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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  October 22, 2015 4:00pm-6:01pm EDT

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onerous enough, in august the e.p.a. released the final rule on the clean power plan with an estimated price tag of at least $366 billion, this rule will not only devastate the coal industry by mandating unrealistic carbon reductions, it will also distress american families by causing double-dynel digit elecc rate increases. and the coal industry of wyoming is feeling the impact. the coal industry and businesses and the people that work there that rely on it are facing higher regulatory costs at the same time as energy producers are seeing a tougher market than they've had in years. which is a bad combination for economic growth and job creation. at the end of july, wyoming had 15% fewer energy industry jobs than it did a year earlier, and these are good-paying jobs. that's according to the u.s.
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department of labor, bureau of labor statistics. most of those lost jobs are in coal, oil and gas and the businesses that rely on them. forget about that ripple effect. given that close to half of wyoming's g.d.p. comes from this sector and that nearly half of our state is federally owned and much is removed from development activity, we've always been concerned about any unnecessary government intrusion in our economic livelihood. why is it we provide 40% of the nation's coal? it's because it's a cleaner coal, lower in sulfur and other chemicals than any other state in the nation. we ship coal to other coal states so they can mix it with their coal to meet the clean air standards. but that's not good enough. the economic impact of the e.p.a. and other federal regulations is not just hurting wyoming's economy and costing my state jobs, they're a major reason why the economy
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nationwide is not operating at its full potential and economic growth. it's been stuck around 2% since the beginning of the so-called economic recovery. we're doing it to ourselves. remember, a 1% reduction in the gross national product is $400 billion less taxes. the onslaught of federal regulations targeted directly at the coal industry are not just concerns. they're real threats to people's economic livelihood. the ability to support their families, the ability to support education in most of these states, and to support entire communities across the country. with our $18 trillion in debt, we can't afford to accept the notion that we're into what some are calling a new normal of economic -- anemic growth. we need to help our economy reach its potential, which will help each and every american.
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this cannot be done if the number and cost of significant federal regulations continues to rise. the obama administration continues to push federal regulations, like waters of the united states rule, which significantly expands federal authority under the clean water act. that rule's been taken to three courts already and in each of those it's been ruled illegal. they're still pursuing other avenues. the recent national labor relations board rule making redefining the meaning of an employer. these regulations taken by themselves have the potential to impose billions of dollars in economic costs on family farms, ranches and particularly small businesses. which hinders the growth of america's entrepreneurial spirit i don't need to mention the
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consumer financial protection bureau. sounds like a great entity but in banks alone, they've had to hire twice as many people to do paperwork as they used to have to have just to keep from getting fined by an agency that has no control. i tried to get an inspector general to be over the consumer financial protection bureau. after we got him, he said, you know, i don't have any authority to look at any of their stuff. where are the fines going? we don't know. we're not allowed to see that. that's because they get their money from the federal reserve before the money from the federal reserve comes to the united states government. we shouldn't have anything as out of control as that. i was meeting with some community bankers and i said, well, my wife's kind of interested in expanding our kitchen in gillette and i was thinking maybe we ought to get a loan and do that. the house is all paid for.
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and i was wondering how long it would take. and they said, well, about 78 days. and then you get one week in case you don't like the deal that you made, you can rescind it. well, i remember the last time i needed to do something on my house, it was before it was paid for and i needed to get a second mortgage, and i got it in a matter of a couple of days. they could just write the check so that i could go ahead and do it. 78 days now, plus another week. that's what government regulations are doing. that doesn't speed up the economy. there isn't a contractor that can go to work until he gets an assurance of being paid. over the next few months and weeks, i'm going to share with my colleagues new information from leading economists that shows that there's a real relationship between the growth of regulations and our struggling economy. this is a relationship that's clear to the people that experience the difficulties of complying with more and more regulations that make it harder to succeed.
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i hope that what is clear to business owners, to their employees, to the communities across the country could be understood here in washington. i'll share new statistics and data showing the lost income and jobs due to federal regulations, the effects of regulation on key industries, and the breakdown of how specific federal agencies are impacting our economy. and the regulatory burden the federal government has placed on hardworking americans in economic sectors in every state. it's crucial for lawmakers and hard working americans to understand the -- hardworking americans the true cost of regulations that are being administered by this administration. shining the light on these regulations and the burden they impose on each and every american is the only way to hold government accountable and to begin the process of reining in out-of-control agencies so we can halt the flood of regulations choking our economy.
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mr. president, i thank you for the time and i yield the floor. mrs. shaheen: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: thank you, mr. president. two weeks ago i left for greece with a senate delegation that
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included dick durbin from illinois, amy klobuchar from minnesota and elizabeth warren from massachusetts. and in my capacity as lead democrat on the senate foreign relations subcommittee on europe and regional security cooperation, i was honored to head our delegation. we were there to witness firsthand the plight of refugees arriving by sea on the island of lesbos. in greece and later in germany, we received in-depth briefings on the refugee crisis and europe's response to it. in kiev in the ukraine, we conferred with the ukrainian prime minister and president about their country's struggle to create a stable democracy in the face of ongoing russian aggression. nearly a quarter of a million syrians have been killed during the current conflict in the middle east. an estimated 8 million syrians have been displaced internally and another 4 million have left
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the country. they are fleeing hunger, unspeakable violence and a land that no longer offers any hope for their children. they have endured barrel bombs, chemical attacks, indiscriminate shelling, the barbarity of isis, and now a military offensive sponsored by russia and iran. to reach europe, these refugees have been preyed upon by traffickers and other criminals, some selling refugee children for sex, for slavery or for organs. the refugees have -- have been drawing at sea and suffocation in locked vans and they will soon confront the freezing temperatures and snows of winter. while we were traveling, we heard accounts from the refugees of paying smugglers thousands of dollars to get on small boats with motors that barely work, boats built for a few but loaded with 40 to 50 refugees.
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and i use the term "boats" loosely. what i'm talking about is rubber rafts that were built to hold maybe 10 to 15 people that were loaded with 40 to 50 refugees. the greek coast guard told us that refugees pay exorbitant prices for life preservers that are more like children's inflatables that you see in swimming pools. and when refugees set off from turkey to cross the agean to lesvos, they're instructed by the smugglers to puncture their raft with a knife if they encounter the greek coast guard so that the greeks will be forced to rescue them. i was profoundly moved by my conversations with refugees from syria and other conflict zones in the middle east. it's one thing to hear about millions of syrian refugees fleeing the war. it is something else entirely to actually meet and talk with individual refugees, including
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children who have been separated from their parents. i was struck by the fact that many of these refugees have endured extreme hardship for weeks, if not years. and their future is filled with extreme uncertainty. yet so many of them were filled with optimism and hope. in athens we met a six-year-old afghan boy who had made the trip to greece with his 13-year-old cousin. this boy proudly gave us all sticks of gum. in germany, we met young men from syria, a former english teacher, a ph.d. student, and an engineer. one young man looked ahead to a brighter future and said he would one day he wanted to be president of syria. these refugees were weary, they were anxious but they were also deeply grateful and hopeful about their future lives in a safe, secure europe. altogether we met and talked with a couple dozen refugees.
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they are men, women, children no different from loved ones in our own families and citizens in our own communities. they aspire to the very same things, including a decent life for their children. they told us about the desperation and despair they left behind in syria, iraq and other conflict areas. multiply these desperate stories by countless thousands of refugees. up to 10,000 entering europe daily. more than a million so far this year. and it adds up to a humanitarian crisis of staggering dimensions. now, to be sure, europe is being challenged but this crisis also challenges the united states and the world. at critical moments in history, the international community has faced similar challenges. jews seeking refuge from persecution and later genocide in nazi germany.
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famine killing millions in biafra in the late 1960's. the genocides in cambodia, rwanda, dafur and bosnia. and faced with these crises, the world confronted a stark choice -- to turn away or to engage. well, mr. president, the united states cannot turn away from the refugee crisis unfolding in the middle east and europe. in lesvos last week, we talked with greeks that operate small businesses that depend on tourism which has dried up because of the crisis. they say the refugees must be the first priority, that greeks must help people who are in need. in athens we visited a facility for refugee children run by a group called praxis. praxis workers told us about afghan children being sold in europe as sex slaves for as much as $10,000. praxis and scores of similar organizations are doing everything possible with very
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limited means to meet the refugees' desperate needs. in germany, we met with officials at the finance ministry and the chancery as well as people in and out of government who are rising to the challenge of the refugee crisis. chancellor "american option" -- chancellor angela merkel has demonstrated excellent moral leadership in addressing this crisis. people all cross europe have mobilized to meet the needs of the refugees. however, it was clear to me and to other senators in our delegation that these noble efforts are not enough. the refugee crisis is too big. the scale of human suffering and need is overwhelming. president obama has offered to take in 10,000 refugees over the next year but germany is taking in as many as 10,000 refugees in a single day. day after day, week after week with no end in sight.
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my state of new hampshire has been welcoming refugees fleeing conflict, as have other states. i think people are eager to do more across this country. tu -- turkey needs to secure its borders and needs to crack down on smugglers and criminal gangs and trafficking refugees. countries like greece and italy need more resources to help process refugees. the same is true of turkey, jordan and lebanon who have taken in millions of refugees. as i said, germany earned our admiration for its leadership, offering to take in as many as one million refugees this year. but for all its resources, germany can't do this alone. it's already reaching a point where its communities can't keep up with the influx. we are confronting the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time. europe is responding.
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the european union will use the coming winter months when the flow of refugees will slow to come up with a more effective plan to share the burden and address this challenge. however, european nations, turkey, jordan and other front line states -- lebanon -- can't meet this challenge alone. the international community must give more generous support to humanitarian efforts by the world food program and others. and by all means, the united states is leader of the atlantic alliance, must play a more robust role in addressing the refugee crisis. i'm heartened by the bipartisan bill that's sponsored by senator graham of south carolina and leahy of vermont which will provide assistance to meeting the needs of refugees. the obama administration has proposed taking in 10,000 syrian refugees over the next year. that's a start. but it's not enough given the
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scale of this crisis. we have the resources to safely vet and process more refugees for asylum in the united states, even as we need to do so more efficiently. as senator graham said recently, i don't see how you can lead the free world and turn your back on people who are seeking it. to turn away families fleeing violence, said senator graham, is to -- and i quote -- "take the statue of liberty and tear it down because we don't need it anymore." end quote. we also need to deal with the root of the problem, the violence in syria. we must redouble our diplomatic efforts as well as our campaign against the islamic state in both syria and iraq. unfortunately, there's a new dimension to the chaos and conflict in syria. in recent weeks russia has sent combat planes, heavy armor and military personnel to support
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the regime of bashar al-assad. russia is threatening to send thousands of so-called -- i say that in quotes -- "so-called" volunteer troops to syria to fight on the front line. a newly aggressive and reckless russia is a problem not only in the middle east but also in ukraine, where our senate delegation visited after leaving greece. the ukrainians are struggling to fight corruption and build a stable democracy, but those efforts have been severely undermined by russian subversion and aggression. president putin was not content to invade and annex crimea. he's also sponsored the establishment of russia-controlled provinces in eastern ukraine, and this conflict in the east of ukraine is designed by russia to destabilize democratic ukraine and to drain its resources.
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now our delegation met with senior delegation officials including prime minister netzanyuk and president poroshenko. we were briefed with russia's efforts on many fronts to detaibles -- destabilize the country. the european union and the united states are standing by ukraine, and this solidarity is making a difference. it appears to have moderated russia's ambitions, at least for now. the countries of western europe and the united states have demanded that russia fully implement the minsk 2 agreement to contain the conflict and we heard encouraging signs. elections in the break-away provinces, elections that might have led to succession have been delayed. russia is redeploying light armor away from the region.
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but of course this is not adequate. sanctions on russia must remain in place until president putin and the rebels he backs fulfill all of their obligations under the minsk 2 agreement. i left ukraine with a strong sense that despite living under an ever-present threat from russia, this is a nation that continues to stand strong and move forward. it was an honor to personally reaffirm to ukraine's leadership and citizens that the united states is an ally and partner and that we strongly support the government posts agenda of reform -- the government's agenda of reform and modernization. our european allies are confronting an array of challenges unprecedented since the end of the second world war. not only the refugee crisis but also rising threats from russia, economies that continue to be held back by debt and austerity, and a resurgence of
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nationalistic and nativist political parties. however, our delegation witnessed firsthand a creative and resourceful europe that is capable of meeting these challenges. europe needs and deserves american support and partnership beginning with a more robust u.s. response to the refugee crisis, which is the greatest humanitarian challenge of our time. i hope we in this chamber and in congress will rise in response to that challenge to do our part. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk should call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call: quorum call:
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mr. franken: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: thank you, mr. president. i suggest that the quorum be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. franken: thank you, mr. president. i rise today to talk about the intelligence committee's bill that we are currently debating, the cybersecurity information sharing act of 2015 or cisa. this chamber sees its fair share of disagreements so it is worth noting when there is something that we can all agree on, and i think we can all agree on the need for congressional action on cybersecurity. we face ever-increasing cyber attacks by sophisticated individuals, organized crime syndicates and foreign regimes.
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these attacks pose a real threat to our economy and to our national security. it is clear that we must respond to these new threats because the cost of complacency is too high. but it's critical that in deciding how we protect our information networks, that we also continue to protect the fundamental privacy rights and the civil liberties of americans. in short, there is a pressing need for meaningful, effective cybersecurity legislation that balances privacy and security. unfortunately, as it now stands, the cybersecurity information sharing act, cisa, falls short.
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since this legislation was first introduced, i and a number of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have raised serious concerns about the problems that the bill presents for americans' privacy and for the effective operation of our nation's cyber defense. my colleagues and i are not alone. serious concerns have been raised by technologists, security experts, civil society organizations from across the political spectrum and major tech companies such as apple, dropbox, twitter, yelp, sales force.com and mozilla. neither the business software alliance nor the computer and communications industry association support cisa as -- as written. in a letter i received from the department of homeland security
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this summer, the agency which has a leading role on cybersecurity for the federal government expressed concern about specific aspects of cisa. d.h.s. explained that under the bill's approach -- quote -- the complexity for both government and businesses and inefficiency of any information sharing will marketly increase -- end quote. the letter explained that cisa would do away with important privacy protections and to make it harder, harder, not easier to develop a -- quote -- single comprehensive picture of the range of cyber threats faced daily, unquote. now, senator burr and senator feinstein, the bill managers, have worked very hard over the last months to improve various aspects of the bill and their
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substitute amendment offers a significantly improved version of cisa, and i really appreciate their efforts. but it is clear to me and others the improvements do not go far enough. major concerns raised in the letter from d.h.s. and voiced by security experts, privacy advocates and tech companies still have not been resolved. let me briefly describe three of them. first, the bill gives companies a free pass to engage in network monitoring and information sharing activities as well as the operation of defensive measures in response to anything they deem a cybersecurity threat. no matter how improbable it is that it constitutes a risk of any kind. the term cybersecurity threat is
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really the linchpin of this bill. companies can monitor systems, share cyber threat indicators with one another or with the government and supply defensive measures to protect against any cybersecurity threats. so the definition of cybersecurity threat is pretty important, and the bill finds cybersecurity threat to include any action that -- quote -- may result in an unauthorized effort to adversely impact cybersecurity. under this definition, companies can take action even if it's unreasonable to think that security might be compromised. this raises serious concerns about the scope of all of the authorities granted by the bill and the privacy implications of those authorities, and security
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advocates and experts have warned that in this context, establishing the broadest possible definition, the broadest possible definition of cybersecurity threat actually threatens to undermine security by increasing the amount of unreliable information shared with the government. i have written an amendment which is cosponsored by senators leahy, wyden and durbin which would set the bar a bit higher, requiring that a threat be at least reasonably likely, reasonably likely to result in an effort to adversely impact security. this standard gives companies plenty of plebility. they don't need to be certain that an incident or event is an
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attack before they share information. they should have at least determined that it's plausible, that it's a plausible threat. but the definition of a cybersecurity threat isn't the only problematic provision of the bill. this brings me to a second concern that i would like to highlight. the bill provides a blanket authorization that allows companies to share information -- quote -- notwithstanding any other provision of law -- end quote. as d.h.s. explained this past summer, that statutory language -- quote -- sweeps away important privacy protections, unquote. indeed, it means that cisa would override all existing privacy laws from the electronic communications privacy act,
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ecpa, to hipa, a law that protects sensitive health information. moreover, this blanket authorization applies to sharing done with any federal agencies. companies are free to directly share with whomever they choose, including law enforcement, military intelligence agencies. this means that unbeknownst to their customers, companies may share information that contains customers' personal information with n.s.a., f.b.i. and others. from a security perspective, it also means that we're setting up a diffuse system. i want to emphasize that. we are setting up a diffuse system that as d.h.s.'s letter acknowledged is likely to be complex and inefficient, where it's actually harder, it is harder for our cybersecurity
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experts to connect the dots and keep us safe, and that is the point. these are all reasons why privacy experts, independent security experts and the department of homeland security have all warned that cisa's blanket authorization is a problem. earlier this year, the house avoided this problem when they passed the national cybersecurity protection advancement act by a vote of 355-63. that information sharing bill only authorizes -- authorizes only sharing with the government through a single civil hub at the department of homeland security, a move toward efficient streamlining of information that's also good for
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preserve. but understand, this is the house of representatives 355-63, saying let's make this easier for the government to have all the information one place. finally, cisa fails to accurately assure the removal of irrelevant personal information, and this, of course, is a major concern. the bill allows personal information to be shared even when there is a high likelihood that the information is not related to a cybersecurity threat. combined with the overall broad definition of cybersecurity threat, this basically ensures that private entities will share extraneous information from americans' personal communications. if companies are going to receive the broad liability
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protection that this bill provides, they should be expected to do better than this. senator wyden has offered an amendment which i am proud to be the cosponsor of, which would require companies to be more diligent and to remove -- quote -- to the extent feasible, to the extent feasible any personal information that isn't necessary to identify a cybersecurity threat. to the extent feasible. this is a crucial improvement. but it's hardly novel. in fact, it's basically the same standard that is in place today when information is shared between private companies and the department of homeland security. there is no justification for lowering that standard in cisa, especially because the bill also provides companies with significant liability
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protection. mr. president, the amendments i have talked about today as well as a number of other pending amendments would make cisa a better bill, one that is significantly more protective of americans' privacy and more likely to advance cybersecurity. i want to encourage my colleagues to support these amendments. without them, i fear that, however well-intentioned, cisa will do a disservice to the american people. mr. president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. and thank you. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. carper: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. carper: mr. president, i would just note right from the top, you andry on the same schedule because -- you and i are on the same schedule because i come here a couple times a week and you are here more often. this is cruel and unusual punishment, i suspect for you. thank you for showing up. otherwise i wouldn't have a chance to share these thoughts today with the folks in the chamber and anybody else who may have tuned in. earlier this year, mr. president, the senate actually took up legislation that was reported out of the environment and public works committee which was a six-year transportation authorization bill. and a lot of people who don't work here don't realize that for us to spend money, taxpayer
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money, we in most cases have to authorize a program at certain funding levels. then we have to come back and do a certain step and that's to actually appropriate the money that has been authorized. if you spend $100,000 in a program, you can't come in an just appropriate a lot more money than that. you have to do it within the levels set by the authorization bill. well, we picked -- we took up on the floor of the senate the environment and public works six-year transportation bill, coauthored by senator inhofe and senator boxer, republican and democrat, reported out of the committee unanimously. most people think we fight about everything here. well, we don't. and in environment and public works, senators inhofe and boxer have been very good at working together on these authorization bills. the authorization bill does not contain the funding, but it says these are our transportation policies and this is a level we
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think is appropriate but doesn't actually fund a dollar to go to those appropriations. over in the house of representatives today, they got in the act and the house, as i understand it, the house transportation committee has reported out -- i think on a voice vote -- reported out on a voice vote their own six-year authorization bill. so this is good. this is progress. it hasn't passed the house yet but at least it is out of committee with parntsly a full amount of -- parntsl apparentlyl amount of support. the senate-passed bill, called the drive act, passed the senate here recently, this is a bill that -- just like names for ca cars, the drive act surface transportation legislation reauthorization ans reform act. it has a number,37 he 63 and it is a six-year authorization for
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transportation programs. do these bills have any good ideas in them? they really do and as it turns out, there is a fair amount of common ground that these two pieces of legislation share. the senate-passed bill and the bill that's out of the house committee. there is a new focus on making freight transportation more reliable, more affordable, and more efficient. when you look at an outfit called mackenzie and company, mackenzie and company, a big national consulting firm, they have an entity, a part of -- an appendage is called the global institute. and a year or so ago they opined that fully funded, robustly funded transportation program in the united states would provide 1.8 million new jobs in this country, 1.8 million new jobs in this country, understand that it
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would grow -- and that it would grow g.d.p. by 1.5% per year. not just one time but per year. pretty amazing numbers actually for me. well, one of the things that actually drives the increase in employment and the growth in g.d.p. is a more efficient freight transportation system and one that actually focuses on this legislation, focuses on freight, not just moving us a n our cars and trucks but actually moving freight in a more efficient way. a second area where there seems to be some agreement is both pieces of legislation prioritizes -- especially the senate's version -- prioritizes bridge safety and large programs of national importance. we have a bufnlg of bridges in this country -- i forget are what the percentage is -- that are substandard, not safe. i'm going to say maybe -- well,
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one in nine, maybe one out of every nine -- take your choice of the bridges you're going over. think about that, one in nine are deemed to be essentially unsafe. both of these bills say, well, that ought to be a priority and we'd whriek to authorize higher spending for that. these bills focus on clean air funding toward some of the most dangerous sources of emissions, diesel emissions, a lot of them come from road-building, road highway bridge-building equipment that is diesel-powered and puts out harmful emissions and actually our bill in the senate does some good things to reduce that's emissions while we go about building these transportation projects. one of the things that i especially like about our bill, it says, you know, eventually maybe we ought to have an approach to funding roads, highways, bridges. maybe it should be something less -- reflects vehicle miles
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traveled. we don't have that kind of magical system now, and in oregon they've been trying to do it for ten years. they call it a r.u.c., a road user charge. they've got maybe 5,000 families that are actually use thsmght bu--using this. it is a long way from 5,000 families to coming up with a national system. but our senate-passed bill provides alternative user fees to replace maybe the gas and diesel tax somewhere down the line. not next year, probably not this decade but somewhere down the line i think we ought to try -- that should be a growing part of the source of revenues, to pay for transportation. the senate bill even increases -- bumps up a little bit baseline funding and funding for transportation. wish it could have been more, but at least it is an effort -- an effort -- to $that. -- an effort -- to do that.
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this is one of my favorite charts, mr. president. i have a friend from montana, a former attorney general, former governor, former chair of the national republican committee, who is name is mark roscoe. and mark and frocks hi folks frs state like to talk about cowboys who really aren't cowboys. and they have a saying outer there. they say, "all hat, no cattle." and in this case, swre we can he all the transportation bills until the cows come home. unless we fund them, they're just words. i don't know who this guy, but i love this poster. all hat, no cattle. frankly, that's where we are right now because we don't have agreement on how we're going to really pay for robustly funding
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a transportation project. well, here's an idea out there that goes beyond lousy pay-fors, the kind of stuff that would steal money for ten years out of t.s.a. instead of making our skies safer, aviation transportation safer, we put down money -- ten years of money into three months of helping to fund transportation projects. that's not too smart but we do that. instead of making border crossings in this country safer, folks trying to get into our country, we usually use customs fees, we put ten years of customs fees collected into three months or so of transportation projects. we take -- reloo we look at the strategic petroleum reserve, we tried to buy itllo it low and ne it very much. we spen spent the last couple of
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years buying and filling the strategic petroleum reserve at $80, $90, maybe $100. now we're selling it at maybe half that price. investors buy low, sell high. that's where they make their profit. what we're doing with the strategic petroleum reserve is buy high, sell low and use that -- whatever money we realize to help pay for some transportation project. not a real smart investment strategy. well, what senator dick durbin and i have introduced is something called the traffic relief act, and it has all this kind -- it's an acronym, tax relief and fix the trust fund for infrastructure certainty act of 2015. here's the real thing. we need to know about it. it raises $220 billion. $220 billion over the next ten years, and we raise $220 billion in the next ten years to go into
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the transportation trust fund. if we just want to go, like, kind of frankly not a level of spending that actually addresses the problem. in fact, we have our roads, highways, bridges, get a d-plus. civil engineers across the country, every year they evaluate our transportation infrastructure. they give us a d-plus. d as in dog, d as in dangerous, d as in degraded. when you spend $90 billion a year, which is maybe contemplated in the authorization legislation -- maybe a little bit more -- we don't make i much a dent in the work that needs to be done. we propose $220 billion, and we have have $130 billion for new investments in repairs and upgrades. i should be able to do some new projects and make a bigger dent in the ones that need our attention.
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let's see what we have on our next chart. and i think there is a fair amount of support for doing that from what i hear. let's take a look. we looked at a a couple of editorials, editorials that basically say what they think in newspapers from coast to coast, east to west. they say we ought to pay for transportation, roads, highways or bridges, those who use the roads, highways and bridges ought to pay for them. that's what we have done for years. we raised the gas and diesel packs in 1993, 22 years ago, about 18 cents for the gas tax, 23 cents for the diesel tax. under today's purchasing power, adjust for inflation, it's a gas tax that is worth less than a dime. diesel tax not worth 23 cents, worth closer to probably 12
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cents. so here is what someone from the "new york times" says. highways need a higher gas tax. essentially saying restoring the purchasing power of the gas and diesel tax. not add a dollar. restore the purchasing power. "usa today" says raise gas tax, our view. they also add highway funding high jinks, our view. let's see if we have any others. "the washington post" says -- this is a very recent one. highway transportation fund needs a permanent and simple fix. more -- even more recent ln that, editorial board, congress recklessly refuses to top up the highway trust fund. even more recently, congress should fix the gas tax. again, restore the purchasing power of gas and diesel. not to use it for extraneous stuff. not to use it for foreign aid. not to use it for afghanistan or other places around the world. not to use it for health care. not to use it for education. use it to takes these roads, highways and bridges.
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they are deteriorating and actually put the money, any extra money we generate into those. bangor up in maine, the nation's highway fund doesn't have to continue to lose ground. "the register guard," i'm not sure where that is. just raise the gas tax, an editorial from july. again, "the washington post" opining again, same message earlier january of this year let's look at that one again. with oil prices low, now's the perfect time for congress to raise the gas tax. that's what they said in january of this year. as it turns out, -- i did some checking. we found out last week, mr. president, last week, 29,000 gas stations across the country, they are selling gas for less than $2 a gallon. think about that. 29,000 gas stations across america, gas stations in my neighborhood $2.09. "the washington post" opined like seven, eight, nine months ago, said with prices low, now is the perfect time for congress to raise the gas tax.
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gas prices are about a half dollar lower now than they were then. if it's -- if this iran agreement is fully implemented, iran which produced maybe 200,000 barrels of oil a day, a year from now they will be producing about a million barrels a day. which suggests to me a world that is awash in oil might continue to be awash in oil for a while. low oil prices, i think it's reason to think they will not spike back up any time soon. more -- more editorials, more headlines. ""miami herald ,"" fix our roads. raise the gas tax and make better policy, akron. and "the journal star," in minnesota, follow the logic on gas tax. and finally, you know, those are major newspapers across the country. we've also done -- had some polling done, not by us but by
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the american road and transportation builders association and also by mineta, some of us remember norm mineta, secretary of the interior, secretary of transportation. worked in both the republican and bush administration, the clinton administration. but the -- these two recent nationwide surveys, clear majorities have indicated support for increasing fuel taxes as a fair way to invest in transportation projects. here's one of -- this is from the american road and transportation builders association. a strong majority supports payments to keep up with inflation by a more than 2-1 margin. 2-1 margin, voters supported increased payments directed to upkeep of the nation's infrastructure, given the need to keep up with inflation. about 68%, 70% support, strongly support or somewhat support doing that. and we have another recent poll. these are just a representative sample. there are others that come out almost weekly now. the united transportation -- the
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mineta transportation institute poll that gives a variety of different options. from gas tax, sales tax, vehicle miles traveled fee. and the one that actually gets the most support is a ten-cent increase with revenue used just for transportation. not for any other purpose. 71%. i was surprised it's this high. but people want us to fix the roads, highways and bridges. they are tired of paying for repairs to their vehicle. and the -- this is today. "the "philadelphia inquirer". their quote. the next time your axle snaps or a tire rim is bent on a bumpy highway, consider delivering the broken car parts to your congressional representatives, delegation, your house members, your senators. so the average amount of money that we spend on cars, trucks, vans, on repairs every year that
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is related to bad roads, bad bridges is anywhere from $350 a year to as much as $500 a year. that's the range there. is that the last? let me just close with this. sometimes people say you can't vote -- you can't vote here to do this stuff. none of us would ever get re-elected. well, wait a minute, how about the 12 states that in the last two years, they actually voted to do this stuff? state highway transportation departments get about half their money from federal and they raise about half their money locally. they are -- their major source of revenues locally are taxes, user fees on gas and diesel. 12 states the last two years. these are mostly red states, because there are more red states i think at least with legislatures and governors than blue. but 95%, 95% of the republican legislators who voted to raise user fees on gas and diesel in
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their states, 95% of them were re-elected last fall. they won their primary, they won their general. they were re-elected. who wasn't elected as much? the people who voted against doing that. so the folks actually voted to raise their user fees got re-elected more than the people who voted against it. on the democratic side in states where they voted for user fees to pay just for transportation, not anything else, just for transportation, 90% of the democrats got re-elected, 90%. more people got re-elected legislators who voted for it than did not get re-elected. just to keep that in mind, i -- i said enough. the majority leader is waiting. i thank him for his patience. but the long story short, there is a need out there, the american people expect us to do something about it, they want us to work together, and we need not just to have a hat. this can'ting all hat. there has to be some cattle. where's the beef? where's the money to pay for this stuff? i will be back next week to talk
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about it some more. and i thank the majority leader for his patience. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: on november 8, just a few weeks away, the people of burma will hold national elections. it promises to be a momentous event for a country many of us have studied and followed for a very long time. in my own case, for over 20 years. this is going to be a momentous election for at least two reasons. first, for burma's citizens or for many of them, at least, this election represents a chance to finally choose their own leaders, which is indeed a rare occurrence in recent burmese history. that is significant in itself. but there's another reason these elections are so important. because the manner in which they are conducted will serve as a
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key indicator of the progress of reform in that country. now, there are some encouraging signs that the election will be freer and fairer than what we have seen in the past. unlike recent burmese elections, for example, international election observers have been permitted into the country. that's an important departure from the past, and it's encouraging. at the same time, there have been troubling signs during the election cycle. allow me to share a few of them with you now. first, the constitution was not amended prior to the election. as many of my colleagues will recall, the burmese constitution unreasonably restricts who can be a candidate for president. a hardly subtle attempt to bar the country's most popular
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opposition figure from even standing for office. that's certainly worrying enough, but the constitution goes en further, ensuring an effective military veto over constitutional change, over, for instance, amendments about who can run for the presidency by requiring more than 3/4 parliament support in a legislature where the constitution also reserves, listen to this, reserves one fourth of the seats for the military. so in order to change the constitution, you've got to get some military votes, and obviously so far that hasn't happened. allowing appropriate constitutional changes to pass through parliament would have represented a tangible demonstration of the burmese government's commitment to both political reform and to a freer and fairer election this november. but when the measures were put to a vote on june 25, the
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government's allies exercised the very undemocratic power the constitution grants them to stymie the effort. so what kind of messages do these actions send us? they bring the burmese government's continued commitment to democracy into question. if you are really committed to democracy, why would you continue a provision like that that to most of the world is simply quite laughable or outrageous? they also raise fundamental questions about the balloting this fall, increasing the prospect of an election being perceived as something other than the will of the people, even if its actual conduct proves to be free and fair. it's hard to see how that's in anybody's interests. the second deeply troubling consideration is the apparent widespread if not universal disenfranchisement of the
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rohinga population. now, for all the ill treatment the rohinga have had to endure in their history, at least they had once been able to vote and run for office in burma. they voted and fielded candidates for office in both the 2010 election and the 1990 election, but alas no more. reports indicate that otherwise eligible rohinga, more than half a million of them, have been systematically deprived of the right to vote and the right to stand for election. that poses another serious challenge to next month's elections being seen as free and fair. and there's another challenge i would note as well. finally, while immediate activity in burma is -- media activity in burma is far more open than it was in 2010, there have been troubling signs that indicate a recent and worrying backslide.
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in fact, just a few days ago, news circulated of individuals being arrested for facebook postings. now, these are really disturbing reports. campaigns can only be conducted when the free exchange of ideas is permitted. arresting citizens for free expression runs directly counter to that idea. it's at odds with notions of free speech and democracy, and it seems designed to send chilling signals to the burmese people. so, mr. president, it's clear that burma faces substantial challenges, from the undemocratic elements in burma's constitution to the disenfranchisement of the rohinga to troubling incidents regarding the curtail of citizens' basic rights. these challenges are significant. they need to be addressed. at the same time, we should not allow these things to completely
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overshadow what burma has accomplished. it's actually come a long way in recent years. there are many positive things to build upon as well. in short, there's still hope for burma's upcoming election. the government has an opportunity to make these last few weeks of campaigning as free and as fair as possible. the burmese government can still hold an election that despite the troubling things i mentioned can still be embraced by burmese citizens and the international community alike. but that will mean ensuring these final weeks of campaigning are as free and as fair as possible. that will mean ensuring freedom of expression is protected. these are the kinds of minimum goals that burmese officials must strive for in the final weeks of the campaign season. if the burmese government gets this right, if it ensures as free and fair election as
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possible with results accepted by competing parties, the government and the military, that would go a long way toward reassuring burma's friends around the globe that it remains committed to political reform and progress in the bilateral relationship. indeed, both the government and the military have committed to strandinstanding by the election results. but now let me be clear, mr. president. while i have always approached this relationship and the role of sanctions realistically, this election is a test that the government must pass. simply holding an election without mass casualties and violence, while vitally important, isn't good enough. let me say that again. just holding an election without mass violence is not enough. it's got to do a lot more than
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just have the absence of violence. as i stated on the senate floor earlier in year, if we need up with an election not accepted by the burmese people as reflecting their will, it will make further normalization of relations, at least as it concerns the -- the legislative branch of this government, much more difficult. it would likely hinder further enhancement of u.s.-burma economic ties and military-to-military relations. it would likely erode confidence in burma's reform efforts. it would also likely make it more difficult for the executive branch to include burma in the generalized system of preference program or to enhance political military relations. those of us who follow burma want this country to succeed. we want to see the government carry out an election that's as free and fair as possible. we're prepared to continue doing what we can to encourage more
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positive change in that country. and we'll be realistic about what is possible. as i just mentioned, that's the kind of approach i've always tried to take; a hopeful by still realistic bu one when it comes this relationship, not just on the role of sanctions but also on the possible steps toward closer relations and on the individual programs and policies that would aid burma's development and capabilities. so we're hoping the burmese government gets this right. this is a big opportunity to send a signal to the rest of the world that burma has indeed really changed. we're hoping the burmese people continue moving along the path of greater freedom and greater reform. but whatever the result, burmese government officials should be assured that burma's partners in the united states and in the international community will be
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watching intently to see what happens in the coming weeks. with a realistic assessment in what burma can achieve. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that at 5:00 p.m. on monday, october 26, the sna the proceed to executive session to consider calendar 140 and that there be up to 30 minutes of debate on the nomination and that following the use or yielding back of time, the senate vote on the nomination without intervening action or debate. that following disposition of the nomination, the motion to
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reconsider be considered maude and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate, that no further motions be in order to the nomination, that any statements related to the nomination be printed in the record, that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, and the senate then resume legislative session. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: now, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to executive session for the consideration of calendar number 308 through 320, that the nominations be confirmed en bloc, the motions to reconsider be laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate, in a further motions be in order, that any statements related to the nominations be printed in the record, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, and the senate then re-seou resume legislative. officethe presiding officer: ofr without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 202, s. 1493. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number
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202, s. 1493, a bill to provide for an increase effective december 1, 2015, in the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: there objection to proceeding to the measure? no objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask that the bill be read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the consideration of calendar number 264, s. res. 274. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 264, senate resolution 274, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the peaceful and democratic reunification of germany. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding 0 to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed
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to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: now, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the judiciary committee be discharged from further consideration of s. res. 283 and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 283, designating october 2015 as filipino-american history month. the presiding officer: without objection, the committee is discharged and the senate shall proceed to the measure. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i now ask unanimous consent that the judiciary committee be discharged from further consideration of s. res. 287 and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution
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287, condemning the senseless murder and wounding of 18 individuals in roseburg, oregon, on october 1, 2015. the presiding officer: without objection, the committee is discharged and the senate shall proceed to the consideration of the measure. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate. i ask unanimous consent that all senators be added as cosponsors to the resolution. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i now ask unanimous consent that the e.p.w. committee be disarnled from further consideration and the senate proceed to s. res. 288. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 288, commemorating october 22, 2015, as the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the highway beautification act of 1965.
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the presiding officer: without objection, the committee is disarnlded and the senate shall receive the consideration of the mairchlt. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i now ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 294, submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 294, designating october 26, 2015, as day of the deployed. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i now ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to immediate consideration of s. res. 295 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 295, designating the week of november 2 through november 6,
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2015, as national veterans small business week. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolutions agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i understand there is a bill at the desk and i ask for its first reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title for if first time. the presidinthe clerk: s. 2200,o amend the fair labor standards act of 1938 to strengthen equal pay requirements. mr. mcconnell: i now ask for its second reading and in order to plaits bill on the calendar under the provisions of rule 14, i object to my own request. officer objection having been heard, the bill will be read for a second time on the next legislative day. mr. mcconnell: now, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today it adjourn until 3:00 p.m. monday, october 26.
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following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day. following leader remarks, senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. finally, at 5:00 p.m., the senate proceed to executive session under the previous order. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: so if ness to further business to come before the senate, i ask it stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until senate stands adjourned until that wraps up the senate session in the senate to work for the week. lawmakers today continuing work on a cybersecurity information sharing built voting 83-14 to advance the measure. also executive and abbasid oriel nominations. we'll have more live senate coverage when the gavel comes
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down next here on c-span2. former secretary of state hillary clinton has been testifying today before the house benghazi committee. we join live coverage of that now here on c-span2. >> much different than what you are telling me. intelligence may change the video may have an impact in other places but in benghazi it didn't and you try to put them all together. that's what bothers me. let me show you a slide. this is from september 14. the first day let's be clear these protests were a reaction to a video that spread to the region. we have no information to suggest that benghazi was a preplanned attack. the statement below is from your press person in libya. greg hicks and to the experts the same people who who said susan rice is off the
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reservation on five networks. here is what they gave and here's what she said to them. benghazi more terrorist attacks in a protest we want to distinguish, distinguish the event. this is a well-planned attack so again privately the experts in it affairs bureau the experts in libya know that this was a well-planned attack but publicly jay carney is saying the same thing you are saying publicly. we have no information that this was preplanned. this was caused by a video. >> congressman, the next morning at 9:59 i gave another statement and i listened carefully to what you said and you kept talking about cause. well the word cause is not in my statement of the night before. >> i'm referring to what you said to me and our first exchange a few hours ago. >> i'm sorry commerce meant if i haven't been clear i will try to
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be clearer. i was talking about people throughout the region trying to justify attacks on our facilities as we saw later in the week and justifying their behavior and repeating it and using the fact of the video not only to arouse crowds as we saw in the video clips that the ranking member played, but also that would deter governments from coming to our rescue because they would be perhaps ambivalent about doing so, so you are right. i mentioned the video because i feared what would happen and in fact it did happen and in the next morning, the night before was a brief statement that we put out because we knew we had lost sean smith and i felt an application to tell that to the american people. the next morning i gave a much
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longer statement and it was very clear. heavily armed militants assaulted the compound. that's what it says. >> secretary clinton that's a good bet you are trying to communicate to folks all over, all the folks he had around the middle east, right? >> i was trying to send a message. >> i got it but that's not what the experts said. they said go conflate the event. tell the truth about benghazi. talk about what happened there. other places where the video may have had impact, fine say that. why did you put them all together tracks when you didn't do that privately and you told your family about benghazi and it was terrorist killed two of our people. when he talks the libyan president, al qaeda did it when you talk to the prime minister we know it's not a protest and we know it's not a video. it's a terrorist attack. >> congressman i was working off the information that we had which was that ansar al-sharia
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claimed responsibility and at that point i did say that it was an al qaeda related. >> one says it was a preplanned attack and the other one said from your expert in libya was a well-planned attack. they could not be further apart. they could not be. that is what i'm having a hard time figuring out. do you know what else happened on september 14 quack there is another document that's kind of important. that's the same day that ben burroughs drafted his talking points memo. bullet point number number two to underscore that these protests are rooted in an internet video not a broader failure of policy because we couldn't have libya, we couldn't have that fail. the d

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