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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  October 1, 2015 8:00am-10:01am EDT

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organization should be clear. ukraine stands for the gradual limitation of the veto right with its further cancellation. veto power should not become an act of grace and pardon for the crime, which could be used anytime and pulled off from the sleeve in order to avoid fair punishment. in this context i welcome the initiative of my french colleague president hollande, supported by president peña nieto of mexico, on the political declaration to restrain from the veto right among the p5 members in case of mass atrocities. primary attention should be given to the modernization of the u.n. security council, including enlargement of its membership and improvement of methods of its work. the membership of the u.n. security council should reflect
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realities of the 21st century by representing larger quantity of african, asian and latin american states. additional non-permanent seat in the council should be given to the eastern european group of countries, its composition doubled during the last two decades. ukraine also considers improvement of peacekeeping and peace building architecture of the organization as an important element of the u.n. reform. i am proud of ukraine's international reputation as an active and devoted contributor to the u.n. peacekeeping operations. despite external challenges, we remain a reliable partner of the organization in this noble matter. [applause] the contribution of ukraine to the maintenance of international peace and security provides us
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with moral grounds to count on the same assistance from the organization in time of vital importance of this issue for my country. the special peacekeeping mission in donbas under the u.n. auspices could become a very useful instrument contributing to implementation of the minsk agreements. ukraine is committed to follow the letter and the spirit of the minsk deal. we demand the same approach from other signatories that have lately resorted to the language of blackmail. otherwise, there is no alternative to sanctions, and even their strengthening. as well as there is no alternative to the peacefu a resolution of the crisis. full access of osce monitors to all occupied territories, withdrawal of the russian military forces, military equipment as well as mercenaries from the territory of ukraine,
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restoration of full control by ukraine over the state border with russia must be secured. freedom, peace, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity, ukraine doesn't demand more. however, it will not settle for less. [applause] dear mr. president, unfortunately, not by its own free will today ukraine is one of the areas of fight against terrorist threat. we strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. the activity of isil, al qaeda, boko haram, al shabaab and others is the global challenge. the only possible way to address it, is to unite in common and non-compromised fight against this evil.
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international terrorism has proved to be more flexible than the political will of nations, and today it has taken new hybrid forms. state and non-state actors have become interlinked. the struggle for one's rights is substituted for ruthless terror. we are convinced that the need for the universal international instrument able to counteract this crime is not only urgent but long overdue. for this reason, the conclusion of preparatory work on the draft of the u.n. convention on the prevention and combating of terrorism should become one of the top priorities for this 70th session. a special role in the fight against international terrorism should be given to the most reputable legal institutions, the international court of justice and the international criminal court.
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making the jurisdiction of these institutions universal is a core element of overcoming the impunity of actual violators as well as their partners, the regimes whose national policy has become the mass-production of terror. [applause] i strongly believe that one of the most important aspects of fighting against terrorism is keeping and sharing the memory of the victims. in this context, i propose that 70th session of the general assembly consider the establishment of the international day of commemoration of memory of the victims of terrorist acts. mr. president, it was the feeling of humiliation, disregard of people's will and the violation of their fundamental rights that prompted
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ukrainians leave their homes for protests in 2013, which was the beginning of the revolution of dignity. ukraine has paid and continues to pay an extremely high price for its freedom, and the right to live in a free country, the price of human lives. this is why, the interests of every single individual, and the protection of people's rights laid the foundation for my large-scale reform program launched a year ago. for the first time in 24 years of its independence, ukraine adopted a national human rights strategy. it took into account best international practices from the human rights perspective, including the eu strategic framework on human rights and democracy. russian aggression exposed the problem of securing the human rights in the crimea and certain areas of donetsk and luhansk regions.
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leading international human rights organizations are alerting about the radical deterioration of the human rights situation, which directly applies to ukrainians and crimean tatars in the occupied crimea. i am referring specifically to the practice used by the occupation authorities of the crimea to enlist forcefully into russian citizenship, as well as to systematic persecution, arrests, abductions and killings of pro-ukrainian residents of the peninsula, and complete elimination of independent media. ukraine reaffirms its commitment to the u.n. declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. by all legal means, we will continue to defend the rights of the crimean tatars, the indigenous people of ukraine, and the ukrainians, who are suffering from the repressive policy of the occupation authorities in the crimea. i believe that the problem of blatant violations of human rights in the crimea deserves a
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particular consideration within the u.n. general assembly. i hope that the decision to address this issue will be taken during the current session. i also feel obliged to mention the names of nadiya savchenko, oleg sentsov, oleksandr kolchenko and many other ukrainians, political prisoners of the kremlin, illegally detained and sentenced. for example, oleg sentsov, a respected filmmaker, was sentenced to 20 years in prison only for being ukrainian patriot. i call upon the u.n. and its member states to launch a worldwide campaign to pressure russian authorities to immediately release all ukrainian citizens, which they hold hostage. we will be able to achieve our goal only if our action is global. most of all, ukraine needs solidarity and assistance, which is really a powerful instrument
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against aggression and injustice. ukraine will win for sure because truth is on our side. but we will do it much faster if we feel support and solidarity of the whole international community. the ongoing hybrid war of russia against ukraine has demonstrated that the international community is facing another challenge, which requires consolidation of our efforts. the full-scale information war and propaganda campaign have become a particular destructive form of non-military aggression. fake news, blatant lies spread to justify aggression, propaganda of intolerance and violence are phenomena of the same range, which undermine the principles of freedom of expression and poison human souls and minds. that is why the task of strengthening the role of
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information in the maintenance of peace and security is more important than ever. i call upon the general assembly to strongly condemn these shameful phenomena and to discuss the ways to confront them. mr. president, despite the above-mentioned external challenges, ukraine is fully committed to the implementation of the sustainable development goals. we are ready to share joint responsibility for solving specific vital problems and priorities of the most vulnerable groups of countries, such as small island states. ukraine as a member of friends of climate group is looking forward to reach consensus on the universal agreement in the area of climate change as soon as possible. we hope that this result will be achieved by the u.n. member states in december this year in paris.
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we have to understand that the price of this issue is the safety of future generations and sustainable development of mankind. the path towards the achievement of the sustainable development goals will not be successful without overcoming and preventing the consequences of environmental and technological disasters. as a result of the russian aggression, ukraine faces another challenge, the protection of the environment in donbas. irresponsible and criminal flooding of mines by terrorists led to the poisoning of drinking water, soil, flora and fauna o a the region. the atmosphere is polluted due to explosions and shelling of sensitive industrial infrastructure. in fact, we can speak about the risk of environmental disaster. i am convinced that the issue of environment protection under the conditions of conflict needs
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special attention of the united nations environment assembly. speaking about technological disasters, i cannot but recall one of the most horrific of them. next year we will mark the sad anniversary, 30 years since the tragedy at the chernobyl nuclear power station. i would like to request you, mr. president, to hold a special meeting of the general assembly, dedicated to the thirtieth anniversary of the chornobyl disaster in april 2016. mr. president, in my country's address on the occasion of joining the united nations it is said, i quote, ukraine with its vast human strength and material resources will be able to make a significant contribution to maintaining peace and global security, end of quote. just like it was seventy years ago, i reiterate ukraine's
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unwavering commitment to further undertake maximum efforts to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, enshrined in the u.n. charter. [applause] achievement of this noble goal will be the cornerstone of ukraine's non-permanent membership in the u.n. security council for the period of 2016-2017, if elected. in this capacity ukraine will remain the reliable and consistent partner, guided not by own, but global agenda, and resolutely following the spirit and letter of the charter. i am firmly convinced, that the organization will pass with dignity the extremely complex tests, and strengthen its role as a guarantor of world order, peace and prosperity. let god be with us.
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thank you for your attention. glory to ukraine. [applause] [speaking in native tongue] >> israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu addresses of united nations general assembly this morning. you can see his remarks later in the day on the c-span networks as well as speeches by other world leaders before the u.n. on our website c-span.org.
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>> great punisher alexis cpars will address the united nations general assembly today. is expected to discuss the economic situation increase in the syrian refugee crisis in your. follow our coverage of u.n. speeches anytime on c-span.org. ♪ >> the annual documentary competition for students in grades six to 12. it's an opportunity for students to think critically vicious of national importance by creating a five to seven minute documentary in which they can express those views spirited support for students to get the ball because it gives them the opportunity and a platform to voice is heard on issues that are important to them. so they can express those views i creating a documentary. >> we get a wide range of entries the most important
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aspect for every document that we did is going to be the content. we've had winners created by just using a cell phone and with others that are created using more high-tech equipment, but once again is really the content that matters and shines through in these documentaries. >> the response has been great. we've had many different issues that they've created videos on that important to the. we have topics ranging from education, the economy and environment showing a wide variety of issues that are important for students spent having more water with many positive impacts to better serve the community and the business businesses. >> we have come to the consensus that humans cannot run without food. food. >> prior to the individuals with disabilities individual act, children with disabilities were not given the opportunity of an education. >> this year's theme is road to the white house, what's the most important issue you want for
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candidates to discuss. it is full on into the campaign season. there are many different candidates discussing several issues. one of the key requirements in creating a document is to include some c-span footage. this footage should really complement and further the point of view and not just dominate the video but it's a great way for them to include more information on the video that furthers their point. >> the first bill i will sign today is the water resources reform and held act also known as wrrda. >> there's a vital role that the federal government plays. it's especially vital for students with disabilities spring students and teachers can go to our website, student came.org to find more information about the rules and requirements but they will also find teacher tips, rubrics took
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them incorporate into the classroom, more information about prices, incorporating c-span video and ways to contact us if it any further questions. >> the deadline is january 20, 2015 -- 2016 which is one year away from the next presidential inauguration. >> spent covering the president were only talked about the rain nuclear agreement and combating cases during his remarks monday at the u.n. general assembly in new york city. his remarks are 20 minutes. [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: >> in the name of god, the most compassionate, the most merciful. praise be to allah, and peace and greetings to prophet mohammad and his true companions. mr. president, i am speaking on
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behalf of a great nation who is mourning the loss of thousands of muslim pilgrims and hundreds of its own citizens. old, young, men and women who had come together in the grand and global spiritual gathering of the hajj, but unfortunately fell victim to the incompetence and mismanagement of those in charge. due to their unaccountability, even the missing cannot be identified and the expeditious return of the bodies of the deceased to their mourning families has been prevented.
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the scope of a calamity in which thousands of innocent people from the four corners of the world have been killed and wounded is so broad that it cannot be dealt with as a natural disaster or a local issue. the pain and emotional distress inflicted on millions of muslims is greater than what can be repaired merely through material calculations. public opinion demands that saudi arabian officials promptly fulfill their international obligations and grant immediate consular access for the expeditious identification and return of the cherished bodies. moreover, it is necessary that the conditions are prepared for
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an independent and precise investigation into the causes of this disaster and ways of preventing its repetition in the future. mr. president, distinguished secretary-general, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, i am speaking on behalf of a nation that, two years ago, again voted for constructive engagement with the world and i can now proudly announce that today, a new chapter has started in iran's relations with the world. two years ago, the people of iran in a competitive election, with their votes gave me a mandate for consolidating peace and constructive engagement with
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the world, while pursuing national rights, interests and security. this national will manifested itself through a careful and clear diplomatic effort which resulted in the joint comprehensive plan of action between the islamic republic of iran and the six world powers that was immediately turned into an international instrument with the ratification of the united nations security council. from the standpoint of international law, this instrument sets a strong precedent where, for the first time, two sides rather than negotiating peace after war, engaged in dialogue and understanding before the eruption of conflict. at this point, i deem it necessary to recognize the role
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in achieving this agreement. where necessary we move forward and where necessary we showed the courage for flexibility. and at each point we made use of the full capacity of international law and showcased the potentials of constructive dialogue. the key point regarding the success of dialogue is the fact that any actor in the international system who pursues maximalist demands and does not allow space for the other side cannot speak of peace, stability and development.
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as in commerce and economic activity, where the interests of both parties should be taken into account, in politics and international relations as well multilateralism and win-win solutions should be the basis of engagement. mr. president, the united nations was established to sustain global peace and security after two world wars. but unfortunately, it must be said that in most cases this important international institution has not been successful or effective. this time, however, the united nations made the right decision. though we protest the adoption of unfair resolutions against the islamic republic of iran and the imposition of sanctions against the iranian nation and government as a result of misunderstandings and sometimes
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overt hostilities of some countries, however, we believe, as an old iranian saying goes, the sooner you stop harm, the more benefit you will reap. today is the very day that harm is stopped. security council resolution 2231, despite some significant shortcomings, was an important development and the basis for terminating sanctions imposing resolutions against iran. we consider as unfair the conduct of the security council in the past and insist that iran, due to the important fatwa of its leader and its defense doctrine, has never had the intention of producing a nuclear weapon and, therefore, sanctions resolutions against iran were unjust and illegal. sanctions by the security
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council and unilateral sanctions by some countries were based on illusive and baseless allegations and created difficult conditions for our people. but these sanctions never in any way affected the policy we adopted and the approach we took towards negotiations. we proved in these negotiations that there is nothing on iran's table other than logic, reason and ethics, and where necessary, legitimate and decisive self-defense against any kind of aggression. for which ultimately the united states of america was prompted and forced to set aside pressure
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and sanctions and choose the table of negotiations and discussions. our seven countries and the european union expended considerable time and diplomatic capital in these negotiations and, therefore, they should exert their utmost effort to protect and implement the agreement. we deem the compliance of all parties with their commitments as the fundamental factor in the success of the implementation process of the negotiations. parallel to the implementation of the jcpoa, we also expect the nuclear-weapon states to take necessary steps to fulfill their commitment of full nuclear disarmament based on article 6 of the non-proliferation treaty. furthermore, we expect them to play a positive role in the creation of a nuclear weapons-free middle east and not
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to allow the zionist regime to remain the only impediment in the way of realizing this important initiative. mr. president, the nuclear deal, which is a brilliant example of victory over war, has managed to disburse the clouds of hostility and perhaps even the specter of another war and extensive tensions from the middle east. the deal can and should herald a new era and lead to positive outcomes regarding the establishment of sustainable peace and stability in the region. from our point of view, the agreed-upon deal is not the final objective but a development which can and should be the basis of further achievements to come. considering the fact that this deal has created an objective
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basis and set an appropriate model, it can serve as a basis for foundational change in the region. our policy is to continue our peace-seeking efforts in the region based on the same win-win principle, and act in a way that would lead to all in the region and world benefitting from these new conditions. this opportunity can be seized in order to look to the future and avoid focusing on the past and rebuild our relationships with the countries in the region, particularly with our neighbors, based on mutual respect and our common and collective interests. unfortunately, the middle east and north africa has turned into one of the world's most turbulent regions.
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with the continuation and intensification of the current condition, the turmoil can spread to other parts of the world. in today's interconnected and borderless world, countries and regions encounter great difficulty in protecting their borders and preventing the spread of insecurity and instability. the gravest and most important threat to the world today is for terrorist organizations to become terrorist states. ..
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and insuring that arms do not dictate the course of events in the region. as we aided the establishment of democracy in iraq and afghanistan, we are prepared to help bring about democracy in syria as well as yemen. we support the consolidation of power through the vote of people rather than with arms. we defend the rule of the majority that respect the rights of minorities. today iran, while safeguarding
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its historic and cultural heritage is looking to the future. not the distant future but the near future with a bright outlook for cooperation and coexistence. i say to all nations and all governments that we will not forget the past but we do not wish to live in the past. we will not forget war and sanctions but we look to peace and development. through the joint comprehensive plan of action we were not solely seeking a nuclear deal. we want to suggest a new and constructive way to recreate the international order, an order based on mutual respect, non-intervention in the internal affairs of others as well as unsustained cooperation and coexistence between the members
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of the united nations. in order to build a peaceful future we must learn our lessons from the bitter lessons, from the bitter past. we know the only way to perpetuate peace through development. peace without development is merely a recess while resentment and suspicion builds. however peace alongside development lets anger and resentment dissipate and be replaced with hope and respect for others. we have repeatedly said, that the only way to uproot terrorism in the middle east is by targeting its underlying social, economic, and cultural causes. economic interactions may bring about lasting security and transform the region into a haven for peace and development.
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after the joint comprehensive plan of action iran will stand ready to show practical path to security and stability is through the development that comes with economic engagement. iran with all its economic and cultural potential is well-positioned to become a hub for export-oriented investment. iran is also eager to show that we can all choose a lasting peace based on development and shared interests, that will lead to a sustainable security rather than a volatile peace based on threats. we hope to engage with our neighbors in a wide range of social and economic cooperation, which will enable the achievement of political understanding and for even fast, and even foster structural
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security cooperation. in the international system today, mutual economic ties are deemed the foremost factors in facilitating political cooperation and reducing security-related challenges. mr. president, in 2013 from this very stage i called for combating violence and extreme ism. consequently, you, the representatives of the international community unanimously gave it a seal of endorsement and hens the wave resolution came to be. the implementation of wave requires well-intentioned solutions and the use of experiences gained in the realm of diplomacy. i am pleased by placing together the support for the joint comprehensive plan of action with the invaluable support for
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wave we may now devise a plan to solve the problems of a shattered middle east under the cause of brutality and savagery. with a view to fighting ignorance, dictatorship, poverty, corruption, terrorism, violence and the social, political, cultural and economic secure impacts i would like to invite the whole world and especially the countries of my region to form a joint comprehensive plan of action to create a united front against extremism and violence. this front must create a collective and global movement to tackle regional problems in a serious manner through dialogue. prevent the slaughter of innocent people and the bombardment of civil and -- as well as the kill of other human.
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cooperation with established central governments to maintain stability and once stability is established, build diplomacy and democratic governance in the middle east region. ladies and gentlemen, iraq, syria, and yemen are all examples of crises being stoked through terror, extremism, violence, bloodshed, invasion and the indifference of the international community. they are similar examples displaying cases of displacement, homelessness and fleeing from the horrors of war and bombardments. their problems have persisted because the international community has failed them and because of incorrect actions to newcomers from the region and naive transregional actors. consequently the wave of
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destruction has gone beyond the arab world and reached the gates of europe and the united states and resulted in the destruction of relics of civility and precious works of ancient civilizations and more broadly resulted in the death of humanity itself. we must not forget that the roots of today's wars and destruction and terror can be found in occupation, invasion and military intervention of yesterday. if we did not have the u.s. military invasion of afghanistan and iraq, and the u.s.'s united states unwarranted support for the inhumane actions of the zionist regime against the oppressed nation of palestine today the terrorists would not have an excuse for the justification of their crimes. it is urgent for the united states government instead of explaining the truth of the
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region and throwing about baseless accusations and pursue ing other dangerous policies in defense of its regional allies who only cultivate the seeds of division and extremism, this must be brought to an end and its actions must be made compatible with the realities of region. mr. president, despite many problems in our region today we believe in a promising future. we have no doubt we can overcome obstacles by wisdom and prudence and as well as bit use of new and powerful capacities and by relying upon our civilizational roots and our serious resolve. we in light of divine revelation have faith in humanity's bright future in which people live in peace, tranquility, and spirituality. we believe in the will of nations to pick the path of
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goodness and purity. we believe that ultimate victory will be won by those with good-natured piety. thank you all for your attention. [applause] >> israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu addresses united nations general assembly this morning. you can see his remarks later in the day on the c-span networks as well as other speeches by world leaders at the u.n. on our website, c-span.org. greek prime minister alexis tsipras will also addressed united nations general assembly today. he is expected to discuss the economic situation in greece and the syrian refugee crisis in
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europe. follow our coverage of the u.n. speeches anytime on c-span.org. >> joining us from capitol hill is congressman daniel webster, republican from florida and a candidate for speaker of the house. congressman, thanks very much for being with us. >> great to be on. >> you told "the tampa bay times" you are running hard so how is the campaign going? >> well, you know i think, i've been in a few leadership races in my life and i usually, one-on-one, either phone calls or more importantly, face-to-face and i just, i call myself a plodder. i take everything as it comes. so we're just working our way through the conference. hopefully we'll be able to have good success. >> speaker boehner announcing elections take place on october the 8th. are you satisfied with that date? >> yes. i am happy that we're going to get the opportunity to share why
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i'm running and that is, and that is going to move some of those things up. people will be a little more inquisitive right now and i'm running because i want to have a principled based, member-driven congress. i don't think we have one now. i think we have that based on power. i saw that in florida legislature before i became speaker and i turned those things upside down and made a principle-based house of representatives and it worked. i would like to do the same here. >> based on the power of whom? >> the power of a few. a few people at the top of a pyramid of power usually make all the decisions. they dictate what bills come up. even in a lot of ways, even, if you amend them or debate them, whatever it is. and that's a power-based system. what i want to do is push down that pyramid of power, spread out the base so that every member has the chance to be successful. and, that empowers the general membership and it empowers committees and empowers individuals so that the policy
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that we make is, is good policy because it has been vetted by some people. the second is, that the most important part of doing it, you have to take up the most important issues first. because the way power works, they hold everything until the end and you run into this sort of exponential train wreck, there is only one solution and because you have those one solutions right at the end, it kind of either have to vote yes or no and we're not solving anything. ie, crs in the florida legislature, that they used to hold the budget and major bills so forth until after midnight on the last day of session. and then, people just wanted to go home. so they voted, you know for them. a lot of times debate on multiple issues of hundreds and hundreds of pages of bills would be in a 10 or 15-minute pert, done. i reversed that. i began taking up the most important issues first and saved
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bridge namings and road namings until the end. and it makes the opportunity to negotiate, to talk about, to keep everybody on the even playing field, including the governor or a president in this case or in the senate. and unintended consequences, our poll numbers which were no better than the house poll numbers that we have right now in the teens as far as favorability, turned right side up. >> congressman webster let me follow up on earlier point standing firm on principle because from your standpoint is there room for compromise with those in your own party and with your colleagues from the other side of the aisle? can you do beth? >> yes. but what i can tell you power and principle can not could exist. it can't. you either base things on the principle that everyone's vote is important, or you let a group of people make all of the
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decisions for the members and they're required to stay whatever it is comes from the top down. so if you were to talk to people that were of the democrat side or the republican side, they would tell you, it was a great system, including deb debbie wasserman-schultz was there and bill posey, one a conservative, one pretty liberal, yet they both liked the way it worked. >> in his appearance on cbs's "face the nation, speaker boehner warned about false prophets within his own party. do you think he was referring to you? >> i don't think so. this is not a personality issue. this is a, this is a process issue. this is a philosophical issue based on whether or not you will operate the house of representatives on principle or power. so, he was talking about them making promises they can't fulfill because they would be working on issues or putting on
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amendments that we would force the senate to take or so forth. that is not what this is. this is about a process that keeps us out of those situations so we don't have exponential train wreck at the end of a appropriations process or end of the reauthorization of a bill, or running out of money and having to raise the debt ceiling, all those things. those should be done up front early on and options are far, far greater and the opportunity to work out differences between us, the senate and the president are much higher. >> based on news accounts and some might call conventional wisdom leader mccarthy is favored to be the next speaker of the house. i imagine you want to dispute that? >> i would say he should be favored. he certainly had a position and certainly accepted by the membership but i will tell you, i'mly one having experience having a principle-based legislative body. and if the membership want to stay with the power-based system
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they can certainly do that but my discussion or my campaign is not against an individual. my campaign is against process which power or principle controls. i'm for principle. others are for power. to me they can not coexist. >> with a week before the house republican conference meets, how do you campaign for speaker? what is your personal process? >> oh, well, one is the best, sometimes phone calls but i what i have just explained to you, is something that takes a while to explain to each member. it would be foreign to most members except those that served with me in the florida legislature. therefore, i, it takes a while to do that. so face-to-face is the best. >> congressman daniel webster is a republican from florida. he also running for speaker of the house. joining us on capitol hill. congressman, thank you for your time. >> great to be on.
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>> sunday on "q&a" -- >> the supreme court is about more than just its opinions. to understand it fully you need to know about the justice's backgrounds, their personalities, their foibles, personal dynamics and with each other and with their clerks. >> national law journal's supreme court correspondent and author of come pan book to c-span's upcoming series, landmark cases, tony mauro on cases featured in the series. that is sunday night at 8:00 eastern and pacific on "q&a." c-span debuts the new cases, landmark decisions. we look at the real story behind the famous marbury versus madison case, delving into the heated political battles between outgoing president john adams, the now president, thomas jefferson and the chief justice, john marshall.
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>> marshall established the court as terpter of the constitution. in his famous decision he wrote marbury versus madison. >> marbury versus madison is probably the most famous court this court ever decided. >> joining the discussion, yale law school professor akil. marr and cliff sown. exploreing supreme court landmark rulings and exmoring the justices involved in the cases. landmark cases premiers life monday 9:00 p.m. eastern. on c-span3 and c-span radio. for background on each case while you watch, order copy of landmark cases companion book, available for 8.95 plus shipping. at c-span.org/landmarkcases. >> foreign relations committee chair bob corker and national security advisor ben rhodes on
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russia involvement in syria and iran nuclear agreement and u.s.-russian relations this ask part of the aspen institute 7th annual washington ideas forum. it is 35 minutes. >> good morning. it is my honor to be here to talk to the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, bob corker of texas -- >> tennessee. >> tennessee, sorry. >> we all know texas would not exist without tennessee. >> that's right. hence my confusion. >> there you to. >> architect of the iran nuclear review agreement act. we want to talk about that and first touch on some hot spots, and i think we have to start with the situation in syria. we heard president obama at the u.n. this week talk about a managed transition for the assad regime in syria, very different tone than he has taken previously when he said assad
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had to go. is there shift in u.s. policy? if so, does it strike you as a smart thing for the united states to do to accept assad as leader of syria because of the battle against isis? >> well, i don't think there is any question but there continues to be evolution. you know, assad is the singular pull for isis in the region. to consider you will trial to deal with isis and leave assad in place is something that creates quite a conflict, if you will of goals. if you look at what's happening there we had a hearing yesterday and all of us seen the tragedy what occurred in many ways. we are reaping what we sewed as we were talking backstage. -- sowed. during the yugoslav 10-year episode, 140 people were killed, 400:00:00 people were displaced. we've blown by the numbers in
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very short time in syria where at least 240,000 people are dead and 11 million people displaced much. so this is a human tragedy of epic proportions, the biggest since world war ii. and obviously we missed opportunities when it was evidence we could make a difference relative to what's happened on the ground. we missed those opportunities particularly in august and september of 2013 t was bipartisan sane support for 10-hour operation. 10-hour operation, no boots on the ground, no flights over syria, that could have really changed the the momentum at a te when we did have a moderate opposition that existed. after that there were opportunities for to us do some things to support them in appropriate way. you remember the gentleman named general idris we never supported. there have been decision memos after decision memos on
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thest's desk to deal with air exclusion zone on border of turkey which would have served two purposes. that is to seal the border of turkey. people are flying into istanbul and making their way into turkey, down into syria and iraq. we could have sealed the border and at the same time provide ad place for humanitarian aid to be given inside of the country. so as we continue to miss opportunity, after opportunity, after opportunity, no doubt things are evolving. one thing you have to say about putin, is knowing that he will get no pushback continues to thrust out. we visit people in the region, susan, all the time, and they recite conversations they have one-on-one with him and they ask him why he has been so overt in his foreign policy with so many domestic issues within the country, within his own country and he sees no pushback, no price to pay. as a matter of fact, what it's
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doing is raising his popularity within the country, as they see russia coming back into greatness from their own prespective. that is continuing right now on the ground. it is continuing in the air in syria, and we continue to let things evolve and take their own course, yes, things are changing. i don't know where this goes with russia and with iran but, it is evident we're at least open to discussing the future with them. >> thinking about the changing role of russia, reports just this morning that russian warplanes have begun bombing targets in syria. should we have any u.s. pushback to that? should we view that as good thing, helpful thing? >> we received earlier reporting this morning. i don't know if it is true or not but we have received reporting that even instead of just targeting isis, we've received reports, some people in the audience can verify whether this is true or not, they're even hitting rebel camps, in
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other words not people affiliated with isis. so, look, i obviously things have to be deconflicted. i'm still hopeful, i'm still hopeful, somehow or another, us and other western friends and sunni allies in the region will do something to create areas within syria, where humanitarian aid can be given and where you can begin to coalesce, taking back of territory by those people that are not extreme. but, i see as things evolve it is unlikely the administration is going to take steps to do that. >> you know critics say president obama mishandled the situation in syria from the start. defenders of the president say, an impossible situation destined to degenerate, not something, under the u.s. control. where do you, what do you view of that? >> you know, i look at, i mean i read those story this is morning
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and i know there's, look, i mean there is always divergence of opinion on this i still believe during that time frame in august, september of 2013, where there was moment, an opportunity during a 10-hour operation, again i want to make sure people understand that, to really degrade his ability to deliver chemical weapons from the air. by the way, which would have helped degrade his ability to deliver the barrel bombs that are being delivered now. but there was a moment where there was some momentum, momentum by the free syrian army. and it was real. and, i don't think anybody would debate that. it was real. so by us not the taking that action, they lost, i mean it took the wind out of their sails. we didn't pushback obviously figuratively. we jumped in putin's lap to deal with the chemical weapons issue. if you listen to the
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administration now they talk about the fact we have done away with all declared weapons. obviously assad has not declared all. we know he is using chemical weapons now against his own citizens. i think that was the biggest moment of opportunity. i think it was mishandled. in fairness, our friend in europe mishandled it also. british parliament as you remember, cameron took it to them. they pushed back. i think that created some consternation on behalf of the president and administration but you know, again the west, otherfriend in europe and ourselves, let's face it, at a time when we could have taken some action that would have made a difference, in my opinion and in most people's opinion, we didn't. but also i say something else that has really been damaging, we lost so much credibility. i'm in the region constantly. it hurt us significantly as far as people believing they could
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rely on what we as a country say. i have stood with the president. i believe when the president says that there's a red line on behalf of our nation, it is something, whether you're republican or democrat, you should stand behind. i did it in committee. we passed an authorization for the use of military force during a recess period. we came back, i think a high moment of the foreign relations committee, and we didn't take those steps. >> one of the terrible consequences of the turmoil in syria is this flood of refugees we see in europe. given our role in the world, and also our role in this particular conflict, does united states have obligation to do more to address this crisis, not only including sending money and aid, but also in accepting a significantly increased pflum per of syrian refugees? >> look, we are certainly largest contributor of aid and i think people understand that.
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the countries all together in europe just surpassed us. as a country we're largest contributor. we're largest taker of refugees each year. we take in 70,000 each year. what the administration proposed we take in 85,000 instead of 70. the next year we take in 100 instead 85. my congress will look at that, assuming we feel like vetting can take place in an appropriate way, the likelihood is it will be supported but, it really is almost a facade. sympathy about it, 11 misdemeanor people are displaced. millions of people flooding into europe. we're not dealing with people you're seeing on tv screens. i think people should understand this is huge disconnect. it takes us 18 months to two years to actually vet people and bring them in. the amount of syrians that will be part of that 85,000 number is
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like 2500. it is very small number. but so at the end of the day you would think that we and others would want to do, these syrians are people just like you and i. they want to save their families in dignity. we want to dial with the root cause. instead of this pittance that is occurring. people may have been brought in. you would think we would want to deal with the root cause on the ground. that is why it is even more troubling when you see russia saying they will support assad. when you say iran, when you see iran immediately after the nuclear deal announcing that no foreign entity will come in and change the dynamic on the ground, when you know he is the root cause of all of this occurring. that he is the one that today, while we sit here in his own
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prison camps is torturing people in manners i stopped saying in public because it is so grotesque. these are the kind of things that took place a thousand years ago yet he is inflicting that today as we sit here in this nice theater, he is doing that. so i would hope our efforts would be more towards dealing with syria in such a fashion that syrians can live in their own country. >> let's talk briefly about afghanistan. in recent days the taliban captured control of a provincial capital in the north. it is their biggest military victory in a decade. we have u.s. warplanes bombarding taliban positions. does this mean the united states should reconsider the plan to withdraw most of u.s. forces from afghanistan by the end of next year, given lessons of iraq? will it be necessary for us to make longer term commitment of a significant number of u.s. forces there? >> certainly this was a major
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change on the ground. we haven't had this type of activity in a long time in grand fan. certainly the military folks on the ground understand if we take it down to 3 or 4,000 troops, all they are really doing, we understand the military has a huge footprint when people are there thankfully. they're there to protect their own people. when we send people overseas we have the ability to protect them, care for them if they have injuries, all that takes a big foot print. if you take it down to 3 or 4,000 which is contemplated all really doing there is protecting yourself. we have to think that. obviously turn of events on the ground being gained by the taliban is obviously hugely disappointing but i think, you know, we have to rethink it as we see the momentum taking place
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on the ground. >> all the money we invested there, all human resources all casualties u.s. force have taken in afghanistan how does anything change so when we look forward, presumably one day we do withdraw. >> yeah. >> how do we make things different there? >> look, i visited where we've been training afghans. same thing in iraq. and, look, i'll tell you, it's pretty, when you look at the caliber of people that we're training and their allegiance to really deal with the issues, it's pretty disheartening to see the amount of dollars spent in those type of training operations and when you see sometimes we care more about what happens relative to, you know, things on the ground than they do, that is very disheartening. colin powell the statement if you break it you own it. he will be here later. our nation and others learned a
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great deal from there but i think theres is also something to be learned from breaking it and leaving it which is what the administration did in libya. so we've got to see we're in it. obviously the footprint is majorly different. the casualties to a very small degree being taken on right now and i think a little bit more patience and persistence is warranted with the changes taking place. >> you did the i'm possible. you negotiate ad bipartisan bill got through the senate in veto-proof numbers to provide for congressional review of the iran nuclear deal. in the end, you supported a resolution of disapproval. unable to get a vote on that because democrats filibustered it. looking back did you achieve what you hoped to achieve when you devised at that bill? >> so, you have to remember when we devised built, some of us had
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no idea, some people already made up their minds, most of us who negotiated the bill had no idea what the agreement was going to say. if you look where we've been in the united states, the executive branch has really consumed power away from the ledgetive branch. and most people, you know, this has eroded over time. yes, it was effort to bring power back. the president decided he would negotiate a executive treatment. for those of you who don't do this on daily basis, what that means is, he can decide and it doesn't have the force of power after leaves. but that is the way most presidents are doing things to keep from coming to congress. there is a second step a congressional executive agreement which become as law. the strongest is a treaty. many presidents are moving away from those types of agreements n this case the president as you know was going to go straight to the u.n. security council without congressional approval
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because congress had played such a role in bringing iran to the table. we passed four tranches of sanctions that many people believe were the most crippling sanctions. so because we had played that role, i was able to convince, thankfully, people on the other side of the aisle, that it was appropriate that the before those sanctions were relieved, even though he had a national security waiver and he planned to use it when he went to the u.n. security council, that it was appropriate for us to be able to at least have a a vote of approval or disapproval. see the agreement, how classified annexes let it lay before congress. yes, we achieved a step in the legislative branch beginning to take back power. the american people understand this agreement probably more than any agreement that has taken place in modern times. 21% of the people in our country approve of it per pew, but the fact is we understand it.
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i know it's a long-winded answer and i apologize but now the agreement is obviously going to take place. the other pieces of this, it gives congress a role in oversight. if you look what happened in north korea, a deal was done. nobody paid any attention. they have nuclear weapons. this agreement gives us, first of all the president had to certify every 90 days iran is in compliance. there is whole host of documents given to us on six-month basis. it keeps us in this if you will in oversight capacity for some period of time forever. >> unfortunately we're out of time. senator bob corker. thank you for joining us. >> thank you very much. note note -- note ♪ >> national security advisor ben rhodes and "the atlantic"
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justin rosenberg. >> good morning everyone. ben, i've always wanted to get you on the couch, actually, if you want to lie down we can psychoanalyze obama's foreign policy instead of analyzing. >> instead of -- >> exactly. thank you for doing this. i would love to get up to 30,000 feet as quickly as possible but we have to talk about the news of the morning and the previous week. russia is apparently now engaged in airstrikes what it says are isis targets. in the last week we've seen russia form an alliance with our punitive alley iraq, our punitive adversary iran, our target syria. there is feeling in republican circles and a lot of foreign policy elite circles in washington, putin is the activist in the middle east. that your boss is withdrawing us
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quickly as he can possibly with dire consequences. tell us the thinking in the white house right now what you're doing and more to the point what you're not doing. >> first of all with respect to what russia is doing, they're not forming anything new in terms of an alliance. they had decades-long relationship with the government of syria. they have had a long-standing relationship with the government of iran. those are their partners in the region. the fact of the matter is it's their former client assad who has been seeing his state authority collapse around him for years and russia has been supporting him. so what we're really seeing of escalation what russia was already doing providing military support to assad. we've said and the president met with president putin that the notion that russia would want to go after isil is something that we could work with. any nation that wants to join with a coalition going after isil i think would be welcome if
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those actions are constructive. the main determining factor for russia they understand that, parallel to any kind of terrorism efforts, there has to be political resolution to the conflict in syria. otherwise fighting is not going to stop. you can not make the 2/3 of that country who are sunni who will never accept legitimacy of bashar al-assad whether isil or not, accept an outcome which he is still the leader of country. which leads quickly to the second part of you question. what president obama has been very deliberate about in the middle east is we will have to protect our core interests. that means denying terrorist safe haven. that means protecting our allies and partners. but, we have to recognize there are not military solutions, certainly not u.s. imposed military solutions or russian imposed military solutions on these problems. >> isn't one u.s. core not to allow russia to build bases on
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syria's flank which what they're doing now? >> they had a base in syria. this is not new. everybody is looking at putin if this is some offensive manuever. again they have had bases in syria for a very long time. this is their principle client state in the arab world. it has been collapsing. he is trying to prop it up. that is hardly someone who in a strong position. by the way same thing he is facing in ukraine. they had a client in yanukovych, that collapsed out of hollow rot of corruption. now they're trying to grab a piece of ukraine and ukranian people are rejecting them. this is not someone operating from a position of strength. this is someone seeing two of his principle partners in the world in a lot of trouble. ukraine already shifted. >> why is it being interpreted as we're on the back foot a little bit rather than russia and this alliance that its built? >> well, again i would rather be us than russia. our economy is growing. we are expanding our footprint
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in the world, reaching into places like asia and africa and the americas in new ways. russia's economy is contracting. it is hollowing out in many ways. reason why, for too long the way in which foreign policy issues are viewed in this city frankly, number one, you show strength through shows of military force. if you're not assuming military vacuums with military power we're not serious of the fact the matter we do not think it is good in terms of resource allocation and risk to the troops we don't think there is military solution that could be imposed on syria. you could put u.s. troops on the ground in syria -- >> you would want risch that to win against isil. >> we would like the world to win against isil. who wouldn't? as a matter of fact united states has a very broad set of interests. everybody focuses like a laser on the middle east. we spend more time on the middle east than any other
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region but we can not continue to be in a cycle, all of our resource allocation, all of our attention is to try to fix fundamentally broken societies in the middle east where you have a big world out there with enormous interests. asia-pacific largest emerging market to the world that will matter a lot more to the american people in the 21st century than the middle east is. we have grave threats emanating from the middle east that have to be dealt with, i don't want to minimize that but again there is certain mentality sees every problem in the middle east. every problem is a nail and we only have a hammer. the fact of the matter military has to be a part of that. >> do you think we're paying a price for inaction going back to the beginning of syrian civil war, 2011 and 2012, when isis was not the group they are today, predecessor groups of isil were not what they are? >> the fact the matter every
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time president looked at this, we looked at this repeatedly we did not see a viable military option that could resolve the situation in syria. and so, yes you could have taken action earlier but that doesn't mean that you wouldn't have the same fundamental conflicts inside of syria where you have essentially a sectarian war taking place. alawhite minority, sunni majority. other minority populations concerned about their position. you have external actors who are arming proxies in the country. the notion that airstrikes or support to one opposition group was going to eliminate those factors i don't think is born out by the reality in the middle east. the fact what we always stressed to all of our partners including inside of syria, there has to be political accommodation, without that political accommodation inside the country -- >> you would rather have assad stay in power than isis march into damascus? >> we obviously think isil marching into damascus --
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>> can we agree with we call the group? we're never going to do that. >> we call it daesh. everybody is more comfortable with that on common ground. the point we made on assad he is initiator of this conflict. you know he is one who started dropping barrel bombs brutalizing his people. >> with a lot of help from sponsor iran. >> with his blood and iran principle sponsor of hezbollah. the fact of the matter is, it is not just a matter we object to him because of our values which we certainly do, the fact that from a realist perspective, how will you restore stability with the guy who has lost control of his country because his people rejected him? if isil has benefited from his actions. one very interesting thing by the way, assad really has not gone after isil. he is preferred to just brutalize the broader sunni population and go after other opposition groups.
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>> his best interests to have radical islamists -- >> this kind of nihilism we see in parts of syria, clearly assad's actions have been a magnet for foreign fighters, for jihadist, violent jihadists from across the region to come there. our message is, look, there is no outcome that is truly stable if he is still in charge of the country. now we've said that can be a managed process. they want to negotiate something, it would have to be implemented over period of time, but ott come of that process have to be different leadership. >> i have two quick putin questions. the first is, how important does president obama think putin is in the world? second, how much does president obama not like putin? [laughter] if there is a scale, like french president and net yaw high, putin, what is on the, like, the pope? the pope to putin where do they fall in this kind of spectrum? >> i don't think there is any
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way i can answer that. >> i think you should try. they're not here. >> can we put pope at the top? >> yes. extremely controversial statement. >> so, look, in terms of their personal relationship you know, he is what you see. when they sit down together they talk on the phone, it is not like they're, getting into arguments. they're disagreeing with one another. they're having straightforward conversations about how they differ. in terms of his role in the world -- >> i ask that in many ways obama is the first cold war president. i'm asking how he views russia as a threat? >> i think when russia works with us on international problems it's easier to resolve them. so, for instance, russia worked with us on the iran deal. they were basically in lockstep
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with us throughout the negotiations except for one or two issues. at that was enormously helpful accomplishing what we believe is very successful deal that prevents iran from getting nuclear weapons. on syria russia has not worked with us and it has been more difficult to resolve that challenge because of influence they have over assad who has been their longstanding client in many ways. so i think the way the president views this is, if russia, this is what his speech was about, the more russia invests itself in essentially an international system that works and they can resolve problems the easier it is for us to advance our interests particularly in areas where we overlap with the russians. in terms of the threat they impose, there is no risk, like i said this is not a country that is resurgent, that will take over vast spheres of influence. the places they're operating are the places where, i mean, the notion that russia is having to
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try to assert itself in eastern ukraine having completely lost the hearts and minds of people in the rest of the country who want to orient into europe is not an offensive manuever in the strategic context. what it is, is violation of international law. the threat that the president sees in, putin pushing these boundries is undermining the rulings that govern international, the international system. so if he bets away with that, ukraine without paying a price, other people look at that they think i can do that too. things we're doing in ukraine, sanctions we're imposing having a significant impact on them, obviously help resolve the situations so the ukrainian people can determine their own future. two, to buttress the international system and not let those types of actions go without consequences. one thing i was struck by, jeff, last week, just mass focus on putin which i completely understand given what he is
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doing. but president xi jinping came to washington too. china will play more significant role in 21st century. russia and middle east are kind of touchstones for our foreign policy for some years that is often where the attention is. we think that is incredibly important but we think there is a big world out there. >> i want to keep pressing. we're limited in time. you give me a way to transit to broader question. we're coming to the end of the obama presidency. we're beginning to see patterns in what you might call an obama doctrine or obama doctrines. obviously to your critics the obama doctrine is about, aversion to the use of force which are from the middle east, things like that. from your perspective, and i asked you as the sort of the leader inside of the white house of the opening to cuba, talk about, if you can just for a minute, sort of white house
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approach to this idea that you take one of the goals of this administration is to take adversaries and neutralize them as adversaries. if you had to name the obama doctrine, would that be it. is there something else you also want to -- >> again, what i think, if you were to look at the totality of what we're doing, it is about positioning the united states to be a leader going forward in the 21st century. that may sound trite to fill that in though, what that means, number one, that we're rebuilding the strength much our own foundation, of our economy. number two, we're extricating ourselves from the enormous allocations of resources when we took office in iraq and afghanistan. 150,000 troops spending a trillion dollars. so we're husbanding resources for the united states to sick seed. number three, that we are using
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diplomacy, to neutralize potential conflicts with iran. we successfully prevented them from getting nuclear weapon and avoided potentially costly war in the middle east. >> hugely to extricate yourself from middle east. one could argue we left iraq too early and bad actors filled the void. as the president learned you can't get out? it is corleone rule, you can't leave no matter what you try to do? >> one could argue going into iraq, invading that country and eliminating the apparatus of the state and created initial vacuum that we're still dealing with. >> but that already happened. every president inherits bad -- >> this was particularly big pile but, but the, the point i make here is, an agency assigned to the united states in these matters that we have to be realistic about. you know, 10,000 troops in iraq,
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which is what the potential option was on the table, with no legal protections because iraqi government wasn't going to support it. the notion that would have made all the people in iraq get along and not have sectarian conflicts and not have isil emerge out of ashes of al qaeda in iraq, which basically is the same organization? what would those 10,000 troops, how would they have made the iraqi people resolve their differences? how would we have made neural maliki sectarian leader and who would they have made as saud not attack his people. certain number about of troops somehow those places are going to be stable? that is just not the nature of the lessons that we take a way from the last decade. fact the matter, it is not about extricating. we'll have interests. we'll have to deny terrorists safe haven.
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we'll have to train better partners to do that on the ground with us. but again, if all the united states is doing in our foreign policy is perpetually -- the obama doctrine to detractors is often, whatever the worst place is in the world is that day is our foreign policy. we did it. not bashar al-assad. somehow our agency. fact of the matter it es very difficult and complicated world right now and we're flapping very difficult challenges in the middle east. by the way i think it will be that way for a long time in the middle east because the structures there, don't make sense to the modern world. in a lot of states. and we can not allow that to deter us from the fourth point i was going to make which is, we need to refocus on other areas of the world as well. the asia-pacific where we have enormous economic interests that dwarf anything in the middle east. latin america and africa, these are emerging receipts r regions. this is front line of democracy
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where we're trying to consolidate democratic process. these are -- >> if president decided all you can do in the middle east is disaster mitigation an asia is the where positive opportunity lie for america in the future? >> well, i think we certainly have to mitigate the threats in the middle east. we have, you know, affirmative interests there. we have partners there we would like to see stronger. israel first and foremost. we would like to see a resolution to the underlying conflicts that are taking place in the middle east which are sectarian and political as much as they are rooted in terrorist activity but i do think that there is a certain component of american policy that will have to be mitigation. we tried the affirmative project of building democracy there. the fact of the matter is, we can not determine for people by force, how their societies will be organized we provide
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incentives and disincentives for people to pursue models which there is political accommodation and stability. notice we realize that, we'll find ourselves repeating a lot errors that will be very costly. >> ben, thank you very much for doing this we appreciate it. [applause] ♪ >> studentcam is c-span's annual documentary for students in grades six through 12. it is an opportunity for students to think critically of issues of national importance by creating a five to seven-minute documentary in which they can express those views. it is important for student to get involved because it gives them the opportunity and a platform to have their voices heard on issues that are important to them so at the can express those views by creating a documentary. we do get a wide range of entries. the most important aspect for every documentary that we get is
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going to be content. we have had winners in the past created by just using a cell phone. we have others that are created using more high-tech equipment but once again, really content that matters and shines through in these documentaries. the response from students in the past has been great. we had many different issues they created videos on important to them. we have topics ranging from education, the economy and the environment, really showing a wide variety of issues that are important for students. >> having more water in the river would have many positive impacts to serve the tulsa community and businesses inside it. >> with the cork not run with the oil we definitely come to consensus that humans can not run without food. >> prior to the individuals with disabilities education act, or the idea, children with disabilities were not given to an opportunity of education. >> this year's theme is road to the white house. what is the most important issue you want for candidates to
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discuss in the 2016 presidential campaign. it is full on into the campaign season. there are many different candidates discussing several issues. one of the key requirements in creating documentary is to include some c-span footage. this footage should really compliment and further their point of view and not just dominate the individual grow. it is a great way for them to include more information on the video that furthers point. >> first bill i will sign today is water resources reform and development act. also don't as wrrda. >> we heard about meals in schools and burnt fish sticks and mystery meet tacos. >> there is a vital role the federal government plays. it is especially vital for students with disabilities. >> students and teachers can go to the website, studentcam.org. they will find more information about the riles and requirements.
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they will find teacher tips rubrics to help incorporate in the classroom and prizes incorporating c-span video and ways to contact is if they have further questions. deadline for this year's competition is january 20, 2016 which is one year away from the next presidential inauguration. ♪ >> first day of october and u.s. senate is about to gavel in on a rainy thursday in the nation's capitol. senators will start the day with about an hour of general speeches. after that, there will be more debate on military construction and veterans spending for next budget year which starts today. debate is expected to continue on the spending bill next week. the house is working today on a house senate compromise over defense department programs and policy for the next year. the president has said he will veto that bill how war fund can be shifted around in the pentagon's budget.
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now to live coverage of the senate. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. almighty god, as bombs fall in syria and refugees seek safety, may all who are oppressed look to you. in spite of our world's turbulence, we continue to proclaim your greatness for your sovereignty will prevail. free us from fear. answer when we call. shelter us from disappointment.
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bless our senators. lord, fill them with the spirit of your wisdom, making them equal to the challenges of this difficult season of our national and world history. open their minds to comprehend your wisdom, their ears to hear your guidance, and their hearts to obey you. lift the light of your countenance upon all who seek you, and give them your peace. we pray in your mighty name. amen.
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the president pro tempore: pleae join me in reciting the pledge f allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: with each passing day, the american people are reminded of the peril attached to the obama
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administration's inflexible determine inauguration to conduct american foreign policy based on campaign promises made back in 2008. these goals unilaterally withdrawing from iraq and afghanistan based on fixed deadlines, ending the war on terror, and some of the critical tools used to pursue al qaeda, closing the secured detention facility at guantanamo bay, withdrawing from our deployed foreign presence -- forward presence, slashing investment in our conventional armed services, and pursuing nuclear agreements with russia and iran, at any cost, have remained constant, although the world has changed right in front of our commander in chief. and yesterday we saw the obama administration threaten to veto the national defense authorization bill, which recently passed the senate by a
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large bipartisan majority of 71-25. it passed the house by a big bipartisan margin as well. this is the legislation that sets out military policy and authorizes funds for our military each year. it's always one of the most important bills we consider every year. but it's especially important right now. the number of threats currently facing us is truly staggering. the last month and week have brought glaring reminders. we're now seeing russian forces deployed in syria to preserve the assad regime. though moscow may try to call this some kind of counterterrorism campaign, let's be perfectly clear. russia's offensive is designed to protect assad's stronghold
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and military installations while driving out the opposition and compelling coordination of syrian airspace with the coalition. russia aims to forcefully insert itself into the middle of coalition operations to gain insights into the plans of the united states and, of course, to secure a seat at the table. meanwhile, our moderate syrian allies stand appalled that the united states has ceded its leadership position in the broader middle east. and i of all the promises made y this administration, withdrawing by a date certain -- and the desperate efforts of president ghani secure the gains of the coalition and his country's future. how can the administration be pondering a withdrawal of the force when the taliban's offensive persists and the
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campaign against al qaeda has not yet achieved its defeat? so many threats face us, from russia and iran to syria and isil, even china, as do so many different means of attack -- conventional, cyber, or terror -- and now the obama administration is talking about vetoing america's national defense bill. they're talking about vetoing the national defense bill, in the wake of all of this. i'll have more to say about the national defense bill in the coming days, but this is about more than one bill. it's the latest in an increasingly worrying pattern. just last week democrats voted again to block funding for our military. democrats had voted toker that military funding bill -- had voted for that military funding bill in committee. they issued press releases praising the bill they had
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supported in the appropriations committee, but then they blocked the senate from even debating it. now they appear ready to give the same treatment to our veterans. democrats voted for the veterans funding bill in committee. they issued press releases praising the bill, but now they seem prepared to block the senate from even debating this bill, too. it's all part of some half-baked democratic scheme to get more money for the i.r.s. and for washington bureaucracies. it makes no sense. it's extreme. and it needs to stop. the veterans funding bill before us would do right by the men and women who've given everything to protect us and who've suffered so much under the failings of this administration. this is the bill that supports veterans by funding the health care and benefits they are allowed. this is the bill. this is the bill that supports military families by funding the housing, schools, and health
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facilities that serve them. the veterans legislation before us provides support for women's health, for medical research, and for veterans suffering from traumtroughtraumatic brain inju. it provides funding for educational facilities at fort knox and for a special operations headquarters at fort campbell. it also contains important reforms aimed at supporting veterans in the wake of a true national disgrace: the v.a. scandal. the reforms funded in this bill will allow for greater national and regional progress in reducing v.a. claim backlogs and deploy important protections for whistle-blowers, too. look, we need to remember, we have an all-volunteer force in this country. the young men and women who sign up to defend our nation don't ask for a lot, but our nation
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certainly asks a lot of them. these heroes shouldn't have to worry that their benefits or health care or housing and support their families need might not be there. there is a long tradition in the senate of bipartisan support for our troops, our veterans, and their families we sa. we saw that on full display months ago when republicans and democrats came together in the appropriations committee to pass bipartisan legislation to fund our troops and support our veterans. we ask a lot of the men and women who serve. they don't need a bigger i.r.s. or political games like the democrats' self-described filibuster summer. they need our care and our support. it's our turn to give back to them. why don't we get back to the bipartisan tradition of supporting these bills so we can do it what we need to do for our veterans.
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mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: it is hard for me to be patient and listen to my friend, the republican leader, talk because he's talking about something that's not real. he's not talking about reality. he wants to get back to the bipartisan way of the way we used to do things. i certainly agree with him. but having looked at some 600 filibusters during the last few years conducted by my republican friends, i think that speaks volumes. to have the republican leader come to the floor and criticize obama about what's going on in the middle east, that takes a lot of gall. we all know what happened in the middle east a number of years ago that created all this problem.
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it was the first foreign policy mistake in the history of our country. invaded iraq -- for what? look what we have now in iraq. look what we have in the entire middle east. so it takes a lot of rearranging facts for the republican leader to come here every day -- most days i just sit here and listen and go on about my business, but i can't do that. it's just unfair. because everyone knows we need to look no further than president bush's invasion of iraq to find out what the real problem is in the middle east. he talks about the defense authorization bill. if it is such a great piece of legislative action, then why does all of our military think it's a bad deal? this would be as if you decided one day you're going to make your house payment, your car payment with money that doesn't
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exist. that's what they've done here. that's what the republicans have done. they have $39 billion in the defense authorization bill that doesn't exist; it's just on paper. it's a gimmick for short-term funding. and to have the audacity to come here and talk about, look at the all the threats we're having with cybersecurity, cyber threats. we've had a cyber bill that we've tried to get on this floor. the republicans blocked when they were in the minority. now when they're in the majority, they won't do a bill, period. we have an order that's before this body now that allows us to go forward on cybe cybersecurit. to have him come to this floor and complain about obama not
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doing anything about cyber ... i would suggest my friend every morning when he gets up, walk into the bathroom, put a little water on your face, wake up, and look in the mirror and then i'll talk about this a little more in a minute, but i want to start with what i have to say right now by reading a direct quote from the current house majority leader. and we're told he's going to be the next speaker of the house of representatives. listen to this one. speaking about the benghazi committee, here's what he said. congressman mccarthy told fox news, "everybody thought hillary clinton was unbeatable, right? we put together a benghazi special committee to select a, t committee. what are her numbers today? her numbers are dropping."
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i might add, the person doing the interviewing, good job. but, mr. president, there you have it. according to the odds-on favorite future speaker of the house, the benghazi special committee was put together to hurt hillary clinton politically, to make her poll numbers drop. we've been saying this all along, but we have had now a gaffe, but it wasn't a slipup. he just told the truth. this is evidence of what we have been saying. the again gasaying it is no surprise that congressman mccarthy's own completion are now back-pedaling from his comments. elections are going to be in a he caweek. they better take a look at who they are going to put in as speaker. republicans have taken a national tragedy -- four americans were killed -- and turned it into the cheapest
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political farce imaginable. this is a shaism the ver shame. the very notion that a house committee was used a as political tool is appalling. they spent almost $5 million on the select committee, dollars spent on this right-wing political hatchet job. but that's not all. in addition to this select committee, they have had six other committees investigating this. the untold millions of dollars spent on this, whose money are they spending? they're spending taxpayer dollars. we hear my friend make references to how bad it is that we're concerned about non-defense stuff. yeah, we are. we are concerned about non-defense stuff. we think that the non-defense part of this budget should also get some recognition. we're concerned about the f.b.i., the federal court system. we're concerned about the drug enforcement administration, all the immigration officials that need help. we're concerned about our
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forests which are burning down. we're concerned about the situation we have where we don't have enough money to build our highways, to repair our highways. yeah, we're concerned about that. and rightfully so. to have a secure nation is more than having a lot of boments and bullets -- bombs and bullets and airplanes, tanks and ships. it's also having a population that's educated. we sent a letter to speaker boehner asking that the benghazi select committee be disbanned, get rid of it. it's a disgrace. do the right thing, get rid of this. senate republicans are stuck in a deep rut. they've dug this hole, they're in it, don't know how to get out of it. the republican leader continues
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bringing bills to the senate floor that have no chance of passing. we have things out there we could be doing. four months ago we said to the republican leader, why don't we sit down and try to work something out on this budget long term. we've been ignored. ignored for a consensus budget framework. instead tried to move a flawed appropriation bil based on the republican' partisan budget. the senate spoke and of course the bill didn't advance. the republican leader tried to move the same measure again last week, even though the senate already rejected it. and to no one's surprise, it failed. how about this one? this year, this year we've already had eight votes on the health of american women. eight votes. everyone knows how those votes are going to turn out.
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but can't satisfy this voracious appetite the republicans have to bash women. yet, the republican leader continues to schedule votes on legislation that can't pass the senate. i think c-span now will have to have a disclaimer each time it flips up there, they'll have to say, this is not a rerun. this is the republican senate doing it again. already done it seven times but once more won't matter that much. today the republican leader wants to rerun the same show again, this time with another bill. military construction. this appropriations bill is still based on the republicans' faulty budget. the senior senator from montana, ranking member of that subcommittee, said yesterday -- and i quote -- "this bill is shackled to an unwise and unrealistic budget that locks in
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destructive sequestration cuts and vastly underfunds programs vital to this nation's security and prosperity." i'll read this again because i didn't read it right the first time. senator tester: "this bill is shackled to an unwise and unrealistic budget that locks in destructive sequestration cuts and vafort lip underfunds -- and vastly undercuts funds vital to this nation's security." that's what he said. it has no chance of getting 60 votes. none. i know that. the republican leader knows that. so why are we wasting time on votes destined to fail? because they don't want to bring real legislation to the floor. why aren't we spending our time coming to a real bipartisan solution that helps our military, helps our veterans and helps the non-defense part of our country, which is so important? the time to sit down and begin real budget negotiations was a long time ago. we'll take it now.
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i am happy to learn that the republican leader said he wants negotiations -- said this a couple days ago. he wants negotiations to begin very soon. well, isn't that nice. democrats have been waiting for four months, so let's get to it. just imagine what we could have accomplished if the republican leader took us up on our offer four months ago. the united states government wouldn't have come within hours of a shutdown. hundreds of government agencies would not have had to spend time and effort preparing for a shutdown. if you want to see how close we were to a government shutdown, take a look at what took place in the house of representatives yesterday. we passed over here a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government until december 11. it went to the house. they voted on that yesterday. three-fifths of the house republicans voted for a shutdown
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151 republicans voted against the continuing resolution. that says it all. i've reminded people before, i'll do it again, the government was shut down here a couple years ago for 17 days. we finally got it open. we passed something over here, it went to the house. two-thirds of the house of representatives, republicans in the house, voted to keep government closed. there's so many programs that are just not being taken care of. i'll talk about it, just a couple of them right now. there is something i have worked on since i came here. land and water conservation fund, the presiding officer is from nevada. he represents the northern part of the state for many years in different elective jobs. he understands and knows lake
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tahoe very well. this beautiful lake we share with california. the land and water conservation fund helped us greatly because we were able to take something out of that program and purchase land that was going to be used for a subdivision that would have allowed more filth to be able to go into lake tahoe. we were able to stop that with the money from the land and water conservation fund. the money hasn't been coming in like we wanted in the past. we beefed it up and were able to do a lot of things. but now for the first time in 50 years the program has been allowed to expire. it's gone. it is a program supported by democrats and republicans, by rural communities and urban communities. but on the republicans' watch, one of the most important programs and one of the best programs to our nation's parks and one of the most broadly supported programs in the country has been allowed to lapse. it's gone. the program is funded by a portion of fees collected from
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offshore oil and gas drilling. every day that it's not authorized we lose out on collecting $2.4 million for offshore oil and gas so it can be used for beautiful natural resources. they're in a state of disrepair. this land and water conservation fund has supported projects in every state from the grand canyon to appalachian trails to lake tahoe, to building neighborhood playgrounds in urban areas across the country. in a last-ditch effort to sway their own leadership several republicans came to the floor yesterday and tried to pass a stand-alone extension program that would be dead on arrival in the house. the fact is the republican leader refused to extend the program in the continuing resolution despite many democrats and republicans asking for it to be included. one other program: the good senator from illinois, the senior senator from illinois, assistant democratic leader, served in the house of representatives as i did with a man by the name of claude
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perkins. he was a wonderful house member. when we came there in 1982, he was a very senior person but he is responsible for something called federal -- perkins federal loan program. it wasn't reauthorized in the continuing resolution. what does that mean? as a result of that the nation's oldest student aid program expired leaving up to 150,000 students who are coming into college in the lurch. the perkins loan program offers low-interest, federally subsidized student loans for students with exceptional financial need and also offers a variety of forgiveness options who choose to pursue public service professions. last year more than $1.2 billion in new perkins loans were made to about 540,000 new and return college students around the country, including 500 lower-income students from nevada. it's hard to believe that the tea party dominated house and obviously the heavily influenced republican caucus here influenced by the tea party have
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turned a blind eye to this. it's hard to believe that the tea party dominated house of representatives passed an extension of perkins unanimously. but senate republicans would not agree to do the same. yesterday senate republicans even blocked a bid to extend the program. these are two of the programs expired at midnight last night. there's many more. it's a shame that they may not have expired at all if we had sat down and negotiated a few months ago. so i say to my friend, the republican leader, let's not waste another minute on plitically motivated -- on politically motivated votes doomed to fail. instead let's focus attention on bipartisan negotiations that will get our country on the right track. mr. president, would you announce the order of the day. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. the senate will be in a period of morning business for one hour with senators permitted to speak therein with the time equally divided with the majority
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controlling the first half and the democrats controlling the final half. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. cassidy: i wish to speak on the military construction veterans affairs appropriations bill that is now being considered, and i start by saying 3601 gershner parkway, this is the location for the new v.a. clinic, a clinic that has taken 13 years to get approved, a clinic that has seen delay after delay costing veterans access to quality health care. this, mr. president, is the picture of the current facility in lake charles where veterans have to go for their health care while they wait for over 13 years to have the new facility built. this r.v. and the small building
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is why congress must advance this milcon-v.a. appropriations bill and why the president should sign it into law. now this mobile clinic in lake charles, you almost laugh. this is the clinic for our veterans? it is one of many such clinics in the country and is unacceptable. if you will, something you would see on a documentary about developing nations, no the the the -- not the united states of america. this r.v. where veterans are treated for serious medical conditions is connected to a waiting room that is triple the size of the square footage of the mobile home. and that's because the demand for care so greatly exceeds this subpar facility's ability to deliver that health care to our veterans. and in the waiting room, there's a television set. but it's not plugged in and it doesn't have a remote. that's because v.a. rules say that you must have a tv in the
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waiting room, but the rules don't stipulate that it must function. it sounds like a joke. we have to have a television but we don't say it has to be plugged in. this is the current state of the v.a., and this is what congress is allowing when we fail to pass this needed legislation. i'd like to say that this is an isolated problem. there are veterans all over the country receiving health care under similar circumstances. for more than ten years our young men and women have returned from war in the middle east. these young veterans joining men and women who have served this nation in uniform defending our freedom every corner of the globe. they deserve better than a mobile home. they deserve action. they deserve it now. if we don't pass this bill, there will be consequences for people, america's heroes who need help now. now this is the v.a. portion, but there's also, it is the military v.a. construction budget. if we fail to act, it will not
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just be our veterans who are hurt. it will also affect our p active-duty military and our national security. now inherent that we know that there is a portion of the budget which goes for actual military, this protects our country construction. but what folks sometimes forget is that there is a human face to our military. general robin rand recently took control of global strike, a position charged with maintaining our nuclear triad and first strike capabilities. but there are those in the air force that serve with, under general rand. he needs the resources to maintain our nuclear abilities, but without this legislation, we cannot maintain his combat readiness which includes basic needs like housing for our soldiers and for educating their children. i urge my fellow senators to
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consider what is included in this legislation: family housing, schools, medical facilities for active-duty personnel and their families, and funding for the care of 6.9 million veterans. as a doctor, i am glad that we also specifically provide for ground-breaking hepatitis-c treatments and for modernizing the medical records system. the military veterans affairs appropriations bill based b wasd by a bipartisan vote of 21-9 with all republicans and five democrats voting in favor. this is common sense. congress has the duty to pass this legislation. now the president has an obstacles tobligation to sign. we must honor a commitment to our military and to our veterans. thank you, mr. president.

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