tv U.S. Senate CSPAN August 5, 2015 4:00pm-6:01pm EDT
senator jeff flake and i introduced finally a bipartisan war resolution in june to encourage the senate to take its constitutional responsibility seriously after so many months of inaction. we wanted to show there is a bipartisan consensus against the islamic state. the result -- a few discussions in the senate foreign relations committee but otherwise silence. one year of war has randall formed a president elected in part because of his early opposition to the iraq war into a war president. it has stretched the authorization for use of military force passed to defeat the perpetrators of 9/11 far beyond its original meaning or intent. all it's shown is that neither the president nor the congress feels owe climate changes to follow the war powers resolution which would cause us to cease
operations within 90 days unless congress approves it. and congress has demonstrated it would rather avoid its constitutional duty to declare war rather than have a debate about how the united states should confront the islamic state. this anniversary coincides a few minutes ago with the vigorous congressional effort to challenge u.s. diplomacy regarding the irani nuclear agreement. the contrast between congressional indifference to war and energetic challenge to diplomacy is most disturbing. so why isn't congress doing its job? last month i asked commandant john dunford nominated to be the next chairman of the joint chiefs of staff if authorization against the islamic state would be well received by the troops. his answer said it all. "i think what our young men and women need and really it's all they need in what we ask them do
is what we're asking them to do as purpose and meaning and the support of the american people. a debate in congress by the people's elected representatives and a vote to authorize the most solemn act of war is how we tell our troops that what they're doing, what they're risking their lives for has purpose, has meaning, and has the support of the american people. otherwise, we're asking them to risk their lives without even bothering to discuss whether the mission is something we support. can there be anything, anything more immoral than that, to order troops to risk their lives in support of the military mission that we're are unwilling even to discuss? one year in, our service members are doing their jobs but they're still waiting on us to do ours. as i conclude, yeah, what about that august recess? how can we go away and adjourn for a month in the midst of an ongoing war? that's easy. the part of the statute that
creates an exception for the mandatory august adjournment only applies if there has been -- quote -- "a declaration of war by congress." because we haven't even bothered to debate or authorize this war, in the year since it started we are still entitled by statute to take the month of august off. mr. president, i yield the floor. mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, in today's economy, too many of our workers across this country are underpaid, they're overworked, and they are treated unfairly on the job. in short, they lack fundamental economic security. in congress we have got to act to give our workers much-needed relief. we need to grow our economy from the middle out, not the top down, and we should make sure
that our country works for all americans, not just the wealthiest few. and, mr. president, there is no reason that we can't get to work on legislation to do just that. that is why i'm here this afternoon joining my colleagues in calling for us in the senate to move on some important policies that will help restore economic security and stability to more of our workers. so with that, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent -- mr. president, i understand that we are waiting for one of my republican colleagues to come to the floor before i ask unanimous consent so i will pause for just a minute. but i will say, mr. president, while we are waiting that we are very concerned about many americans today who make few dollars an hour, who don't have paid sick leave, who are told to go to work at hours that they
cannot control or know about, and we are introducing legislation or asking to introduce legislation today to deal with all of those issues. so, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that at a time to be determined by the majority leader following consultation with the democratic leader and no later friday, october 30, the help committee be discharged from further consideration of s. 1150, the raise the wage act, the bill be read a third time, the senate vote on passage of that bill and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: on behalf of the chairman of the help committee, senator alexander, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent at a time determined by the majority leader in consultation with the democratic leader and no later than friday, october 30, the help
committee be discharged from further consideration of s. s. 497, the hymn families act, that the bill be read a third time, the senate vote on passage of the bill and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: on behalf of the chairman of the help committee, senator alexander, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: i ask unanimous consent that at a time to be determined by the majority leader following consultation with the democratic leader and no lakefront friday, october 30, the help committee be discharged from further consideration of s. 1772, the schedules that work act, the bill be read a third time, the senate vote on passage of the bill and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: on behalf of the chairman of the help committee,
senator alexander, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, reclaiming the floor, it is really disappointing to us that the republican majority has objected to us bringing these bills forward and blocking our efforts to provide much-needed economic stability and security for our workers in this country. our workers have been waiting a long time for some relief from the trickle-down system that has hurt our middle class. i want the senate on notice the democrats are going to keep working on ways to groat our economy from the middle out, not from the top down and we're going to be working to make sure our workers and our families have a voice at the table and we're going to continue to focus on making sure our country works for all americans, not just the wealthiest few. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, the senator from washington knows how much i admire and respect
her. we've had a great opportunity to work together in a very productive way. what we've just seen from our friends across the aisle is not designed to get anything actually done. it was a show to try to claim political advantage and to try to create a narrative that simply isn't borne out by the facts. the facts are that these costly proposals are unfunded mandates designed to make it hard for americans to find jobs. or become employers and create jobs for millions of people looking for a the a step up the economic ladder. what americans need rather than show votes is more job opportunities, more flexibility at work, and the freedom to negotiate a schedule that works for them. our friends across the aisle have been in charge and we've seen the result. an economy that grew last year at 2.2%, as a matter of fact, at least one quarter actually contracted. so we know what the fruit of these policies really are.
because they've had their chances. their policies will destroy jobs, smother innovative start-ups and challenges like uber and the part-time economy, that's left a shocking 6.5 million americans in part-time work as they search in vain for full-time work and a 30-year participation rate, the people actually in the labor force, people who otherwise want to work. we've seen the result, the voters in november decided to try something different. they've given us a chance to see what we can do when we're in the majority and i think the results are pretty good. we passed a budget for the first time since 2009. we passed a six-year highway bill just recently and we're still working with the house to try to figure out how to do that on a bicameral, bipartisan basis. weep passed unanimously a
justice for victims of trafficking act to find the scourge of human trafficking which targets teenaged girls predominantly for sex. we've passed a defense authorization bill to make sure our men and women in uniform have the authorities and what they need to keep us safe here and abroad. so we've actually had a very productive year so far in the 114th congress under republican leadership. what our democratic colleagues want to do is take us to the past, with slow economic growth, policies that simply don't work and that's why i'm happy to stand here today and object to these show requests that aren't actually designed to actually do anything but are designed to try to fund fundraising and press releases and other publicity stunts that are not what is going to help the american people the most. mr. president, on another
note, i want to talk a little bit about my chief of staff, who is leaving, my chief of staff in the whip office, russ thomasson, who is i hope somewhere around. he's at the back of the chamber. his son austin is down here as one of our pages. the bottom line is russ and i learned together from the time he came as my military legislative assistant in 2003 from that time until now we learned how to be effective on behalf of the 27 million people i work for in the state of texas and to work with all of our colleagues to try to produce positive results for the american people. he's leaving now for greener pastures. i mean that not exactly literally but he's going into the private sector where he will no doubt be compensated for what his skills and experience are
worth. back in -- when i got started in the senate, russ came on board as my military legislative assistant. he brought with him a great experience as an air force intel officer. he's an engineer, i'm not, that was helpful, brings with him the attention to detail that engineering training brings. he was also a russian specialist, which we didn't need a lot of in my office particularly in texas but he brought great knowledge and experience to the forefront, helping me and my job, and that great background. we had big challenges in 2005 as my colleagues here remember. that was the base realignment -- realignment and closure commission. one out of every ten persons in the uniform comes from texas. that was very important to us.
so being effective on behalf of our men and women in uniform who happen to call texas home was important to me and russ did a tremendous job there and elsewhere. in fact, he did such a good job as my m.l.a., military legislative assistant, when the opportunity came he was promoted to legislative director. there he got to apply his knowledge and expertise far beyond just national security and foreign affairs and help me navigate all the policy issues we confronted during the time he was my legislative director from 2007 to 2012. some of these are issues that particularly hit home in texas things like immigration, supreme court nominations, obamacare -- the obamacare debate. not only did russ bring valuable policy perspectives to that role as legislative director, he was able to help on the
communications side because he understands that it's not just important for us to do a decent job or at least the best of our ability, it's important to be able to communicate what you're doing in a way so the american people and particularly the people of texas can understand and yes, he also understood the politics that go along sometimes with the job we have here in the senate. perhaps just as importantly, he brought with him his good judgment to help me hire an outstanding legislative staff. you know, i believe firmly that part of my responsibility and i'm sure the presiding officer and other colleagues feel the same one of the most important things we can do is hire the best and brightest staffers because if we do that, and we work with them, we can benefit tremendously and our constituents benefit tremendously from their advice. so russ has set a high bar as my legislative director. tireless worker,s that given a
lot of himself. and then i'd like to say just a word about his job as my chief of staff, as the whip, when i became the whip he came with me to the whip office, and we have found ourselves in a few nailbiting situations and tense moments and russ' calmness and personality, his calm demeanor, and his diligence have simply helped us get the job done for the senate and for the majority, the new majority. whether it's trafficking, trade, highways, funding the budget -- a budget, the first budget we passed since 2009 -- his fingerprints are all over those, as well as all the others who have done a really great job. as i learned from the majority leader, he wants to know where the votes are before the vote is actually cast, and my whip -- whip team, both staff and my
deputy whip team, of which the presiding officer is one, have done a great job providing that essential information and knowledge to the majority leader so we can efficiently and effectively represent our constituents here in the senate. and, by the way, i would say that russ' intelligence background has proven to be invaluable, gathering information, talking to people and understanding the situational awareness that's so necessary in order to be as effective as we can be. and i think the results prove that he's made a big contribution at helping us turn the senate around, go from dysfunction to function, and actually produce important results for the american people. so here's what russ -- how russ describes the task ahead in the united states senate: he likes to talk about the four p's. this is supposedly the key to what makes the senate work and how to be effective in the senate. the first p is policy, the
second is procedure, third is politics, and fourth is power. so i think by his four p's e., o i think by his four p's, he encapsulated how to be the most effective here? in the senate. i guess in the end, everything comes down to people. our relationships, the level of trust we're able to build working with each other, because that's really what helps us be effective and helps you russ be an effective chief of staff in the whip office. and the truth is, as i have gone from number 99 in the senate when i came here, sitting on that back row over there, down to this desk over the last 12 years, i couldn't have done it without great staff like russ thomasson and all of my staff, both in the whip office as well as my staff in the -- in my official office, and many of
them i know are here sitting in the back. so on behalf of all of "team cornyn," i want to wish russ, his wife cindy, sasha, austin all the very best in their new -- in the next chapter of their lives. we used to kid, but it's sort of like the old eagle's song "hotel california," you can check out, but you can never team, wovens you becom -- once you become paf team cornyn. that's tru as true today as it s then. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. king: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. mr. king: mr. president, i have never face add more difficult decision than vote on the iran nuclear weapons agreement, which is currently scheduled for mid-september. the stakes could not be higher, the issues more complex, or the
risks more difficult to calculate. in approaching this decision, i've taken a two-prong path. the first is to have learned everything i possibly could about the agreement itself and then carefully analyze the alternatives. this second step is critically important, particularly in this case. no negotiated agreement is perfect, and it's easy to pick apart whatever agreement is before you. but the question is, compared to what? often an imperfect agreement is preferable when compared to the likely alternatives. starting with a close reading of the agreement over several nights and early mornings back in july and following hearings, classified briefings and sessions, meeting with experts inside and outside the
administration, extensive readings about the agreement and its implications and discussions with my colleagues, here's where i have come out: first, if implemented effectively, i believe this agreement will prevent iran from achieving a nuclear weapon for at least 15 years and probably longer. second, at the end of that 15 years, if we take the right steps, we will have the same options then that we have today if iran moves toward the building of a bomb. and, third, the current alternatives, if this agreement is rejected, are either unrealistic or downright dangerous. and so, based upon what we know now, i intend to vote in favor
of the agreement. and here's why. the deal itself, i believe, is strong and explicit in terms of the burdens it places upon iran's nuclear program for the first 15 years. a 98% reduction in their current stockpile of enriched uranium, strict kne knew mayor icle limin further enrichment, the effective dismantling of the plutonium reactor at arak and dismantle of their current fleet of centrifuges. but many argue after 15 years iran could become a nuclear threshold state, which is certainly a possibility we need to be prepared to address. but, mr. president, iran is a nuclear threshold state today. and to be arguing about what may
or may not be the case in 15 years and ignore the fact that they are a nuclear threshold state today, it seems to me, is the height of folly. if they decided to build a bomb today, they could get there in two to three months. after the rollbacks required in this agreement, however, this period is extended to at least one year and we would know almost immediately if they were on track to a bomb. i might mention that we will have a lot greater -- a much greater insight into their being activities if this agreement is enacted than we do today. the inspection and verification priprovisions, as i meninged, wh will be -- as i mentioned, which will be monitored and enforced by the iaea, coupled with the tools and capabilities of the united states intelligence community and those of our international partners, which by the way is an important part of
the verification regime. there's a lot of discussion about the iaea as if that's the only people -- those are the only peel tha people that will e watching. but indeed the intelligence agencies of at least half a dozen countries will also be watching. i believe that the combination of the iaea and our intelligence asset provide us with a high level of confidence that any attempt by iran to cheat on its enrichment program will be detected. iaea inspections at known nuclear sites are indeed anytime anywhere and include iran's entire uranium supply chain. while i.t. true tha it's true ts at hidden sites, sites that we don't know about, could be delayed for up to 24 days from when the iaea requests access and that -- some covert in such
a site could be harder to detect, it's in the nature of uranium that traces can be detected long after 24 days, no matter how much they try to clean it up. the half-life of uranium 235, mr. president, is 700 million years. they're not going to be able to clean it up in 24 days. and in the end, to build a bomb, there has to be nuclear material. but what about after 15 years when most of the restrictions on enrichment are lifted? if the iranians try to break out at that point, we have the same options we have today, including the reimposition of sanctions or a military strike. in other words, we are in a similar place in is a years to where we are now -- in 15 years to where we are now, but we will achieved 15 years after nuclear
weapon-free iran. if iran violates the terms of the agreement at that point, i believe reimposing the effective international sanctions, involving the rest of the world, would be stronger and more likely than it would be today because it would be iran breaching the agreement, not us walking away from it. i can't argue, nor can anyone, that this deal is perfect. for example, i'd prefer that the 15-year limits be 20 or 25 or 30 years, or that the u.s. arms embargo would remain in place indefinitely. i would prefer to see that in the agreement. in fact, i think congress can and should have a role to play in seeking to ensure the strict enforcement of the agreement and to mitigate some of its weaknesses. as well as reassuring our regional allies and partners and further strengthening our
ability to ensure iran never becomes a nuclear weapon state. but then we get to the really central question. as i said, it's easy to pick apart a deal. i don't like this aspect. i don't like that. i think it should be longer, i think should be shorter. but the question, mr. president, is, compared to what? what are the alternatives? what happens next if we reject in agreement? the usual answer that i've heard in this body and in hearings and in meetings over the last month or so is sort of vague references to reimposing or strengthening the sanctions and bringing irk back to -- iran back to the stable and getting a -- back to the table and getting a better deal. the problem with this is that the countries which have joined news the sanctions and by doing so have considerably strengthened the impact of those sanctions on iran believe that
this deal is acceptable. they have accepted it. and our unilateral rejection would almost certainly lead to those sanctions eroding rather than getting stronger. i would not argue they will collapse, but they will definitely erode. it's hard to argue that the sanctions will get stronger when the countries that have helped us to enforce and make those sanctions effective believe that we should endorse and enter into this agreement. if that happens, mr. president, we have the worst of all worlds. iran is unfettered from the terms of the agreement and they're subject to a weaker sanctions regime. it's important to remember, mr. president -- and this often isn't conveyed much in the information that is shared -- this is not simply an agreement between the united states and iran.
this is an agreement between the and germany and great britain and france and china and russia and iran. this is not a unilateral agreement. this is an agreement that has been entered into by the mainl y the major world powers, and they have found it acceptable. now, the other option, if we can't somehow find our way to a better deal -- and i haven't heard anybody credibly argue why or how that would happen. the only other real option of course is a military strike. which the experts estimate would only set the iranian nuclear program back between two and three years. where are we then? are we in a position where there would have to be follow-on strikes to prevent the rere-constitution of iran's nuclear facilities every two or three years? that would be at an
unpredictable and incalculable cost. now, it's true that as a result of iran's acceptance of the limitations of the agreement, they get relief from the nuclear sanctions and the release of approximately $50 billion of restricted foreign assets that they'll be able to spend. but it's important to remember, they only get that after they comply with the limitations. if we sign on to this agreement, they don't get the money the next day. they have to meet the limitations in the agreement and the iaea has to verify that. let me repeat, there is no sanctions relief until iran implements and the iaea verifies that its nuclear commitments have been met. to get that relief is why they entered into these negotiations in the first place. and to get them into the negotiations is why we led the
imposition of the sanctions in the first place. in other words, sanctions relief, in exchanges for acceptance of limitations on their nuclear programs, is the essence of the deal. neither the sanctions nor the negotiations were ever about iran force wearing terrorism or recognizing israel or religionsing hostages. all of those things are things i wish we could dovment i believe those are good policies, but that isn't what this negotiation was about. to try to add them now or argue that the deal falls short because they aren't included is simply unrealistic. the united states, along with our allies and partners, must redouble our efforts outside of the nuclear agreement to address these issues. they are critically important issues. we need a strategy to deal with an expansionist iran completely
separate from the nuclear issue. i don't deny that. to deal with iran's activities in the region. it's also important to reiterate that all u.s. sanctions on iran related to terrorism and human rights will remain in place. when president kennedy was negotiating the removal of the soviet missiles from cuba, he did not throw in that cuba had to depots castro or that the soviets had to foreswear their dangerous enmity to the west. the phrase they used was "we will bury you." he simply wanted to get those missiles out. he department try to settle all the issues of the cold war. and indeed so it is with this deal. the idea is to constrain -- the idea has always been to constrain iran's nuclear capability, not settle all the issues of the middle east, no
matter how desirable that might be. in my book, there is only one thing worse than a rogue iran seeking to make trouble for its neighbors and us, and that's a rogue iran seeking to make trouble for its neighbors and us armed with nuclear weapons. and that's the issue before us. finally, of equal importance is the terms itself of the agreement, is ensuring that it is effectively implemented. one of my principles of my life is that implementation and execution are as important as vision. this agreement is -- if this agreement is approved, that's day one of the critical implementation and execution period. there is a real risk, i believe, mr. president, that as time wears on, the intention of the international community on this issue will diminish. it will be vital for the united states across successive
presidencies to maintain focus on implementing and enforcing the terms of the agreement. congress also will have a crucial role to play both in oversight of the deals -- deal's implementation and in making certain that the iaea and our intelligence agencies have the resources they need to monitor and assure compliance, and in more broadly ensuring that all of our options, all of our options to prevent iran from developing a nuclear weapon whenever they may decide to take that step remain viable if the agreement collapses. mr. president, i have negotiated lots of contracts over the years, and one side or the other rarely wins in a negotiation. the idea is that all sides get something that they want or need, and in the end i believe that's what's happened here. if this deal is implemented properly, i believe it will accomplish our national security objectives while preserving or improving all of our existing
options to ensure that iran never develops a nuclear weapon. mr. president, there is no certainty when it comes to this question. as i said at the beginning, i believe this is the most difficult decision i have ever had to make. there are risks in either direction, and there are credible arguments on both sides. but in the end, i've concluded that the terms of this agreement are preferable to the alternatives, and that's the crucial analysis. what are the alternatives, and that it would be in the best interests of the united states to join our partners in approving it. i intend to remain deeply engaged in this issue in the weeks and months ahead because the process does not end the day of our vote. if this agreement moves forward, it will fall to future presidents and future congresses to oversee it and make it work.
we owe the american people our best judgment, mr. president, and it is my belief that this agreement, if implemented effectively and in conjunction with the other measures we must take to ensure its ongoing vitality that this agreement will serve our nation, the region and the world. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: i'd like to say a few words about the deal negotiated between the p-5 plus 1 and iran to deny iran the ability to access a nuclear weapon. first, i want to commend the administration and others
involved in the negotiations for seeking a diplomatic solution. there needs to always be a credible threat of military force to deny iran a nuclear weapon, but it's incumbent on us to test every avenue for a peaceful solution before resorting to such force. i am mindful that any agreement involving multiple parties that are friendly, belligerent and somewhere in between like in the agreement like that, this agreement can't be judged against the ideal. it has to be judged against the alternative. on the whole, this agreement measured against the ideal doesn't look all that good. against the alternative, it's a much closer call. i must say that i'm not as sanguine as some of my colleagues about the ability to reassemble the multilateral sanctions regime that has brought iran to the negotiating table. on the nuclear side, iran's
ability to amass sufficient fissile material to assemble a nuclear weapon would be severely curtailed for up to 15 years. the inspections regime to ensure compliance at least as it pertains to known nuclear facilities is fairly detailed. that is no small achievement. much credit is due to the scientists and others who assisted with the negotiations. on the other hand, i have grave concerns regarding our ability, and if not our ability, our willingness to respond to nefarious nonnuclear activities that iran may be involved with in the region. we are assured by the administration that under the jcpoa, congress retains all tools, including sanctions, should iran involve itself in terrorist activity in the region. however, the plain text of the
jcpoa does not seem to indicate this. in fact, it seems to indicate otherwise. iran has made it clear that it believes the imposition of sanctions similar to or approximating those currently in place would violate the jcpoa. now, my concern is that the administration would be reluctant to punish or to deter unacceptable nonnuclear behavior by iran in the region if it would give iran the pretext not to comply with the agreement as it stands. i don't believe that this is an idle concern. that agree to which the administration has resisted even the suggestion that congress reauthorize the iran sanctions act, for example, which expires next year just so that we might have sanctions to snap back to, it makes us question our willingness to confront iran when it really matters down the road. now, if this were a treaty, it could be dealt with with what are called r.u.d.'s or
reservations, understandings and declarations where we could clarify some of these misunderstandings. but since this was presented to congress as an executive agreement, we don't have that option. now, we have had numerous hearings and briefings in the senate foreign relations committee, and i want to commend senator corker, the chairman of the committee, and ranking minority member cardin for the manner in which they have engaged in these hearings and briefings. we have had a lot of questions raised. some have been answered, some have not. these hearings will continue. i'll leave from this chamber to another briefing that we're having. i expect to hear more of it in the coming weeks. and we'll seek to answer questions that i still have about the agreement. the bottom line is i can only support an agreement that i feel cannen diewr, not just be signed but can endure and will serve
our national interests and the interests of our allies. so i -- again, i want to commend those who have been involved in this process, i want to commend those involved in ensuring that congress had a say here, and i will continue to evaluate this agreement based, like i said, not on the ideal but the alternative. there are many questions that i would like to have answered, and i would encourage the administration to work with congress in the coming weeks on legislation that would clarify some of these misunderstandings and it take the place of the so-called r.u.d.'s that we could do if this were -- if this were a treaty. i have mentioned before this kind of legislation is going to come. it will come prior to implement ation day, and i think it behooves the administration and the congress to begin now to work together on items that we
can't agree on to clarify this. assuming this legislation -- i'm sorry, that this agreement will go into effect. it ought to be clarified now and not down the road, and that would make it far more likely to be an enduring document rather than one that is simply signed and forgotten later. with that, mr. president, i yield back. mr. president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
congress allowed states to get federal reimbursement for certain kenship placement and under the last congress states are now allowed to get federal incentives for increase in kenship. congress has strongly signaled to say that kenship placement should be a priority, but i have to say challenges still remain. today we'll hear about these barriers to penship and suggestions to make these more prevalent. i know that -- introduce legislation which will allow federal funds to the years for services to help families stay safely together. i look forward to working with him and other members of the committee on legislation that would reduce the reliance on foster care group homes, and allow states to use their federal foster care dollars for these prevention services. i hope to have a committee markup of this legislation in the fall. this hearing is apartment of a bipartisan process to improve
outcomes for vulnerable children families, that help members to listen carefully to the testimony and policy recommendations presented here today. and then alternative for his opening remarks. >> thank you very much mr. chairman, and beginning, i want to take note at the fact that you, mr. chairman, have spent decades literally decades keeping child really fair issues bipartisan here in the united states senate, and i commend you for that, look forward to building on that partnership. i know that can ship is here they have carried torch for many years as well. i think once again finance committee can work in a bipartisan area on this issue. mr. chairman, and colleagues this morning in america, there's likely to be a single mom with two kids, multiple part-time jobs, and one really big worry. she works long hours to provide
for her family. but even then it is a struggle to pay the bills and keep food on the table. and because her work schedule changes week to week, she's forced to leave her children unattended at times. a neighbor might place a concern call to child protective services. once that happens, social workers have to choose between two not very good options. breaking up the family, or doing nothing at all to help. and that has to change. wherever you ask anyone who has been through the child welfare system about what could help them the most, the answer is often, and i quote here helping my mom, helping my dad, helping my family. but that's just not in the cards when social workers have nothing to offer but foster care.
today kids predominantly wind up in foster care because of their families like that single mom or caught in these enormously desperate circumstances that lead to neglect. most young tears in foster care are there because of physical or sexual abuse. maybe mom or dad needs help covering the bills for a month. substance abuse treatment, connections to child care, oftentimes a youngster's aunt, uncle or grandparent can step up especially if they had just a little bit of assistance. in my judgment, every single one of those avenues ought to be explored before breaking the family apart. in fact, it might save resources in the long run without compromising on safety. now, back in the mid-1990s, there was a big debate about what we're going to talk about
this morning. gentleman by the name of newt gingrich said that the answer here was to put the kids in orphanage and i remembered hearing from that and remembered from gray panther days that a lot of the seniors and a lot of churches they went to had been talking about how a grandparent might be able to step in. might be able to step in for a short period of time when their child, the parent, the second generation in effect was having a little problem. there were out of work for a while. they have a substance abuse problem. and i learned then that older people, grandparents, aunts, uncles were an enormous untapped potential of kin that could make a big difference in terms of how
we aassist these troubled youngsters. back then in the 1990s i offered the kenship care act that said that immediate relatives, aunts, uncles grandparents who met the necessary standards for caring for a child would have the first preference, the first preference under law when it comes to carrying for a niece or nephew or grandchild, and it in effect was first federal law that had been enacted to promote kenship care. so here we are in 2015, and i think we have an opportunity as chairman hat just suggested in going even further to help these youngsters thrive with ken. it begins of letting states run with fresh policies to support family when is they've fallen on hard times. there's already proof that waive states out of the old fashioned system can produce results.
my home state of oregon has a program, and i'm very pleased that chuck nibi is here and we call it a home differential response, because it basically is all about signaling that every child, every family may require a different type of support. the old two option system, basically, saying it is either foster care or nothing doesn't cut it. and what mr. nibi is going to talk about is how oregon has taken a more tailored approach to help the families out. finance committee is lucky to have chuck knight be from the human resources dpght and if i think my colleagues will be interested in where oregon is headed. strong families, meaning strong kids. that's the bottom line, and tomorrow i'm going to introduce legislation that builds on that first bill of the 1990ed on kenship care. it is called the care act a and
the bill will make sure that more states are in a position to adopt fresh strategies like oregon, and also provide more opportunities to tap that extraordinary potential that's out there of grandparents and uncles and family members can step in in the kinds of circumstances where otherwise a child may just is one of two options that they don't care for. now i'll close simply by saying, toipght make it clear that this is in no way a condemnation of poster care. the fact is we know kids for for foster care has been a lifesaver. kids for whom foster care was a safe place where they can grow up and thrive. what this is all about is creating as many good choices as we possibly can have for youngsters to grow up in a healthy, safe environment that means keeping families together and i'll close by way of saying,
that i said at the outset that chairman hatch has put in decades, decades trying to steer this wild welfare debate in a bipartisan way. i commend him for it and a i want the chairman and colleagues on both sides of the aisle to know i think we have an opportunity to rise to the occasion again and i look forward to working with the chairman and all of you on it. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator let me introduce our panel of witnesses today. first we're going to hear from sandra, well respected patient advocate in new york city. she's a single mother who is raised two sons who are now 20 and 18 years of age. as a we'll hear, she experienced firsthand problems in our foster care system with her eldest son removed from behavioral issues. after a much perseverance she was able to be reunitessed with her son now pursuing degree in architecture at new york city
college of technology. currently serve as the executive organizing welfare project. naturally we'll hear from lisa burton a former foster youth from san diego, california. ms. burton lived 23 different placements and numerous school changes during her 12 years in foster care. now just 23 years old, mr. burton and george working as a mental health worker at the academy a residential facility for foster youth in san diego county. she's also currently attending panama community college to attain her bachelors degree and continue on to work towards a masters in social work and/or policy. next hear from donna butts served over 17 years as a executive director at generations united before taking the helm at generations united.
mr. butts served as executive director for the national organization on adolescent pregnancy, parenting, and prevention. she received her undergraduate degree from college and graduates from the stamford, university it is executive program for nonprofit leaders. she's recipient of the jack and sea bury leadership awards. she's also been recognized twice for the nonprofit times as a one of the top 50 most powerful and influential nonprofit executives in the nation. to give a chance to introduce chuck nibi representing the great state of oregon. >> mr. chairman, thank you welcome mr. nibi i touched on his extremely important work on differential response, and trying to make sure that wont a one size fits all approach for helping these youngsters and he's been doing it for the
oregon department for the human services for the past 13 years from caseworker to supervisor, and now it will be fair to say that chuck implements the strategy that people are looking prior to working for the youth authority. and mr. chairman, i won't filibuster here but we have got three oregon connection on the panel. i'm not only -- chuck but is donna butts we just mentioned showing my age, i remember jack and his good work with roots in oregon and burton is a transplant to oregon for the summer, so we kind of run the tables. by the end of the day over there. thank you mr. chairman. >> last but certainly not least i'm pleased to note that we'll hear from executive director of my states, utah's department of
human service its mr. williamson graduated from college in south carolina with a bachelor's degree in theology. she then went on to complete a masters in social work from louisiana state university, that has gone on to receive distinguished alumni reward from both schools. in october, 2013, mr. williamson appointed to her current position after serving as president and ceo of the louisiana association of nonprofit organizations and cabinet secretary from louisiana department of social services. in less than two years in her position in utah, mr. williamson has never seen the state successful efforts to obtain a federal title of 4e waiver, and the launching of the child welfare demonstration project onwards that aims to reduce use of foster care for occurrence of child abuse and neglect and needs for social services intervention. i welcome each of our witnesses to the committee here today as
we proceed the opening statements, i urge you to keep your remarks to the minutes if you can. so we'll start with you, then. >> good morning. thank you chairman hatch. member whiten and member thes of the committee for the invitation to be here today. my name is sandra colet divorced single mother who raised two sons who are now 22 and 20 years of age. i reside in new york city, and i'm currently employed as a executive director of the child welfare organizing project. this is a self-help advocacy organization of parents who have been affected by new york city children services. today i'm here to share insight, gain from my own experience as a parent impacted by the child protection system as well as the
perspective from hundreds of participants whom i have worked with, and others including new york city for child welfare reform. both parent and national network, and some other parent organizations. some of these parents are here with me this morning. i will tell you that they have -- did not have the luxury that i had and that was to come here last night. but they got on a bus at 3:45 a.m. to be here at the time for this hearing. so i would like to say thank you to all of those parents who have taken the journey with me. i would also like to say that, i am here on behalf of numerous, hundreds of parents across the jurisdiction pertaining to child protection as welds like to call it and see it child welfare system in true reality. i'm a parent who has been affect ad by the child, for example, system again, i say. it has forever changed my life
as well as my son's lives. this is a system that you've already heard in the opening, that has really, for me, destroyed a stable family. forever left our family traumatized from this experience. as a single mother, i relocated to new york city from atlanta, georgia, with my two boys. they were young. and we relocated to new york due to financial hardship. all of my family supports were in new york city. it was difficult for my two boys, they left their dad. but their dad traveled back and forth to new york city. from atlanta to be there for them, my old oest son which is the one whom generate contact wh human services name is trey he found it most difficult. he was raised with his dad, of course, if you can imagine it was a disruption in the family.
i sought help and support for my family challenges. my son was attending family counseling, and we were -- we were getting some supports that we needed. but i can tell you that the move to new york city and a separation from his father was difficult, and it was challenging. thereby generating aggressive behavior to my son in which i continuously sought help with. i began to ask every week about services, individual services for my son. i was told that those services were not available immediately. we were on a wait list. we stayed on the wait list before we could actually get off of that wait list, there was an altercation that occurred between me and my son. he was at the age of 13. before that altercation, actually occurred i will tell you that the outburst that were occurring in any household had
me retreating to my bedroom with my youngest son in fear of what would happen. did i know what would happen? absolutely not. but proven pushing forward that an altercation did occur. it pursued. at the time of this incident, i did reach out to new york city children's services for assistance. i did not receive the assistance, instead i received an investigation into my household. and that investigation was very intrusive and i say an investigation because that's what television. my family was asked questions that i thought were not necessary. my sons were asked questions that were about how i parented them whether or not i disciplined them and how i disciplined them. i will tell you that i found this out later from my sons when they told me this. i was surprised that they were not interested in what actually occurred or how i had come into the office for assistance.
so i know that time is moving forward for me. what i would like to do is highlight for you three recommendations on how to improve services for families that risk and and/or already involved with the system. child welfare system needs to be realied to support a broad array of intervention services to strengthen families and a keep families together.
>> to ensure they're children grow up in a safe and nurturing home. thank you for allowing me to share my experience and the voice of many parents whom have come in contact with the system and for whom i bring into this space with me this morning on this very historic, i believe, for me, time. until you know what it means to be separated from your family, that bond for broken between mother and child, between extended family, having a grandparent not be able to see their grandchild because they have not be cleared by a system. having an aunt or uncle not be
able to vift or have an able to vift or have an -- i will tell you that >> although we have come through it and we are coming through it there are good days, bad days, i will tell you i still hear families today everyday based on the work that i do in the organization that talk about the experience and the horrendous experience with the foster system that does not understand who they are as a family and does not understand the burden that is brought upon them to do things that no other parent or household would have to do in
order to reunify with their children. when i say to you guy, also having parental rights terminated as though that is water running from a facet. parents are losing rights to their children. i employ you to really hear us, listen to us, and i say that you actually have been listening but i think that there has to be an action and the mind set, families that might be in crisis. i hope that this testimony does something for us to have a child welfare system that will impact
families and children, help them to be strong and safe and thurtured in nurtured in their own communities. >> thank you very much. >> thank you for inviting me to share my story and talk about the issue that is affect many young people in the foster system. before i went to academy i was in 14 months. i was in and out of foster care experiencing 12 years in care and more than 23 different placements. i aged out of and i'm still hoping to find my forever
family. at this time i was three-year-old and my mother was pregnanciant with her eighth and final child. my father was reported for neglect. my siblings were with my great grand aunt. living with her gave me stability that i unfortunately never experienced again. all of my siblings and i were unified shortly after. over the next years we would reenter care several times. at some point my siblings began to have different cases, things got really confusing we no longer went to same court dates.
at no point during entry was kinship brought up again. we are part of a bigger extended family. my father is one of nine. i saw my siblings and parents regularly. later after we were scattered throughout foster care we became strangers to each other. we took care of each other because we had to. by the time i was 13, i also worried if one of my siblings would have passed i wouldn't know who they were anymore. my reentry into foster care is that they didn't know how to keep me safe and care for me and my signening -- siblings
effectively. my father was raised that what happens in the home, stays in the home. her own struggles with abandment, broken family ties, abuse, lack of addiction lead to -- her battle with mental illness and ability to support eight kids made it particularly impossible to take care of us. my life became a vishwa viciouse of instability. the damage was done. i was no longer the kid that
wanted to be home with mom and dad. individual family health along with financial systems could play a huge role in successful unification, since therapy my mother received her identifying childhood traumas that affected her parents and substance abuse. my siblings and i not needed to spend so much of our time in foster care. intensive counsel and financial assistance that help stay with the families. children use and their parents need help understanding and processing the damage time away from each other can have a relationship once they are
reunified. today i work at a group home but i recognize as hard as we try they will never give you graduation, not a good 30th birthday. families should be forever. >> thank you. we'll take your testimony. >> good morning. home of the national center. i'm pleased to provide testimony and provide and the committee members for holding the hearing and preserving families and reducing the need for foster care. every child deserves to live in a stable home. the issues faces these families are complex. they are however united by one
common factor, they believe in the importance of family. they believe children when they are raised in a family and not a system and they are right. despite challenges facing grand families have more stability. federal law affirms and confirms that relationship should be the first placement choice. children outside the foster care system receive little to no services compared to children in the system. all children in relative care receive the support they need to thrive regardless of the circumstances that brought them to live with the caring relative. congress enacted several
provisions to ensure placements and provide waivers to support grant families and promote prevents. we salute these and support. today i focus on four areas which are far more detailed. we focus on notice to relatives, licensing, prevents and trauma forms supports. relatives receive notification so they can digest option and make best decisions for children. recent law requires state to identify relatives when a child is removed from home there to be told options if they fail to response the notice. we hear care givers know about requirement. many say it was presented in confusing and threatening way.
we recommend congress to assess and make any necessary changes to standards. they very -- vary dramatically from state to state. this results in appropriate relatives causing children to be placed unnecessary in group setting or foster homes. for example, j.j. and probrothers and sister went to live with his grandparents. they struggled against the clock to make required changes to the home so they could meet state requirements and be able to continue as a stabled unified family. parents had to file for bankruptcy. it was a home with love but not
enough bedrooms. third prevents, support to evaluate promising practices. every one child there are about 23 outside the system being raised by relative or close family friend without a parent present. these families pay taxpayers $4 billion every year. these family receive litter or no preventive or supportive services to keep them together and out of foster care. urging states that kinship families have access to the same level of therapeutic services. they also often experienced challenges. these can be even more daunting when caring for kids that experienced trauma which often leads to behavioral issues.
to many kinship families offered these supports. flexible funding sources are also needed to fill the service gap outside the system. the important role of federal funding and social services in supporting children in care must be recognized. today people are so disconnected that they feel they're -- they become trees, they have roots, they can no longer be mowed down. all american children deserve a way back home, a way to remain can families, grow our country strong and productive an contributing citizens. i look forward answering my
questions. >> thank you. >> first of all, my appreciation to chairman and the committee for the opportunity to be here to speak here today. i want to talk about my experience working in the child welfare system and where we were at today. when i started working for child welfare right out of college i was not prepared for the challenges. when you listen to the testimony, you know previously, provided part of what i found, my job including, not just learning rules and procedures, how to overcome perception of the system. early in my career it seemed like we used foster care for a solution when kids weren't safe in the home. it often felt like a
consequence. iwhen kids were experiencing abuse and neglect in the home they would want to leave and wouldn't want to go back until things have changed. what i found out that kids would run away from foster care. they would live on the streets. they prefer that. it was a huge learning for me to understand the impact that foster care had on kids. i start today question the work i was doing. in 2007 oregon adopted a safety model, foster care as last resort. despite my personal excitements change in any system can be slow and it has been a process and i've experienced it inside and out. that was a really challenging
jobs. workers worked late hours, evenings, weekends and as a supervisor, i found challenges that fare that something bad would happen to a child, fare of ending up in the front page of the paper and losing our jobs. that fear is real. i supervise case that is -- case that is were high-profile cases. during my time as a supervisor, we were able to work with families and keeping kids safe at home. there were gaps in those services.
without filling those gaps the challenged remained for child welfare in order to keep kids safe at home if families aren't getting the support they need. i took a job in oregon to help response. i've been doing that since that time. in our state it is supported by legislative sources. i can say that within the past two years i felt more energized and excited about the work i'm doing than ever before. the practice model now comes with array providing flexibility to families the way we never had. it's becoming a safety service as last resort. change takes time. we are making progress. it's my opinion that in order to continue that progress which our welfare changes need to be made in the way they are funded.
just like family services need flexibility. any waiver savings are matched and used in finance array. i understand that's up to expire in 2019. i worry that without legislative change our ability to invest in services will be reduced and funding child welfare through foster care placement doesn't support the families that the system is trying to change to. my journey as a caseworker and supervisor i wouldn't change that with anything in the world. it's trained me to help families, kids, workers to see solutions, possibilities, work
out things differently. and i understand that working for child welfare will be a challenging jobs. it comes with great reward whether we can be successful. i want to thank everyone for their opportunity to speak here today. >> thank you. >> thank you for the opportunity before you representing the utah department of human services. in utah we value not only what is in the best interest of children and their families but also what's cost effective. several facts about utah model i lus i -- utah has one of the low est.
the average length of stay for a child is 10.4 months and national average 13.4 months. our system was touted for its effectiveness, we incorrespondence -- incorporated meetings and established and fatality review panel. in recent years we identified the need to build equally to safely keep children with their families reducing the need for foster care. the fact remains that children are best served in homes with families, similar schools and community. the voice of one brave young woman underscores the opportunity that we have to do
better. as a young child beth was removed from the neglect of her mom's untreated mental illness. this child was swept into a journey between multiple foster homes, criminal justice system. while asked why she ran away, it was to get to her mother. the positive of final foster father and caseworker influenced in beth graduating from high school and is now enrolled in law school. hearse was a rare success story in that era. we know we can do better. we can avoid the kind of human and financial costs and as measured results of our current
practice proves, we are doing so. utah's commitment to serve. do the best you can until you do better, than when you know better, do better. with research, social science discoveries, utah believes we can better serve the short and long-term interest of those in need of child welfare. supporting safe care for children in their homes without separating them from their family in foster care is lest traumatic and lest costly. multigeneration approves to be more effective in breaking kinding ls of dependentent on prolonged government program. it was ideal for utah. it's been replicated statewide through this year.
we are able to invest federal funds, not only to keeping children safe with their family but also to the taxpayers receiving greater return on the dollar. for average cost of serving one child in foster care home for one year we can serves 1 families through homeworks and for the average cost of serving one child in a group setting for one year, we can serve 34 families through homeworks. these are compelling proof. we work recently with a family that was on tract to foster care, he was failing in middle school and had repeated aggression. offered peer parenting, engaged
and school counsel and behavioral therapist are working to support jim. one of a thousand families we have helped through homework. the waiver has allowed not only to assist but to work with multiple families for long-term behavioral change that reduces the risk of treatment an ongoing involvement with government intervention. early results are positive. we would expect temporary nature of the waiver and learn from state's practices. therefore, thank you senator, it's an encouraging measure. we would like to see financial investment in child welfare practice informed by evidence. the key component to the
proposed bill reinforce utah's experience. family development and local partnership community ownership of child's well-being will strengthen. we seek to partner with you to finance a system that strengths families, child safety and well-being. we look forward policy and public financing for the greater good. >> we appreciate. this has been an excellent panel. let me start with you. thank you for appearing before the committee today. you are a remarkably young woman and i'm impressed. i'm so sorry that the foster care system obviously failed you
and your brothers. you were on and off for 12 years, as i understand it; is that correct? >> spent 12 years. >> yeah. my question to you is what are your suggestions that can improve the foster care system? >> excuse me. i think that a plan -- it should be inquired that states are required to have a plan for a child right away. so they belief that the situation can be mitigated, then to do provide the services before, as soon as possible before so they can return home. they are spending too much time in limbo and too much damage is created that affects the whole family. does that answer your question?
>> that does. that'll be find. i want to thank you before appearing before the committee today and your testimony. i would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the great work by two extraordinary members of your team. >> absolutely, thank you. >> my staff has worked with them and you for many years and we are indebted for your expertise. allow up to 30 states to receive a child welfare waiver. as you testified, utah is one of the very first states to apply for waiver. all child welfare waivers expire in 2019. i believe we should build on what we already learned relative to waivers that can benefit all states. you've testified that because
utah is able to use federal dollars, utah is able to realize considerable savings k. you elaborate how utah is able to target resources in order to achieve these savings? >> thank you very much, senator, it would be my pleasure. what utah recognized is that the expense that it was costing taxpayers of utah for poor outcomes namely long stays, extended stays in the foster care system and too often in the deepest end of the foster care system with residential care. $2,400 and facilitate long-term behavioral change. average cost per year in a
facility is over $83,000. so the financial logic of focusing our services and efforts on early in-home intervention services has allowed us to then have these dollars go farther because we have reduced reliance on long-term. >> well, thank you. by the way, i think those are starling figures. i want to thank you for appearing before the committee and testimony as well. as i indicated, the wish to reduce reliance on foster homes. in order to do that efforts to keep children safe as well as strengthen families like placements when the child cannot remain safely at home. oregon