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

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quorum call:
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mr. barrasso: mr. president snr. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. brass sew: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be
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vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, last friday the obama administration released the latest numbers on unemployment and on jobs. once again, the numbers were grim. experts predicted that our economy would create 200,000 new jobs in september. instead they fell woefully short, got just 140,000 so they're about 60,000 jobs short. now, that's a big miss and it's nowhere near as many jobs as american families need right now. so here's how "investors business daily" pout -- put it in a headline monday. october, 5, yesterday. "private hiring pace is worst in three years. labor force shah -- shrinks." worst in three years. wages have gone almost nowhere in six years -- they actually declined in september. and 74 straight months with wage growth below 2 1/2%.
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before the recession, we routinely got 3% growth month after month. president obama seems to be satisfied with this limping progress. he bragged over the weekend about how many jobs have been created while he's been president. is missing expectations good enough for president obama? it's not good enough for me. it's not good enough to give the economic growth that we need in this country and that we should have coming out of a recession. one of the very big reason for this slow growth is all the regulations that this administration has piled on to the back of american families. since 2009, this administration has come out with more than 2,005 regulations. according to organizations, the cost to americans is about $680 billion. that's more than $2,100 for every man, woman and child in america right now. according to the world bank, the united states is 46th -- 46
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td -- in the -- 46th in the world in terms of how easy it is to start a business. is 46th in the world good enough? maybe good enough for president obama. i don't think it's good enough for the american people. all of these regulations, they just make it very tough for someone to start a business right now. it's also tough for existing businesses to create new jobs. last week the energy company, royal dutch sale, announced it was going to suspend drilling for oil off the coast of alaska. said one of the reasons was -- quote -- "the challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore alaska." "challenging and unpredictable." too much regulation is making it too difficult to produce the american energy that we need and to create the american jobs that we need. unelected, unaccountable
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washington bureaucrats have been having a field day at the expense of our economy. now, as the obama administration runs down, it is in a race to get even more rules on the books. just last week, the administration announced three big new regulations. on tuesday, the e.p.a. finalized a rule on oil refineries. it's going to require them to install new equipment, to spend more money on something other than creating more jobs or paying higher wages. it's estimated the rule could cost up to a billion dollars and provide very little in the way of health benefits. then on wednesday, the e.p.a. finalized more limits on coal, gas and nuclear power plants. just like tuesday's rule, this one's going to cost another half billion dollars a year. the rule sets the unacceptable amounts of some emissions at zero. finally, on thursday, the e.p.a.
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released a new limit on ozone in the air. the limit was 75 parts per billion. they cut it to 70 parts per billion. now, this is a tiny change, we're talking parts per billion, but that tiny change is going to cost more than $2 billion a year once the rule is in full effect. huge chunks of the country are going to have to adjust to meet the new standard. and the benefit is minuscule. farms and small manufacturing companies will have to buy new equipment or change the way they do things. states and cities will have to change how they do local transportation projects. all of that adds up to lost jobs and even less economic growth than we've had the past six years. huge effects all to chase another few tiny parts per billion of ozone. five parts per billion. it's the equivalent of five
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seconds over 32 years. that's how small it is. but the costs are enormous. three days last week, three new regulations that are going to cost our economy billions of dollars at a time when private hiring pace, worst in three years, labor force shrinks. we all agree that reasonable regulations make good sense. in the 1960's and 1970's, regulations helped to clean up pollution in our air and our land and in our water. but now washington bureaucrats are chasing after smaller and smaller trace amounts of chemicals no matter what the cost. how high the cost, high insignificant the benefits. e.p.a. issued one rule -- and it's hard to believe, i thought they -- this was a misprint but it's not -- they issued one rule that had about $9.6 billion per year to administer. $9.6 billion.
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what are the benefits? only $4 million. i thought they had misplaced and spelled the "b "-- b" and the "m" but no. that's as much as $2,400 in costs every $1 in benefits. i mean, how can do they do? the e.p.a. tried to say -- i'm talking about direct benefits. the e.p.a. tried to say well, there are all sorts of what they called ancillary benefits. who gets to decide how much these are worth? apparently the obama administration says that it does. it's no surprise that this administration cooks up an imaginary number for those theoretical benefits. not direct benefits but they're quoted ancillary benefits. and they say it's big enough to balance the very real cost that american families feel. it's all the way to -- it's all a way to justify these ridiculous rules that destroy jobs, restrict free doom and do very little good -- freedom and
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do very little good for americans. it is washington and this administration run amok. is the obama administration trying to make sure that our economy continues to limp along like it has for the past 6 1/2 years? is that what they want? in 172 the clean water act was meant to protect navigable waters. it was reasonable. we want to protect our navigable waters. today the administration has a new water rule. it's called waters of the united states. it's going to give washington bureaucrats control over everything from irrigation ditches to small natural ponds in someone's back sp backyard. this is unreasonable. where does it end? bipartisan majorities in the congress already say it needs to end now. i've introduced a bill that would direct the obama administration to come up with a new rule on the waters of the united states, one that protects traditional navigable water from pollution, which we must do, but it also protects farmers, ranchers, private landowners.
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we can do both. this legislation has 46 cosponsors -- democrats and republicans. we are telling the obama administration that enough is enough. republicans are also ready to take on some of these other outrageous rules, like the extreme new restrictions on power plants. that's what congress is going to be doing to stop the insanity of this out-of-control -- of these out-of-control regulations and regulators. we need to cut through the red tape. americans want to get back to work. they want to get our economy going again. congress needs to help them do it because this administration certainly is not. the obama administration basically needs to get out of the way. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from alaska.
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mr. sullivan: i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. sol mr. sullivan: i come to flor to talk about the vote we took on the defense authorization bill. i thought i'd start by backing up a little bit. last week we had the opportunity to vote on and talk about funding for our veterans and our troops. in addition to the defense authorization bill that we voted on today, to proceed to that, the votes we took last week were very important -- very important to the country, certainly very important to my state, which has a huge military presence, the great state of alaska, but also a huge veteran population. we proudly boast the highest number of veterans per capita of any state -- any state -- in the union. i'm honored to have a good friend of mine, representative bob harin,s h, he's in the gally
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today and he's also a marine. he represents not only alaska and our state government but alaska as a veteran, as a fellow marine. you know, mr. president, the american people want the senate to be working again, to be working again. we all know -- we all know that the country has huge challenges. i'm going to talk about some of the national security and policy challenges, but a huge debt. i think we're close to $19 trillion. we got downgraded in terms of our credit rating, the first time in american history. can't grow the economy. huge challenges. but for years the senate was not working. it was not moving forward. some would have called it "dysfunctional." no regular order, no amendments, no budget, no appropriations bills, a locked down u.s.
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senate, not doing its work. and i think the american people wanted us to do work. so last fall they said, hey, time for a change. we need to get to work. we need to start tackling our challenges. so, mr. president, we're changing that. we're working hard to do things that they -- the american people sent us to washington to do. we passed a budget. hasn't happened in years. passed appropriations bills, regular order, democrats an and republicans bringing amendments to the floor of the senate, voting again. and one of the things that we'ven beewe'vebeen doing -- and today -- we're prioritizing where they wanted us to prioritize. our national defense, which is probably the most important role we've in this body, our troops, our veterans. so we're making progress. but progress is halting.
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it's never a straight line. and for some reason -- and we saw it the last couple weeks -- a lot of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle didn't want to fund the government, particularly in terms of these critical issues of our troops, our national defense, taking care of our veterans. and, again, we saw that the last couple weeks. two critical appropriations bills moved to the senate floor. there was the defense appropriations bill, which again passed out of the appropriations committee by huge bipartisan numbers -- 27-3, huge bipartisan support for that bill. we had the veterans affairs and military construction appropriations bill, passed out of committee 21-9 -- huge, huge bipartisan support. why? because the american people want us to focus on these critical issues. national defense, our troops,
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taking care of our veterans. so we're moving forward. budget, appropriations bills that had been voted on and hadn't been voted on before -- for years. bipartisan, prioritizing what the american people want. but then these bills, these appropriations bills, funding our vets, funding our troops came to the floor and progress stopped. i still don't understand why. i've been asked by constituents, why did the other side vote to move these bills out of committee in such a bipartisan way but then when they got to the floor stopped, they filibustered; no spending for our troops, our vets? mr. president, i don't even know the answer. i've asked. my constituents are asking directions from the white house. who knows. but i do think that it's clear to me -- i think it's clear to most americans, i even think it
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is clear to all the members of this body that when those bills were filibustered last week, the last two weeks, that our troops and our veterans were shortchanged. because we are voting to defund them. that's what the filibuster did, to defund our troops and our veterans. so i have to admit, when we were getting ready to vote today, i feared a bit of a repeat, a repeat performance on probably one of the most important bills we're going to take up all year -- the national defense authorization act. it authorizes spending, pay raises, sets out our military strategy, retirement reform. it is so important to our country. and i want to commend once again chairman mccain and ranking member reed, the two leaders of the armed services committee, who did sufficient a good job
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moving that -- did such a good job moving that bill forward. and once again, it started with such great bipartisan promise. moved out of committee 22-4. very bipartisan. then it came to the senate for a vote. a few months back, the ndaa, defense authorization bill, 71 u.s. senators -- incredibly bipartisan -- moved forward, voted toker that i will about. then it went to a conference with the house, improved -- was improved, and all seemed to be on track to bring this bill back to the floor of the u.s. senate and to vote on moving forward on it again, the conference report. what happened? that's great bipartisan progress. we are changing things. we are making things happen. the president of the united
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states since then said he was going to veto the bill. he was going to visa tote the bill. veto the defense authorization act. and once again -- and i'm not sure if taking orders from the white house or not -- the minority leader came to the floored and told the american people this morning he would work with the president to sustain that veto. to sustain the veto of our defense bill. what a disappointment. what a disappointment. we have this huge bipartisan progress. when given the clear choice between standing with our troops and our veterans or the president who says he's going to visa to this bill -- for reasons -- he's going to veto this bill -- for reasons i still don't understand -- the minority leader is choosing the president. now, mr. president, i am honored to sit on the armed services
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committee of the united states and veterans' affairs committee, and as i said in remarks last week on the senate floor, these are two of the most bipartisan senate committees that we have. it's clear to me that every member -- every member, democrat, republican, of these committees, cares about our troops, cares dee deeply about r national security. and i believe every member of this body does. and once again we saw that today. we saw that today. there was no filibuster. 73 u.s. senators voted to move forward on the defense appropriations bill. it was 71 before. now it was 73. important bipartisan victory for our national defense, for our
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veterans, for our troops. but that presidential veto still hangs out there. the president's veto threat still is like a cloud hanging over this very important vote today. mr. president, i mentioned at the outset, this is very important for my state, the great state of alaska. this is important for the national security of our nation. and this is important for all of us. it is important to me as a veteran, as a marine, who is in the reserves. this is a critically important issue. and i don't know how the commander in chief will explain, if he's going to veto this bill, to the american people and to our troops why he's doing it. there's only been four times in the last 53 years that the ndaa
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has been vetoed. providing the common defense of this nation, the national defense, is probably our most important duty. and that duty increases when you look around the world and see the threats that are emerging n different parts of the world -- the middle east, ukraine, in the asia-pacific, in the arctic. mr. president, to govern is to choose. to govern is to prioritize. the president's administration spent years -- years -- negotiating a nuclear deal with iran and this body spent weeks debating the merits of the president's iran deal. that deal and what we debated
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then needs to be put in the context of the president's veto threat for the defense authorization bill. let me give a few examples. the president's iran deal will give billions, tens of billions in lifting of sanction to iran, the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism. but the president threatens to veto a bill that will fund our military. the president's iran deal lifts sanctions on iranian military members such as general suleimani, who literally is responsible for the maiming and killing of thousands of american troops.
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but the president's veto, his threatened veto, would stop payment of bonuses and improved military retirement benefits to our troops and veterans. the president's iran deal gives access to the iranians by lifting sanctions on conventional weapons, ballistic missiles, and advanced nuclear centrifuges, but the president threatens to veto in this bill advanced weapons systems for the united states. and the president's iran deal gives the opportunity for terrorist groups supported by iran, like hezbollah and hamas, to have further funding for their terrorist activities but he threatens to veto a bill that provides additional funding and resources and capability for our
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troops to defeat eye sis. -- defeat isis. to govern is to choose. to govern is to prioritize. as we move forward on the substance of the national defense authorization bill, we are choosing and prioritizing our troops and our national defense and that's why this vote was so positive this month. i hope that we can have at least 73 senators who voted to move forward today to vote to pass the ndaa and put it on the president's desk for his signature. but if the president chooses to veto this critical piece of legislation that has enormous bipartisan support at this moment in time when our country faces serious international threats, i hope that my colleagues, the 73 senators who
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voted to move forward on this critical piece of legislation, will also stand strong and vote to override the veto of the president, which is exactly what our troops and the american people would want us to do. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. what we saw in roseberg last week was a repeat of the evil that we've seen in countless places across the country causing tens of thousands of deaths in towns and suburbs, in rural areas of this country.
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evil visits roseburg. we saw the worst of human character in those moments of mass killing. we saw also the best in human character in the response from the firemen and police and emergency responders who risked their lives and saved lives. when the sound of gunshots shattered that morning, my own recollection was triggered of a warning just a few years earlier when i stood with the parents and loved ones on that day of the mass slaughter in sandy hook and newtown. my thoughts and prayers are with the people of roseburg, with the loved ones of victims. i know that nothing said here, certainly nothing i can say will
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help mend those wounds and ease the grief and pain of those loved ones for the great lives lost and the many left behind. i am frustrated and angry coming here today because the places of those mass killings have become shorthand for a deep disease, an epidemic of violence in america today. virginia tech, columbine, charleston, sandy hook, newtown. and now roseburg. they are shorthand for mass slaughters which have occurred at the rate of about one a week while president obama has been in office. there have been 142 school shootings since newtown alone. 30,000 deaths per year in
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america, the greatest, strongest country in the history of the world. and the mass killings are not even the source of the largest numbers. they are individual deaths, like javier martinez, a young man from new haven with an enormous ly promising and bright future. when i visited his school after he was killed by a gun, because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, his classmates asked me to talk here about gun violence. not as an abstract notion but a real threat to them and the their community. it is a phenomenon that faces every community, every day, everywhere and everyone, and all of us are touched by it.
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if we think about it, if we put aside the denial that all too often affects us, a denial that causes people to minimize the threat, we all are victims or we know victims or we know of the tragic consequences of real stories in our communities as a result of gun violence. the deaths in roseburg are tragic but no less tragic was javier martinez, nor the gun deaths have occur involve domestic violence, gangs, fights between individuals, accidents, suicides, a major source of death by gun violence, suicides. and countless other circumstances where people who are dangerous or who lack the mental health or the maturity to
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responsibly use a gun nonetheless have access to them and use them for deadly purposes. and let's be very clear, the second amendment is a guarantee under our constitution to law-abiding citizens that they can use guns for lawful purposes, whether it's recreational or hunting, that they can possess as many as they please, and the vast majority of them support measures that will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people is not reason that we have advanced commonsense, sensible measures to stop gun violence. and the failure to adopt them has made congress complicit. in effect, an aider and abettor
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to those deaths, because congress has enabled the continuation of death and destruction that has become a fact of life in america, a disgraceful and shameful emblem of congress' failure to act. there is a point when inaction causes culpability, when it comes, in effect, aiding and abetting and complicity. congress in some ways might just as well be standing at the elbow of those shooters, whether it is in charleston or roseburg or sandy hook or elsewhere. so regret and grief is appropriate but it's no solution, it's no excuse for inaction. inaction is reprehensible when it comes to gun violence, an epidemic and disease spreading in this country just as surely
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as a contagion or infection. the action of this body, or inaction, speaks louder than words. and my simple reaction is, enough. enough of inaction. the time for action is now on universal background checks, a ban on illegal trafficking and straw purchases, a prohibition on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as a mental health initiative and school safety measures. this kind of comprehensive package of reforms has been proposed. this body failed to adopt it. but that is no excuse for inaction now. there's no one measure, no single solution, no panacea, no simple fix to this problem but
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we must begin, because laws have consequences. i refuse to adopt the defeatist or denial approach of many of our colleagues who say that the laws simply won't work, can't do anything, won't solve the problem. we're here because we believe laws can improve the lives of ordinary americans, no less so when it comes to gun violence, than any other gun problems we've addressed. in fact, we ought to approach this issue of gun violence with the same urgency and immediacy that america would attempt to solve any public health crisis. but surely we face a public health crisis and emergency in gun violence. when there is a spread of a contagious disease, whether it's flu or tuberculosis or ebola, we
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track down the source. hospitalize the victims, take remedial action, admit them to treatment and take preventive measures to prevent that kind of disease from recurring. when there is a spread of food poisoning, we don't throw up our arms and say that there's nothing that laws can do. in fact, law enforcement and health authorities track down the packages that are contaminated and, again, provide relief for the people who suffer from this kind of disease. and take preventive measures to stop it from recurring by imposing san to her conditions and rules and regulations on the food producers.
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infection, con taken on, spread of -- contagion, spread of disease can be deadly and crippling and threaten fear and harm, cause panic, and gun violence is exactly the same, it is equally insidious and pernicious and its impact in fact is greater than any of though single help epidemics. the spread of stolen guns, guns that are stolen or illegally purchased, it's much like a disease in america today. and the ones who will testify to that fact are our law enforcement authorities who see it firsthand and are on our side in urging responsible commonsense measures and reform. when this nation faced, in effect, an epidemic of car deaths and injuries, we didn't stop everyone from driving but
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we did put in place reasonable safeguards, seat belt laws, drunk driving measures, age restrictions, speed limits. and we enforced them. they were resisted time. drunk driving measures caused outrage among some civil lib tairns. but -- libertarians. but thousand they are part of our everyday expectations about how life will work in america and they have drastically reduced auto fatalities and injuries. the recognition of the damage and destruction that can be caused by automobiles means that we educate and we take commonsense, responsible measures, and much of the knowledge that led to those commonsense, sensible measures came from.
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yes, knowledge. it was fact-based, evidence-driven; research done by the center for disease control and prevention. like many of my colleagues, i am dismayed by the fact that similar, incredibly valuable public health data from this world-class institution is unavailable to us about gun violence because of the restrictive, politically motivated budget riders forbidding it. it's unconscionable that congress' response to this problem is denial, shutting out research and responsible fact-based evidence involving the provision of information. this country knows how to respond to a public health crisis. we're america. we face the challenges, not deny
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them or disparage the truth telling. after the stockton schoolyard shooting in california where 34 children were killed and -- 34 children were shot and five killed, president george h.w. bush issued and executive order in 1989 banning the import of semiautomatic assault rifles. there were repeated circumvention of that order and part of the response was in 1994 a measure authored by senator feinstein, our great colleague, banning the manufacture and transfer of assault weapons and high-capacity ma weapons. it shows how we can act and how we can face challenges. ronald reagan was almost killed
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by an assassin's bullet, a would-be asassen's bullet in 19 -- a would-be assassin's bullet. he wrote in "the new york times" that if the bill, the brady handgun prevention reduced by 10% it would be "well worth making it the law of the land because there will there would be a lot fewer families facing anniversaries such as the bradies and the reagans face every march 30." that bill, the brady handgun violence prevention act, became law in 1993 with his support, 12 years after that near assassination. and both stockton and the reagan assassination -- near-assassination -- show that these measures are possible. it may look like a marathon.
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it is never a sprint. it is not only possible, it is obligatory. i look forward to a number of my colleagues and myself -- and i note that a partner in this effort has been my colleague, senator murphy, who will follow me shortly, all of us coming together and spearheading and championing again a set of reforms that will help make america safer and better. mr. president, the time for action truly is now. this public health emergency cannot go unaddressed. the gaps in our current laws can be remedied. i've already offered the laurie jackson survivor protection act, a bill named for a brave
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connecticut mother of two children who was he is stranged from her husband, fled her home for her life, obtained a temporary restraining order for her and her children's protection, and then was gunned down by her estranged husband because the temporary protective order did not require him to surrender his weapon. a gap in the law that must be remedied and that bill would do so. this bill is modest. my bill would close this loophole requiring protective orders, whether temporary or permanent, to require the surrendering of weapons. victims -- women who are victims of domestic violence are at the greatest risk. women who are victims of this insidious peril are most in danger when they first leave or try to leave. that's when the temporary order
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is, in effect, most necessary, the danger at its greatest but the law at its weakest in stopping gun violence. we are on the right side of history. we're on the right side of law enforcement. we're on the right side of public opinion, the overwhelming majority of americans clearly favor these kinds of measures, and the overwhelming majority of gun owners, too. if history is on our side, we must be on the right side of this issue. i urge my colleagues to join with us in this effort, to keep faith with the victims of newtown and sandy hook, to demonstrate that our grief and regret is more than just words; that it will lead to action and the time for action is now. thank you, mr. president.
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i yield the floor. mr. murphy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, let me thank senator blumenthal for being such a great partner. we have traveled a great journey since 2012 when we both stood at the firehouse in sandy hook, connecticut. we have become evangelical in our tbleef thi belief that thiss slaughter has to stop. we sent our sympathies to those who were killed in portland, lou sarah alcaraz, treven taylor anspach, rebecka ann carnes, quinn glen cooper, kim saltmarsh
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dietz, lucas eibel, jason dale johnson, lawrence levine, a professor there and sarena dawn moore. we're arching one mass shooting -- that's multiple people, being shot at one particular moment. more mass shootings that we have days in the year. and of course for us, this shooting and the information that came out in the aftermath of it was particularly chilling because we've seen this young man before, a young man christopher harper-mercer was isolated, withdrawn, obsessed with guns. his family had many of them. he had rebuffed attempts at socialization by his family. he had grievances that he mainly shared with himself, and he
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eventually turned those grievances on nine people who died and about an equal number who were injured. we know that story because we saw it play out in connecticut as well. mentally young man. took out his frustrations and his outrage on 20 little kids in sandy hook elementary. but i guess what to me is definitional about this scourge of mass violence is not necessarily what happened on friday but what happened the datdayafter, on saturday. on saturday there were likely another 80 people killed all across the country. that's about the number we run every single day. every day there are a handful of exceptional stories, stories that make your heart it un, your gut cinch. on sat di saturday there was an
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11-year-old boy who confronted his 8-year-old neighbor in tennessee over the fact that she wouldn't let him play with her pet bunny. and when they protested and said that he didn't -- she didn't want him to play with it, he marched back into his house, got a shotgun, walked back over to her and shot her with the shotgun. how on earth did an 11-year-old boy get that quick access to a shotgun? how on earth have we gotten to a moment in which a dispute over whether or not you can hold a little pet bunny turns into a murder? what i can tell you is that i guarantee that that scene doesn't play out in other countries in this world. that 11-year-old boys don't shoot 8-year-old girls with shotguns in sweden or japan, in great britain.
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we know that because what is happening here in the united states is exceptional. this rate of 80 people being lost to guns every day is normalization of mass shootings is exclusivel exclusive to the d states. we have a gun homicide rate in the united states that isn't twice the average of other oecd countries. i.t. not five times. i.t. not ten times. it's 20 times the average of our first-world competitor nations. and so you have to ask ourselves, what's different about the united states? what's different about life he here, the way in which we resolve disputes, than all of these other nations? -- that have gun violence, gun death rates that are 20 times lower than the united states? and let's be honest about one thing. it's not that the united states
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has higher rates of mental illness. -- than other countries. it's not that our mental health delivery system spends less than other countries. there's no more mental illness in the united states than there is in any other industrialized country. some studies will tell you that we spend more on mental illness treatment and behavioral health treatment than any other country. and yet gun deaths are 20 times what they are in other countries. it's not because we loo lack for protection. our malls and our churches and movie theaters aren't any less protects or less secure than those in other countries. we invest in law enforcement at a same or greater rate than all of these other nations. what's different? what's different here in this country? what's different is that we're awash in guns. we're awash in illegal guns.
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we celebrate weapons that are designed exclusively to kill other people, and we collect them and show them off for sport -- military-style assault weapons, ca cartridges, drums of ammunition that hold 100 rounds, whose utility is only associated with ending life. that's what's different. that's what's different about the united states. now, i'll admit that the solution is comprehensive because i'll be the last person to tell you that fixing our mental health system won't have a beneficial effect on the rates of gun violence. adam lanza and christopher harper-mercer were ill-served by a behavioral health system that was far too opaque and complex for them. law enforcement needs more help
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on the streets of new haven and new york and chicago and los angeles. all of those things will help. but what distinguishes america from the other parts of the world that have much lower rates of gun violence is not investment in law enforcement and our rates of mental illness. so we have to have this conversation about our laws that allow for this flow of high-powered guns and illegal guns onto the street. senator blumenthal and i are going to join together to introduce what we think is a modest measure, to just assure that no guns get sold to people who can't bas pass a background check. wal-mart does it today. they say we won't sell you a gun unless you can pass a background check. but unfortunately many other retailers take advantage of a loophole that allows for 72 hours to pass without a background check. which then allows them to sell a
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gun. we just think there should be a simple premise. if you can't pass a background check, you shouldn't be able to get a gun. you got a get a green light to be able to walk out of a store with a weapon that can kill people. that's just one brick in the wall. there's a series of other measures that enjoy 90% support in this country, whether it be making sure that people who are subject to restraining orders against their spouse can't buy a gun during the period of time in which they're under a legal restraining order. just expanding background checks to gun shows and internet sales. or just giving more resources to the background check system so they can sure that they upload the proper records. and mental health is part of the solution. it's not a substitute for the reform of our gun laws but it's part of the solution as well. i'm proud to join with senator
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cassidy to introduce the primary comprehensive mental health reform legislation on the floor of the senate. it got, i think, ten cosponsors at this moment. five republicans, five democrats. we think you should fix the mental health system because it's broken, full stop, but we also understand it will have a downward effect on gun violence. let me just close by echoing the sentiments of senator blumenthal. we're going to introduce our legislation tomorrow, and we're hopeful it will be taken up by this body. but what we really worry about is that this silence from congress has become complicity. i know that sounds like a really hard thing to say. that sounds very hyperbolic. but let me walk you through why i've come to believe that the failure to act in the wake of these mass shootings has made us
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complicit in them. i think these young men -- and it's not all young men but mostly young men. these young men whose minds are becoming unhinged and are contemplating mass violence, they take queues from the total, complete, absolute silence from congress in the face of mass shooting after mass shooting. if the nation's top elected leaders, the people charged with deciding what matters in this nation don't even try, don't even try to stop the mass car naj, then -- carnage, then these would-be shooters reasonably conclude that we must be okay with it. because if a society doesn't condone settling a grievance with a gun, wouldn't the people in charge of it at least try to stop it? but we don't try, and that's what's most offensive. that's what truly turns my
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stomach. we just lived through a summer in which 4,000 people died on the streets of this nation, and this body is sending a loud, clear signal that we don't care. we don't care. nine people -- nine more people died on friday, another mass slaughter, and we're back to normal this week. we're going to debate the toxic substances control act this week. and i don't deny that that's probably a very important piece of legislation, but we're acting as if there isn't an epidemic of preventable murder happening in this nation and that it's getting worse. somebody wrote last week that the gun control debate ended the day after sandy hook, because that was the day that america decided that it was okay to murder 20 first graders. now, i know that's not the message that my colleagues are intending to send, and we appreciate all of the sincere
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notes of sympathy that have been sent over the course of the last two years, three years, to new town, those that went out friday to oregon. but words are beginning to become meaningless. the tweets really aren't helping. i'd argue that they're just becoming a cover for cowardice. it's not a coincidence that america has a gun violence rate that is 20 times that of any other competitor nation. we are doing something wrong here. and the whole reason we draw our paychecks is to make wrong things right. if we can't do something, something, a background check law, mental health bill, more resources for law enforcement, if we can't do anything to try
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to stop this soul-crushing, life-extinguishing violence, then we might as well just go home. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: before i begin my remarks on the water -- land and water conservation fund, i would like to associate myself with the remarks of my colleague, senator murphy, regarding the responsibility -- our responsibility to deal with the issue of gun violence in our country. today, mr. president, i'd like to turn to another subject. i want to talk about the land and water conservation fund, or
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the lwcf, as it is commonly known. last week at the end of the fiscal year, the lwcf's authorization expired. the lwcf is one of the federal government's best tools for supporting conservation, and we need to act quickly to renew the law. as cities grow, suburbs swell, and our natural world shrinks, the need for more opportunities for our outdoor recreation and education grows. the lwcf helps expand those opportunities, opportunities for our veterans, our children, and our families. for example, we've heard from veterans who share the therapeutic value of our public lands. when matthew zedwick served in iraq, he was comforted by memories of hiking and fishing on public lands in his oregon hometown.
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and since coming home to oregon, he has found that visiting many of the trails, lakes, and streams that are protected by the lwcf help him heal. also this year for the first time our nation's fourth graders have free access -- free access to all of our national parks. why fourth graders? because fourth graders are able to understand their surrounding environments in more concrete ways, and these first experiences -- through these kinds of experiences in our national parks, these fourth graders will, we hope, grow into having a lifelong appreciation of our environment. and finally, millions of families looking for a weekend get-away flock to our parks, refuges and wildlife preserves, areas that are afforded protection, thanks to the lwcf. despite being chronically
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underfunded, over the past 50 years the lwcf protected and conserved land in every single state. rather than relying on taxpayers' money for the fund comes from oil and gas development on the outer continental shelf. unfortunately, without renewing the lwcf, conservation efforts across the country are at risk, including in hawaii. hawaii's environment is unique. i'm sure my colleagues are aware of our beautiful beaches, lush greenery, and spectacular geography. for all its beauty, hawaii's environment is also fragile. one-third of our native birds are endangered and we are home to almost half of the nation's threatened and endangered plants, making us in hawaii the endangered species capital of the world. our coasts and beaches are being
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threatened as we speak by sea level rise. our corals are expected to suffer the worst bleaching event in history this year. this coming on the heels of a major bleaching event that happened just last year. all of these phenomena impact our economy and way of life. we know what's at stake if we do not act today to protect our lands for tomorrow. that's why my state put together a collaborative landscape proposal to receive lwcf money. this proposal is entitled island forests at risk, an appropriate title as we are seeing firsthand how the future of our forests is indeed at risk. the obama administration recognized the importance of this proposal to conserving hawaii's unique ecosystems. thanks to this recognition, a
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number of the islands' forest at risk land acquisition are in line to receive lwcf funding in the next fiscal year. under the lan, almost 5,000 acres will be added to hawaii's volcano national parks. hawaii's most popular national park that in 2014 alone attracted almost 1.7 million visitors. funds will also help add almost 7,000 acres to huctalow national wildlife refuge, a land acquisition that has been the top priority for the u.s. fish and wildlife service pacific region since 2011. these critical land acquisitions have a price tag of almost $15 million. and these acquisitions will only be made possible by the financial assistance provided by the lwcf. and hawaii is not the only state
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that is set to receive money from the land and water conservation fund next year. over the past few days my colleagues from across the aisle have come to the floor to talk about the importance of the lwcf in their own states. they've talked about the lands in their states and the experiences they have had in the outdoors with their families. we all recognize the opportunities that lwcf investments provide for our people, our economies, and future generations. we know that oil and gas drilling is accelerating climate change. we know that climate change is threatening our native birds, our coasts, our coral. why not reauthorize a fund that takes money from activities that threaten our climate and environment and invest it into conservation efforts? it seems like a no-brainer to me. earlier this year i joined ranking member cantwell and my fellow democratic colleagues on
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the energy and natural resources committee in introducing legislation that would permanent ly reauthorize lwcf. permanently so that it will not end up ending. so i urge my colleagues to join us in finding a bipartisan path forward to permanently reauthorize the commonsense fund that protects the environment and affords outdoor recreation and education opportunities in every single state. we owe it to the people who elected us and we owe it to our children and our future generations. i yield back, mr. president.
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ms. hirono: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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ask mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: i ask the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president, would you like to buy a used car from a used car dealer that was on the recall list because it had a defective takota air bag in the steering wheel, that if you ran into a fender-bender and it suddenly exploded, it might send shrapnel right into your face and into your jugular in your neck? and the answer is obviously no, that you would not want to buy
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such a used car. well, to the credit of a major user car dealer, as well as new car dealer, autonation, headquartered in florida but with dealerships, hundreds and hundreds of dealerships all over the country, they have set it as company policy. that they will not sell a used car that is on the recall list for defective products until they have that recall problem corrected. now, all the dealers do this with regard to new cars because it is the law. and, in fact, in the highway bill that we passed a couple of months ago, in fact, we put an
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additional provision is, which if you are a rental car company, such as avis, national, so forth , you cannot rent a rental car to a customer if it has a recall on that vehicle until the recall item is fixed. which just makes common sense, that you certainly wouldn't want to put a defective product out there to the consuming public. then why is the national association of automobile dealers fighting us as we try to extend for what the law is for new cars to used cars on the sale of a used car with a defective item? it defies common sense.
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and so what it is, is what is the economic interest versus what is the safety interest? the economic interest of the used car salesman versus the safety interest of the consuming public that would buy that used car. i hope that the national association will reconsider. this is an argument that cannot stand on all fours that they are making, that they comply with the sale of new cars but they don't want to comply with the sale of used cars. what we ought to be looking out for in light of all of these revelations of all the defective
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automobiles, look what happened with general motors and the ignition. look what has happened to toyota and honda with the takata air bags. and by the way, just in air bags, we're talking some 20 million recalls worldwide. it's huge. so if we're going to protect the consuming public, we ought to make sure that recall items are taken care of before those vehicles are sold. mr. president, i yield the floor. i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be set aside. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. flake: mr. president, let my highlight a few items that are in the ndaa conference report authorization that we're considering this week. in april of this year my office came across a $115,000 marketing contract between the new york jets and the nfl. i'm sorry, the new york jets and some other teams. but the contract with the new york jets showed that the weekly
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hometown hero tribute was actually paid for by the taxpayers, resulting in an investigation found that other taxpayer-funded tributes were not just with the jets or with the nfl but extended to other sports leagues as well as the ncaa. we don't need this kind of paid-for patriotism. i should note that many in the nfl, many teams and others, sports teams in other leagues do this out of the goodness of their heart. it is what it looks like. but in many instances these tributes, these salutes to the troops have been paid for by the taxpayer. that needs to end. that's why i join senator mccain and senator blumenthal in adding an amendment to the ndaa that will bring an end to these taxpayer-funded salutes to the troops. now this amendment also
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encourages sports organizations that have accepted these funds to consider making a contribution to a charity that supports members of the military or veterans or their families. in addition, the ndaa conference report also prohibits the d.o.d. from spending 25% of its sports-related marketing budget until they can show that the money that they're spending in this regard actually contributes toward their marketing goals or toward their recruitment goals. these results have to be reported to both the house and the senate. that's a good thing. i want to thank the pentagon, especially under secretary of defense brad carson and his staff, for working with my office and others as we continue to investigate the scope of these taxpayer-funded tributes. another item i want to mention in this ndaa bill, 22-year-old
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marine p could corporal jacob hf phoenix serving as part of the humanitarian mission to nepal as part of the earthquakes in that country. in may, hug was one of six marines and two nepalese soldiers who were killed when their -- they crashed. because jacob died during an humanitarian mission, jim and andrea hug, his parents, were informed the d.o.d. was not authorized to pay for their flight to dover air force base to be on hand when their son's returns arrived. currently the military is only authorized to pay for next of kin travel expenses if the is of member is killed in action. that's not right. the hugs did get to travel to dover because many in the
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arizona delegation worked with d.o.d. to make sure that the costs were eventually paid for by d.o.d. i worked with senator mccain to amend the ndaa to ensure that no other family has to go through this. that if a family of a service member serving on an overseas humanitarian mission is killed, that the additional hardship is not faced by their family. so this amendment pays for the next of kin to travel to meet the remains of deceased relatives if they are killed in humanitarian operations. i hope that we can approve this ndaa in the coming days and we can send it to the president. i hope the president will sign it. with that, i yield back. mr. whitehouse: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, let me first ask unanimous
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consent that gifford j.wong, who is an american association for the advancement of science fellow in my office, be granted floor privileges for the remainder of this congress. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, americans across the board recognize the growing threat of global climate change, and last week was a big week on the conservative and corporate sides. new polling revealed strong support among conservatives for smart policies to stem carbon pollution. and coalitions of leading corporate voices -- six major banks and ten major food and beverage companies -- called on us to join them in backing
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strong climate action. so i come to the floor today now for the 114th time to join with them, with scientists and lay people, with military commanders and faith leaders, with environmentalists and capitalists, with democrats and republicans, all saying it is time to wake up to this crisis. yes, mr. president, i said and republicans. outside this chamber, republicans are calling for action on climate. the poll out last week conducted by three leading republican pollsters showed a majority of republican voters, including 54% of conservative republicans, agreeing that the climate is changing and that human activity contributes to the changes we are all seeing. and they want solutions from us,
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the same proportion of conservative republicans -- 54% -- would favor a carbon pollution fee on electric utilities provided the revenue would then be rebated to consumers. a carbon fee, as we know, is a market-based solution very much in line with conservative principles. i recently introduced a bill that i hope republicans and democrats could embrace. it would establish an economy-wide carbon fee on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions and then return 100% of the money to the american people. it would work. a recent analysis said it would reduce u.s. carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 50% by 2030. the revenue would offset annual payroll taxes for every working
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person by $500, with a similar benefit to veterans and social security recipients. it would reduce the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 29%. and it would return the remaining funds to states to be used locally for transition costs, efficiency investments or whatever the states prefer. with this bill, i extend to conservatives what my very conservative friend, former republican congressman bob engliss, has called not just an olive branch, but an olive limb. whether you want tax reform, a proper free market for energy, or even to address climate change, please let's get to work
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to state the obvious, congress has been ruled by the lobbyists and political enforcers for the fossil fuel industry. the fossil fuel industry with political threats and very big money and lots of phony front groups has made the republican party in congress its political wing. but outside this chamber, where conservatives don't need fossil fuel industry money, there is considerable conservative support for a carbon fee from leading, right of center economists, conservative think tanks and former republican officials. president nixon's treasury secretary george schultz, president reagan's economic advisor art laffer, president george w. bush's treasury secretary hank paulson, and bush
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council of economic advisors chair greg mankiw have all advocated for some form of a carbon fee, as the efficient way to correct a market failure. the market failure where we all have to pick up the costs of carbon pollution for the fossil fuel industry. no wonder they spend so much money around here. that market failure is a sweet deal for the fossil fuel fellows, but it is not good free market economics. in a 2013 "new york times" op-ed, former republican e.p.a. administrators bill ruckelshaus, christine todd whitman, lee thomas and william riley wrote a
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market-based approach like a carbon tax would be the best path to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. end quote. republicans in congress are being squeezed. on one side they see unequivocal scientific consensus, compelling economic theory, and mounting public opinion all pointing toward the need for strong action on climate. on the other side, they see rich and powerful polluters who fund their politics and who make heavy-handed threats against any republicans who might dare to cross them. that's why it was such glad news, mr. president, when a group of 11 house republicans, led by congressman chris gibson of new york, introduced a house resolution committing to address
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climate change by promoting ingenuity, innovation, and exceptionalism. now that's not a bill yet. we've got a ways to go still. but it is another sign that the denier castle is crumbling. first, climate change was a hoax. then, okay, maybe it's not a hoax, but it's just natural variation. then okay, maybe it's real and humans do cause some of it. but look, it paused. then, okay, maybe it didn't pause. but we really can't do anything about it. and then okay, we can do something about climate change, but please stop asking me about it because i'm not a scientist. and now this, a resolution by
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sitting republican house members that we need to take climate action. it's been quite a journey. the escape of 11 republicans from the dark crumbling ramparts of denier castle gives dawning hope to americans that bipartisan action on climate change is becoming possible, even in congress. last thursday congressman gibson and i joined together bicameral and bipartisan to hear from major food and beverage companies how climate change affects their industry, their supply chains, and their bottom line. it marked as far as i can recall the first time in years that a sitting democrat and a sitting republican member of congress joined in a public event on
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climate change. i hope that's another sign that things in this building have begun to shift. for these big companies, climate change is not a partisan issue, it's not even political. it's business. it's their reality. climate really matters to our business, kim nelson of general mills, told us. "we fundamentally rely on mother nature." the choices we make to protect or forsake our climate, she said, "will be important to the long-term viability of our company and our industry." palm bacchus of nestle agreed, impressing on us that this is not a climate change. "climate change is impacting our
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business today," he said. his company, nestle, cans pumpkins under the libby's brand. they've seen pumpkin yields crash in the u.s. "we have never seen growing and harvesting conditions like this in the midwest," said mr. bacchus. chief sustainability officer for mars, barry parkin, was more blunt. "we are on a path to a dangerous place." thes these companies are reducing carbon remissions. mars, for example, recently invested in a 211-megawatt wind power farm in texas, to offset all of the electricity used by its u.s. operations. un ilever, in addition to
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shifting away from fossil fuels towards renewables and biofuel energy is also fighting deforestation associated with farming. message one from these businesses was this is important. message two was they can't do it alone. they need us in government to pay attention. business, government, civil society and individuals all have a part to play, said general mills. we need governments to be involved, said union -- unileaver. specifically, the companies want a strong global climate deal at the paris conference this december. they released a joint letter pledging to accelerate their own climate efforts and urging governments to do their part as
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well. they even took out full-page ads in "the washington post". here it is. and also in the "financial times" right here on the very day of our event, showing the full text of their letter and the signatures of the ten c.e.o.'s. the letter says climate change is bad for farmers and agriculture. drought, flooding and hotter growing conditions threaten the world's food supply and contribute to food insecurity. state the heads of mars, general mills, nestle u.s.a., unileaver, kellogg company, new belgium brewing, ben and jerry's, cliff
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bar, stoney field farm and dannon u.s.a. here is what else they pledged. we will use our voices to advocate for governments to set clear, achievable, measurable and enforceable science-based targets for carbon emission reductions. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that this letter from the heads of these ten major food and beverage companies, asking world leaders and us here in congress to act on climate change to be submitted into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. we heard a similar appeal from america's largest financial powerhouses last week. bank of america, citi, goldman sachs, j.p. morgan chase, morgan stanley and wells fargo released
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a strong call for governments to come together on a climate agreement. here is what they wrote -- "policy frameworks that recognize the costs of carbon are among the many important instruments needed to provide greater market certainty, accelerate investment, drive innovation in low-carbon energy and create jobs, while we, speaking of each other, may compete in the marketplace, we are aligned on the importance of policies to address the climate challenge. i ask unanimous consent that their statement also be submitted to the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: these are serious people running big, successful companies. they don't take climate change lightly. they don't scoff, and neither should we. they are asking that elected
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officials find the courage to address climate change. majorities of voters of both parties and of independents also are asking that elected representatives find the courage to address climate change. and that brings us back to that squeeze i talked about. if you're not willing to address carbon pollution and the climate change and ocean acidification it is causing, i ask my colleagues who are on the ballot in 2016 what are you going to say? what are you going to say to your voters? are you going to say it's a hoax? great. good luck with that. are you going to say okay, it's real, it's important. these companies are all right. but as far as fixing it, well, we've just got nothing, because
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right now that's what they have got, nothing. or maybe they should just beg, please don't ask me about climate change because the big fossil fuel polluters are paying my party's bills and making mean threats to me. not a great set of options. at some point soon i would tell my friends your party's leaders are going to have to go to the fossil fuel billionaires and say enough, enough. let my people go. we held out for you as long as we could, but now you've got to let my people go. and it has to be soon. as one executive told congressman gibson and me quite
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directly, and i quote, the window of opportunity to act on climate change is closing. mr. president, it is time to wake up. i yield the floor. mr. whitehouse: i see mr. grassley on the floor. i'm wondering if he will seek recognition or if i should put the senate into a quorum call? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i come to the floor to comment on an extraordinary about-face that we have seen from many of my colleagues across the aisle with respect to the filibuster. and when i say across the aisle,
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i mean an about-face on the part of democrats who see the filibuster different now than they did over the last four or five years. now, like paul on the road to damascus, they have seen the light and have now embraced the filibuster wholeheartedly, and like many converts, they are very active in their faith. naturally, this has caused frustration for many americans who wonder why we cannot address the pressing issues that we were elected to address, and there's a lot of frustrated members of the senate as well. i'm one of those. but not understanding when we have an opportunity for the senate to function, as james madison said it should function,
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that we cannot have it function that way. and not surprisingly, the recent series of filibusters on legislation of enormous consequences for our nation has resulted in new calls for changes to the senate rules. first, i'd like to take stock of where we are right now. it was just last year that the previous majority leader was abusing the cloture motion to shut down debate and amendments on virtually every single bill, even before the debate had even begun. all while blocking any amendments. any senator who routinely votes for cloture motions under those circumstances is obviously
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abdicating his or her responsibility to the people that elected that senator to offer and debate any number of different ideas. that's what the senate is all about. nevertheless, when those of us who were then in the minority voted against abdicating our responsibilities as senators, we had a parade of democratic senators come to the floor and accuse us of that most dastardly deed, at least according to them, the filibuster. they repeatedly claimed that strict rule by majority faction was a principle by which the senate ought to operate with little or no input from the minority party. in other words, have it operate
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just like the house of representatives. now, we now have a majority, a republican majority, that has tried to restore the senate to function as a deliberative body as it used to and as it was intended to by the framers of the constitution. for instance, last year, the previous majority leader didn't bring a single individual appropriation bill to the floor of the senate for consideration and vote. by putting off appropriations until the end of the fiscal year, that leader calculated that the threat of being blamed for a government shutdown would force republicans to accept a massive omnibus bill containing policies that would otherwise be
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rejected. now, this year things are different. the senate appropriators have done their work and reported out each separate appropriation bill. can you imagine, all 12 of those appropriation bills, and most of them on a bipartisan basis. then when the majority leader has attempted to bring them to the floor, senator mcconnell, the majority leader, has been met with a democrat filibuster of the motion even to proceed to the bill. now, what is the justification for that on the part of today's minority? the majority leader, senator mcconnell, is not blocking amendments. in fact, he's even inviting amendments. so if there is something that the minority wishes to change or
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add to a bill, they can do it simply by participating in the process and offering amendments. after all, isn't that what the senate's all about? we have to pass appropriation bills or the government is shut down, so why can't we even bring appropriation bills up for consideration? well, the answer's quite obvious. the democratic leadership is up to those old games that they use to keep the senator from debating appropriation bills that they did over the last five years. by blocking appropriation bills and threatening to blame us for the shutdown, they hope and believe that they can bully us into busting open the spending caps that a majority in both the house and senate agreed in the budget resolution earlier

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