trade is not limited to legislation granting president obama fast-track trade authority. one of the bills reported out of the committee finds worker assistance for american workers who lose their job because of trade. important. trade adjustments helps american workers be trade look for new jobs and re-enter the work force. it's a program that's worked well. the second bill helps developing countries support their products to the -- export their products to the united states. the third bill started out as a customs bill, now includes
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bipartisan provisions, fighting currency manipulation, includes provision and importation of goods made with forced labor and it also ensures that american manufacturers can enforce our trade laws against foreign companies who refuse to play by the rules. simply put these three other bills include many provisions to make sure that trade is fair for american workers and the american economy. my views on trade i repeat, are well known. i don't support these trade provisions but if the senate's going to talk about trade we must consider its impact on american workers and the middle class. that's what the customs provision does. it's why i support combining these four bills into one piece of legislation so no american worker is left behind by the senate republicans. it's essential that if we move to fast-track, we consider these other bills as part of the process. in past years democrats and republicans joined together to pass other important trade legislation with fast-track. for example in 2002, when that
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passed congress adopted in that trade adjustment assistance custom trade enforcement and an extension marked preference program. we did it in 2002, why can't we do it today? so mr. president the majority leader talks about the motion to proceed as a way to move forward. there's also a way to move forward that would be less disruptive. that is, have the majority leader put all these four bills together and then begin a robust amendment process. the absence of assurance that these four bills are together is a symbol that some will be left behind. the people that are left behind are the american middle class. i urge the majority leader to take the necessary steps to to merge these four bills. otherwise we risk hurting every american that we talk about so much here to protect -- namely, the middle class.
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again, logically, if you use the statements of the republican leader, we should put all four of them together. we would move forward on this legislation. we could have a process -- again, using his words -- a robust amendment process. the last time those words came out, robust amendment process we had two amendments. that's not very robust in my estimation. so i wish my friend, the ranking member of the finance committee the very best in this legislation. he has a huge responsibility for his caucus and we at this stage support these four bills being moved forward at the same time and then the process can begin of legislating. if we don't -- if he doesn't do that it's going to be very difficult to get to the guts of this -- the bills that are
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reported out of the committee. mr. wyden: mr. president? the presiding officer: under the previous order the leadership time -- under the previous order the senate will be in a period of morning business until 12:30 p.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each and with time equally divided in the usual form. mr. wyden: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: mr. president i listeninged carefully to the remarks of the senate majority leader and i believe that the majority leader's statement provides potential -- potential -- to find the bipartisan common ground on trade that we found in the senate finance committee. in the senate finance committee we passed the trade promotion act by a 20-6 vote the trade adjustment assistance act by a 17-9 vote, and we passed a
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robust trade enforcement measure and package of trade preferences by voice vote. respectfully mr. president, i would hope that the majority leader would take this morning to work with those on my side of the aisle who are supportive of trade to find a similar bipartisan approach to ensure that all four of the measures i've described are actually enacted. and with that, mr. president i yield the floor. mrs. boxer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: mr. president i appreciate the leadership of senator i would wyden on this because if you leave out certain bills that help workers then what you're left with, essentially is a package that ignores their
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needs. i do want to say that i hope we will not proceed to this debate on this free trade agreement. and i stand here as someone who comes from california where i had voted for half of the trade agreements and i voted against half. so i think i'm a a fair voice for what we should be doing. now, if there's one unifying principle of the economics of what we should be doing today it is this: the middle class is having a very hard time in america today perhaps the worst time in modern history. a new university of california study released last week makes it clear how our middle class is being hollowed out. in my state, we have a dynamic workforce, we have dynamic
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intend prierentrepreneurs. we're doing very well. but this study found that the lowest paid 12% of california workers have seen their real wages decline by 12% since 1979. now, think about that. this is a great country. we always say we have to be optimistic about tomorrow. you do everything right you play by the rules and your income for your family in real terms goes down by 12%. there's something wrong with this. i think everyone will say they want to do more for the middle class, and there is a straightforward agenda we could turn to 0 to do just that, and instead what do we turn to: a trade agreement that threatens the middle class that threatens the middle class. so what should we be doing here,
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not confabbing in a corner over there about how to push a trade bill on this floor that doesn't help working america; we should pass a highway bill. the highway bill is critical. good-paying jobs businesses that thrive in all of our communities, more than 60,000 of our bridges are structurally deficient. more than 50% of our roads are not in good condition. but, oh, no ... even though the highway bill expires, we have no more authority to spend money out of that fund come the end of may, they're bringing forward a trade bill that is a threat to the middle class. why don't we increase the minimum wage? the minimum wage needs to be raised. oh no ... they don't want to do that. haven't done it in years.
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states are doing it. oh no ... let's keep people working full-time in poverty. so instead of confabbing over there on how to push a trade bill onto this floor we ought to be raising the minimum wage. what else should we be doing? we should make college more affordable. we have people here on social security in this country that are still paying off their student loans. that is a shame upon america. they can't even refinance their student loan. so instead of confabbing in the corner about how to bring a trade bill to this floor why don't we fix the student loan problem? why don't we raise the minimum wage? why don't we pass a highway bill that is funded to help middle-class people? it's all a matter of perspective, my friends. we still haven't done equal pay for equal work, so women are not
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making what they should. and that hurts our women when they retire. they've lost more than $400,000 in income. so instead of standing in the corner and figuring out how to bring a trade bill to the floor they ought to be fixing equal pay for equal work, they ought to be fixing student loans for our students, they ought to be passing a highway bill, they ought to be increasing the minimum wage, and they ought to deal with currency fairness because our trading partners, they play with their currency in order to push forward their products. but oh, no ... that is not on the agenda. we could have an agenda for a vibrant middle class but instead of that, we are moving toward a trade bill. now, i know there are some who disagree with me, who come down this floor and say we're going
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to create jobs with this trade bill it's going to be great. well let them explain how we're not going to see some of the 12 million jobs that are manufacturing jobs in america not move to countries who pay 56 cents an hour. another country $1.19 an hour. i know they'll disagree with me. they're making all of these promises. and, you know, the more i hear it the more i hear the echos of the nafta debate. now, that was a long time ago and i was here then. in 1988, i voted for fast-track authority to allow the administration to negotiate the north american free trade agreement. then five years later i saw the deal. it was a bad deal, and i voted
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no. but it was too late because when i saw the deal, i knew i couldn't fix it because that's what fast-track is. and what this majority here today is saying to us is, vote for fast-track and give up your right, senator boxer from amending this trade agreement. so they say well, it's very transparent. go down and look at it. well let me tell you what you have to do to read this agreement. follow this: you can only take a few of your staffers who happen to have to have a security clearance -- because god knows why, this is secure; this is classified. it has nothing to do with defense. it has nothing to do with going after isis. it has nothing to do with any of that. but it is classified. so i go down with my staff that i could get to go with me, and as soon as i get there the guard
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says to me, hand over your electronics. okay give over my electronics. then the guard says, you can't take notes. i said, i can't take notes? well, you can take notes but you have to give them back to me and i'll put them in a file. so i said, wait a minute. i'm going to take notes and then you're going to take my notes away from me and then you're going to have them in a file, and you can read my notes? not on your life. so instead of standing in a corner trying to figure out a way to bring a trade bill to the floor that doesn't do anything for the middle class, that is held so secretively that you need to go down there and hand over your electronics and give up your right to take notes and bring them back to your office, they ought to come over here and figure out how to help the middle class how to extend the highway bill, how to raise the
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minimum wage how to move toward clean energy, how to fix our currency manipulation that we see abroad. so anyway, take you back to 1988. i vote for fast-track, for nafta. instead of the million new jobs that were promised, by 2010, the united states had lost 700,000 jobs. so instead of standing in a corner figuring out how we're going to lose more jobs, we ought to do something that works for the middle class. let me tell you what happened with nafta. instead of improved pay for our workers, which was promised, nafta pushed down american wages. it empowered employers to sty their workers either -- to say to their workers either accept lower wages and benefits or we are moving to mexico.
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instead of strengthening our economy, it increased our trade deficit to mexico, which know this year hit $50 billion. before nafta we had a trade surplus with mexico. now we have a trade deficit. so instead of standing in the corner and figuring out how we can have more trade deficits with countries we ought to do something to help the middle class. i want to talk about something that happened in california in santa ana right after nafta. the city had worked hard to keep a mitsubishi plant that assembled big-screen tv's securing tax credits to help the plant stay competitive. even after nafta passed, company officials promised they would keep the plant in santa ana. but guess what, folks? three years later mitsubishi closed the plant. company officials said they had
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to cut costs especially labor costs, so they were moving their operations to mexico. we lost 400 good-paying middle-class jobs, even though everyone promised nafta would never do that, this is going to be wonderful and i got suckered into voting "yes" on fast-track. and i fear we see this pattern again. the definition of "insanity" is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. so we have 12.3 million manufacturing jobs in this country, and we are looking at a trans-pacific partnership deal, the largest trade deal in history covering 40% of the world's economy. tell me, what chance do our people who work in manufacturing have against countries that pay less than a dollar an hour? in one case, i think it's 56 cents -- 57 cents -- say it
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again ... 70 cents an hour. i stand corrected. of the 12 countries in the t.p.p. three have minimum wages that are higher than ours -- australia, new zealand and canada. but most of the countries have far lower wages including chile with a wage of $2.14 per sioux withdrew a minimum -- purr rue with $1.38 vietnam with a minimum wage of 70 cents. singapore doesn't even have a minimum wage. they don't have a minimum wage. so i think i have laid out the argument as to why all these promises about better wages more jobs false flate on its face when you look at that -- false flat on its face when you look at that last trade deal and this one is with more countries. and then there is the investor state dispute settlement or
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isds, which will allow polluters to sue for unlimited money damages. for exam -- for example they could use it to try to undo the incredible work done in california on climate change by claiming they were put at a disadvantage by having to live with california's laws. polluters could seek to undermine the president's clean power plant or the toxic mercury pollution under the mercury and air toxic standard, or they could sue because they had to use -- spend a little money to make sure that they didn't dump toxins into our waterways drinking water. now, we've seen this happen before. s.d. meyers did it. they sued. long pine resources sued. the rencco group sued. they notified peru in 2010 and intended to launch an $800 million investor state claim against the government because they said the fair trade
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agreement was violated because it said that they didn't really have to install all these antipollution devices. and yet peru forced them to do it and what happened was polluter pay turned into polluters get paid. so you have a trade agreement that threatens 12 million manufacturing jobs. you have a trade agreement that is pushing off the floor all the things we need to do for our middle class. you have a trade agreement that sets up this extra judicial board that can overcome america's laws. as former labor secretary robert reich has warned, the consequences could be disastrous. he calls the t.p.p. a trojan horse in a global race to the bottom giving big corporations a way to eliminate any and all laws and regulations that get in the way of their profits.
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so we should set this aside not go to this today work together, as democrats and republicans for a true middle-class agenda for a robust investment in our roads, bridges and highways, to fix our immigration system. i see senator leahy's on the floor. he put together a comprehensive immigration reform bill that was amazing but it got stopped and it got stuck and it never happened. and you've got workers in the dark. they're afraid to come out into the sunlight and that puts downward pressure on wages. let's pass that. let's make college more affordable ensure equal pay for equal work and currency fairness. and we can do it. and, mr. president, i'm going to take about three minutes to talk about my last issue today and that is the toxic reform bill
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that passed out of the environment and public works committee. and i'd ask unanimous consent to put my full statement in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: well, i have some great news on the front of the toxic bill. the original vitter-udall bill was slain and is gone and in its place is a better bill. that's the great news. the bad news is, it's still not a really good bill. we have to do better and we can do better. what we did in this bill is understand that we had to negotiate certain things out of it and one of the things we had to negotiate was how far the bill went, the original bill in preempting state laws. and we have addressed that. credit goes to want 450
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organizations who while they still oppose this bill pushed hard for those changes. and credit goes to senators whitehouse and merkley and booker who told me they wanted to try to negotiate some changes and i blessed them and they went and did it. and for that i have to thank a senator who no longer is with us ted kennedy who once taught me, he said, as a chairman you need to understand sometimes that you have to turn to your colleagues and let them move forward. and i was happy to do that. and so the changes that came back were partway fix on preemption, a full fix on preempting air laws and water laws when it comes to toxics coenforcement has been fixed. so we're very, very pleased. what is not really fixed however, is we want to make sure that states have even more
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latitude to move if they see a danger. we want to make sure that if there's a cancer cluster among kids or adults around this country that we can see the federal government move to help them. we want to make sure that asbestos is addressed directly in this bill because 10,000 people a year die because of asbestos exposure. we want to make sure if there's a chemical stored near a drinking water supply that in fact that will receive priority attention. what chemical is in there? we saw it happen in west virginia and senator manchin wrote a really good bill with me. we should address that. and i was happy to see that we got some bipartisan votes on those last two fixes. so we have to fix this bill. and anyone who comes to the floor and says it's perfect i just don't agree with them, but that's not important what i
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think, it's what 450 groups think. they think the bill has to be fixed. so let's be clear. the people who say we have to fix the bill with perfecting amendments include the american public health association the public health nursing section the asbestos disease awareness organization the consumers' union, the institute for agriculture and trade policy the national disease clusters alliance the national hispanic medical association the birth defects research for children physicians for social responsibility the maryland nurses association, the massachusetts nurses association the national association of hispanic nurses, the association of women's health obstetric and neonatal nersz, the bladder cancer advocacy group the breast cancer the breast cancer fund huntington breast cancer action
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coalition, kids versus cancer lung cancer alliance. it goes on and on. i ask unanimous consent to put the full list of these groups into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: so i say to my colleagues the vitter-udall bill is much better than it was when it was introduced. and these 450 groups did everything in their power to help us fix the bill. we're halfway there. and i hope we can negotiate some more fixes and maybe we can do that. if we can pass four or five of these amendments we're on our way. but if we can't fix the bill and it does come here, there will be a lot of talking about how to fix it. a lot of talking a lot of standing on feet a lot of rallies with 450 groups. so that's the choice the senate faces. and in the end, in the end we'll
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deal with this. but i just took to the floor today to thank my colleagues who helped negotiate this from a bill that was a disaster to a better bill and i also want to make sure that these 450 organizations -- just extraordinary what they did standing up for safer chemicals healthy families, nrdc -- these groups were so fantastic. they never allowed people to talk them down to bully them out of the room. and i stand with them 100%. asbestos disease awareness, you were incredible. so we have some hope here and all we have to do is keep on fixing this bill and it could come to a good place. mr. president, i so appreciate the patience of my colleagues. i've talked long about two bills , very important. i hope we will not get on this trade bill. i hope we will move to an agenda for the middle class.
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thank you very much. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: mr. president, i want to hearken back about six months, if i could to the election of last november. for me there were at least three takeaways from that election. one of those is the voters of this country want us to work together across party lines. number two, they want us to get things done. and the among the things they want us to get done are find ways to strengthen the economic recovery that's been underway now for several years. senator boxer has referred to a couple of things that would be on that to-do list. a robust six-year transportation bill that rebuilds our roads highways bridges transit systems, puts a lot of people to work helps to strengthen our economic recovery by making some more efficient effective transportation network to move
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products and goods all over this country and outside of this country. we need to strengthen our cybersecurity. we need to address data breaches. all the attacks that are going on to -- throughout this country, businesses, colleges, universities you name it. we need tax reform that actually provides some predictability in the tax system and makes our tax code at least on the business side more competitive with the rest of the world. and we also need to acknowledge as the president has done that 95% of the -- the world's market lies outside of our borders. 95%. the fastest-growing part of that market around the world is asia. the president has suggested supported strongly a trade agreement that would involve 12 nations, including about a half dozen here in this hemisphere and the other half over in asia that altogether encompass about
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40% of the world trade market. and the president is not suggesting that we just open up our markets so that other countries can sell more of their stuff here. they already do that, for the most part. the -- the goal of this trade agreement is to open up these other markets in other countries so we can sell our goods our products and our services there. this is a top priority for this administration and this should be a top priority for democrats and republicans and a priority that's hammered out and compromises that are hammered out that are fair to workers and middle-class families. the majority leader has come here today to suggest a path forward. i hope we'll not reject it. what he suggested is we allow through a vote, a cloture motion, to move to the floor and begin debate on four different pieces of legislation that are
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part of the transportation agreement. we've seen this movie before. in fact, we've seen it any number of times before because we've given trade promotion authority to every prince since world -- president since world war ii since richard nixon. and the reason why is it's impossible for 435 people of congress to negotiate a trade deal whether it's three nations or 11 nations. it's pretty much impossible. that's what you have trade promotion authority. the majority leader suggested this, let's move to the -- these four bills. let's begin the debate. we should realize as democrats we've already realized a great victory here. in the past, the republicans have rejected our efforts almost every time to include trade assistance adjustment. when folks are displaced from their jobs, that they actually get some help on their health
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care and job training and have an opportunity to put their lives back together. in this case, we actually have -- with this legislation today the trade promotion authority, which actually expresses our views as a congress to our trading partners and negotiating partners overseas, but the -- in return for doing that, and i think that's in our interest, but the other thing we get out of moving t.p.a. with t.a.a. together is that we get upfront the assurance that we're going to look after workers that are displaced. it's the best trade adjustment assistance we've ever had at least in the terms it treats workers and displaced workers. even those who are maybe not even affected by this agreement but are affected by other calamities in our economy. not just in the manufacturing sector but also in the service sector as well. so i suggest this to my colleagues. let's spend the time between now and 2:30 this foong -- this
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afternoon trying to figure out how we can establish some confidence and faith and trust here that if we move to this bill it will not be just to consider trade promotion authority and trade adjustment assistance. we'll have an opportunity to consider the other two pieces of legislation as well. there's a lot riding on this. a lot riding on this. the economic recovery of our country does rise or fall simply on the passage of this -- of this legislation and the conclusion of the negotiations but it sure would help. it would sure help bolster a stronger economic recovery. just as would the passage of a six-year transportation bill. just as would cybersecurity legislation, data breach legislation and on and on and on. so i'll close with this thought. the debates we've had here in recent months with respect to the negotiations between the
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five permanent members of the security council the germans and the iranians on the -- our efforts to make sure the iranians don't have -- don't develop a nuclear weapon. we have said again and again and again, we have reworked the old reagan slogan trust but verify. except with the iranians, we have not said trust but verify, we have said mistrust but verify mistrust but verify. i would suggest to my colleagues especially on this side of the aisle let's take that approach here. maybe we don't trust the republicans that they're going to do what they say they're going to do, but we have an opportunity to verify, and the verify comes with a vote later on. we go to the bill, we vote for -- actually move to the bill debate the amendments and so forth. at the end of the day we're not happy with what's happened. we feel like we have been given a raw deal. that workers in this country middle-class families have been given a raw deal, we have a chance to verify and we vote not to move the bill off the floor. we would not provide cloture to end debate. that's where we have our final
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vote our final. i would hope we would keep that in mind. with that, mr. president, i will yield the floor. thanks very much. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president i ask unanimous consent to engage in a colloquy for up to 30 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lee: mr. president i'm here to speak today in support of the u.s.a. freedom act a bill that would restrain the power of government to collect data on phone calls made by average everyday ordinary law-abiding american citizens. 300 million-plus americans. without any suspicion that any one of them is engaged in any kind of criminal activity, any kind of activity involving the collection of foreign intelligence. i appreciate the support that i
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have received from this bill, and i appreciate the opportunity to work with my distinguished colleague, the senior senator from vermont. senator leahy and i feel passionately about this issue and although senator leahy and i come from different ends of what some would perceive as the political spectrum, although we don't agree on every issue there are many issues on which we agree. many issues on which like this one, we can say that these issues are neither republican nor democratic, they are neither liberal nor conservative. they are simply american issues, they are constitutional issues. they are issues that relate to the proper order of government. they're issues that relate to the rule of law itself. the constitution of the united states protects the american people against unreasonable searches. it does so against a long historical backdrop of government abuse. over time, our founding fathers
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came to an understanding that the immense power of government needs to be constrained because those in power will tend to accumulate more power and in time they will tend to abuse that power unless that power is carefully constrained. america's founding fathers were informed in many respects by what they learned from our previous national government, our london-based national government. they were informed in part by the support of john wilks. john wilks not to be confused with john wilks booth the assassin of abraham lincoln. john wilks was a member of english parliament, a member who found himself at the receiving end of king george iii's justice. you see in 1763, john wilks had
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published a document known as north britain number 45. the north britain was a weekly circular a type of news magazine in england one that unlike most of the other week list in england at a time was not dedicated to fun and praise of king george iii and his ministers. no this weekly would from time to time criticize the actions of king george iii and his ministers. at the time john wilks published north britain number 45, he became the enemy of the king because he had criticizeed certain remarks delivered by the king in his address to parliament. while not openly directly critical of the king himself he criticized the king's ministers who had prepared the remarks. this for king george iii was simply too much. this simply could not stand. so before long, on easter
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sunday 1763, john wilks found himself arrested and he found himself subject to an invasive search a search performed pursuant to a general warrant one that didn't specify the names of the individuals to be searched the particular places to be searched or the particular items subject to that invasive search. it said basically in essence go and find the people responsible for this horrendous publication north britain number 45, and go after them. search through their papers. get everything you want, everything you need. now, john wilks decided that his rights as an englishman prevented this type of action or should have under the law prevented this type of action, so he chose to fight this action in court. it took time. john wilks spent some time in jail but he eventually won his freedom. he was subsequently re-elected to multiple terms in parliament,
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and because he fought this battle against the administration for king george iii, he became something of a folk hero across england. in fact, the number 45 with its association with north britain number 45, the publication that had gotten him in trouble in the first place the number 45 became synonymous not only with john wilks but also with the cause of freedom itself. the number 45 was a symbol of liberty, not only in england but also in america. people would celebrate by ordering 45 drinks for their 45 closest friends. people would recognize this symbol by writing the number 45 on the walls of taverns and saloons. the number 45 came to represent the triumph of the common citizen against the all-powerful force of an over bearing
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national government. with the example of john wilks in mind, the founding fathers were rightly wary of allowing government access to private activities and the communications of citizens. they feared not only that the government could seize their property but that it could gain access to details about their private lives. it was exactly for this reason that when james madison began writing what would become the fourth amendment in 1789, he used language to make sure that general warrants would not be the norm and in fact would not be acceptable in our new republic. ultimately congress proposed and the states ratified the fourth amendment to the u.s. constitution which provides in pertinent part that any search warrants would have to be warrants -- quote -- particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized close quote. general warrants are not the norm in america.
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general warrants are not acceptable in america. they are not compatible with our constitutional system. and yet today we see a disturbing trend one that bears some eerie similarities to general lawrence, in the sense that you have the n.s.a. collecting information data on every phone call that is made in america. if you own a telephone, if you use a telephone the n.s.a. has records going back five years of everyone -- every number that you have called and every number from which you have received a call. it knows when the call was placed it knows how long the call lasted. while any one of these data points might itself not inform the government too much about you researchers using similar data have proven that the
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government could if it wanted to use that same data set that same database to discern an awful lot of private information about you private information including things like your religious affiliation your political affiliation your level of activity, politically religiously and otherwise the condition of your health, what your hobbies what your interests are. these meta data point while themselves perhaps not revealing much in the aggregate when put in a large database can reveal a lot about the american people. now, this database is collected for the purpose of allowing the n.s.a. to check against possible abuses by those who would do us harm by agents, foreign intelligence agents, spies but the problem here is that the
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n.s.a. isn't collecting data solely on numbers that are involved in foreign intelligence activity nor is it collecting data solely on phone numbers contacted by those numbers suspected to be involved in some type of foreign intelligence activity. they're just collecting all of the data from all of the phone providers. they're putting it in one database and then allowing that database to be searched. now, this issue was recently challenged in court. it was challenged and recently was the subject of a ruling issued by the united states court of appeals for the second circuit based in new york. just a few days ago just this last thursday, the second circuit concluded that congress in enacting the patriot act in enacting section 215 of the patriot act the provision of the patriot act that is claimed
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to justify this bulk data collection program the second circuit concluded that section 215 of the patriot act does not authorize bulk collection. it does not authorize the n.s.a. to simply issue orders to telephone service providers saying send us all of your data. the language of the patriot act permitted the government to access the records that were -- quote -- relevant to an authorized investigation close quote. that's the language from section 215 that's at issue. now, the government argued in that case that the term relevant in the context of the n.s.a.'s work meant and unnecessarily included every record regarding every telephone number used by every american and by interpreting it this way they tried to basically strip all meaning from the word relevant. now, if congress had meant every
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record congress could have said every record. it did not. that is not to say it proive appropriate for congress to do so and had congress legislated in such broad terms i suspect there would have been significant concern raised, if not in court then at least within this chamber and within the house of representatives. but importantly congress did not adopt that statutory language. congress instead authorized n.s.a. to collect records that are -- quote -- relevant to an authorized investigation close quote. the second circuit agreed that this is a problem holding last week that the bulk collection program exceeded the language in the statute specifically the word relevant. while relevant is a broad standard, it is intended to be a limiting term whose bounds were read out of the statute by a government willing to overreach its bounds. now, the proper american
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response to government overreach involves setting clear limits, limits that will allow the people to hold the government accountable. we must not permit this type of collection to continue. now, while it's true that a single call record reveals relatively little information about you again the important thing to remember is that when you aggregate all of this data together, the government can tell a lot about you. i have every confidence and am willing to assume for purposes of this discussion that the hardworking brave men and women who work at the n.s.a. have our best interests at heart. i'm willing to assume for purposes of this discussion that they're not abusing this database as it stands right now. some would disagree with me in that assumption, but let's proceed under that assumption that they are law-abiding individuals who are not abusing their access to this database.
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who's to say that the n.s.a. will always be inhabited only by such people? who's to say what the state of affairs might be a year from now or two years or five years or ten or 15 years? we know that in time people tend to abuse these types of government programs. we know from the church report back in the 1970's that every administration from f.d.r. thraw nixon used our nation's intelligence inform gathering entities to engage in political espionage. it is not a question of if things like this will be abused, it is a question of whvment it is our job as u.s. senators to help protect the american people against excessive risk of this type of abuse. that's why senator leahy and i have introduced the u.s.a. freedom act. it directly addresses the bulk data collection issue while preserving essential intelligence-collecting capabilities. rather than relying on the government's interpretation of
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the word "relevant," our bill requires that n.s.a. requests include a specific selection term a term meant to identify a specific target and that the n.s.a. would then use the term to limit to the greatest extent reasonably practicable the scope of its request. we give the government the tools to make targeted requests in a manner that parallels the current practice at the n.s.a., a practice that is current limited only by presidential preferences. this bill would enable the court to invite pre--cleared privacy experts to help decide how to address novel questions of law if the court wants any input. the bill would also increase our security in several ways, including by providing emergency authority when a target of surveillance enters the united states to cause serious bodily harm or death and instituting the changes necessary to come in line with bush-era nuclear treaties.
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this bill was negotiated in consultation with house judiciary committee the house intelligence committee and the intelligence community at large. i.t. supportedit's supported by the house and senate intelligence committee. it is enjoys broad support from industry and privacy groups. this is a compromise, an important compromise that will enable us to protect americans' privacy while giving the government the tools it needs to keep us safe. this is a compromise that is expected to pass the house over-wellcomeingly and it is a bill that i think we should take up and pass as soon as they have voted. and so i would ask my friend, my colleague, the distinguished senior senator from vermont about his insights. my friend from vermont has served this country well, having served a significant amount of
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time in the united states senate senate and prayer to that time he served as a prosecutor, a prosecutor who had to follow and was subject to the fourth amendment. so i would ask you senator leahy, in your experience as a prosecutor and as a united states senator what do you see as the major benefits to this legislation and the major pitfalls to the n.s.a.'s current practice of bulk data collection? mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president the distinguished senator from utah has laid out very well the reasons for the changes proposed in the house and proposed by his and my bill. he also said something that we should all think about just a couple minutes ago. he said, what about assuming
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everybody is following the rules today, are they going to follow them tomorrow or next year or the year after? and when he mentioned that and also mentioned my years as a prosecutor let me tell you a short story on this. i became one of the officers of the national district attorneys association and eventually vice president. a number of us, four or five of us had occasion to meet with then-director of the f.b.i., j. edgar hoover. i've thought back to many 10 of the frightening things he said about investigating people because of their political beliefs communists are all hippies driving volkswagens -- that's one of the things he said.
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secondly "the new york times" was getting too left in some of their editorials, they were become very close to become ago communist paper and he was making plans to investigate it as such. think of that for a moment. "the new york times" had criticized him editorial. he was thinking of investigating it as a communist paper. now, not long thereafter, he died and we found out more and more about the secret files. he had everybody from presidents to members of congress. what if a j. edgar hoover had had the kind of tools that are available today? and that would be my response to the senator from utah why i am in total agreement with him.
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we have to think about to the just today but what might happen in the future, because for years section 215 of the patriot act has been used by the n.s.a. to justify the bulk collection of innocent americans' phone records, and americans were, appropriately, outragedraged when they heard about this massive intrusion into their privacy. but then look what happened last week. a highly respected federal appeals court,ed second circuit -- the second circuit confirmed what we have known for sometime: the n.s.a.'s bulk collection of americans' phone records is unlawful, it is not essential and it must end. that basically says it all. it is unlawful, not essential it should end. under the government's interpretation of section 215 the n.s.a. or f.b.i. can obtain any tangible thing as long as it
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is -- quote -- "relevant to an authorized investigation. "think for a moment of j. edgar hoover. and i do not equate the current director of the f.b.i. with what happened then by any means nor his predecessors. but if you have something of that mind-set, in the name of funding terrorism and this has already happened. the government convinced they need add secret court that they needed to collect the phone records of billions of americans, not because they were significant to any investigation but, rather, because the n.s.a. wanted to sift through them in the future. this is an extraordinarily broad reading of the statute one that i can say is -- as one who was
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here at the time congress passed the statute one that was never intended much the second circuit rightfully held that such an expansion concept of relevance is -- quote -- "unprecedented and unwarranted." also such an interpretation of relevance has no logical limits. the gaiment debate debate is not just about phone records. if we accept the government can collect all of our phone records because it may -- may -- want to sift through them someday to look for some possible connections to terrorists, where is it going to end? we know that for years the n.s.a. collected metadata about billions of e-mails sent by innocent americans and they used that same justification. so should we allow the government to sweep up all our credit card records? all of our banking or our medical records? our firearms or ammunition purchases? how about everything we ever posted on facebook or everything we've ever searched for on
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google or any other search engine? who wants to tell their constituents that they support putting all this information into government databases? i'd say enough is enough. but i do not accept -- i do not accept that they will be very careful to make sure nothing happens to the secret data, so careful that they allowed a 20- 20-something contractor, private contractor named edward snowden to walk away with all this material. what's to stop anybody else from doing exactly the same? during one of the six judiciary committee hearings i convened on these issues last congress, six hearings i asked the then-deputy attorney general whether there was any limit to this interpretation of section 215. i did not get a satisfactory answer. that is, until the second
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circuit ruled last week, and they correctly laid out the implications of this theory. they said, "if the government is correct, it could use 215 to collect and store in bulk any other existing metadata including meat at that data associated with financial records, medical records and electronic communications (including e-mail and social media information) relating to all americans." i don't think you're going to find many americans anywhere on the political spectrum that want to give this government or any other government that kind of power. there's nothing under the government's interpretation that would stop the government from collecting and storing in bulk any of these. now, the potential significance of this interpretation is staggering. it's no wonder that you have groups as desperate as the aclu and the national rifle association joining to do together to file a lawsuit in
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the second circuit to stop this bulk collection program. now, congress finally has the opportunity to make real reforms, not toll only to section 215 but to other parts of sighs is fisa. tomorrow the house will consider the bipartisan freedom act of 20156789 senator lee and i have introduced an identical bill in the senate. if enacted our bill and the house bill would be the most significant reform to government surveillance authorities since the u.s.a. patriot act was passed nearly 14 years ago because our bill ends n.s.a.'s bulk collection program under section 215. it guarantees unprecedented transparency about government surveillance programs. it allows the fisa court to appoint an amicus to assist it in significant cases. it strengthens judicial review of the gag orders imposed on
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recipients of national security letters. the u.s.a. freedom act is actually a very commonsense bill. that's why senator lee and i were able to join together on it. and he's right. we come from different political philosophies different parts of the country. obviously we don't agree on all things but we agreed on this because it makes common sense and it is something that should bring together republicans and democrats. it was crafted with significant input from privacy and civil liberty groups and the intelligence committee and the technology industry. it has support from members of congress groups from across the political spectrum. in fact, i'd ask consent the editorial from "the washington times," "the washington post," "usa today," and the "los angeles times" in support of this u.s.a. freedom act be included in the record.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: also a letter from the major technology companies and aand associations be included in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: some would tharg no reforms are needed. they invoke fearmongering and dubious claims about the utility of the bulk collection programs to defend the status quo. these are the same arguments we heard last november when we were not hurricane katrina allowed to debate an earlier version of the u.s.a. freedom act because of a filibuster. last week some senators came to the floor to argue the n.s.a.'s bulk collection of phone records might have prevented 9/11. now, this specter is always raised. it might have prevented 9/11, have been vital to the national security. we also heard that if we enacted this bill in the house and the
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lee-leahy bill would somehow return the intelligence community to pre--9/11 posture. -- to pre-9/11 posture. but none of these claims are withstand the light of day. i'll go back to some of the facts, not just hypotheses. but let's deal with facts. richard clarke was working in the bush administration p on september 11. i asked him whether the n.s.a. program we now have would have prevented those attacks. he testified that the government already had the information that could have prevented the attacks but failed to properly share that information among federal agencies. likewise senator bob graham, who investigated the september 11 attacks as head of the senate intelligence committee also debunked the notion that this bulk collection program would somehow prevent the 9/11 attacks.
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the n.s.a.'s bulk collection of phone records has simile not been vital to thwarting terrorist attacks. now, when the n.s.a. was embarrassed by the theft of all their information the news about the n.s.a.'s phone mitigated program first broke they defended it by saying it helped thwart 54 terrorist attacks. well i convened public hearings on this and under public scrutiny that figure of 52 -- or 54, rather initially shrunk to well, maybe a dozen. we scrutinized that further and they said, well, maybe it was two. everybody realized that they have to tell the truth in these open hearings. well then they said maybe not
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54 maybe it was one. and that one example was not a terrorist attack that was thwarted, it was a material support conviction involving $8,000 and not a terrorist plot. and numerous independent experts also conclude the n.s.a.'s bulk collection program is nonessential to national security. i mention these things, mr. president, because it's so easy to come down and say, we are all going to face another 9/11, we're all going to face isis, we're all going to face these terrible attacks if we don't have this and yet we can show want it hasn't stopped any of these things. the president's review group had former national security official stated the bulk collection of americans' phone records is not essential to preventing attacks. it could have readily been obtained in a timely manner
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using conventional orders. so mr. president we can go with hysteria and overstatements or we can go with facts. in my state of vermont we kind of like facts. we shouldn't be swayed by fearmongering. we shouldn't reauthorize -- reauthorize and we will not reauthorize the expiring provisions of the patriot act without enacting real reforms. when the house passes -- i would ask 30 seconds more. when the house passes the u.s.a. freedom act tomorrow and sends it to the senate, we should take it up immediately pass that bill. the american people are counting on us to take action. they didn't elect us to kick the can down the road or blindly rubberstamp intelligence activities that have now been found by the courts to be illegal. so i thank my good friend from utah for yielding to me and i totally agree with his position. mr. lee: mr. president?
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i ask unanimous consent to extend the colloquy for a period of an additional 15 minutes to allow a couple of other members to participate in the colloquy. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lee: i'd like to now hear from my friend and colleague the junior senator from nevada, senator heller, and hear his thoughts about how people in his state about how people he knows across the country feel about this program and what we ought to do about it. mr. heller: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nevada. mr. heller: mr. president today i rise to join this bipartisan group of colleagues in support of the u.s.a. freedom act. i want to begin by thanking my friends and colleagues from utah for your hard work and effort on behalf of the american people on this and my friend from vermont for his actions also and other members of this chamber. together what we're trying to do is bring transparency accountability and most important, mr. president freedom to the american people.
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freedom from unnecessary and what's now been declared illegal invasion of americans' privacy. i'm talking specific willing about section 215 under the pay the -- specifically about section 215 under the u.s. patriot act. just last week an appeals court ruled that this national security agency program that collects americans' calls and these records are now illegal. our national security protection of our freedom as americans are not mutually exclusive. allowing the federal government to conduct vast domestic surveillance operations under section 215 provides the government with too much authority and this court's ruling only reaffirms that the n.s.a. is out of control. under section 215 the f.b.i. can seek a court order directing a business to turn over certain records when there are reasonable grounds to believe that the information asked for is quote unquote "relevant"
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to an authorized investigation of international terrorism. however, the n.s.a. has wrongly interpreted this to mean that all all telephone records, are relevant. so they are collecting and storing large amounts of data in an attempt to find a small amount of information that might be relevant. so mr. president if we reauthorize these laws without significant reforms we're allowing millions of law-abiding u.s. citizens' call records to be held by the federal government. and i see this as nothing but an egregious intrusion of americans' privacy. so what does the n.s.a. know? they know that someone from my state, elko, nevada, got a call from the n.r.a. and then called their senator. so what does the n.s.a. know? they know that someone from las vegas called the suicide hotline for 20 minutes and then called a hospital right after. so what does the n.s.a. know?
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they know you called your church or received a phone call from political action committees. so does the previous administration does this administration, or perhaps the next administration care about your party affiliation? do they care about your religious beliefs? do they care about your health concerns? how about your activities and nonprofit tax-exempt entities? maybe not today. and as the senator from utah said but what about five years from now? what about 10 years from now and even 15 years from now? that's why i've been working with my colleagues since last congress to pass the u.s.a. freedom act and i'm proud to join as an original cosponsor of the bill in this new congress. and these reforms are not just a pipeline dream that will die in the united states senate. this is a substantive bill that carefully balances the privacy
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rights of americans and the needs of the intelligence community as they work to keep us safe. and that's why the house judiciary committee has passed this bill on a bipartisan basis and the full house house is expected to pass it -- and the full house house -- house of representatives is expected to pass it next week. let's be clear. we're not here to strip the intelligence community of the tools to fight terrorism. to my colleagues who feel that the u.s.a. freedom act will do this, i would ask them to read this letter from the intelligence community. in my hand, mr. president, i have a letter signed by the attorney general and the director of national intelligence sent to senator leahy last year. i'd like to read a portion of that. "the intelligence community believes that your bill preserves essential intelligence community capabilities. the department of justice and the office of the director of national intelligence supports your bill and believes it is a reasonable compromise that enhances privacy and civil liberty and increases
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transparency." mr. president, we're not here to harm the operational capabilities of the intelligence community who safeguard us every day, but what we are here to do is to provide the american people the certainty that the federal government is working without violating their constitutional rights. that is why i've also consistently opposed and voted against the patriot act during my time in congress. and, mr. president, i will do everything i can to end the patriot act. but if i cannot do that, i will work to gut the patriot act of the most egregious sections that infringe upon american citizens' privacies and their civil liberties. and that is what the reforms of the u.s.a. freedom begin to achieve. this legislation among other things will rein in the dragnet collection of data by the national security agency. it will stop the bulk collection of american communication records by ending the specific authorization under section 215
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of the patriot act. and, mr. president, we're reaching a critical deadline as several foreign intelligence surveillance act provisions expire at the end of may. and i want to be clear that i expect reforms to our surveillance programs and i will not consent to a straight reauthorization of the illegal activities that occur under section 215 of the patriot act. it is time for our nation to right this wrong make the significant changes necessary to restore america's faith in the federal government and restore the civil liberties that make our nation worth protecting. with that, mr. chairman, i want to again thank the senator from utah and my colleague from the state of vermont for their hard work and effort on behalf of all americans protecting their privacies and their civil liberties. i will turn the time back over to the senator from utah. mr. lee: i'd like to hear next from my friend and colleague the junior senator from montana on this issue. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: montana.
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mr. daines: mr. president, i want to thank my good friend from utah for his leadership. i recently returned from an official trip to the middle east with leader mcconnell and several of my fellow first-term senators. we met with leaders in israel, jordan iraq, kuwait and afghanistan to discuss the political and security issues facing middle eastern nations. we also met with a number of america's service members who are bravely securing our country in these crisis stricken regions and working every day to keep our nation safe from the extreme forces that wish to destroy us. these meetings painted a very clear picture. the terror imposed by extreme forces like isis and the threats facing our allies in the middle east are real and they're growing every single day. but the growing presence of isis in the middle east isn't just affecting the long-term security of nations like iraq and syria. it is no longer a risk isolating geographically to the middle east. these extreme islamic forces are working every day to harm the
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american people within our borders and on our soil. and it's critical that our law enforcement officials and our intelligence agencies have the tools they need to find terrorists in the united states and abroad, identify potential terror attacks and eradicate these risks. because isis isn't just working to inflict physical damage upon our country and our people this extreme group and other like-minded terrorists are intent on destroying our very way of life -- our nation's foundation of freedom and justice for all. but as we strengthen our intelligence capabilities, we must with equal vigor and determination protect our constitution, our civil liberties, the very foundation of this country. if the forces of evil successfully propel leaders in washington to erode our core constitutional values we will grant these terrorists a satisfying victory.
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we must never allow this. we must uphold the constitution. we must work to protect the balance between protecting our nation's security while also maintaining our civil liberties and our constitutional rights. that's why i like so many montanans, am deeply concerned about the n.s.a. bulk mitigated data collection program and its impact on our constitutional rights. this program allows for the n.s.a. to have uninhibited access to america's phone records. i firmly believe that this is a violation of america's constitutional rights and it must come to an end. montanans have also belong been concerned about the -- that the n.s.a. has overreached its legal authority when implementing its bulk data collection program. the recent ruling from the new york-based second circuit, u.s. court of appeals confirmed it. the court ruled unanimously the section 215 of the patriot act does not authorize the n.s.a.'s bulk collection of american phone metadata. but this isn't just the first
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time that the legality of the bulk data collection practices has been collected. a 215 report from the privacy and civil liberties oversight board, which is a nonpartisan independently privacy board found that section 215 does not provide authority for the n.s.a.'s collection program. the report raised serious concerns that the n.s.a.'s program violated the rights guaranteed under the first and fourth amendments. the report states under the section 215 bulk record program the n.a.s. acquires a massive number of calling records from telephone companies every day potentially including the records of every call made across the nation. yet section 215 does not authorize the n.s.a. to acquire anything at all. and the report concludes -- and i quote -- "the program lacks a viable legal foundation under section 215. it implicates constitutional concerns of the first and fourth amendments raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter
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and has shown only limited value. for these reasons the government should end the program." and i strongly agreement. in addition, the independent commission found that the bulk collection program contributed only minimal value in combating terrorism beyond what the government already achieves through other alternative means. so claims that this program provides unique value to our security were not validated and in fact, were refuted by the commission. as montana's senator i took an oath to protect and defend the constitution. it's a responsibility and a promise that i take very seriously. and that's why i've joined senators lee leahy and others to introduce the u.s.a. freedom act of 2015. this bipartisan legislation will end the n.s.a.'s bulk data collection program while also implementing greater oversight transparency and accountability in the government's surveillance activities. the u.s.a. freedom act strikes the right balance between protecting our security and protecting our privacy. it still allows necessary access
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to information specific to an investigation with an appropriate court order and provides the flexibility to be able to move quickly in response to emergencies. but it stops the indiscriminate government collection of data on innocent americans once and for all. i've long fought to defend montana's civil liberties protecting privacy and constitutional rights from big government overreach. and after spending 12 years in the technology sector, i know firsthand the power that data holds and the threats to american civil liberties that comes with mass collection. as montana's lone representative in the u.s. house i cosponsored the freedom act that would have ended the n.s.a.'s abuses and overreach. ism supported efforts to defend the 2014 defense appropriation bill and end the phone records. we made significant ground in
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awareness of this overreach but the fight to protect america's constitutional freedoms is far from over. i'm proud to stand today as a cosponsor of the u.s.a. freedom act of 2015 and a strong advocate and defender of america's right to privacy. as risks facing the homeland and our interests overseas remain ever present it's critical that our law enforcement has the tools they need to protect our national security from extremists who wish to destroy our nation and our very way of life. the u.s.a. freedom act provides these other tools. but we must also remine vinal hasn't to ensure americans' civil liberties aren't needlessly abandoned in the process. we need to protect and defend the homeland, we need to protect and defend the constitution. i stand here today with full confidence that the u.s.a. freedom act achieves both and i urge the senate to pass it. thank you and i yield back. mr. lee: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: i ask unanimous consent
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to extend the colloquy by an additional five minutes so we can hear from my friend and colleague, the senator from connecticut, mr. blumenthal. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. i want to thank my colleague from utah, my friend and very distinguished colleague, as well as our friend from the state of vermont for their leadership this morning and throughout the drafting and formulating of this very well-balanced compromise. a balance between security, which we must preserve and defend and our privacy and other essential constitutional rights which we need to protect just as zealously because the reason for fighting to preserve our security is so we maintain and preserve our great constitutional rights. and that balkan be struck, it's
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feasible and achievable and this measure, the u.s.a. freedom act, is a strong step in the right direction. i want to talk today about one of its great virtues which is an american virtue, the virtue of due process. of having an effective adversarial process one that is transparent and provides effective appellate review. the lack of an adversarial process as well as transparency and effective appellate review is one of the reasons why the u.s.a. freedom act is absolutely necessary. we know that bulk collection of metadata is unnecessary. the president's own review group made that fact clear. we also know that bulk metadata collection is essentially un-american. this country was founded by people who rightfully --
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rightly abhorred the so-called general warrant that permitted the king's officials to rummage through their homes and documents and no general warrant in our history has swept up as much information about innocent americans as orders allowing bulk collection. and last week the second circuit court of appeals told us something more that we now know that bilks is unauthorized. it's illegal. it is unauthorized by statute and has been so for the last nine years that the government has collected bulk data of this kind. and the question is, how did it happen? how did we arrive at a point where the government of the united states has been collecting data illegally for nine years?
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and we know that in may of 2006 the fisa court the foreign intelligence surveillance court, first was asked whether the federal government could collect the phone records of potentially every single american and it said yes. it failed the most crucial test of any court which is to uphold our liberties against any legal onslaught. it got it wrong because the government's argument hinged on a single word, the word " relevance." the court ruled that relevance means all information, in other words, the court had to decide whether relevant information means all information and it said yes. that was just plain wrong and it didn't strike the second circuit as a difficult question, doesn't strike us now in
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retrospect as a difficult question. the second circuit held that the federal government's interpretation is, to coat the court, "unprecedented and unwarranted." never before in this history of the nation has this kind of bizarre overreaching been successfully entertained. now, the court, the foreign intelligence court didn't issue an opinion. there was no way for anyone to know that this bulk metadata collection had been authorized because the court never told anyone never explained itself and one can hope that the court knew what it was thinking at the time but you don't know what it was thinking. now, i don't mean any disrespect to the fisa court which is composed of judges who have been confirmed by this body article 3 judges, who
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serve because they've been appointed by the chief justice of the united states. the reason that the court got this issue so fundamentally wrong, i think is because it heard only one side of the argument. it heard only the government's side. it heard only the advocates seeking to collect in this sweeping way that was contrary to statute and in my view, also contrary to fundamental rights and principles. the u.s.a. freedom act corrects that systemic problem. it not only enables but it requires the court to hear both sides. we know from our life's experience that people make better decisions when they hear both sides of an argument. judges on the courts know that they want to hear both sides of
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the argument before they make a decision. often they will appoint someone to make the other side of the argument if there isn't anyone to do so effectively. they want effective representation in the courtroom, and that is why i have advocated from the very start and proposed and the president affirmed that there needs to be advocacy for our constitutional rights before the court. the other side of the government's argument needs to be represented. we need a fisa court that we can trust to get it right because this proposal for an adversarial proceeding in no way contemplates an abridgement of secrecy or unnecessary delay warrants could proceed without delay, they could proceed
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without a violation of confidentiality and secrecy but the systemic problem would be fixed so that the fisa court would hear from both sides. and this act also is important because it would bring more transparency to fisa court decisions, requiring opinions to be released unless there's a good reason not to do so. it would require some form of effective appellate review so that mistakes could be corrected. these kinds of changes in the law are, in fact, basic due process. they are the rule of law throughout the united states in article 3 courts, and these changes will make the fisa court look like the courts that americans are accustomed to see in their everyday experience, when they walk into a courtroom in any town in the state of connecticut or the state of utah or the state of montana what
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they're accustomed to seeing is two sides arguing before a judge, and that's what the fisa court would look like rather than one side making one argument whether it's for bulk collection of metadata or any other intrusion on civil rights and civil liberties there would be an advocate on the other side to make the case that it is overreaching, that it's unnecessary, that it's unauthorized and, in fact, that's what the second circuit said here the government was doing by this incredibly overextended overreaching in bulk collection of metadata. unless and until this essential reform is enacted along with other critical reforms that are contained in the u.s.a. freedom act, i will oppose reauthorization of section 215
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and i urge my colleagues to do so as well. i thank my colleague from utah and vermont for their leadership and all who have joined in this morning's discussion, the colloquy today i think has illustrated some important points why the u.s.a. freedom act is necessary at this point in our history. i thank you mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. lee: thank you mr. president. i appreciate the patience of senator hatch and his willingness to wait while we finish this exercise. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president later today the senate will vote on whether to begin debate on the future of the u.s. trade policy. it is a debate that's been a long time coming. we haven't had a real trade policy debate in this chamber since at least 2002. that's 13 years ago. think about that. let's keep in mind that 95% of
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the world's consumers live outside the united states and that if we want our farmers our ranchers, manufacturers andrew interviewers to be able to compete in the world marketplace we need to be actively working to break down barriers for american exports. this is how we can grow our economy and create good high-paying jobs for american workers. while the chatter in the media and behind the scenes has been nearly deafening no one should make today's vote more than it is, it is once again quite simply a vote to begin debate on thighs important issues. -- these important issues. i know some around here are unwilling to even consider having a debate if they can't dictate the terms in advance but that's not how the senate works and thankfully, that's not the path we're going to take. i've been around here for a long time i think i can speak with some authority how this chamber is under normal conditions and
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regular order supposed to operate. of course, before this year it had been a while since this body worked the way it was supposed to. hopefully today's vote can serve as a reminder and we can go to regular order on these bills. and do it in a way that brings dignity to this chamber again. once again today's vote will decide only whether we will begin a debate on trade policy. it will not in any way decide the outcome of that debate. indeed the question for today is not how this debate will proceed, but whether it will proceed at all. right now everyone's focus seems to be on whether we'll renew trade promotion authority or t.p.a. and that will, of course be part of the trade debate. t.p.a. is a vital element of u.s. trade policy. indeed, it is the best way to ensure that congress sets the objectives for our trade negotiators and provides assurances to our trading
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partners that if a trade agreement is signed, the u.s. can deliver on the deal. as you know, mr. president the finance committee reported a strong bipartisan t.p.a. bill on april 22. the committee vote was 20-6 in favor of the bill. it was a bipartisan vote. that was a historic day. before that day the last time the finance committee reported a t.p.a. bill was in 1988, almost three decades ago. that's not all we did on that day. in addition to our t.p.a. bill, we reported a bill to to to reauthorize spired trade preference programs in a customs and trade enforcement bill. these are all important bills each one of them. they all have bipartisan basis. -- bipartisan support. i was a principal offer of three of these four bills and i don't intend to see any left by the
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wayside however that looks like increasingly what might really happen here if we don't get together. everyone here knows i'm anxious to get t.p.a. across the finish line. and though it pains me a little to say it, t.a.a. is part of that effort. we know our colleagues on the left have to have that. while i oppose t.a.a., i recognize and have from the beginning that the program is important to many of my colleagues some of whom are on this side of the aisle as well. and it's a necessary component to win their support for t.p.a. on a number of occasions including at the finance committee markup, i've committed to helping make sure that t.p.a. and t.a.a. move on parallel tracks and i intend to honor that commitment. toward that end if we get closer on the motion to proceed
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later today i plan to combine t.p.a. and t.a.a. into basically a single package that can be split by the house and move them as a substitute amendment to the trade vehicle. and i have to say congressman ryan, the chairman of the ways and means committee understands that t.a.a. has to pass over there as well. in other words no one should be concerned about a path forward for t.p.a. and t.a.a. and that was a big debate throughout the whole process procedural process, i should say. and even though it raises concerns for a number of republicans, including myself, these two bills will move together. the question ultimately becomes what about the preferences and customs bills? there are two other bills here. i've committed in the past to work on getting all four of these bills across the finish line or at least to a vote on the floor and i'll reaffirm that commitment here on the
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floor today. i'll work in good faith with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both the house and the senate to get this done. regarding preferences the house and senate have introduced very similar bills and in the past these preference programs, programs like the african growth and opportunity act and the generalized system of preferences have enjoyed broad bipartisan support. my guess is that support will continue and that there's a path forward on moving that legislation in short order. admittedly the customs bill is a bit more complicated. however, i am the principal author of most of the provisions in the customs bill. indeed many of my own enforcement provisions and priorities are in that bill. put simply, mr. president, i have a vested interest in seeing the customs bill become law and i will do all that i can to make sure that that happens. i'll work with senator wyden and the rest of my colleagues to find a path forward on these bills. i don't want any of them to be
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left behind, but we all know that the customs bill has language in there that cannot be passed in the house. i don't know what to do about that. all i can say is we can provide a vote here in this body. and who knows what that vote will be. i am quite certain that if we're allowed to proceed today that these bills not to mention many others, will be offered as amendments. but in the end we can't do any of that. we can't pass a single one of these bills if we don't even begin the trade debate. if senators are concerned about the substance of the legislation we're debating, the best way to address these problems is to come to the floor offer some amendments and take some votes. that's how the senate is supposed to operate and we're prepared to operate it that way. i might add though, we have to get the bill up. and if there's a cloture vote and cloture fails katy bar the door. i know there are some deeply
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held convictions on all sides of these issues, and that not everyone in the senate agrees with me. that's all the more reason to let this debate move forward and let's see where it goes. let's talk about our positions. let's make all of our voices heard. i'm reed and willing to -- i'm ready and willing to defend my support for free trade and t.p.a. on the senate floor. i will happily stand here and make the case for open markets and expanded access for u.s. exporters and any griewments -- arguments to the contrary. i'm sure there are constituents who think i'm wrong. they should have that right. none of that should prevent the debate from even taking place. we need to keep in mind that we're talking about bipartisan legislation here. all of these bills are supported by senators on both sides of the aisle. this isn't some partisan gambit to force a republican bill
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through the senate. and of course let's not forget that with t.p.a., we're talking about president obama's top priority. his top legislative priority. and one of the most important bills in this president's service as president of the united states of america. this is a debate we need to have mr. president. i'm prepared to have it. the american people deserve to see us talk about these issues on the floor instead of hiding behind procedural excuses. now i urge all my colleagues regardless of where they stand on these issues to begin this important and hopefully historic debate on u.s. trade policy. now let me just say i'm just really basically shocked that after all that we've done, the large vote on the committee the importance of these two bills in particular but all four of them and the importance of
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trade promotion authority and trade adjustment assistance to the president that we now have a bunch of procedural mechanisms that could make this all impossible. it's hard for me to believe that this could take place. we had an agreement the two sides. and i'm concerned about that agreement being broken at this late date, when we were so happy to get these bills out of the committee and get them the opportunity of being on the floor. and i'm going to say as a republican as a conservative, i've been willing to carry the water for the president on this because he is absolutely right. t.p.a. and t.a.a. should pass, especially t.p.a. t.a.a., i have questions about that. i wish we didn't have to pass that. but i've greed to see that -- i've agreed to see that it is on
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the senate floor as part of passing t.p.a. the other two bills certainly deserve to pass. however, we know that the president does not like the language that was put into the customs bill. neither do i at this point because i think it could foul up the whole process the way i'm hearing from the other side. we understood we were going to have votes on t.p.a. and t.a.a. we're not getting into the currency problem that will still be alive on generalized -- excuse me, on the customs bill. i'm very concerned about this because we've come this far and we should follow through and get this done. the president will be better off, the country will be better off, all of us will be better off. we can walk away from this, i believe, in the end feeling like we've done the right thing. this is the best thing that can be done for our country that
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we've got to be part of the free trade movement in this country in this world. there are 400 trade agreements out there. we've only agreed to 20 of them. and these trade agreements generally bring jobs that are much better paid than other jobs in our society between 13% and 18% more. for the life of me, i'll never understand why the unions are so opposed to it and thus, so many democrats are opposited to this. -- are opposed to this. i can't understand it because this will create jobs, and generally the better jobs, the jobs unions can fight to unionize if they want to, which they have a right to do under our laws. yet, every time these matters come up, they are against
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getting free trade agreement passed. i think ambassador fruhman has done a good job up to now but his hands are tied. if we don't pass t.p.a., he's going to have a difficult time bringing about t-tip or t.p.p., which is 11 countries plus ours, not the least japan that our trade representative believes he can get to sign a trade agreement with us. i believe he can but i don't believe he can do it without t.p.a. we've already been told by the ambassador from new zealand that they're not going to sign without t.p.a. so to hamper the passage of t.p.a. because of some desire to do otherwise is not only a
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mistake, it flies in the face of the support this president needs and should have on this particular bill. i understand there are folks on the other side who just aren't for free trade and they're not for trade bills. but the fact of the matter -- and they have a right to feel that way. i don't have any problem with that. what i have a problem with is making it impossible to pass these bills and get them through the senate, which is the path we're on right now. if the votes are against cloture, i suspect that our path to getting this done, to improving our trade throughout the world to allowing us to compete worldwide the way we should is going to be severely hampered if not completely hurt. so with that, i'll yield the
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floor. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: mr. president, how much time is remaining on the democratic side? the presiding officer: the democratic side has 12 1/2 minutes remaining. mr. durbin: thank you very much mr. president. most people who are following this debate may be a little bit put off by some of the initials that we use around here. t.p.p. t.p.a., t.a.a., what is it all about? it's about a trade agreement. it involves, i believe a dozen countries including the united states. most of them are in asia. and we are preparing to discuss and debate it, and that trade agreement is known as i believe the trans-pacific partnership t.p.p. i think that is what that stands for. i'll correct the record if i'm wrong on that. before we get to the trade agreement, we have to decide how we're going to consider it. that is known as t.p.a., trade
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promotion authority or fast track. and the question is whether or not the united states senate will agree that we cannot amend the trade agreement. no amendments. and that it's a simple majority vote. that is what's known as fast track. virtually every president in modern time has had that authority. it is expired and now it has to be re-created by a vote on the floor. what we're an at this time pating this -- what we're anticipating this afternoon is whether or not we go to the arguments about these various issues. and the uncertainty is what leads my friend from utah, senator hatch to come to the floor. the uncertainty from our side is how are we going to consider this. four bills came out of the finance committee related to trade. how are they going to be brought to the floor? are they going to be part of one package? are they separate votes? which one will come out of the senate? will more than one come out of the senate? unanswered questions. and because these questions are unanswered the vote at 2:30 or
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so is in doubt. senator hatch is upset. he believed that there was an agreement. i wasn't party to it; i don't know. but this much i do know, trade is a controversial issue. it is important to america's economy. but when you take it home and you meet with your people you represent, there are strong mixed feelings about trade. some who work for caterpillar tractor company in illinois want to promote trade. sell more of those big yellow tractors put more americans to work to build them. but many look at trade and say i could be a casualty. i could be a victim. they could ship my job overseas, senator. so what are you going to do to make sure i'm protected? that's why trade isn't an easy issue. it is a controversial issue. t.a.a. which senator hatch referred to is t.a.a. what it -- is it is referred to as trade adjustment assistance. if you lost your job we'll help
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pay for training for a new job. i fully support it. i've been to a high school in down state illinois. there was a man there teaching high school students, good, gifted high school students how to repair computers. i said to him how did you get in this business? he said i lost my job in a factory years ago because of a trade p agreement. i was able to go back to college, got a degree and am now a teacher. do i support trade assistance? you bet i do. for that man and anyone who loses their job because of trade. any part of the trade agreement is important to many of us. we want to make sure it is included on the floor of the senate. equally so, we want to make sure that trade agreements are enforceable. it wasn't that long ago that we had thriving steel production companies in america that were victimized by many foreign countries that started dumping
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steel in the united states. what does it mean to dump steel? these countries: brazil, japan and russia, were selling steel in the united states at lower than the cost of production. why? they knew they could run the americans out of business, and they did. by the time we filed an unfair trade grievance went through the hearings, won our case, the american companies disappeared. so enf -- so enforcement is an important part of any conversation about trade. and we want to know from senator hatch and the republicans who bring this to the floor are we going to enforce this trade agreement so american companies are treated fairly? i think that's a pretty legitimate question. until it's answered, there's uncertainty and maybe the vote at 2:30 will reflect it. i hope we can get it answered before 2:30 but if not soon after as to how senator mcconnell wants to bring this issue to the floor. mr. president, i'd like to place in a separate part of the record
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the following comments about another issue. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president may 31 -- today is may 12 -- on may 31, the federal highway trust fund authorization expires. what it means is at that point in timing, the federal government will -- at that point in time, the federal government will stop sending federal dollars back to our states to support roads and bridges and mass transit. what are we going to do about it? we have 19 days to do something about it. sadly, we know what we're going to do about it. the republicans who control the house and the senate, have failed to come up with any means of extending the highway trust fund. so what they're going to do probably, is ask us for a short-term extension a month two months. the reason we think this will happen is that in the past six years, there have been 32 extensions of the highway trust fund. we used to pass highway trust fund bills to last six years for obvious reasons.
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you can't build highways a month at a time. you have to know that you have money that's going to be there for years to build a highway to repair a bridge to make certain you have new mass transit modernization. but the republicans have been unable to reauthorize the highway trust fund for any period of time. and so they want to extend it 30 days at a time, 60 days at a time. there are some realities that we need to accept. we cannot patch our way to prosperity in america. you can't fill enough potholes to build a highway. if we are going to accept our responsibility to be a great nation and a great leader in the world economy we need an infrastructure to support it. the republican failure to extend the highway trust fund for five or six years sadly is going to cost us jobs in america. not just good-paying construction jobs but jobs in businesses that count on infrastructure.
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i have them all over illinois and there are thousands of workers in illinois that depend on them. but because the republicans have failed to come up with an extension of the highway trust fund, we are going to limp along here and sadly not meet our national obligation to create an infrastructure to support our economy. i'm hoping that cooler heads will prevail and leadership will prevail and the republican leadership in the house and the senate -- they're in the majority in both chambers -- will step forward with a plan to create a highway trust fund on for six years. the president has. he put it on the table. the republicans rejected it. they have no alternative. none. let's get down to business. let's put america back to work. let's create the infrastructure we need to build our economy. mr. president, how much time do i have remaining? the presiding officer: the democrats have five minutes remaining. mr. durbin: mr. president, i want to make a statement on syria and humanitarian concerns in syria but it will take longer than that and i know my
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colleague from vermont is here. and i would like to yield the remaining five minutes -- mr. sanders: let me say this to my friend from illinois. if i could get unanimous consent to speak after senator thune that would be fine and i would yield back to you. how's that? mr. durbin: if i want to make that unanimous consent. mr. sanders: i would ask flan consent that -- unanimous consent that i be allowed to speak for up to 15 minutes after senator thune. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection? mr. sanders: thank you. mr. durbin: mr. president, i believe the previous presiding officer suggested i had five minutes remaining on democratic time at this point. and i would just like to say very briefly a word about the situation in syria. mr. president, on may 13p19 -- on may 13, 1994, a senator from illinois named paul simon was chairman. the senate foreign relations subcommittee on africa. his ranking republican was jim jeffords of vermont. jim jeffords and senator paul simon had been told that there was a looming genocide about to
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occur in rwanda. they went on the phone together and spoke to general -- u.n. general romeo delair in kigali rwanda in may of 1994. they asked what can we do to stop the killing in rwanda? general delair said, if you would send 5,000 uniformed troops i can stop this genocide. senator simon and jeffords wrote the clinton white house immediately at that time and asked for the administration to call on the united nations to act. their letter said in part, obviously there are risks involved but we cannot continue to sit idly by while this tragedy continues to unfold. the senators received no reply from the white house. in less than eight weeks 800,000 rwandans were massacred. today, president william clinton acknowledges he should have done more. we should have done more. what happened in rwanda was a
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classic genocide. mr. president, today what's happening in syria may not meet the classic definition of a genocide but it certainly meets every standard and every division as the looming hugh -- definition of the looming humanitarian crisis of our time. and the question before before us in the united states is: what will we do? i think it has reached the point where we must act. and that's why i've joined with three of my colleagues fellow democrat tim kaine of virginia, republicans lindsey graham of south carolina and john mccain of arizona. we've written to president obama urging him to call together world leaders and to establish a humanitarian zone, a safe zone, a no-fly zone in syria where modern medical treatment can be provided and displaced persons can escape. we think it should be done under the auspices, i do, of the united nations and that the united states can join other countries in providing a
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defensive security force. we need to turn to our nato allies like turkey. we need to reach out to saudi arabia, even iran and try to find an international consensus to spare the suffering and death which is occurring now for years in syria. we don't know the exact number of casualties. we estimate that some 400,000 may have died in syria. millions have been displaced. this is a picture of just one of the refugee camps where the people of syria have fled. i've visited camps like this in turkey. they're in lebanon and jordan. and they just can't accommodate all the people that are evacuating that country. once every few months, a friend of mine comes to visit in chicago. he is an extraordinary man. his name is dr. saloul. he heads a group of syrian-americans who travel to
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syria on a regular basis. they have to sneak into the country this war-torn country. as doctors they're providing basic medical care to the victims of the violence that's taking place in syria. dr. saloul brings heartbreaking photographs to show me. the last photographs were of children who had been victims of barrel bombs which bashar assad in syria drops on his own people. these are literally garbage cans filled with munitions and explosives that explode killing civilian populations. the photos showed children who had been maimed, lost their limbs and some had been killed by these barrel bombs that continue. now assad has decided to up the ante. he's included chlorine gas in these barrel bombs as well. these doctors try to save these children and save these victims. many times they're operating on tables in abandoned schools. they're begging for medicines
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which are at a high premium. and many times they're not successful. what will we do? what can the united states do? i hope that we can be part of an effort an international effort to provide safe zones for medical treatment and for the displaced persons in syria. i hope to join with others on a bipartisan basis in urging that alternative. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: mr. president, i have nine unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. and i would ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president later today the senate will vote on whether or not to proceed to a bill that was reported out of
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the senate finance committee on which i serve the trade promotion authority legislation. and what's sort of remarkable about this is that we are on the cusp here in the united states senate of passing a major piece of legislation bipartisan legislation in which a republican majority in the united states senate is working with a democrat president to give him trade promotion authority -- something that would be very good for our economy. and if the democrats here in the senate don't blow it, this could be a major hallmark achievement of this congress. but my understanding is there's an effort on the other side now to prevent us from even getting on the bill to debate it, and i hope that as democrats contemplate that move that they'll think long and hard about what they will be doing. because not only will they be undermining their own president who is very much for this they
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will be hurting the american economy. because every president literally back to f.d.r. has had trade promotion authority in which he has the ability to negotiate trade agreements with other trading partners in a way that congress ultimately has to approve but in a way that expedites and gives maximum amount of leverage to get the best trade agreement possible. so we're taking up that legislation hopefully later today, but it's all going to depend on senate democrats and whether or not they want to proceed to this bill or not. and i certainly hope, as i said, that they will come to the conclusion that it's in the best interests of our country of our economy and certainly i think in the best interests of creating a bipartisan achievement here in which they're working with their own president and with republicans here in the united states senate. mr. president, with 96% of the world's consumers outside the borders of the united states trade is essential to growing our economy and opening new
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markets for products marked "made in the u.s.a." over the past few years exports have been a bright spot in our economy supporting an increasing number of american jobs each and every year. in fact, in 2014 exports supported 11.7 million u.s. jobs and made up 13% of our nation's economy. my home state of south dakota alone, exports support more than 15,000 jobs in industries that range from farming and ranching to machinery and electronics. we need to continue to open markets around the globe to american goods and services. and the best way to do that, mr. president is through new trade agreements. countries with which we have free and fair trade agreements purchase substantially more from us than other countries. in fact, in 2013 free trade agreement countries purchased 3412 times more goods and services per capita from the
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united states than non-free trade agreement countries. let me restate that, mr. president. in 2013, those countries with whom we have a free trade agreement purchased 12 times more goods per capita from the united states than those countries with whom we do not have a free trade agreement. and it's not just american farmers and ranchers and manufacturing -- and manufacturers who benefit from trade agreements. american consumers benefit as well. trade agreements give american families access to a greater variety of goods at lower prices the u.s. chamber of commerce estimates that trade increases american families' purchasing power by $10,000 annually. for american workers increased trade means more opportunity and increased access to high-paying jobs. manufacturing jobs tied to exports pay on average 13% to 18% more than wages in other
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areas of our economy. unfortunately while trade agreements are proliferated around the globe over the past several years the united states hasn't signed a new trade agreement in five years. altogether the united states has just 14 trade agreements currently in effect. mr. president, that's a lot of lost opportunity for american workers and businesses since trade agreements have proved to be the best way to increase demand for american products and services. a big reason for the lack of trade agreements in recent years is the fact that trade promotion authority expired in 2007. as i said earlier since 1934 you have to go back to the administration of f.d.r., 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 it comes to negotiating trade agreements.
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under t.p.a., congress sets guidelines for trade negotiations and outlines the priorities the administration has to follow. in return, congress promises a simple up-and-down vote on the resulting trade agreement instead of a long amendment process that could leave the final deal looking nothing like what was originally negotiated. that simple up-and-down vote is the key. it lets our negotiating partners know that congress and trade negotiators are on the same page which gives other countries the confidence they need to put their best offers on the table. and that in turn allows for a successful and timely conclusion to 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 european union and in the pacific. the trade promotion authority is being negotiated with a -- the trans-pacific partnership is
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being negotiated with new zealand, and vietnam. if this agreement is done right, it could have huge benefits for american agriculture among other industries. currently american agricultural products face high tariffs. poultry tariffs poultry tariffs in t.p.p. countries for example can reach a staggering 240%. reducing the barriers to american agriculture -- agricultural products face in these countries would have enormous benefits for american farmers and ranchers. agricultural producers in my state of south dakota have contacted me to tell me how trade benefits their industries and urge support for trade promotion authority as the most effective way to secure trade agreements that will benefit south dakota farmers and ranchers. a leader of the south dakota dairy association wrote about the benefits for south dakota
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dairy farmers and urged me to vote in favor of trade promotion authority. the trans-pacific partnership he said -- and i quote -- "have the potential to be positive for our dairy industry but only if the united states insists on settling for nothing less than a balanced deal that delivers net trade benefits for the dairy industry passing t.p.a. is a key part of getting there" -- end quote. it's have a dairy producer in my state of south dakota. mr. president, passing t.p.a. is a key part of getting there. neither the trans-pacific partnership nor the u.s.-e.u. trade agreement is likely to be completed in a timely fashion without trade promotion authority. if we want to make sure that trade negotiations achieve the goals of american farmers and manufacturers, trade promotion authority is essential. the bipartisan bill that we're considering on the senate floor
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this week reauthorizes trade promotion authority and includes updates like provisions to strengthen the transparency of the negotiating process and ensure that the american people stay informed. it also contains provisions that i pushed for to require negotiators to ensure that trade agreements promote digital trade as well as trade in physical goods and services. given the increasing importance of digitally enabled commerce in the 21st century economy, it is essential that our trade agreements include new rules that keep digital trade free from unnecessary government interference. mr. president, this trade promotion authority bill will help ensure any trade deals the united states enters into will be favorable to american farmers and ranchers and manufacturers and hold other countries accountable for their unfair practices. passing this bill is essential to prevent american workers and businesses from being left behind in the global economy.
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since republicans took control of the senate in january democrats and republicans have come together on a number of issues to pass legislation to address challenges that are facing our country. i hope that this bill will be our next bipartisan achievement. the president has made it clear that he supports this bill and key democrat senators are working to make sure that it passes. i hope, mr. president that the rest of the democrat party here in the united states senate will come together with the president and republicans to get this done. as president obama said the other day -- and i quote -- "we have to make sure that america writes the rules of the global economy because if we don't write the rules for trade around the world, guess what -- china will and they'll write those rules in a way that gives chinese workers and chinese businesses the upper hand and locks american-made goods out"
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-- end quote. that from president obama. put another way mr. president if america fails to lead on trade, other nations will step in to fill the void and not have the best interests of american workers and american families in mind. it is time to pass trade promotion authority so that we can secure favorable new trade deals and ensure that american goods and services can compete on a level playing field around the globe and american workers and american consumers can see the benefits that come along with that. i hope that will be the outcome of the vote today mr. president. and i hope that, again it will be a major achievement for this senate a bipartisan achievement in which both sides worked together for the good of our economy for the good of jobs, for the good of higher wage levels for american workers and for the good of a more competitive economy in which our consumers benefit. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: thank you
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mr. president. mr. president, at 2:30 this afternoon the senate will be voting on a motion to proceed to the fast track bill that the finance committee recently opposed approved. i will be stronglily opposing that legislation. here's why -- in a nutshell here is the reality of the american economy today. while we are certainly better off than we were six and a half years ago the truth is for the last 40 years the american middle class has been disappearing. the truth is that today we have some 45 million americans living in povertyth almost the highest rate in the modern history of america. and while the middle class continues to shrink, we are seeing more income and wealth inequality than at any time in
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our country since 1929, and it is worse in america than any other major country on earth. today, 99% of all new income is going to the top 1%. today, the top .1% owns almost -- almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%. in the last two years mr. president, the 14 wealthiest people in this country have seen an increase in their wealth of $157 billion. that $157 billion is more wealth than is owned by the bottom 130 million americans. how is that happening? why is that happening? we have seen a huge increase in technology productivity is way up and the reality is that
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most working people should be seeing an increase in their income and yet median family income has gone down by almost $5,000 since 1999. how does it happen? why is it happening that in the richest country in the history of the world almost all of the new wealth is now in the hands of the few while the vast majority of the american people are working longer hours for lower wages? how does it happen? well, there are a lot of factors but let me tell you that our disastrous trade agreements -- nafta cafta permanent normal trade relations with china -- are certainly one of the major reasons why the middle class is in decline and why more and more income and wealth goes to a handful of people on the top. president, mr. president the -- mr. president, the sad truth of the matter is many of the new
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jobs created in this country today are part time and low-paying jobs. 30 or 40 years ago working people who maybe had a harm degree could go out and get a job in a factory. they never got rich, it wasn't a glamorous job but you know what they had enough wages and benefits to make it into the middle class. but since 2001, we have lost almost 60 thigh factories -- 60,000 factories in america. and today when young people graduate high school they don't have the opportunity to work in a factory and have a union job and make middle-class beiges wages. their options are wal-mart, mcdonald's low wages minimal benefits, companies that are vehemently antiunion. mr. president, the sad truth of the matter is that we are in a race to the bottom.
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and not only have our trade agreements cost us millions of decent-paying jobs but they have depressed wages in this country because companies and virtually every major multinational corporation in this country has outsourced jobs shed millions of american jobs, what they say to workers is not if you don't like the cuts in health care, you teen like the cuts in wages we're going to go to china and we can hire people there for a buck an hour. sadly, mr. president the trans-pacific partnership agreement follows in the footsteps of these other disastrous free trade agreements that have forced american workers to compete against desperate and low-wage workers around the world. mr. president, over and over again -- and i have heard this so many times -- i heard it just on the floor this
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morning -- supporters of fast track have told us that unfettered free trade will increase american jobs and wages and will be just a wonderful thing for the american economy. sadly, however these folks have been proven wrong and wrong and wrong time after time after time. i hear the same language and every time what they say just proves not to be true. let me just mention to you some quotes from the supporters of nafta. this is what people were telling us about how great the free trade agreement or the nafta free trade agreement would be. on september 19, 1993, president bill clinton said the following -- he was, of course president pushing nafta in the same way that president obama is today pushing the t.p.p. this is what clinton said -- and i quote -- "i believe that nafta will create 200,000 american
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jobs in the first two years of its effect. i believe that nafta will create a million jobs in the first five years of its impact" -- end of quote. in 1993, it's not just liberals like bill clinton here's the very conservative heritage foundation in 1993. this is what thieved -- and i quote -- "virtually all economists agree that nafta will produce a net increase of u.s. jobs over the next decade" -- end of quote. 1993 the distinguished senator from kentucky, our majority leader mitch mcconnell said -- and i quote -- "american firms will not move to mexico just for lower wages" -- end of quote by mitch mcmcconnell. is what president clinton is what the heritage foundation, is that what mitch mcconnell said turn out to be correct? of course, it did not. what happened was exactly the opposite of what they said. according to the economists at the economic policy institute
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navy has led to the loss of more than 680,000 jobs. in 1993 the year before nafta was implemented, the united states had a trade surplus with mexico of more than $1.6 billion. last year the trade deficit with mexico was $53 billion. so all of the verbiage that we heard about nafta being so good for american workers turned out to be dead wrong. what about china? we were told my god the chinese market will be open, billions of people, what a opportunity to create good pic jobs in america. this is what the proponents of permanent normal trade relations with china had to say. president clinton again in 1999, bill clinton -- quote -- "in opening the economy of chain the agreement will create unprecedented opportunities for american farmers workers and companies to compete successfully in china's market. this is a 100-0 deal for america
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when it comes to the economic consequences" -- end quote. conservative economists at the cato institute inth 1999 this is what they said, the silliest argument against pntr is chinese imports would overwhelm u.s. industry. in fact, american workers are far more productive than their chinese counterparts, pntr would create n.r.a. more export opportunities for america than for the chinese" -- end of quote. wow, were they wrong. the economic policy institute has stated that pntr with china has led to the net loss of 2.7 million american jobs. go to any tent store in america, walk in the door, where are the products made? china, china china vietnam, other low-wage countries. in fact, it is harder and harder to buy a product not made in china. so all those people who told us what a great deal pntr with
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china would be turned out to be wrong, dead wrong. in fact, our trade agreement with china has cost us almost three million jobs. in 2001, the trade deficit with china was $83 billion. today it is $342 billion. in 2011 -- on another trade agreement -- u.s. chamber of commerce, big proponents of unfettered free trade strongly supporting t.p.p. chamber of commerce told us we had to pass a free trade agreement with south korea because it would create some 280,000 jobs in america. 280,000 jobs, a lot of jobs. turns out wrong again. in reality economic policy institute recently found that the korean free trade agreement has led to the loss of some 75,000 jobs. and now


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