tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN June 1, 2015 12:00pm-2:01pm EDT
ct a more intimate and possible debates today. and now to the senate floor live here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. let us pray. god of all mercies in whose love and wisdom lies all our hope still our anxious hearts, as we bring our weakness to your might, our failure to your perfection and our smallness to
your greatness. from a world with its tragedies and setbacks, we turn for this hallowed moment to be still and know that you are god. continue to sustain our lawmakers. save them from the dangers that lurk in the flawed judgment, a confused reckoning and a narrow outlook. bless the members of their staff who labor with them to keep our nation strong. and, lord, comfort the biden family and all those who are
grieving the loss of beau biden. we pray in your merciful 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: last night the senate voted to advance the
house-passed fisa bill. we'll have a vote on that legislation as soon as we can. on our way there, we should take some commonsense steps to ensure the new system envisioned by that legislation a system we would soon have to rely upon to keep our country safe, will in fact actually work. the amendments filed last night would help do just that. for example one amendment would ensure that there is adequate time -- adequate time -- to build and test a system that doesn't yet exist. one amendment would ensure that there's adequate time to build and test a system that doesn't even exist yet. another would require that once the new system is actually built, the director of national intelligence reviews it and
certifies that it actually works. let me say that again. the second amendment would require that once the new system is actually built the director of national intelligence reviews the new system and certifies that it actually will work. amendment number three would require simple notification if the decide to change their data retention policies. three amendments to improve the bill. these fixes are commonsense and whatever one thinks of the proposed new system, there needs to be basic assurance that it will function as its proponents say that it will.
the senate should adopt these basic safeguards. now, i'd hoped to see committees working hard to advance bipartisan compromise fisa legislation this week, which is why i had offered several temporary extensions of the existing program to allow the space for that to occur but these proposed short-term steptions were either -- extensions were either voted down or objected to, including a very narrow extension of some of the least controversial tools contained within the program that we're considering. so this is where we are. it now falls on all of us to work diligently and responsibly to get the american people the best outcome that can be reasonably expected in this reality with which we are confronltconfronted. that's my commitment, and i know many of my colleagues share it as well.
quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order the senate will be in a period of morning business for one hour with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes oche. -- each. mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i want to speak about the fisa bill but before i do, i want to express what is on every one of our hearts of our grieving with the joe biden family. that family has had more of its share of tragedy but what it has produced is, in the case of beau biden an extraordinary public servant who served his country not only by elected
office but by serving in uniform as well. most of us in this chamber know the biden family and the dad and the now mom joe and bill are extraordinary human beings that have contributed so much and it's not necessarily easy to be in public service as long as the vice president has and still raise a family that is so extraordinarily accomplished and contributing so much. and then to have that eldest son taken from him just is like a
dagger into our hearts. so we grieve with the family. we grieve for them and with the nation. and i just wanted to get that on the record mr. president. mr. president, we're here because the senate is not functioning. we were here last night because the senate is not functioning. oh it's functioning according to the rules which says that you've got to go through this arcane procedure of cloture on the motion to proceed and get 60 votes before you can ever get to the bill, and once you get to the bill, then you file another motion for cloture and the
senate rule says that there are 30 hours that have to run unless as has been typical of the senate business, there's comity there's understanding there's bipartisanship. but one senator can withhold unanimous consent. and that has been done, so the 30 hours. now, normally, that may be standard procedure for the senate but it's getting in the way of our national security because at midnight last night the law that allows our intelligence community to track the e-mails and the phone calls of the terrorists has evaporated and it won't be
reenacted until sometime later this week because of the lack of unanimous consent. but this senator from florida is not putting it at the feet of just the one senator that is withholding the unanimous consent. this senator from florida is saying that this should have been planned on over a week ago. and this senator is saying that we should have gone through the laborious procedures not assuming that we were going to have the votes last night not assuming there was going to be comity and unanimous consent. this senator thinks that we should have done this because of the urgency of national security.
now, it's interesting that this senator from florida comes here with mixed feelings. i voted for the leahy bill, which is identical to the house bill, but i did that because we didn't have any other choice. when i had another choice, i voted for the senator burr, the chairman of the intelligence committee's version, which was to continue existing law and i did so because i clearly thought that was in the interest of our national security. but since that is not the prevailing votes of the senate we need to get on with it and pass the house bill, and then i would urge the chairman of the intelligence committee, who is here on the floor, i would urge
him then to down the line the six month's transitional period from the old law to the new law that that be extended with a greater transition time to 12 or 18 months, and i would further urge the chairman of the intel committee that a major flaw in the bill passed by the house which we will eventually pass this week, that it be added to it a requirement for a certain amount of time that the telephone companies would have to keep those telephone business records so that if there is an urgency of national security going through the fisa court that those records would be available to the intel committee to trace the telephone calls of
the terrorist. that would be my recommendation, and i see the chairman nodding in somewhat agreement. so mr. president i hope we'll get on. i hope better hearts and minds will prevail and that we can collapse this period of dark where there is no law governing e-mails, phone calls cell phones, et cetera, as we try to protect ourselves from the terrorists. i would hope that that would be collapsed into a much shorter time instead of having to wait until late tuesday or wednesday or thursday of this week. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. burr: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from -- mr. burr: i ask unanimous consent that all time morning time be yielded back and the senate
resume consideration of h.r. h.r. 2048. the presiding officer: is there objection? morning business is closed. under the previous order the senate will resume consideration of h.r. 2048 which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 87, h.r. 2048, an act to reform the authorities of the federal government to require the production of certain business records and so forth and for other purposes. mr. burr: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. bur beer i wantmr. burr: mr. president i want to rise while my good friend from florida is here to say, i wish i had a magic wand where i could collapse this time. but under senate rules one member can demand for the full 30 hours and we're in a process like that. and my hope is that there will be some accommodation as we go through this, because i think most members would like to resolve this. and let me say specifically to his two points, there is a substitute amendment that has
the u.s.a. freedom language with two additional pieces. those two pieces are a six-month notification to n.s.a. by any telecom company who intends to change their retention program. and, as my geed my good friend from florida know, part of moving a bill is passing a bill that can be passed by the house of representatives. and mandatory retention does not meet that threshold but i hope they will accept this requirement of note note any indication of any -- noteification of any change in their retention program as well as a d.n.i. certification at the end of whatever the transition period is. now, there will be a first-degree and a second-degree amendment in addition to that made in order and germane. the first-degree amendment will be to extend the transition period to 12 months, so we would
go from six months -- not to two years like the gentleman from florida and i preferred and not to 18 but to 12. and i think that's a happy spot for us to agreement. there will be a second-degree amendment for us to address some language that's in the bill that's -- that makes it mandatory on the part of the justice department that they get a panel of amicus individuals and what we've heard from the justice department and gotten a recommendation is that that be a voluntary thing on the part of the courts. and we'll second-degree that first-degree amendment with that language provided to us by the courts. i would like to tell the gentleman that i hope by tomorrow afternoon we can have this completed and that we can send it to the house. and by the time we go to bed tomorrow night this might all be back into place. i remind my colleagues that any
law enforcement case that was in progress is not affected by the suspension of the roving or lone wolf provisions. they're grandfathered in so those investigations can continue. but for the 48 hours that we might be closed, it means they're going to delay the start of an investigation if in fact they need those two tools. and from the standpoint of the bulk data program it means that is frozen, it can't be queried for the period of time. but it hadn't gone away. immediately as we reinstitute the authorities in this program that additional data would be brought in and the process that n.s.a. would go through to query the data would in fact be available to the national security agency only. as is current law only once the fisa court provides the authority for them to do it. and i think there are a lot of misstatements that have been
made on this floor. let me just say for my colleagues, what is collected -- what is metadata? it's a telephone number. it's a date. it's a time that the call was made and it's the duration of the phone call. now, i'm not sure how we have invaded anybody's privacy by getting a telephone that is de-identified. we don't know who it belongs to, and we would never know who it belongs to until it's turned over to law enforcement to investigate because it's now been connected to a known foreign terrorist telephone number. stop and think about this. the cfpb government agency collects financial transactions on every american. there's nobody down here trying to eliminate the cfpb. i'd love to eliminate the cfpb tomorrow but there's no outrage
over it and they collect a ton more information and it's not de-identified. it's identified. every american has a discount card for their grocery store. you go in and you get a discount every time you use it. your grocery store collects 20 times the amount of data that the n.s.a. does, all identified with you and there's a big difference between the n.s.a. and pt grocery store. we don't sell our data at the n.s.a. your grocery store does. i'm for outrage but let's make it equal. let's understand that we're in a society where data is transferred automatically. and the fact is that, one, this is a program authorized by law overseen by the congress, house and senate and the executive branch at the white house. it is a program that has never had -- never never had a privacy violation -- not one -- in the time that it's been in
place. i'm all for if the american people say this is not a function if we believe government should be in. and i think that's what we've heard and we're transferring this data over to the telecom companies where no longer there are going to be a limited number of people who can access that information. we're going to open it up to the telecom companies to search it in some way shape or form, whether trained or untrained or how exactly they're going to do it. it's going to delay the amount of time it's going to take us to connect a dot to another dot. mr. nelson: would the senator yield? mr. burr: i'll be happy to yield. mr. nelson: mr. president this is a good example of the chairman of the intel committee a republican, and this senator from florida a democrat, a former member of the intel committee agree and are so frustrated as just exemplified by the senator that there is so
much misunderstanding of what this legislation does. the fact that the chairman has just said metadata -- a fancy term -- is nothing more than business records of the telephone company. a telephone number is made to another telephone number on such and such a date at such and such a time for such and such a duration. that's all. we don't know who the call was from or to. it's when there is the suspicion through other things that are authorized by court order that the analyst can get in and open up as to what the content is in order to protect us. and would the senator from north carolina agree that there is so
much misunderstanding in the press as has been reported about how this is the invasion of privacy as if the conversations were the ones that were being held by the national security agency? would the senator agree with that statement? mr. burr: i agree with exactly that statement. the collection has nothing to do with content of a call. to do that would take an investigation into an individual and an additional court process that would probably be pursued by the f.b.i., not the n.s.a., to look at the content. i think when the american people see this thing dissected in reality and they say you know, really my telephone number without my name isn't really an intrusion. the time that the call was made really isn't an intrusion.
the duration of the call really isn't an intrusion. and now i know they're not collecting anything that was said -- no content in it -- of this metadata base is only telephone numbers. you know, there's a legitimate question that the american people ask: why did we create this program? well, it was created in the department of defense. it was transferred over to the intelligence community. and the purpose of it was in real-time, to be able to search or query a massive amount of data. so a few weeks ago we; the united states, went into syria and we got a bad guy. we got hard drives and we got telephones and we got a lot of sim cards. and those telephone numbers now -- hopefully don't know it, hopefully, we're testing it in the metadata base, to see did
those phones talk to anybody in the united states. why? i think the american people want us to know that if terrorists are talking to somebody in this country s. i think they really do want us to know that. and what we've tried to do since 9/11 we've tried to structure something that lives within the law or a presidential directive that gives us that head start in identifying who that individual is. but we only do it through telephone numbers the date of the call, the length of the call. we don't do it through listening to content. that's why i think that it's healthy for us to have this debate. i think the my good friend from florida shares my frustration. we're changing a program that didn't have a problem and didn't need to be changed. and we're accepting a lower threshold of our ability to intercept that individual in the united states that might have the intention of carrying out
some type of an attack. now, i'd only say this. i don't believe that the threat level has dropped to a point where we can remove some of the tools. if anything, the threat level has gotten higher. and you would think we'd be talking about an expansion of tools. but i accept the fact that this debate has gotten to a point where a bulk data storage capacity within the government is not going to be continued long term, and i would say to my good friend, who i think agrees with me, that though i believe 24 months is a safer transition period, hopeful little our friends in the house will see 12 months as a good agreement between the two bodies and that 12-month agreement, i think would give me confidence knowing that we've taken care of the technology needed for the telecoms to search in real time their numbers. now, make no mistake
mr. president, this will be a delay from where we currently are. i can't get into the classified nature of how long it takes us to query a data base given the way we do it, but there's no question that this will lengthen the amount of time it takes us to connect the dots. therefore, for something that might be in an operational mode, we may or may not hit that. that's a concern. but this is certainly something we can go back and look at as time goes on. mr. nelson: mr. president, if the senator will further yield? mr. burr: absolutely. mr. nelson: has the senator heard many times in the press while nobody has come forth and showed us one case in which the holding of these telephone business bulk cords has paid off, has the senator heard that
statement by the press? mr. burr: the senator has heard that statement by the press and has heard it by members of this body. mr. nelson: has the senator come to the conclusion that the holding of that data, that there are so many cases that are classified that has protected this country from frifts by virtue -- from terrorists by virtue of just the example that he gave of the terrorist records that were apprehended in the raid in syria a couple of weeks ago that those telephone numbers may well be it's like mining gold and finding other terrorists that are hitting -- that want to hit us? mr. burr: the senator hits on a great point. let me state it this way. would any member of the intelligence committee be on the floor battling to keep this
program if in fact in our oversight capacity we had looked at a program that was absolutely worthless? would we expend any capital to do it? the answer is, no, we wouldn't. we're down here battling on the floor, for those of us who are either on the committee or have been on the committee since 9/11 because we've seen the impact of this program. we know what it's enabled us to do and we know what happens when we get a trove of technology in our hands that we know gives us the ability to see whether it was tied to somebody, whether we knew about them or we didn't. and the fact is that when you've got groups like isil today that are saying on social media don't come to syria stay in the united states, stay in europe, go buy a gun here's 100 law enforcement officers, here's 100 military folks that's how you can carry out the jihad it
makes the use and the tool that we're talking about even more important because no longer do we get to look at no-fly lists no longer do we get to look at individuals that have traveled or intend to travel to syria. it's individuals who grew up in neighborhoods that we never worried about where the only way we're going to be able to find it out is if we connect the conversation that they have had or just the fact that a conversation took place and then law enforcement can begin to peel the onion back with the proper authorities proper court order to begin to look is this a person that we need to worry about? the senator from florida is 100% correct. this is invaluable to the overall defense of this country. mr. nelson: mr. president, if the senator would further yield and i'll just conclude by the american people need to understand that there is so much
agreement behind the closed doors of intelligence committee as they are invested with the oversight of what is going on in order to protect our blessed country. and my plea now is that we would get to the point that as the chairman has suggested that maybe even by waiting tomorrow, that we can collapse this time and get on to passing this, sending down some minor modifications to the house that they can accept it and get it to the president so this important program that tries to protect us from terrorists can continue. i thank the senator for yielding. mr. burr: i thank my good friend from florida for his willingness to come to the floor
and talk facts. and i see my good friend from arizona here. mr. president, before i yield let me just restate what the senator from florida asked me and that was we need a longer transition period and we need something addressed on the data that's held. and i say tor my colleagues -- and i say for my colleagues that there will be three votes at some point. one will be on a substitute amendment. it has the exact same language as the u.s.a. freedom bill. it makes two changes to the u.s.a. freedom bill. it would have a requirement that the telecoms notify the government six months in advance of any change in the retention program for their data, which i think is very reasonable. the second would be that it requires the director of national intelligence to certify on whatever the transition day is that the software needed to be provided to the telecoms has
been provided so that search can go through. in addition to that, there will be two other amendments. the first one will deal with expanding the transition period from the current six months that is in the u.s.a. freedom bill to 12 months. again i would say i would have preferred 24 months. we have settled on 12 months. and the last thing is that it would change the current amicus language that's in the bill to reflect something provided to us by the courts. it was the court's recommendation that we change it that this would be easier to fit within a program that has a time sensitivity to it, so as we go through the debate today as we go to tomorrow, hopefully we will have three amendments that will pass and we can report this bill out shortly after lunch tomorrow if everything works well. with that, i would yield the floor.
mr. mccain: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: i ask unanimous consent to address the senate as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: mr. president i wish to pay tribute today to cbs broadcaster bob scheiffer who retired yesterday as the moderator of the most-watched sunday news show "face the nation" after a career in journalism that lasted more than half a century. bob reported from dallas that terrible weekend president kennedy was assassinateed. at that time he was with the fort worth star telegram. he was a cbs pentagon correspondent and congressional correspondent and white house correspondent and chief washington correspondent. he anchored the "cbs evening news" at a time of transition and turmoil at the network. for 24 years he has moderated "face the nation" which has
become more popular every year bob ran the show. he tried to retire before several times. cbs begged him to stay. that's an impressive run by anyone's standards all the more so considering bob is probably the most respected and popular reporter in the country. familiarity might not always breed contempt, but it's certainly not a guarantee of enduring public admiration except in bob's case. the public's regard for bob schieffer never seemed to waiver or -- waver or even level off. he grew in stature the longer his career lasted. not many of us can say that, mr. president. the secret to his success i suspect is pretty simple. americans just like bob schieffer. they like him a lot and trust him. that's pretty rare in his profession which like ours has
fallen precipitously in recent years in the esteem of the american people. i think it's attributable to the personal and professional values that he honestly and seemingly effortlessly represented. old-fashioned values that in this modern communications age make him stand out. bob is courteous and respectful to the people he reports on and interviews. there are people in his profession who disdain that approach to journalism, but i doubt they will ever be as good at the job as bob schieffer was. he looked to get answers to the questions the public had a right and a need to have answered. he was dogged in pursuit of those answers. and more often than not he succeeded, but he wasn't sarcastic or cynical. he wasn't rude. he didn't show off. he didn't do gotcha journalism. he was fair. he was honest, and he was very
good at his job. he asked good questions and he kept asking them until he got answers. he was determined to get at the truth, not for the sake of one-upping you or embarrassing you but because that was a journalist's responsibility in a free society. if he caught someone being evasive or dishonest or pompous he would persist long enough for them to expose themselves. he didn't yell or talk over them or insult them. he didn't need to. i don't know how he votes. most people in his profession have political views to the left of my party and it wouldn't surprise me if bob does, too. among almost all reporters claim they keep their personal views out of their reporting but not many do it successfully. be they liberal or conservative. the best do, and bob schieffer is the best. i never once felt i had been
treated unfairly by him because he disagreed with me. i think most republicans bob interviewed would say the same. he moderated presidential debates without receiving any criticism, or at least any deserved criticism for loading his questions with his own views or mediating exchanges between candidates to favor one over the other. he was a model of a successful moderator, intent on informing the electorate, not drawing attention to himself. that's not to say he didn't make an impression on his audience. he did. he impressed them as he always did with his fairness, his honesty and his restraint. mr. president, it's no secretive made an occasional appearance on a sunday morning show. no doubt i've enjoyed those experiences more than some of my colleagues have enjoyed watching them. some people might think i should take up golf or find something else to do with my sunday
mornings. i may have to now that bob has retired. i've appeared on "face the nation" over 100 times more than any other guest. i acknowledge there are viewers who would prefer to see someone else claim that distinction. too bad. i've got the record, and i think i'll have it for a while. i'm kidding -- sort of. but i'm not kidding about my appreciation for bob schieffer and the opportunity he gave me and everyone who appeared on his show to communicate our views on issues without a third party editing or misconstruing them and to have those views tested by capable probing and fair interviewer which bob schieffer certainly was. he's something else, too mr. president. in addition to being a very good and very fair reporter, he's a good guy and there are never enough of those around. i'm going to miss spending the
mr. durbin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. durbin: i ask consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: and consent to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president i gathered saturday night in springfield, illinois, with my wife and a lot of close friends
at the retirement party of ann docherty who has served me so well in the united states senate office and in the congressional office in springfield. it was a great night with a lot of enjoyment that was interrupted by the sad news of the passing of beau biden one of my other staffers came up and said that beau biden had passed away here in washington on saturday evening. beau, of course, the oldest son of vice president joe biden, had been suffering from serious cancer illness brain cancer, for some period of time. most of us knew that there was something terribly wrong when we approached the vice president about his son's illness and joe -- the vice president in a very hushed terms would say pray for him. we knew that he was in a life struggle but the fact that he would lose his life saturday
evening at age 46 is a personal and family tragedy. it's a tragedy which is compounded by the extraordinary person that beau biden was. this young 46-year-old man had achieved so many things in life. first and foremost, married hallie a wonderful marriage and two beautiful children. he was part of that expanded and warm biden family. he was known to most people around america by his introduction of his father at the democratic national convention. it was not a customary political introduction. it was an introduction of love by a son who truly loved his father. beau biden told the story of his mother's untimely death in an auto accident with his sister and how he and his brother hunter had survived and drew even closer to their father as they grew up.
joe biden married -- jill biden married joe at a later date and the family expanded, and as you watched this family in the world of politics, they were just different. they were so close and loving of one another that you knew there was an extraordinary bond there. beau biden made his father proud and all of us proud in the contributions that he made, first as attorney general of delaware but then in his service with the delaware national guard actually being posted overseas in harm's way earning a bronze star for the extraordinary service that he gave to our country. and that's why his loss is felt on so many different levels. this life was cut short a life which could have led to so many great things in public service beyond his service to the state of delaware. but in a way it's a moment to reflect on this family, this
biden family. i have been in politics for a long time and i have met a lot of great people in both political parties extraordinary people. i never met someone quite like vice president joe biden. a friend of mine, a colleague from illinois, marty russo served in the united states house of representatives for several decades. he was a friend of joe biden's. when marty russo's son was diagnosed with a leukemia, marty russo called joe biden then a senator from delaware. joe biden not only called marty russo's son but continued to call and visit him on a regular basis. his empathy and caring for other people is so extraordinary. i don't know that there's another person quite like him in public life. the only one that i can think of that rivaled him was ted kennedy
who had the same empathy. and as i reflect on it, both of them brought to their life examples of personal tragedy and family tragedy which i am sure made them more sensitive to the losses and suffering of others. joe biden is the kind of person that does things in politics that really are so unusual in the level of compassion that he shows. i can recall one time when we were setting out a year or two ago on a trip together that was canceled at the last minute. i called him and said i'm sorry we can't go together. i had hoped during the course of that trip to ask you to make a special phone call to the mother of one of my staffers who was celebrating her 90th birthday. she was the wife of a disabled world war ii veteran who had raised a large irish catholic
family the hoolihan family, and i wanted joe biden just to wish her happy birthday. well we didn't make the trip and i didn't get a chance to hand him the phone but he took down the information and as soon as he hung up the phone from me, he called her. and he was on the phone with her for 30 minutes talking about her family and his family and thanking her for making such great -- such a great contribution to this country. that's just the kind of person joe biden is. and jill, his wife, the same. how many times in my life and in others she has stepped forward to show a caring heart at a moment when it really really counted. and so the loss of beau biden is the loss of a young man who was destined for even greater things in public life, but it is another test of a great family, the biden family, a test which i'm sure they will pass and endure.
not without a hole in their heart for the loss of this great young man but with a growing strength that brings them together and inspires the rest of us to remember the real priorities in life -- love of family and love of those who need a caring heart at an important moment. mr. president, i ask consent that the next statement i'm about to make be placed at a separate part in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president i just returned from a visit to ukraine, lithuania and poland this last week. i went there to assess the ongoing russian threat to our friends and nato partners in eastern europe. what i saw was uplifting but deeply disturbing. most urgently is the so-called minsk 2 treaty agreement reached in february between russia, ukraine, germany and france to bring to an end the fighting in
eastern europe. this agreement was supposed to end for of the bloodshed in ukraine, begin preparationings for local elections and return control of ukraine's borders to the ukraine. i'm sorry to report this agreement has not lived up to its promise. and the blame rests squarely not surprisingly with the invading forces of russia. not only does fighting continue in ukraine on a regular basis but reuters recently reported that russia is massing troops in hundreds -- and hundreds of pieceses of weaponry including mobile rocket launchers, tanks and artillery at a base cheer near the ukranian border. the equipment along with russian military personnel had identifying marks and insignia that the russians tried to remove to hide their real culpability. at this point perhaps the only people in the world who do not believe russia is behind the
mayhem human suffering and displacement of innocent people in eastern ukraine are russian people who have been lied to over and over again about what's actually going on with this invasion of ukraine. president putin has repeatedly lied to his own people about russian soldiers fighting in ukraine. he's lied to them about what started this conflict, and he's lied to them about the treatment of ethnic russians outside of russia's borders. yet as more and more russian soldiers have been killed in fighting putins that struggled to explain the dangerous and cynical canard to the families of those killed in the war. most recently last week he went so far as to make it illegal in russia to report war deaths. incredible. yet while i was there as if anyone needed proof two russian soldiers were captured deep inside eastern ukraine. they had killed at least one
ukranian soldier and when it appeared they were about to be caught -- listen to this -- when it appeared they were about to be captured by the ukrainians they were fired upon by their own russian forces. an effort to kill them before they could be captured. these soldiers have disclosed that they are in the russian military and carried ample evidence on their persons to support the now obvious truth that russia is squarely behind perpetuating this invasion and conflict. mr. putin, if you're going to crag your country into war to perpetuate your own power you ought to at least have the honesty to tell the russian people about that war takely those families of russian soldiers most affected by this conflict. going back to the old soviet playbook of lies and disinformation is an insult to the russian families whose young men are being sent into your war. so it's clear the minsk agreement is in jeopardy, it is
critical that the european union now renew its sanctions in response to russia's illegal aggression and we in the united states should continue to work with our key nato allies to ensure that ukraine succeeds as a free democratic state and that nato members are protected against russian provocations. more on that in a moment. not everything in ukraine is negative. the new government coals is working tirelessly to reform the nation and provide a model of free market democracy on russia 's borders. perhaps that's why putin is working so hard to undermine ukraine. decades of corruption, bribery, inefficiency are being be tackled by this new government. security forces are being reformed. ukrainians are starting to free themselves from the stanley hold of dependence not to russian natural gas and keep in mind this is occurring while be rush he russia has destroyed a key
industrial section of ukraine. try rebuilding an economy in the midst of fighting a war against one of the world's superpowers russia and losing key engines of a nation's economy. that's what the ukrainians are up against. they've risked so much for a better future. one that is open and connected to the rest of the free world. why this was and is such a threat to russia i'll never fully understand. i will say one thing that mr. putin didn't count on. his invasion of ukraine has unified that country in a way i couldn't have imagined even last year. you see there was a question which direction ukraine would go west or east. and the people of ukraine stopped -- the former prime minister in his efforts to move toward moscow believing their future should be in the west but there was divideed opinion even
within the ukraine until vladimir putin invaded and at that point the people of ukraine realized their future was in the west. they looked to the west, to the european union to america not only for support in this conflict but for inspiration as to what their future may hold. i was proud to see what our nation has been doing in ukraine. under president obama we have provided significant nonlethal supplies and assistance to ukraine and its military. in fact, we lead the world in supporting the ukrainians' efforts to revitalize their economy and strengthen their military. we've led that fight on establishing sanctions in russia and making sure they weren't lift knelled russia stops this invasion. in the town of lvev in western ukraine we have 300 u.s. army personnel training national guardsmen. i had had the privilege of meeting with our american forces these trainers, and
the trainees, and i must say it was amazing. now, listen some of these ukranian national guardsmen that we are training had just returned from battle in the eastern part of ukraine. one had been captured by the russians for five case. they had been under gunfire and fighting in combat against the russians and their skilled military that are being sent in to an area called the donbas. after they were relieved from that responsibility in the east they were brought back west to this training camp with america's best in terms of our army leadership. it turns out that the basic training that these ukrainians should have had before they wept into battle was never given to them. so now coming back from battle our soldiers were trying to give them the basic training to make sure they could survive if sent to battle again and bring home their comrades in the process. they were deeply, deeply
grateful for that training. and our men and women working there to train them were so proud to be part of this effort. i commend this effort. i thank the president for extending america's hands to help the ukranian military be trained so they can survive and repel this russian aggression. i went on to lithuania and poland. it was also clear the russian bullying and aggression is not limited to ukraine. in both lithuania and poland these front-line nato partners face a steady stream of russian vitriol and military threats. russian planes recklessly buzz nato airspace, russian leaders make threats of capturing cities like vilnius the capital of lithuania and dangerous missiles moved into the region of k amp linigrad. a stream of cute pop propaganda
flows from its media services. i happened to be in berlin at an aspen conference a few months ago when we were moving nato equipment and forces in a parade a scheduled parade of our military in nato through poland and the baltics. there was a cable channel called rt which stands for russia today that was broadcasting what they called protesters protesting the presence of nato soldiers and equipment. rt reported these protesters were holding signs and they showed small groups of them saying nato stop your invasion of the baltics. well it turns out that was a phony. when i went there i got the real story. every town that these nato forces went through with their equipment they were welcomed like conquering heroes, women holding out flowers and candy and children and applauding,
holding flags of poland and of the united states. but rt, the russia today cable channel was trying to twist the story and make it look as if the united states presence there was resented when in fact it was welcomed. the stakes here are very high. putin is pumping russian language incitement into areas where russian populations live. he's promoting a message of victimhood and trying to justify belligerence. what an insult to the talented and proud and outstanding russian people. i was pleased to see that the u.s. nato forces are minetaining regular rotations of these front-line nations boosting our air patrol to protect their airspace and working with allies to boost their own defenses. one of the most amazing things in both lithuania and poland was the unequivocal request of the governments in those countries for the united states to have an even larger military presence in
those countries. they're worried. they want to make sure nato is there if they need it and they think as long as the united states is there they have more confidence about their future. i had to them them we're having our budget issues here. we're not talking about serving u.s. military base bases anywhere in world at this point, trying to main into train our military but it was heart warming to think they still believe in the united states as the one 9/11 number in the world that you want to call if you ever have a challenge. it's a dangerous and tragic state of affairs in this part of the world. i was glad to see it firsthand and to reassure those leaders in poland lithuania and ukraine that the united states shares their values and cares for their future. what we've seen is an effort by putin to undermine decades of security arrangements in europe while perpetuating an insulting image of victimhood. he's challenged the entire west and its democratic systems.
we cannot let him succeed for ukraine, for nato, even for his own people. despite our disagreements here in congress i hope we can continue to provide strong funding for support to ukraine and nato. mr. president, i met with a group of eight members of parliament in ukraine. their parliament is called the rata. and of these eight members at least six of them, maybe seven, were brand-new to this business. they had come out of the protests in the maidan the large square in downtown kiev, ukraine, where the protesters had ousted the former government, installed a new government and risked their lives to do it. some lost their lives in the process. there were so many of those young people sitting across the table from me who six or eight months had nothing to do with politics. they had jobs and they were airportists and they were involved in their community. but they were so inspired by what they saw in the maidan that they decided to run for
parliament and now these young people were tackling the toughest issues any government could tackle. saving their economy fighting the russians on the eastern border. it humbled me in a way i've given search of my life to congress and the legislative process, and i thought how many times we find ourselves tight up in knots just as we are today with little or nothing happening on this floor of the united states senate when there are so many challenges we face across this nation. and i thought about them, sitting in kiev not knowing if tomorrow or the day after or the week after they'd have to face an invasion of the russians. coming across their country trying to capture it. and yet they have the courage and determination to press on, to try to build a better country for the future. inspired by their own people who took to the streets to reclaim their nation. well i left with some
inspiration on my own part. i hope to encourage this administration to show even more support for the ukrainians and to make it clear to our nato allies that we will stands with them as we have for so many decades in the pursuit of democratic values. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from maine. mr. king: mr. president i rise to address the bill before us, the u.s.a. freedom act and its