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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  July 29, 2015 10:00am-12:01pm EDT

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costs an additional 30% off the top do short-term extensions. so if there is anyone who is a conservative who wants to take the conservative position in this the conservative position is to vote for a long-term reauthorization bill. and that's what is before us now. the current law funding has no growth, not even inflation. the drive act provides growth in the highway transit systems in each state. we have all this state by state for those who are interested. the current law gives states and local governments no certainty however certainty is there in the drive act. so we have every reason to do this. project delivery, we're going to be able to deliver the projects. we can't even start the projects on short-term extensions. freight, we have the freight section. we've never had a freight section before, on moving freight across the country. transparency, everything is out where everyone can see every nickel that is used, and that is the most transparent of all the
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reauthorizations that we've had. and lastly, the innovation, the drive act prepares our nation's transportation system for the future. that's why it's so important that we get to it today. i do compliment the leaders for doing this and making every effort to get this done before the house went home. however, this will give them a good start on what to do during this recess. i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i move to table amendment number 2417. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to table. all in favor say aye. mr. mcconnell: aye. the presiding officer: those opposed no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the question is on the inhofe
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amendment number 2533. all those in favor say aye. those opposed no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the amendment is agreed to. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the yeas and nays on amendment number 2421. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the question is on the amendment 2421 as amended. all in favor say aye. those opposed no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the amendment is agreed to.
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the question is on amendment 2266 as modified. the yeas and nays were previously ordered. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to change their vote? if not, the ayes are 62. the nays are 38. the amendment as amended is agreed to. is there objection? without objection. respect respect the motion to invoke cloture it -- the clerk will read the motion to invoke cloture cloture. the clerk: we hereby move to bring to a close debate on h.r. 22 an act to amend the internal revenue code of 1986 and so forth, signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent the mandatory
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quorum call has been waived. the question is is it the sense of the senate that debate on h.r. 22, an act to amend the internal revenue code of 1986 to exempt employees of health coverage under tricare under -- for employees shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: the yeas are 6 5rbg the nays are 356789 three finals of the senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative smoaghts agreed to. under the previous order the senate will proceed to executive session to consider the following nominations which the clerk will report. the clerk: nominations: federal mediation and conciliation services, allison
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beck of the district of columbia to be federal mediation and conciliation director. department of agriculture jeffrey michael prieto of california to be general council. general services administration, carol fortine ochoa of virginia to be inspector general. the presiding officer: the question occurs on the beck nomination. all in favor say aye. all opposed say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the nomination is confidence. -- is confirmed. the question occurs on the prieto nomination. all in favor say aye. all opposed say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the nomination is confirmed. the question occurs on the ochoa
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nomination. all in favor say aye. all opposed say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have t the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order the motions to reconsider be laid on the table the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action, and the senate will resume legislative session. mr. reid: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that the next 40 minutes be under the control of the democratic senators, that the time be equally divided among the following senators: reid of nevada, boxer whitehouse markey, schatzs schatz and schumer. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: mr. president virtually every caucus that we have every tuesday caucus that we have, i have senators report on what's going on in the world as it relates to climate change. and i wish these were fun-filled
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presentations where people laughed and clapped and smiled, but they're not. they're very downbeat because each senator that makes a presentation whether it is the senior senator from new hampshire who talks about the moose dying in her state because the fleas and ticks no longer die in the cold wernl. she explained about how about a third of the moose are dead in new hampshire. whether it is the senator from the state of michigan, the junior senator from the state of michigan talking about what is going on in that beautiful state of michigan. without going through the list of senators who have reported on what's going on, as they see it, with climate change, everyone within the sound of my voice should rest assured that things are not good.
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our world is changing and has already changed drastically. the earth is undergoing a shift a man-made climate change shift. we don't need to travel to the polar ice caps for proof although if we did, we would see that too. there's evidence all around. talking about the polar ice cap think about alaska. millions of acres are on fire as we speak -- not a fire as we see in the forests or the rangelands of nevada where you see fire -- flames flip up into the sky so high i.t. it's hard to believe sometimes. but this is burning underground at the permafrost. it's awful what he what's happening in alaska. but let's talk about nevada. nevada is an unusual state in
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many different ways. we have over 32 mountains more than 11,000 feet high. we have one mountain we share with california that's 14,000 feet high. we have beautiful beautiful wilderness. i've had the good fortune during my time in the senate to legislate where we -- when i came here, we had 40e6 60 thous,000 acres of wilderness. it is a beautiful beautiful country. we have beautiful mountains. an at theantelope mountain sheep, of course. we even have mountain goats. it is a beautiful beautiful state. we have -- we share with california lake at tahoe beautiful, beautiful lake tahoe that mark twain said is the favorite place in all the earth.
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the water level this summer is at a record low. water that real estate used to take for -- water that we used to take for granted coming out of the lake isn't coming out anymore. the snowpack is a fraction of normal levels. we used to just a few decades ago -- had piles of snow that were unbelievable. tens and tens of feet every winter. no longer. in fact, this past march world cup ski cup the snow board races had to be canceled. why? had no snow. no snow. at a place where we had the winter olympics at squaw valley. no snow. canceled the races. as i've said here on the floor because it is so dramatic, as far as i'm concerned our black
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bears, many of them aren't even hyperboler nateing. it is not -- hibernating. it is not cold enough. and the largest man-made lake in america -- it isn't anymore because of lake powell, which overtook nevada for the largest man-made lake in america. lake powell is on the road to being eliminated as part of the great colorado river program that allows states of california all the upper colorado states, arizona nevada to survive. this past june lake mead water level sunk to record lows, record lows. towns that were buried with the making of boulder hoofer hoover damn,
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they're doing archeological work that was buried under lake meade previously. that's only nevada. and that's only a touch of what's happening in nevada. wildfires are devastating our state. wiping out native grasses and plants causing endanger species to need to be listed or as threatened or going extinct because, for example if you have birds that survive in you are a sage brush -- and sage brush is burnt no longer exists and cheap grass comes in which is no longer good for anything but fires. that's what we have in nevada. devastating wildfires. but around the united states massive floods around the globe.
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the poles are melting melting. by the year 2050, scientists estimate that the sea levels will rise in the world 16 feet. what will that do to florida? of all the major cities in the world with virtually no exception, they're on all coastal areas. what coastal city in the world is going to be hit hardest by this climate change? the rising of the seas? miami, florida the state of florida. massive floods are destroying life around the globe. the poles are melting i repeat. ocean resources are being exhausted. stunningly republicans in congress are ignoring changes to our environment that we're all witnessing. they're here. they're in denial. they are are in what i refer to
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as "koch" denial. the two brothers don't want us to do anything with climate change. why? number one it'll -- it may prevent them from making more billions. they're heavily invested in tar sands in canada and of course the original fortunes were made in oil and gas here in america. and coal. republicans in congress are in denial but they're in koch denial. last month the house republicans passed legislation that would rescind president obama's action addressing air pollution and climate change. that legislation is not going to happen over here but that's the mind-set of the republicans. not to be outdone republicans here in the senate are trying the same thing with the senate interior and appropriation bills, filling with riders that are dangerous to the planet, dangerous to america.
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republicans all know the planet is changing -- i hope they do -- but they don't. if a republican knows this, it's a rare republican, i'm still waiting for them to step forward. republicans don't admit it's a problem. where is their solution? they have none. they have no solution because they refuse to acknowledge there's a problem. so let's not fool ourselves as to why republicans reject climate change. i've already said why. it's the koch challenge they all have every presidential candidate has to be very careful that there are certain things and i don't know them all because i'm not in attendance at the meetings, but number one ex-im bank, it has got to stay dead. 165,000 people working in america, get rid of them. it's a government program get rid of it. even though some 40 other
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countries have working ex-im bank programs as we speak right now. taking business away from america exporters. my republican friends are unwilling to stand up to the oil barons that bring theirle filthy tar sands from canada. republicans offered no legislation or offered a single idea that would protect our world from climate change. the closest they came was trying to be funny on the floor when it snowed and brought a snowball into the senate change, said couldn't be climate change, we got some snow today. we did get some snow but that doesn't mean we don't have climate change. it is shameful to turn our backs on the biggest dilemma the earth faces. we us in come together to arrest climate change. i'm very happy today that my friend the junior senator from rhode island is here, because he has focused on all kinds of
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issues relating to climate change but he has been the driving force of recognizing that one of the places that climate change is devastating our world is in our oceans. our oceans are being -- we can't see that very well, because the oceans are so massive, but our oceans in places are already dead, not dying but dead. so it's shameful, i repeat, to turn our back on the biggest dilemma that faces probably in the history of our world. we must come together to address climate change. there are solutions that involve among other things clean energy. just a few weeks ago the solar a hundred megawatt farm to solve nevada's utility energy. the electricity generated by that solar farm was described by the press as -- quote -- "not only the cheapest solar and
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maybe the least expensive electricity in the entire country." that's what solar does now. think about that. the cheapest power in america today is solar and it's inexhaustible. doesn't have to be in the desert where the sun shines all the time. it can be used where the sun doesn't shine all the time and used well. the solutions to address climate change are here, they're right here. in nevada we're fortunate. $5 billion of development we've had with solar and geothermal and a little bit of wind. the solutions to address climate change are here, they're affordable, become more so every day they've created thousands of jobs and i misspoke. it's $6 billion now in nevada, not $5 billion. has been invested in clean energy. republicans should stop denying climate change if they want to keep climate change about the solutions they should offer their own solutions.
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but there can't be a solution if they don't see a problem. so i'm going to hold -- i'm not going to hold my breath the republicans are going to change their ways. but, mr. president this is a number-one issue facing our world. the defense department, they are concerned about the resources they're going to get for manpower but you ask one of the people who run this government's military, chiefs of staff they're concerned because the security of this nation, we cannot ignore this issue any longer. it's affecting the security of this nation for lots of other reasons, namely, what it does to other countries that put pressure on us. so i appreciate very much my colleagues joining in this little discussion we're going to have today because of the discussion we to have because the world is in trouble because of the climate change.
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the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, let me take a moment to commend the leadership of our minority leader on this issue. he has really made it a priority in the caucus, he has seen its effects at home in nevada, and he is a really outstanding voice in this area and i'm very grateful to him. i also want to thank and recognize my chairman on the environment and public works committee, barbara boxer then than whom no one is more forceful on the need to address climate change and the carbon pollution that is causing this. mr. president, we are here just after the six-month anniversary of an interesting statement that was made by the republican chairman of the energy committee the senator from alaska. six months ago january 22, to
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be exact, she said "what i'm hoping that we can do now is get beyond the discussion as to whether climate change is real and talk about what do we do." january 22 on the senate floor. six months ago. what have we seen from the majority party in the six months since their energy chairman said we need to get to this question, we need to concede that climate change is real and we need to address what do we do. we've seen exactly nothing. that is to say nothing but complaints. oh, the president's clean power plant is no good, we should have massive resistance to the president's clean power plan, we should defund the e.p.a. these are the thoughts that the republican budget brings -- the
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republican majority brings as we face this question. so it's worth looking at some of the folks who are very clear that climate change is a real problem. here's one -- nasa. our scientists from nasa. couldn't be clearer about the importance of climate change and about the role of carbon pollution. how smart are nasa scientists? they're driving a recovery around on the surface of mars, folks. they just shot a spacecraft by pluto, close enough to take pictures of it and send back data. and what does the republican majority have to say about nasa's position on climate change? that they're in on a hoax. they basically accuse nasa scientists of being dishonest even though they're the ones who put our country on the surface of mars and put an american vehicle close enough to pluto to
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take pictures of it. look at wal-mart. just a moment ago the junior senator from arkansas was residing. wal-mart joined with a dozen other companies yesterday at the white house to say climate change is real. these aren't left-wing companies. this was wal-mart. this was alcoa. this was g.m. this was coke and pepsi. this was ups. we have got to start taking this seriously. but is there anything out of the state of arkansas, wal-mart's home state on climate? nope not a single thing. "forbes" magazine did an article, "climate change will cause increased flooding in coastal cities." it's a satellite picture of the state of florida. the little caption under the picture says flooding from climate change is threatening much of the coastline of florida, including major cities. and yet we've got two
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presidential candidates from florida on the republican side, what do they have to say about about climate change? nothing. nothing other than i don't know i'm not a scientist all the usual dodges. popes francis has written an encyclical an extraordinarily important article in the catholic faith about the reality and the effect of climate change. what do our catholic republican senators have to say about that? nothing. we're not going to listen to him. he is not a scientist. well actually technically he is. he's a trained chemist. but that's the line, not a scientist. what could possibly explain these strange anomalies? the biggest corporation in arkansas knows that climate change is a problem and nothing from the senators from arkansas. the florida -- the coastline of florida is under immediate threat according to "forbes" magazine the capitalist tool,
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the presidential candidates from florida can't say a single thing about it. the pope is calling on us. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. whitehouse: may i ask unanimous consent for a closing minute. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: the last thing i'll mention is there is a common thread that links all of this and it is money. the koch brothers are putting hundreds of millions of dollars into this election. one of their organizations one, said it was going to spend $889 million in this election and that anybody who crossed them on climate change would be at and i quote "a severe disadvantage." nice little campaign you got here. hate to put it at a severe disadvantage with my $900 million. so what we have is secret money and threats related to it that are just obliterateing what has been a good republican response
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on climate change and on other environmental issues. we need to move on and i will yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. mr. schatz: thank you mr. president. i'd like to talk a little bit about the particulars of the clean power plan and address some of the questions that have been raised by some of the opponents and i think the first premise has to be that carbon is an airborne pollutant that the clean air act doesn't just give the e.p.a. the authority to regulate airborne pollutants but it actually requires that all airborne pollutants that can cause a public health risk get regulated. and that's the basis of the supreme court decision here. this doesn't give the e.p.a. the discretion this doesn't give the obama administration the discretion to regulate carbon pollution, it requires that they do. so the only question is not a legal one. the legal one has been settled.
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the e.p.a. is required to regulate under the clean air act pollution. the only question then remaining is is carbon a pollutant? and i don't thinks there anybody -- there's anybody credible in this space who doesn't think that carbon is a pollutant. we're making progress over the last six to 12 months. we have seen a sea change among republican members of congress who are i think increasingly concerned about being on the wrong side of history about being on the wrong side of science, on the wrong side of a whole generation of young voters republicans and democrats, and independents, one of the challenges of our generation. we're seeing some movement, some openness to at least concede this problem in fact exists exists. this problem, in fact, exists. we have this incredible law in the clean air act. we don't need to pass a new law. of course, senator whitehouse and i have been working very hard with senators boxer and others on a carbon fee but we
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also have the tools at our disposal to regulate carbon pollution because like methane and other airborne pollutants, it is a health damage. and a clean power plan is very simple. it is treating this as though it is the pollutant that it is. and originally there were some i think legitimate concerns about how this thing was going to get administered. let me give you a for-example. if you're a very small rural state and you're going to regulate a state's total carbon emissions but an individual power plant's carbon emissions that's a tough sell. there are instances because of legacy infrastructure, because of distance, for example, in hawaii you have remote and relatively small islands so it's very difficult to ask the island of lanai which is running on diesel fired generator or mole owe i could -- mokaia to
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reduce carbon pollution emissions. they can make improvements but may not be able to meet the standard. the idea here is that you allow all of it to aggregate. what hawaii did we have the hawaii clean energy initiative recognizing that there are going to be some places that have incredible challenges economically and in terms of the financing of the projects, incredible challenges complying at the microlevel, at the site level, the generation level. but if we provide fleblght to states -- and i know in california with the cap-and-trade program and in the northeast with the reggie program, there is a flexibility regionally within states or energy systems to say as long as you in the aggregate are making sufficient progress, we're going to allow you to figure out how to make that progress on your own. and so these rules we anticipate will provide sufficient flexibility to allow economies to thrive. and i'd like to just make one final points p point on this
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before hearing from the great senator from california, and that is that all of the hue and cry, all of the panic all of the heartburn about what is going to happen to our economy doesn't have to be an abstract question any more. we have states that are currently exceeding the anticipated thresholds in the clean power plan. so we don't have to imagine what is going to happen to various economies if we comply because we've got states such as california we've got the hawaii clean energy initiative. you know, two years ago, i was on the floor talking about the hawaii clean energy initiative with a 40% renewable portfolio standard and the legislature in the last three or four months just passed the first 100% clean energy statute in the united states. and our unemployment rate is 4%, and we have exceeded our previous goals and california with its cap-and-trade program and all the hue and cry and panic that was caused about what would happen to our economy
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california's booming hawaii is doing well. people still have their economic challenges but it's not because of our desire to drive an innovation economy and to try to solve this great challenge of our time. we can create clean energy jobs, we can innovate into the future. america has an incredible opportunity to lead in this space, and i'm so pleased to be part of that innovation and part of that leadership. we're putting our marker down as a country. we understand that this is going to take a global effort, but now america has the credibility to lead on climate. and with that, i'd yield the floor to the great senator from california. mrs. boxer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: before the senator from hawaii leaves the floor i just want to say what a breath of fresh heiress. and, you know, that's something we say to compliment somebody, but in this case, he is fighting for clean air. he is fighting for his kids and his grandkids and it's just
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been an honor to work with you sir. i want to say that the world understands this, americans understand that we are facing a serious threat to our nation, dangerous climate change, and we absolutely need to act now and the evidence is all around us. and i would ask unanimous consent to put my full statement in the record, mr. president. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mrs. boxer: but i want to highlight in the brief time i have just some of the facts. these cannot be refuted sir. the evidence of climate change is around us. nasa and noaa found that 2014 was the hottest year around the globe since recordkeeping began 134 years ago. now, how my colleagues could come to the floor and dispute this, if you ask people do you respect nasa, i would say everyone from our kids to our
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grandmas say absolutely, they're scientists. the american meteorological association, the society reported that numerous key climate change indicators were at or near record levels. they found 2014 was the hottest year since recordkeeping began in 1880. 2014 was the hottest year since 1880. and sea surface temperatures and sea levels were record highs. now, here's the problem. when you have these kinds of record temperatures, they come with a cost. a cost to the wildlife, a cost to the human life. and i don't have time today to go into what we're beginning to see but about eight years ago when i did take the gavel of the
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environment and public works committee, we held a hearing everything that was predicted by the scientists is coming true. everything. now, here is the good news. here is the great news. my state of california is a true leader in this area. with the leadership of our state legislature, our governor jerry brown, and leading activists in our state such as tom steyer and many others, we are seeing california stand up and address this issue. and what has happened? what has happened? all the gloom and doom. oh my god, if you try to move away from dirty energy, it's going to be terrible for everybody. let me tell you the good news. according to the bureau of labor statistics in 2011, california had over 360,000 green jobs, the most of any state.
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and in 2014, there were currently more than 2,094 solar companies that worked throughout the valley in california, employing 54,700 people. and let me tell you, there are some days in california, mr. president, where we get half of our energy from the sun. half of our energy from the sun. and here's the other thing you have to know. california households pay the ninth lowest electricity bills in the country, so all the doom and gloom you're going to have to pay more and all the rest, is so much talk. you know, a long time ago when i became aware of climate change, i looked at it and thought oh, my gosh, what are we going to do but the longer i looked at it and the longer i studied it, the faster i recognized that if we addressed climate change in the right way, it will be a boon
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to our economy, it will be a boon to our health because we know for sure that asthma and respiratory ailments and cardiovascular disease they're all threats to our families, and they will go down, the risks will go down, because when you clean up the carbon pollution you clean up all the other pollutants that go along with it. well just that week, one of our great leaders whom i mentioned who is the leader of nextgen the president and founder tom steyer said the following -- "our country needs bold leaders who will lay out a plan to achieve more than 50% clean energy by 2030, putting us on the path to a completely clean energy economy by 2050 and millions of new jobs." and i would ask unanimous
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consent to place in the record the fact sheet from nextgen climate. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: thank you so much, mr. president. and i will tell you their key findings and then i will complete my presentation. how many more minutes do i have? the presiding officer: the senator has consumed five and a half minutes. mrs. boxer: okay. i would ask for one more minute. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: owe here's what nextgen found. achieving more than 50% energy by 2030 will spur economic growth and create jobs. i agree. second most americans support a goal of more than 50% clean energy by 2050. i think the polls bear that out. third, climate change puts america's economy and security at risk. i absolutely agree with that, mr. president. we have been told that by the defense establishment.
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next transitioning to a clean energy economy will prevent climate disaster. that is true. and lastly, they say 50% clean energy by 2030 is feasible, and although i haven't studied this myself i can say that the energy information administration estimates that this can happen if we take the kind of steps president obama is recommending and a lot of us here in the united states senate support putting a price on carbon that will save us from devastateing climate change. it will provide jobs and will make us a healthier nation. and with that, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: thank you mr. president. mr. president, we're at a crossroads. we've got a catastrophe that is
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looming for our planet. we have the world looking at the united states, wondering if we are going to lead. we have the pope coming to the united states and speaking out on this issue. we have the world gathering in paris this november this december discussing this issue because it is now the focal point of the world and that is the danger of ever-escalating dangerous climate change. the wawrming -- warming of our planet and the catastrophic consequences of the warming of our planet. the tides are rising, the snows are melting. in other places, the snows are greater than they've ever been before. climate change, dangerous climate change, that is what is
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happening. what is the response from the republican side of the aisle? we hear nothing. we hear denial. we hear essentially an argument that it's not our responsibility to deal with it. but the pope is asking us to be the leader. the world is asking us to be the leader. the young people in our country the green generation, are asking us to be the leader. the united states is a technological giant. we have the capacity to invent the technologies that are going to radically reduce greenhouse gases, not only in our own country but around the world. new renewable energy technologies new battery technologies new ways of
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generating electricity in the 21st century. we do not have to be tied to 19th century technologies oil and coal. it's the 21st century. now, in our country in 2015 and 2016, we are going to generate 40,000 new megawatts of wind and solar. now, you say well, what does that translate into? what is 40,000 megawatts? well, if you think of all the nuclear power plants that have been constructed in our country over the last 70 years we now have 100,000 megawatts of electricity coming from nuclear power. in these two years 2015 and 2016 we're going to add 40,000 in wind and solar.
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the experts did not think this was possible ten years ago. the experts would have said oh, wind and solar that's nice, but it can't replace the coal that we have always been relied upon to provide our electricity going back to the 19th century. impossible, they say. no. this new generation is rising up and what is doing it? well we put tax breaks on the books now for wind and solar. we're giving them the same breaks that we always gave oil we always gave coal. but what do we hear from the republican party? should we eliminate the coal and oil tax breaks? oh no, you can't touch those. but when we say let's renew the tax breaks for wind and solar they say yeah, it's time for us
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to now allow these new industries to go it alone. and that's been the problem all along. there isn't a level playing field. what we have done over the last seven years is create a level playing field so the new energy technologies can complete against these old tax breaks for coal and oil that have been on the books for generations. we can do it. we can solve this problem. but you can't create an unlevel playing field. the same thing is true with automotive technologies. all of that co2 coming out of automobiles, coming out of trucks. people said you just have to live with it. the average for the vehicles that ordinary families drive in our country just six years ago was 25 miles a gallon.
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essentially the same as 1975. the green generation, the young people in our country say let's do better, let's invent new technologies let's have electric cars, let's have plug-in hybrids let's have just a generation of hybrids itself. no says the industry. too difficult. we can't figure it out. it will cripple our industry. we pass new laws out here on the senate floor on the house law. what has happened? we have a revolution in automotive technology. we have people now driving around in computers on wheels. the dashboard looks like a space ship. the cars are infinitely more efficient and we're heading towards 54.5 miles per gallon. what did the experts say ten years ago? impossible. we cannot do it. these are the same people who
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said to president kennedy we cannot put a man on the moon in eight years. president kennedy said we do not go to the moon because it is easy we go because it is hard hard, we are the united states of america, we will invent the new propulsion systems invent the new methods all of the things we need so america dominates the soviet union and not the opposite. well the whole world is looking at this generation, this senate. we have a plan. president obama has a plan to control emissions coming out of the power plants of our country. we are -- our plan is one that moves towards renewable energy and away from these smokestacks of co2 going up into the atmosphere creating a blanket that holds in the heat and continues to warm the planet dangerously. that's what greenhouse effect
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is just holds in the heat. all of this pollution. when we move towards solar when we move towards wind and geothermal and all of the new technologies, the co2 is cut radically and the planet is able to breathe and breathe in a way that says to generations to come that we will have left this planet better than it was before. that's what the pope is going to come and talk to us about dangerous climate change. that is what the pope is going to come and ask the united states to be the leader and not the laggard to not allow the deniers of climate change to come nature your debate in the united states of america. to not allow the technologies of the 19th century to dictate to the 21st century. just 18 years ago a small percentage of all americans had a wireless device in their pocket.
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you want to know why? the experts said it was impossible. you can't do it. today, everyone is walking around with one of these in -- in their pockets including 700 million people in africa. we can do it. in kenya in ethiopia, they are moving towards geothermal and solar and wind. they're skipping the land line delivery of telecommunication service in favor of wireless, and they're also skipping the land line system of generational electricity and moving to renewables. not relying on coal, moving on to the new. you can't eliminate it totally. you need some coal, you need some oil. but we can continue to reduce it year after year after year. what is their plan that we hear from the republican party? how do we reduce, how do we reduce the amount of greenhouse
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gases that we are going to be sending up into the atmosphere? what's their plan? they say president obama's plan they don't like it. where is their plan? what are they going to do? what are they going to tell the green generation, all these pages on the floor representing tens of millions across our country. they're asking the question where's the plan? how do we do this? how do we solve the problem how do we invent the new technologies as we did with wire les technology and spread it across the planet. how do we do it for climate change as well? so that's going to be essential -- the essential debate. shrugy says i'm not happy. where is the republican that says we can do it, we're america. we're not going to allow the rest of the world to have a problem that the united states
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is going to exempt itself because it's denying climate change. the united states senate has a great responsibility. we have an opportunity to be the global leader. we can save all of creation while engaging in massive job creation here in america. we have 100,000 clean energy jobs in massachusetts it's a big job creator it's employment for americans all across the country we have a chance to do something special begin this transition in a more serious way away from coal and oil and towards this renewable solar era of the 21st century. thank you mr. chairman. mr. president, i yield back the balance of my time.
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mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: i have 15 unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during a today's session of the senate. they have been approved by both the majority and minority leaders. unanimous consent these requests be agreed to and printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, we are continuing to make substantial progress on passing a multiyear highway bill, and thanks to the developments of the recent -- recent day i guess it was yesterday that we learned that the house is open to a conference committee to reconcile an authorization bill they will likely take up soon and then to have a conference committee to reconcile those differences. previously we'd been told that the house would not take up the senate bill and was insisting on
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a short-term patch to, say the december time frame. i can tell you i for one was reluctant to do that because without a clear path forward in december we would be looking at perhaps not just the 34th patch but the 35th patch and on and on and on and on. so what this country needs is a long-term transportation bill and that's what the senate will likely pass tomorrow, our own three-year bill and then work with our colleagues in the house as we usually do when the two bodies don't necessarily agree on everything to work those out. so i'm thankful that the members of this chamber recognize how important this legislation is, and i have to tell you coming from texas a big fast-growing state that needs this investment in our infrastructure this is important for my constituents.
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the highway legislation we are putting forward is actually a six-year authorization and that's something to be celebrated. as i mentioned this avoids the sort of temporary patches that we've had in the past, and although chairman hatch of the senate finance committee came up with enough money enough pay-fors in the jargon that we use around here to pay for this for five too years, there was an attempt to work on a bipartisan consensus and since all of those pay-fors were not acceptable to this consensus we got enough pay-fors to pay for the first three years of this six-year bill. but that doesn't mean that the work will end on trying to find a way to fiscally, in a fiscally responsible way pay for the back end of this six-year bill. there's a pretty popular bumper sticker found on cars and trucks
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in texas, i know people sometimes maybe they get a little tired of texans so are so proud of their state as i am, but one of those bumper stickers "i wasn't born in texas but i got here as fast as i could." and indeed, people have been voting with their feet, coming from parts of the country where frankly, the policies, whether it's tax or regulatory policies or just the lack of jobs has caused people to look elsewhere for jobs and an opportunity to provide for their families to pursue the american dream. i've mentioned time and. time again on this floor our economy in texas grew at the rate of 5.2% last year. compared to the national rate, it was 2.2%. so something's going on here and i would argue that what's going on is that the policies that have been emanating from washington, d.c. have actually been a restraint or wet blanket
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on job growth and economic growth and we ought to look to some of the states that have been successful laboratories of democracy for the kinds of policies that actually pay off and i'm not just talking about for businesses i'm talking about for workers and families and in particular when it comes to wages and good jobs. so our state -- my state is a growing, diverse state. i know sometimes people are surprised, they know we have a large hispanic population, roughly 38% of texas is hispanic. but vietnamese is the third most commonly spoken language in texas. we have about a quarter of a million vietnamese americans and so we are a very diverse state. and some estimates project our state to exceed 50 million people by the year 2050, potentially doubling our current population. there is no time to lose when it
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comes to maintaining and expanding our transportation networks to meet the rising demands of more people and more vehicles on our roads. and that's why this multiyear bill is so important. for example, this legislation would help our state focus on improving roadways that impact the daily lives of texans. that includes many of our interstates like interstate 35. i don't know how many people in this chamber are within the sound of my voice have ever tried to drive cowan interstate highway 35 through austin but it's almost like a parking lot. because it runs the length of our state, 35 that is start ing in lardo -- laredo, starting at the largest land port in america we have a lot of trucks and commercial traffic coming across, and it starts in laredo and goes through multiple population senators likestone my -- san antonio yes my
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hometown and dallas-fort worth some of the fastest growing cities in america before going to oklahoma. the interstate is more than 400 miles long in texas alone and because of our growth it's incredibly congested. 18 segments of the interstate rank in the top 100 post congested roadways across the state. that growth isn't projected to let up any time soon. as a matter of fact, it's going to continue at high levels. employment levels in central texas alone, some of the fastest growing part of the state, are projected to double or quadruple in the next 30 years. now, we're not afraid of getting bigger. we're proud of our size and our growth and the opportunity that that provides to the people of texas. but passing a long-term well-funded highway bill becomes even more important when you come from a state like mine with
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the sort of transportation challenges we have now and will continue to have in the future. building a stronger transportation network for a stronger economy means not only strengthening the interstate highway 35 which i mentioned a minute ago but also the vast existing networks of other interstates and upgrading routes to higher standards. because this is ultimately too about public safety. would we need -- we need to have highways and interstates and a transportation infrastructure that allows people to travel at relatively high speed in a safe way and so that's why this is important as well. but because we understand the relationship between quality infrastructure and economic success, i introduced an amendment to the highway bill that would help our state connect more efficiently and i appreciate the bill managers for taking a close look at this and the potential benefit for my state and the transportation
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network as a whole. this amendment would provide for much-needed improvements in high-priority corridors in texas like interstate highway 69. congress first designated future segments of i-69 in texas nearly 25 years ago afterrer leaders from the gulf coast region and texas said the state needed a new route to increase connectivity between land and seaports and our existing system. this is a route that improves emergency evacuation capabilities something the presiding officer can appreciate coming from louisiana. and one that delivers an interstate to the rio grande valley which is the largest population center in the country previously unserved by an interstate highway system. well through years of outreach and public engagement from brownsville to texarkana we've identified upgrades and improvements to existing state
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corridors that could deliver a future i-69 throughout the state. and we've made great progress. since 2010, more than $1.3 billion has been expended toward corridor improvements throughout texas. and since 2011, more than 200 miles of i-69 have been added to the interstate system, including the first segments in south texas. but this is wind chill a work in progress and it costs money and upgrades are needed for more than 1,000 miles of designated roadways to complete it. i'm reminded of what the chairman of the environment and public works committee senator inhofe has said to me privately, which i know he's also said publicly as well, about the importance of infrastructure and the federal government's role. now, i happen to be one that believes that the federal government needs to do a much better job when it comes to
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privatizing federal spending and spending within our means which the federal government has not been doing but when you talk about priorities and things that only the federal government can do that the states and local government cannot do as chairman inhofe likes to say there's two things the federal government should do, and that's national defense and it's infrastructure. he said pretty much everything else is a lower priority item. and i think that makes a lot of sense. so when it comes to spending dollars, something that my constituents in texas are leery of when it comes to the federal government they realize that spending money on infrastructure and then on our highway systems just makes common sense. so with a multiyear highway bill like the one before us, we can complete our interstate i-69 and we'll move one step closer to reality. and of course, these and other modernization efforts also make our roads safer as i mentioned
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a moment ago and help more efficient freight movement, which means that we can -- our businesses with deliver goods to customers across the state and throughout the country in a more expeditious fashion. i'd also like to point out that this bipartisan bill is fiscally responsible. that is, the pay-fors are not phony pay-fors as sometimes occurs here in the congress, and it doesn't increase taxes or add to the deficit so it's, from my perspective, a win-win. so i'd encourage all of our colleagues to continue reviewing it and keep in mind the essential role infrastructure plays in our country and to our economy, and our economy, of course is what produces jobs, which allows people to find good work and provide for their families and pursue their dreams. so far, 2015 has been marked by real steps forward in this chamber, including essential legislation like the defense
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authorization bill and a bill that will combat human trafficking, and this highway bill continues in the spirit of accomplishment and perhaps maybe not a grand slam hoam, but i would call it the -- grand slam home run but i would call it the singles and doubles that we have been able to eke out this year. this bill would represent another solid accomplishment for the 114th congress that we can be proud of on a bipartisan basis. so i would encourage all of my colleagues to continue the momentum and to get this bill passed soon, hopefully no later than tomorrow. mr. president, i yield the floor and i'd suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk should call the roll. quorum call:
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