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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  September 17, 2015 4:00pm-6:01pm EDT

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chairman grassley, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. schumer: mr. president, i regret my colleagues' objections. hope they change their minds. i must rise to address the growing crisis of judicial vacancies in our federal and district courts. mr. president, as we all know, it is the job of the senate to responsibly keep up with the needs to confirm judges. unfortunately, my friends on the other side of the aisle have slowed the judicial confirmation process to a crawl. they did their best to slow the pace of confirmations when the senate was under democratic leadership and now are sluggishly moving nominations even more so in a senate they control. it's resulted in a nearly 10% -- 10% vacancy in judicial positions throughout the united states. there are 31 -- 31 districts that are considered judicial emergencies, meaning they don't have enough judges to hear the
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caseload. the lorpg w longer we wait to me judges through the committee and to the floorks th floor, the woe numbers will get. let me take the western district of new york as an example to talk about these vacancies and what they mean it practice. it includes the cities of buffalo and row chester and the surrounding areas. there is not a single active federal district judge in the western new york judge -- not one. the district has one of the busiest caseloads in the country. it handles more criminal cases than washington, d.c., or boston. it is on the canadian border, making it particularly busy. and yet they don't have a single active federal judge. the delays for civil trials are by far the worst in the country. it takes five years for a median case to go to trial. five years. that's denial of justice just about. it is un-american.
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if not for the efforts of the two judges on senior status who are volunteering to hear cases in their retirement, the western district of new york would be at a full standstill. and the lack of judges has real legal consequences. in the western district, judge scretny, on senior status, has admitted that he's allowed all trials to settle in order to lower case loads. criminal trials have prioritized while civil trials languish in delay. the two retired jurnlings who are the only ones reading cases at the moment, are spending far less time on each individual case than they would under normal circumstances. and defendants may be inclined to settle amid guilt or take plea deals rather than wait out a lengthy trial process. as many of my colleagues have said so eloquently, the harsh truth of the matter is that for petitioners, companies, and communities, justice is being delayed and, thus, denied.
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and the same storyline is playing out in courtrooms throughout the country. this is not how our judicial system is supposed to work. and it should be, mr. president, an easy problem to rectify. right now there are 13 noncontroversial judges on the executive calendar and three more reported out of committee today. of those, three are highly qualified judges from new york, including one from the western district. i know these nominees. they're brilliant legal minds, experienced jurists. above all, they're moderate. i believe in moderation in the judges i choose. larry valardo and ann donnelly with two i've recommended and leshann dearcy hall was recommended by senator gillibrand. they should all be confirmed, but we don't know when they'll come up for a vote. all of thes these nominees excey standards for judicial nominees.
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in his or her own way, each brings excellence, moderation and diversity to the federal bench. but they're not the only outstanding nominees we have pending. we have judges pending from missouri, california, and several other states represented by republican senators as much as democrats who are experiencing the same judicial emergencies and heavy caseloads. threes nominees that have -- these are nominees that have already moved out of committee, all with bipartisan support. i'm not owe fndzing the traditional -- offending the traditional committee process by asking we move them off the floor and onto the bench where they belong. came to the floor last july to request we move these nominees. unfortunately, my request was blocked by my good friend from the senator -- from the -- the senator from iowa. in response to my request, i was basically told, nominees are moving along just fine; be patient. well, we're several months later
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and still we have no indication if these judicial nominees will ever be moved off the executive calendar for a vote. i was told -- and i'm paraphrasing, mr. president -- that if one would only count all the judges democrats confirmed at the last -- at the end of the last congress, the republican record on judges wouldn't be so bad. wouldn't look so bad. with all due respect to my friend from iowa, i don't believe you can take credit for the work like that. you can't slice and dice the numbers to make the republican record on judicial confirmation any better. thereotherein to this: the fact is the republican leadership has scheduled votes on only six judges this whole congress -- six. less than one a month. no reason nor that. even if -- even if we did give republicans credit for the judges the democrats approved at the end of the last congress, we'd still be far behind the
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pace of confirmations in the past. because by comparison, through september of the seventh year of president bush's presidency, where there was a republican president but democrats controlled the senate, 29 judges had been approved. six compared to 29. how is that parity? when democrats controlled the senate during the final two years of george w. bush's presidency, we confirmed 6 judges. when republicans controlled the senate during the two final years, 73 judges. we have a democratic president, 6. 73, 68, 6. is that equal? is that the same as they're always doing, as they say? of course not. the republican majority is confirming judges at the slowest rate in more than 60 years, and as a result the number of
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vacancies has shot up nearly 50% and the number of judicial emergencies increased 158%. in no world, mr. president -- in no world is this a reasonable pace, as i've been assured by my colleagues. mr. president, flo there are no values more american than the speedy justice. neither of these can be achieved without judges on the bench i the equal and fair application of justice is necessarily tarnished, deeply tarnished by a courtroom without a judge. it is as simple as that. so today i moved that we move new york's pending judicial nominations, but the request was rejected. i hope my completion will think this through -- i hope my colleagues will think this through. it is a blemish on this congress. it is a blemish on the idea that
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we're getting things done. it is a blemish when our republican leader says this congress is doing things at a better pace than in previous years. mr. president, i yield the floor. and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk should call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. carper: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: i'd ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. carper:, thanks, mr. president. mr. president, nearly every month this year i've come to the senate floor to do something that one of our former colleagues, ted kaufman, who served as a senator for two years in delaware after joe biden became vice president. ted used to come to the floor, not on a monthly basis but even more frequently than that, to talk about work that was being done by any number of federal employees across our country, to draw ateption to the fact that these -- attention to the fact that these are not nameless faces of bureaucrats. these are people that do important work for us, that serve news a variety of ways. what i have sought to do in the last several months -- in fact
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most of this year -- is to come to the floor to recognize the work not of the federal employees at large but of the work of a few of the many exemplary department of homeland security complees an employees k them for their dedication in their mission and their service to our nation, which is an important one. in june i spoke -- i am the senior democrat on homeland security the last couple of years, along with tom coburn of oklahoma. the two of us were privileged to lead the committee. in june i spoke about several outstanding officers in the u.s. coast guard, one of them a petty officer, a woman named goas lynn greenwell, at indian river in southern delaware just a little bit north of beth knee beach, a little bit south of rehoboth. in july i had the opportunity to visit petty officer greene while 30 of her colleagues were there
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to learn about how she and her unit serve and protect the rest of us. it is not just delawareans that seek recreation, fish, boat, swim in the inland bays in delaware or in the atlantic ocean. it is people from all over the world. toker that, we're grateful. but the devotion of officer greenwald is shared by thousands of men and women throughout the coast guard. the coast guard used to be part of treasury, as i recall. but today since the creation of the department of homeland security it is part of d.h.s. i want to say thanks to two other exemplary public servants who work at the department of homeland security, not in coast guard but in this case in the science and technology directorate. while many at the department of homeland security put their lives on the line along our borders, at our ports of entry and our airports or in response to disasters, some are working
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behind the scenes to secure our homeland against new threats or better respond to those we face today. this is what happens every day at the science and technology directorate. they give their all to provide front line personnel the best tools and tactics that are available. essentially the role of the department's science and technology employees is to keep our homeland security efforts a step ahead of the ever evolving threats that we face as a nation. they do this through state-of-the-art research and development issues performed by some of our nation's top engineers, top scientists, top researchers. the product of their work is deployed across the department from cybersecurity to biological defense to border security, science and technology's research, development and science work is truly vital to all of us. science and technology employees work closely with the trade and
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travel industry and with many academic groups as well. they also work closely with other research and scientific agencies across all levels of government to meet needs of first responders, enhance strategy analysis and to bolster operations and capability. among the threats that science and technology seeks to address are the threats to our agricultural system. agricultural is -- agriculture is of course vital to our nation's economic stability and our security. in delaware, agriculture remains one of the key industries at the heart of the state's economic activity. i think of delaware as a three- or four-legged stool. our economy sits on a three-or four legged stool. one of the strong legs in delaware is agriculture. in sussex county delaware, we produce more chickens than any county in america. we only have three counties. sussex counties, they produce more chickens than any county in
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america. we raise more soybean in sussex county and feed it to the chickens along with corn and other things. biological and man-made threat to foods, man-made threats to our food or animal or agriculture system could have devastating impacts to tower economy -- to our economy and day to day lives. it is a threat in delmarva where we raise poultry and turkeys, for that matter. that's why the department of homeland security has a number of employees in science and technology whose mission is to prevent and protect against threats to our agricultural infrastructure. in the july, i held a hearing alongside my colleague, ron johnson of wisconsin. we held a hearing to examine the threat that influenza poses to public health and also to our poultry industry. in recent months parts of the poultry industry have been grappling with the devastating
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outbreak of avian influenza and though the spread of this disease has slowed most of this has been in the center part of our country including wisconsin and iowa. many states lost millions of chickens and turkeys to this disease. the economic losses for farmers in those parts of the country and businesses are dealing with as a result really are staggering. mr. president, you probably don't know this -- well, maybe you do. but, there are roughly 300 chickens for every person in delaware, as i said. and i mentioned we raise more chickens in sussex county than any county in america but our poultry farms raise $2.7 billion each year and account for about 70% of our state's agricultural exports. we have cows that we milk, dairy cattle. we have pigs. we raise a lot of other, lima beans and that kind of thing. but poultry is the 800-pound
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gorilla in the room. luckily for the farmers in the delmarva peninsula, servants lie dr. colby are working on cutting edge research to protect against potential disease outbreaks like the avian influenza -- the avian flu. here she is right now, dr. michelle colby. let me talk about michelle. she is the branch chief of agricultural defense at the science and technology directorate. her mission is to develop tools, including vaccines and diagnostics to prevent livestock from natural and man-made disease threats. michelle works closely with the department of agriculture to help develop and support the research projects, track their progress and stave threats. she has the important responsibility of making sure that research and development programs across our federal government are well coordinated, not duplicative and always ready
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to respond to disease outbreak. a primary part of this woman's job is to make sure that science and technology where she works within d.h.s. uses the lessons learned from previous disease outbreaks to inform research and prevent or better control future outbreaks. information gathered during the last few years is part of another project at science and technology, currently being used by michelle's team to help the department of agriculture in its response to the avian influenza outbreak i just mentioned. michelle and her team were also instrumental in helping combat another recent threat to our nation's agriculture industry and to us. foot and mouth disease. it was in may of 2012, they secured a conditional license to a department of homeland security foot and mouth disease vaccine for use in cattle. this was the first foot and mouth disease vaccine ever licensed in the united states. ever licensed in the u.s.
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conditional license was renewed in may of last year and is now valid through, i think, may of next year. michelle and her team's important work didn't go unnoticed. they are finalists for the partnership for public service to america medal for their efforts. according to her colleagues, michelle -- this is a quote -- "michelle is one of the most respected scientists in the area of veterinary science." colleagues tell me she never loses sight of her critical mission and that she is a dedicated public servant of the highest integrity. michelle earned her bachelor of science degree in animal science from the university of maryland eastern shore. that's on the delmarva peninsula. she is our neighbor just to the south of us. she is a doctor of veterinary medicine from the virginia-maryland regional college of veterinary medicine. she has a masters of science in
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e.p.a. deem yol ji from the -- epidemiology from the university of maryland college park. while some of the important work at -- let me just say michelle, thank you for what you do. not just for delmarva, not just for those involved in the poultry industry, but thank you for what you do for our country and all of us who enjoy eating poultry and for all of us involved in exporting and selling poultry around the world. it used to be one out of every hundred chickens we raised in america we exported. then it was 5 out of 100. now it's 20. we negotiated a new agreement with other countries that will excess 20% of the world's markets and we want to ensure in delmarva and other places around the country we can use this trade agreement to sell that which we're really good at, and that is raising chickens. while some of the important work
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at science and technology happens in the labs, some scientists and engineers there team up with other agencies within the department of homeland security to get a firsthand look at how to enhance capabilities and operations on the front lines. for jonathan macintee. john's science and technology work has taken him into the feeltd of joint missions with the coast guard, with customs and border protection and with immigration and customs enforcement. public service is nothing new to john. in fact, be it runs in his family. john was born on a u.s. air force base not in dover, delaware, but in the united kingdom of all places in a place called lakenheath. grandson much a g.e. chem cal engineer world war veteran. he continues his service to our country today through his work in securing the security and economic pros territory of the
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united states in his role -- economic prosperity of the united states in his role in science and technology. since 2007 john worked at the borders and maritime security division at science and technology within the department of homeland security's, called security advanceed research project agency. this component is responsible for the research, for the development, for the testing and evaluation needs for the department's land borders, ports of entry and maritime mission environments. since becoming the division's deputy director in 2011, john has managed several projects, developing maritime, developing border and cargo security initiatives. he's responsible for managing the congressional, financial and technical oversight of operations along with his 30 employees. on any given day john is juggling 40 projects on a wide range of activities all across the department. according to his colleagues, john believes technology is the
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key to rage competitive and relevant in an ever changing global environment. so it's no surprise that he helped establish a technology innovation center within the coast guard to help deliver technical capabilities to departments, operators in a faster, more efficient process. john helps in the efforts to build a more cohesive and unified department of homeland security. they have a saying over there, one d.h.s., and he's part of that. he regularly representatives science and technology on the department level projects to help improve coordination and make the best use of science resources. efforts like john's are supporting secretary jeh johnson's unity of effort initiative to help the department operate more efficiently and effectively, something i think we can get behind. colleagues say of john, they say john looks at solutions to problems from a security aspect but also while thinking about the economic impact of our
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country. he believes all solutions must have a positive return on investment over existing methods and practices. john is well known for his "let's find a way" attitude. he always encourages his colleagues to be a part of the solution rather than add to the problem. i'd like to say no means find another way. that work ethic that he embodies and his leadership can be credited for his work building partnerships to promote our nation's economic growth. specifically, he helped facilitate a partnership that included customs and border protection, mexican and canadian customs, general motors, the ford motor company, honda manufacturing, pacific union, and faramex rail to successfully conduct a cargo security technology demonstration that operates u.s. bound supply train routes originating from mexico and originating from canada.
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that achievement earned him wide praise including the department of homeland security and technology yawned secretary award in -- under secretary award in 2014. john earned his masters in business administration from salisbury university and masters -- and a bachelor of science degree in finance. he and his wife heather, an air force veteran, have three children: sage, myra and jack. i just want to say to sage, myra and jack, thank you for sharing not just your mom but your dad as well with the people of our country. thank you. the efforts of michelle and john provide just a glimpse into the important work being done by hundreds of thousands of individuals across the department of homeland security every single day. these men and women are dedicated, exemplary public servants. they are unsung heroes who walk
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among us every day, and more often than not their good work goes unnoticed. but not today. these are not nameless, faceless bureaucrats. these are people with great educations, a great desire to serve our country and who every day make a difference for us in this country with the work that they do. so, michelle, for join -- for john right here, for michelle whose picture was up a moment ago, we want to thank you for what you do. we want to thank as well the 200,000 men and women you work with at the department of homeland security. we're a safer country because of your service, and i think we're a better country too. and as we say in the navy when people do especially good work, we say two words. one is balo. michelle and john, god bless you. mr. president, if you'll bear with me, i'd like to talk for a little bit about another
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important issue if i could. i don't see anybody else on the floor, so i will just forge ahead. i said this earlier today when we were having a discussion on the iran agreement, but it bears, i think, repeating. when i go back to the election last november, i have three take-aways, three messages that i continue to come back to. and the take-away, the first take-away for me last november was this, the american people are sending us a message to say they want us to work together. a second message, they want us to get stuff done, things that we need to get done for the good of our country. they especially want us to get done things that will help us strengthen our economic recovery. on the good news side, the department of labor reported today the number of people who filed for unemployment insurance in this past week, this is the number that comes out of the department of labor every thursday that's not a federal holiday. and they have been doing
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this for years. the week that barack obama and joe biden were inaugurated as president and vice president, that week 628,000 people, 628,000 people, that week in january of 2009, filed for unemployment insurance. any time that number is over 400,000 people filing for unemployment insurance in a week, we are losing jobs. and at the beginning of 2009, we were losing a lot of jobs. we lost 2.5 million jobs in this country in the last six months in 2008. we lost 2.5 million more jobs in this country the first six months of 2009. and as we went through 2009, that number of 628,000 people filing for unemployment nurns every week frankly didn't come down a lot. after a year or so, it began to friend down. finally down to 600,000 to eventually to 500,000 and finally dipped below 500,000
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after a couple of years. several years ago, that number came down to 400,000. and the reason why 400,000 is an important number in terms of filing unemployment insurance claims, when that number drops on a weekly basis below 400,000, we're starting to add jobs back in this economy of ours. for the last 28 straight weeks, the number of folks filing unemployment insurance in this country is -- has been under 300,000, and one of the reasons why we're adding the most amongst 200,000 to 250,000 jobs in a month is because not nearly as many people are losing their jobs, and that's a very good thing. but for us, for me to take away from the election last november, even though the economy is arguing better than it was, the unemployment rate in this country, i think in january, 2009, it was heading toward 10%. the unemployment rate today is closer to 5%. is that too high?
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sure it is. can we do better than that? we've got to do better than that. one of the things i always focus on is trying to determine how do we -- when i was governor of delaware, chairman of the national governors' association, i always was interested in how do we create a more nurturing environment for job creation and job preservation. in delaware, i'm told more jobs were created in those eight years than any year in -- maybe in delaware history, eight-year period in delaware history. i didn't create one of them. governors don't create jobs. mayors don't create jobs. senators don't create jobs. presidents don't create jobs. what we do is help create a nurturing environment for job creation. what does that include? access to capital. people starting businesses usually have to raise money. a world-class work force, the kind of skills in our work force that will help business to be successful. transportation, to move people and goods and services where they need to go when they need to go. public safety, reasonably priced energy, reasonably priced health care. you name it. a lot of things go into creating
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a nurturing environment for job creation and job preservation. as it turns out, one of the factors in creating a favorable environment for job creation, job preservation is, of all things, something that has been around for over 200, 225 years, and it's the u.s. postal service. not many people think about the postal service as part of the engine that helps drive our economy, but it is. some seven million or eight million jobs that flow from the worker directly involved or indirectly involved with the postal service. seven or eight million jobs. for a number of years, the postal service has been losing money. a lot of question about will it be able to bake it, will they be able to survive, will they be able to contribute or are they going to simply fold up and go away? so i -- i would note, mr. president, that another priority of mine has been for a number of years postal reform.
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my dance partner on this for a number of years was senator susan collins of maine, republican. very able leader. and for the last several years, tom coburn, republican from oklahoma, dr. coburn who retired at the end of last year. and we have worked with a whole lot of folks. democrats, republicans, house and senate. in the last couple of years to try to find a way, not just to make the postal service relevant but how to enable them to be successful, and one of our real challenges is how do we take a 200-plus-year-old delivery network, a legacy delivery network that goes to every mailbox, every mailbox in this country, business or residential, and how do we enable them to make money in a digital age in the 21st century, when a lot of people are buying stuff differently than we used to, we're paying our bills different than we used to. we don't send a whole lot of first-class mail like we used to. when i was a naval flight officer in southeast asia, three tours, the best day of the week was when mail came.
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we would get all kinds of letters from home. we would get all kinds of post cards, birthday cards. you name it. father's day cards, valentine's day cards. we get magazines, newspapers. it was the best day of the week. and today our folks are deployed to afghanistan or other places around the world, our armed forces, they still get mail, but it's not like it's as important for them as it was for us because they have skype, they have cell phones, they have the internet, they have other ways to communicate. and the challenge for the postal service has been in a day and age where we communicate very different than we did during the last war, than we do, say, in the war that we have been involved in in afghanistan for some time now, how do you make money? how do you be relevant? and they're starting to get it. the postal service today, mr. president, the postal service in 33 zip codes in san francisco deliver groceries, and they use vehicles that otherwise
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wouldn't have been used between 3:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. the folks who work for the postal service have access to apartments and high rises to actually deliver groceries. and they -- the company that they are -- i think they are delivering for amazon in those three zip codes. i think they have been trying it out for a while, it's gone pretty well. the postal service has turned around and contacted 100 other grocery chains around the country and said this is what we're doing for amazon, we could probably do this for you and help you and frankly help serve customers in a different kind of way. this morning in a place in delaware, around middletown, delaware, north of dover, the postal service literally during the middle of the night, amazon, the postal service in the middle of the night combined to just take items from that distribution center, huge amazon distribution center in middletown, delaware, and literally drop off all over the
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northeast, from the mid-atlantic all over the region, to drop off items that are going to be delivered today. there were all kinds of products that were ordered through amazon yesterday, over the internet, by phone and so forth, and they are being delivered literally today, and the postal service has a big hand in that. also, you have got fedex, u.p.s. a lot of folks think of fedex and u.p.s. as competitors of the postal service, and to an extent they are, but they are also very good partners. it works this way. fedex doesn't want to deliver to every mailbox in the country, especially in the more rural areas where there is a lot of separation and it's frankly costly to do that. fedex doesn't want to do that, u.p.s. doesn't want to do that. but guess who goes every day, six days a week, some weeks seven, to pretty much every mailbox in the country, usually six days a week. it's the postal service. there has been a partnership now for a number of years where the postal service delivers for
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u.p.s., for fedex, the last mile, the last two miles, last five, ten miles, last 20 miles. the postal service makes some money doing this and it helps fedex and u.p.s. maybe save some money. and when the postal service is sending their packages by air mail, they actually will partner with either fedex or u.p.s. in order to be able to move their products around the country in an expeditious way. so those are some things that are happening around the -- around the country that most people aren't thinking about or are mindful of but it's some ways that the postal service is becoming more relevant in the digital age. and as more people -- christmas is still like three months or so away, but as people start thinking about christmas shopping, holiday shopping, they -- they're going to in a lot of cases get on the phone, get on the internet and order. those are the packages they are ordering that have to be
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delivered by somebody. the postal service is one of those somebodies. i think the last time i saw the numbers, while first-class mail continues to trend down by a couple percent per year, what's going up by i think the last time we saw 12% to 14% a year these delivery packages and parcels. the postal service is finding out how to be relevant in a digital age. there are other things they could do, too. among those things are deliver wine and beer. u.p.s. does that, fedex does that. the postal service does that in australia. i think they make maybe $5 billion a year doing that. i'd like to say the australians don't have nearly as many people as we do, they just drink more. but there is some money to be made by the postal service here. i don't know of any reason why we shouldn't allow them to be involved in that -- in that business as well, with appropriate safeguards and as long as states approve of that activity. so those are some things i mentioned about the postal service. the other thing i would say over
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the last couple of years, even though we find it difficult to pass legislation, among the things the postal service has done on their own is they have tried to outsource the enterprise that affects delivery, less first-class mail and maybe delivery of a little bit of lower amounts of what we call standard mail which could be nonprofits using the mail. it could be for-profits, it could be all kinds of stuff but it's not first-class mail. but the -- one of the things that the postal service has sought to do is to look at their work force and say in a day and age when we're delivering a lot less mail, do we need the same number of full-time employees, and they decide the answer is no, and i think their full-time equivalence is down by -- i'd say down by about a third from where it might have been, say, a
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decade ago. the number of mail processing centers across the country is down by about half, maybe 600 to 300. the number of -- of post offices really hasn't changed a whole lot. they have over 30,000, maybe closer to 40,000 post offices around the country. some active, large, vibrant. some small, rural, not a lot of activity but important to those communities. what the postal service has done with a number of their smaller post offices is basically say to a community, you know there is not a lot going on in your post office. they -- it's the amount of stamps and revenues generated by a post office is really enough to make it worthwhile to run this post office, six days a week, eight, ten hours a day. what they have done is they have presented sort of a menu, postal service has presented a menu that says why -- you can't have a six-day-a-week, eight or ten
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hour a day postal service in your community but you can have a post office if you want. it may be four hours a day, it might be six hours a day. the persons running it would be maybe a contract employee. maybe not a full-time employee with full benefits but somebody making $15 an hour. for some people, that's pretty good money, pretty good money. and the -- and then the communities would still end up with their post office. or maybe the post office should be a rural letter carrier driving around on his or her route in the rural part of a county or a state and would literally be a post office on wheels, maybe like a bookmobile when i was a kid growing up. and everybody that knew that route would know the rural letter carrier is going to be here or there or there or there throughout the day and be there to take packages or provide stamps or mail, stamps, provide services. you normally get a post office in a more urban, suburban area. long story short, the postal service has done a fair amount to reduce their -- the size of
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their enterprise. and the cost of their enterprise. pure full-time equivalent employees, fewer mail processing centers. while they still have a lot of post offices, a number of them, i don't know, maybe one out of every five or so, one out of every four is a post office that may be open two hours a day, four hours a day instead of eight hours a day, ten hours a day. today i'm introducing legislation that seeks to enable the post office, which is still -- it's actually -- if you didn't consider one factor, and that is the postal service is required by law to put money aside to meet a liability that most private companies and almost every state and local government and the federal government, too, have not addressed, and that is the liability, health care liability of their pensioners. in the late 1990's when i was governor of delaware, we worked for year, governor pete dupont,
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governor mike castle and i, my administration, to move from the worst credit rating in america to stay with the aaa credit rating. in my next to last year as governor in 1999, delaware -- gosh, in 1977, we had the worst credit rating in the country. in 1999, we are in aaa credit ratings across the board, across the board. standard and poor, moody's, fitch. it was a day of great jubilation. even after they awarded us our aaa credit ratings, they said you've got a problem, delaware, and as it turned out so did 49 other states. while we had a fully funded pension fund, we had not set aside any money for a significant cost of pensioners, and that is their health care costs once they reach the age of 65. and once they reached that, they reached 65, in delaware,
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a career for years, and when dupont met 75, they didn't say we're going to forget you, still try to meet their obligation, moral obligation, the pension, the health care. but a part of that is health care, and, frankly, almost every employer when they reach 65. you're 65, ready for medicare, part amp, payroll tax b, we expect you to use it, sign up and use it. and if it doesn't cover all the, they will continue to provide some wraparound to fill in the holes left, unfilled by medicare part a, part b and part d.
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and postal employees at age 65 and eligible for medicare, most of them sign up for part a and the majority sign up for part b. one of those is hospital care and the other is doctor care. but almost none of them sign up for medicare part d, as in delta. for drug, been around 13, 14 years for now. a huge success. a huge success. but while medicare -- postal employees pay in some social security almost greater than any other force in the country, the number one or number two business in perms of employees, they don't get full value. they don't get full value. in fact, what postal -- they're overpaying to bring the
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medicare costs for other employees, that dupont for that matter. so is that right, is that fair, he quitable to employees, to the pensioners, i don't think so. neither did dr. coburn. those -- they're treated like a company, treat them like other companies and get full for the contributions they make to the social security. and parts part we introduced a year ago. another we introduced today is the rates the post office can charge. and the rate case, that let the postal service, they were badly damaged, fled, they found the
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internet to use the postal service, and the postal service had to raise their rates a little bit, a little bit, and the fact is is that forever, is it going to go away, and with negotiating, the guy named john kane, the negotiating agreement with the postal service, and all these people were able to raise it for a couple more years and then we'll go through another process, existing process to scab a new postal rate. but provide some stability over the next couple of years. and another piece in the whole bill, but the idea behind the
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legislation is to give them enough to be successful, to be like other companies and equitable through the medicare and the retirees, and to be more creative, find ways that 200 plus-year-old company is to be able make money, able to make money. a lot of other things as well. this morning in the 33 zip codes in san francisco and, it happened in the amazon in in other places that are throughout this, the united states. and on my own, i hope that we've worked with people in the postal service, certainly with a lot of locators, the unions,
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the groups with the postmaster and others as well. customers, and so we're going to introduce it and our hope is it will be a catalyst for a good conversation and a much-needed consensus to say this is where we're headed on the postal service legislation in 2015 and beyond. i never introduced a perfect bill, and i'm not introducing probably another perfect bill here, either, but it's a good piece of legislation. and the folks working here with us, republicans and democrats in the committee and off the committee and we are hoping to get it to kick it in in the
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constitution coming up and folks can come in and say this is what we reich like or don't like about the legislation. i'd like to say everything i do i know i can do better but as far as the constitution, a more perfect tune, in the preamble, -- perfect union, in the preamble, and we're looking for a more perfect legislation, to be successful, to be enabling us to enable them and not be running them down all the time. lot of good folks on the postal service. and the folks going to work right now at the postal service will be up late tonight to make sure it's ready to be delivered tomorrow. they'll be working tomorrow and late tomorrow, folks delivering on sunday, the postal service is not just a six-day operation but they deserve a lot of
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parsles on sunday. and so -- parcells on sunday. and it's unleashed the abilities in the postal service and unleash it there in that regard. that i think covers my speaking points and, mr. president, i would ask you to get a good rest this weekend, maybe take a look, i'll visit you and tell you what's going on to see if you'd like to have customary. and i don't see anyone here so i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: mr. president, last year --. the presiding officer: we are in a quorum call. mr. markey: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent that there be a vitiation of the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection, gladly so for. mr. markey: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, last year i had the opportunity to travel to the vatican. during my visit i had the chance to overlook st. peter's square from the vatican balcony. as i had the chance in that square, the sun glinted off the future, the square i saw the
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rooftop of pope paul 6:00's on the grounds covered with solar panels. it was clear from that view that the vatican takes climate change seriously and this generational issue that touches every living secret on the planet. i -- creature on the planet. i was at the vatican as a group of legislators from around the world who are already working to address climate change in their countries. we made cardinal petral rodigan and peterson, who are both responsible for writing pope francis' climate change and changing climate change in our
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own home countries with them, with the two cardinals, who were going to be writing this in cyclical. and so the conversations then turned to what was happening in the countries of the legislators who were visiting? the lawmaker from the philippines discussed the destruction that typhoon hiyan brought to parts of her country. legislators from south africa and mexico shared the challenges that their countries and regions face from drought. the representatives from europe pointed to the damage from extreme heat waves and rainfall. i relayed my concern for the rising levels, temperature and acidity of the ocean and the impacts on coastal communities. rising sea levels are eroding our shores in massachusetts and
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in new england and across our country. increasing the damage in new england of nor'easters. in recent years, ocean temperatures in our part of the atlantic ocean have been the hottest ever recorded. in one case off of cape cod, it was 21 degrees warmer than normal this january. in massachusetts, off of our coastline. but for all of us who had gathered at the vatican, we were in agreement that the world's poorest people are suffering the worst consequences of climate change -- extreme poverty, famine, disease and displacement. which is why it should be no surprise that pope francis, a jesuit trained in chemistry, who's devoted to the poor and ensuring a just and better future for all mankind would be
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the only pope to devote an entire encyclical to hugh -- humanity's relationship with the environment. in releasing his encyclical and giving us our message to protect what he called our common home, he has also given us a common goal. we must stop now to affect climate change. but no mistake. this pope is looking for leadership. pope francis is looking for results, he is looking for all of us to lead, to solve this problem. next week we will have the honor of hosting pope francis here in the washington, d.c. and to hear him address a joint session of the united states house of representatives and senate. unprecedented.
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and the entire nation will be watching the pope as he speaks. because we all need to hear pope francis' message of love, of compassion, of justice and action. and we need to join in the conversation that he is calling the world to engage in about protecting people and our planet the science of climate change has been clear for decades. global temperatures are warming. glaciers are melting. sea levels are rising. extreme downpours and weather events are increasing. the ocean is becoming more dangerously acidic. last year was the warmest year ever recorded. today noaa announced that this summer was the hottest summer since 1880.
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increasing temperatures increase the risk for bad air days and turning the atmosphere, the air that we breathe into increased asthma attacks and worse for people who actually have lung disease. global warming is also a public health crisis. the economic and security costs are now dangerously evident. climate change is aggravating tensions around the world, especially where food and water security are at the heart of the conflicts. it is spawning new crises that are displacing millions of people and creating an era of refugees. this will require action by our diplomats and aid organizations but every nation must do its fair share. pope francis' address to congress next week will offer us
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the opportunity to examine our own policies, their impact and not only the people of our nation but on the entire planet. and our duty as leaders and as human beings to take action. pope francis has brought this moral imperative to act on climate change just as the nations of the world are working to forge an international agreement in paris this december as the world gathers to deal with this issue. the united states must lead this effort. the united states must heed the message of pope francis. the united states must be the nation in paris in december saying to the rest of the world that we can and must do something to solve this problem.
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we know that clean energy they will be heart of the meeting of any of the goals which we have to establish here and across the planet in order to cut pollution. we must continue to improve the fuel efficiency of the automobiles, of the trucks that we drive here in the united states. we must deploy more wind and solar energy and renew tax breaks for those projects. by making a commitment to reduce the pollution imperilling our planet, we can engage in job creation that is good for all of creation. the united states can be the leader in the technological revolution to reduce the pollution imperilling our planet and then we can partner with other to share this technology to protect the most vulnerable around the world.
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pope francis said in his encyclical today, "in the view of the common good, there is an urgent need for politics and economics to enter into a frank dialogue in the service of life, especially life." we know that to agree on a course of action is no easy task in this chamber, but if we harness the ambition of the moon landing, the technological power of our workers, the moral imperative of pope francis' message, we can leave the world a better place than we found it. we have done it before. we have the tools to do it again. and now we need to forge the political will in order to accomplish those goals. we need more solar. we need more wind. we need the batteries for the vehicles which we drive in order to reduce the amount of
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polluting fossil fuels that we send up into the atmosphere. we need to invent. we need to be the technological giant. we need to unleash the same kind of revolution in the energy sector as we did in the telecommunications sector in the 1990's. no one on the planet had a device like this on their person just 15 years ago but the united states reinvented telecommunications, reinvented the way in which people not just here in america but all across the planet -- africa, asia, south america -- communicate. with these wireless devices. we can do the same thing in energy. we can do the same thing with wind and solar. we can reinvent the kind of vehicles which we drive, whether they be cars or trucks or buses. we can do it. we have to have the will, though. we have to listen to the pope.
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we have to play the role that the united states is expected to lead by the rest of the world in order to meet this moral imperative. and we can do it by creating millions of new jobs here in the united states. so this is our challenge. the pope is arriving next week. and for me, as a boy who grew up going to the immaculate conception grammar school, and boston college, boston college law school, catholic school every day for 19 years, this is just an incredible thrill, knowing that in a way, when he is standing up on that podium, it's going to be a latter day certificate -- latter day sermon day on the mount telling us what our job is today to save this beautiful planet that god has created while also avoiding the worst consequences for the poorest people on the planet if
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we do not solve the problem. so let us work together in a bipartisan fashion in order to heed the message of pope francis. mr. president, i yield back the balance of my time. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: i doubt the presence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk shall call the roll. quorum call:
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