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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  October 28, 2015 2:00pm-4:01pm EDT

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his career of casting 15,000 votes spanned over four decades in the senate. some would say, the courtliness, the gentlemanliness, the bipartisanship, the deference, the respect, the honor -- some would say these are old-fashioned ideas. well, this senator happens to feel that they are american values, and how often have we seen those characteristics not on display? tonight the house of representatives is going to pass not only raising the debt ceiling so we can pay our bills
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but also a budget template, a blueprint under which we can then appropriate the specifics. mr. leahy: mr. president, would the senator yield for just one moment to me? mr. nelson: absolutely. mr. leahy: mr. president, the senator from florida and i have been friends for decades, and to get this praise from a man who served with distinction as a congressman, a senator, and an astronaut means a great deal to me, and i thank him. mr. nelson: well, the senator is very gracious, but i stood to comment upon the characteristics that he has exemplified in his public life that is a role model for all of us. i was about to say that here we are seeing tonight that the u.s. congress is going to be able to
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move ahead without falling off the fiscal cliff because there's going to be a bipartisan vote in the house of representatives. my goodness gracious! isn't this what it's supposed to be what it's all about? my senator from vermont can remember back well over 0 years ag--well over 30 years ago whene role models in the house of representatives were tip o'neill and bob michel, the democratic speaker and the leader of the republicans. they had had their fights and at the end of the day they were personal friends, they had a personal relationship, that then they could work out all the thorny problems and build consensus in order to govern. i thank the senator from vermo
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vermont. mr. president, i came here to talk about the transportation bill. we've got it in front of us. transportation has laid the foundation of our country's success, whether it was henry ford who showed us how to do mass aut automotive manufacturi, whether it was henry flagler who built a railroad down an unsettled land down the east coast of florida, brought in the development of my state; whether it was the wright brothers -- these guys were much more than bicycle shop owners. these guys were geniuses that studied the movement of birds.
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they were the first ones to be able to figure out how what they called it in the day "a heaver - a heavier-than-air flying machine," how you could do that. and these ideas and over the years the investments helped make this country become a global leader in almost everything. now, with regard to transportation, we've gotten off course. rather than making big investments, we keep kicking the can down the road. today's extension, short-term extension, i might say, of the highway trust fund is one more example of this. because it's just putting off what we have to $, which is
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improve our roads, our rails, and our port infrastructure. and that means we've got to increase the investments in our infrastructure and focus on the area that will not only create jobs and support our economy but will rehabilitate this infrastructure. our roads are crumbling, our bridges are crumbling. remember a few years ago when the main interstate highway in minnesota, the bridge collapsed, killing a number of people, injuring others? our infrastructure is crumbling. and so we need to do these investments in our transportation infrastructure to make sure that it's safe.
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well, in july, the senate stood tall. we had a republican chairman and a democratic ranking member, senator inhofe and senator box boxer. they came together, just like that, like it's supposed to be around here, and they passed the highway bill -- we call it the highway bill, but it includes a lot more ... ports, rail, highway safety, all the things that go on with building a new road, such as sidewalks. we passed that, and it passed overwhelmingly, and it passed overwhelmingly bipartisan. but then you get to the point of how in the world are we going to pay for it? that bill included many important provisions that will keep workers on the job.
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for the first time, the bill included a freight rail program that aims to improve freight across all types of transportation, not just freight but truck, ports, and of course what this is going to do is it's going to help us move goods more efficiently, whether they're traveling through a port or on rail or on the highways. for the i first time, this highy reauthorization was a bipartisan reauthorization of amtrak. amtrak was last reauthorized two years ago, way back in 2013. and so with a strong commitment from the commerce committee chairman, senator thune, all of us on the committee were able to include provisions that will
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improve our passenger rail systems. anin the commerce committee, we fought to improve safety and increased investments in our infrastructure. there were many provisions, especially on trucking and vehicle safety issues, that really needed to be improved. and what we put it in there, in the bill, was to prevent rolling back safety improvements in transportation. and so here we are. today we need to pass this bill so we can quickly get to work on the final bill. this is just a stopgap, temporary measure. i urge the house to work toward
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a bipartisan compromise like the senate bill rather than weigh the bill down with a whole bunch of ideological things and safety rollbacks and giveaways to industries. this highway bill is too important to get mired in partisan politics. and so for us to maintain the safety, efficiency, and growth of our transportation system, congress must put an end to the instability caused by what we're going to have to do today, which is a short-term extension. mr. president, we can only do this by working together to find commonsense and bipartisan solutions. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. hatch: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: thank you. mr. president, it's been a while since i've come to the senate
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floor to talk about the shortcomings of the so-called affordable care act. a few months at least. the last time i spoke about obamacare here on the floor. i spoke at some length about the ever-increasing insurance premiums that had resulted from the lost draconian and makes and regulations. as i rise today to revisit this subject, things haven't gotten better for obamacare. in fact, if the obama administration's own estimates are to be believed, things are actually getting much worse. as we all know, this sunday, november 1, marks the beginning of the 2016 open enrollment period for the obamacare health insurance exchanges. this is an important milestone for the health law, in large part because president obama and his supporters have, since the day the law was passed, repeatedly promised that as americans become more familiar with how the law works, the more they will grow to love it. obamacare proponents wrote off problems in the first year of
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enrollment as glitches that were to be expected as the country transitioned to a new health care system. problems in the second year were similarly dismissed as necessary growing pains, as everyone learned from the mistakes that were made the previous year. now, as we approach the third year of enrollment, supporters of the president's health care law are running out of excuses. at this point, most reasonable americans, including those who may have been supporters of this endeavor, expected the system created under the law to work the way it was designed to work. and you know what, mr. president? the law is working the way it was designed to work. the problem is that it's not working the way the designers said it would work. at the time the law was drafted, the architects of obamacare said that they can impose all new mandates and regulations on the insurance market requiring massively expanded coverage
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above and beyond consumer demand, claiming that any increased costs that resulted from these requirements would be offset when more young and relatively healthy consumers were forced to buy insurance or pay a fine. of course, they only call it a fine when they were drafting a law and initially selling it to the american people. now, a few years and a supreme court decision later, we're all supposed to call that -- quote -- fine -- unquote -- a -- quote -- tax, unquote. but i digress. my point, mr. president, is that those who drafted the president's health law and then subsequently forced it through congress on a strictly partisan basis said that their new system would expand health coverage for everyone without increasing costs. in fact, they went further. they claimed that it would actually bring costs down. however, due to the way the law was actually designed, it was never going to work that way, no
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matter how many ad campaigns the government claimed -- charged to the taxpayers and no matter how many talk shows the president went on to encourage hip, young audiences to enroll in the exchanges. the numbers were never going to add up. this is true for one simple reason. for all the attention the drafters of obamacare paid to expanding coverage and remaking the health insurance industry, they did not do anything to reduce the actual costs of health care in america. the problems with obamacare are not due to bad marketing. they are the result of fundamental design flaws. health care costs are the biggest barrier keeping participants out of the insurance market. health care costs are among the main factors contributing to wage stagnation for american
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workers. and health care costs continue to be the single largest problem plaguing our nation's health care system. yet, despite these obvious problems, health care costs are all but ignored when the so-called affordable care act was being drafted. and the few provisions in the law that were aimed at bringing down costs were either poorly conceived, terribly implemented or both. for example, we had the consumer operated and oriented plans or co-op program which was nurnlgd to create the development of a nonprofit health insurance sector. specifically under the co-op program, h.h.s. dealt up $2.4 billion in loans to 23 nonprofit start-up plans, many of which were headed not by insurance or health care experts but by political activists with
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no actual business experience. almost immediately, we began to hear reports of mismanagement in the program and poor decisionmaking at the co-ops themselves. earlier this year, the h.h.s. office and inspector general reported that 21 of the 23 co-ops that received loans under the program, loans that were supposed to last for 15 years, by the way, had suffered staggering losses. this, of course, was not surprising given the inexperience of many of the founders of the co-ops and the lack of oversight and accountability at h.h.s. with regard to the program. and while a nonprofit insurer may not be focused on avoiding lawsuits, one would assume that at the very least staying in business would be a priority. yet over the last several months, ten of the 23 co-ops have had to close their doors,
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with more failures expected in the near future. the latest co-op failure was announced just yesterday and took place in my own home state of utah, hitting pretty close to home for a number of people in my state who are just trying to find affordable health care. -- or affordable health insurance. every time one of these co-ops fails, they have -- they leave patients and customers in the lurch. a failed co-op in new york which was called -- quote -- health republic -- unquote -- and was considered by many to be a flagship for the loan program will leave more than 150,000 customers looking for new insurance when its doors close at the end of the year. and of course $2.4 billion is hardly chump change, mr. president. yet, that's how much the american taxpayers have shelled out to these causes, and as of
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right now, it's unlikely any of that money is ever coming back. despite these obvious problems with obamacare, we hear a constant grumping from our friends on the other side of the aisle that the law is a smashing success. my friends and colleagues have gotten very, very good at cherry picking favorable data points to make these type of claims. they will cite an enrollment number out of context or a premium projection that is slightly smaller than one that came before it as evidence that obamacare is working and that only problems with the health care system they so graciously gifted to the american people are the terrible republicans that dared to raise objections. i expect that as time wears on and the number of isolated yet favorable data points continue to get smaller and smaller, more people will see this rule for what it is. case in point. earlier this month, the
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department department of health and human services released its latest projections for enrollment in the obamacare exchanges. and for anyone who has an interest, political, financial or otherwise, in defending the affordable care act, the numbers are not good. and i'm being kind when i say that. the obama administration projects that in 2016, roughly 1.3 million people will newly enroll in the exchanges. now, 1.3 million may sound like a big number. however, as always, context is important here. when the law was originally passed in 2010, the congressional budget office projected that we'd see an increase of about eight million enrollees on the exchanges in 2016 compared to 2015. now h.h.s. is predicting that enrollment will be less than a quarter of that projection.
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it gets worse. in the 2010 c.b.o., -- in 2010, c.b.o. also projected that by the end of 2016, roughly 21 million patients would be enrolled in plans purchased on the exchanges. now, h.h.s. projects that the number will likely be less than half of that, probably a little more than 10 million people. in other words, all the rosie claims of predictions we heard at the time the law was passed about the impact these new exchanges would have on the insurance market and premiums were based in large part on the assumption that twice as many people would enroll. now, by its own terms, obamacare is becoming a bigger failure by the day, and unfortunately i'm not done, mr. president. h.h.s. also estimates that there are 19 million americans who
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earn too much income to qualify for medicaid but still qualify for obamacare exchange subsidies that still have not enrolled. according to their numbers, a little less than half of these people buy insurance off the exchange without getting subsidies, leaving more than 10 million people eligible for subsidies on the exchanges but still uninsured. the administration also says about half of that eligible but uninsured population are between the ages of 18-34 and that nearly two-thirds of them are in excellent or very good health. in other words, mr. president, a huge portion of those refusing to purchase health insurance on the exchanges, even though they are eligible for obamacare subsidies, will the same young and healthy consumers that the obamacare act was designed to coerce into the health insurance
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market in order to subsidize all the new mandates and regulations imposed under this law. the exchanges are failing to attract the very customers they need in order to stay afloat. if they cannot attract more of this prize demographic base, the obamacare exchanges and with them the entire obamacare system itself will collapse under their own weight. the question now becomes what is keeping these young and healthy consumers from enrolling on the exchanges? why are millions of people opting to pay a fine and forgo coverage rather than purchasing health insurance with the aid of the government subsidy. the answer for anyone who wasn't listening earlier is costs. according to a recent survey by the nonpartisan robert whit johnson foundation, the vast majority, nearly 80% of
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uninsured americans that have looked for insurance said that after weighing everything, they could not afford the purchase. sadly, the cost problem is only getting worse. as we learned earlier this year, insurance plans in markets across the country have been requesting dramatic increases in their premiums, and those increases have been confirmed as the enrollment date has drawn closer. just yesterday, i had a number of hospitals from new york, that are around new york city that cannot continue to handle all of the nonpaying emergency room customers. they don't know what to do. they are in danger of losing the health care systems that they have established. well, in minnesota, for example, there are five insurance carriers on the exchange. in 2016, all five will be offering insurance policies with rate hikes in the double digits
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between 14 and 49%. in oregon, premiums for the second lowest cost silver plan on the exchange, the benchmark plan will go up by about 23%. in alaska, that hike will be more than 31%. and in oklahoma, consumers in this benchmark plan will see an increase of more than 35% in their monthly premiums. my home state of utah will not be immune to this trend. unfortunately, last week "the desert news" reported that on average insurance plans for utah's federally run exchange will be 22% higher next year. keep in mind, mr. president, that these numbers only reflect the premium -- reflect premiums and do not take into account potential increases in total out-of-pocket costs, which can
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include things like co-payments or deductibles. in a sense, mr. president, all of -- all of this creates a vicious self-perpetuating cycle. plans on the exchanges, even with the obamacare tax subsidies, are too expensive for millions of the young, healthy consumers that the exchanges need in order to keep the costs down. as a result, not enough of members of this valuable demographic segment purchase insurance, causing plans to become more expensive and leading more insurers to drop out of the marketplace. now, none of this should be surprising, mr. president. from the outset, opponents of obamacare, including myself and many of my republican colleagues, predicted this exact outcome. the cycle moves in only one direction. higher costs, fewer choices, and
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a health care system that offers poorer and poorer care to the american people. absent some sort of an independent and innovative action to bring costs down, there is no scenario in which this gets better. it will only get worse. i know that some of my colleagues have some specific intervening actions in mind. for example, they would like to see the federal government not only regulate the products offered on the insurance market, but the prices as well. and when the inevitable happens when no private insurance provider can remain profitable in an environment where both product and price are set by the government, these same colleagues will of course want the government to step in and provide a plan of its own. in fact, that was what was in their minds, many of them, at the outset, at the beginning, socialized medicine. they figured this would push us
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towards it, and it certainly is if we don't change course. and soon enough, because only the government will be able to provide health insurance without that pesky need to turn a profit, the government's health insurance will be the only available option. now, i don't want to imply base or bad motives on the part of those who supported obamacare -- by the way, it was a totally partisan vote -- but let's be honest about what's going to happen here. a vast group of people on the left are really hoping that government can do it all. and the government will pay for everything. somebody has to feed the government, too. well, in the eyes of many, including, i believe, a number of my colleagues here in congress, the only way to end the downward spiral we're
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currently facing under obamacare is, as i have said, to create a single payer health care system. in other words, socialized medicine where the government provides health care for everybody, and you can imagine how the costs are going to go up when that happens. i made this very plain back in 2010 when the affordable care act was passed and left-leaning politicians and pundits said it it was a paranoid scare tactic. but now as obamacare's downward spiral is becoming more and more obvious, i suspect that my argument is seeming less far-fetched by the day. fortunately, mr. president, the march toward a single-payer system is not our only option. we can take action right now to right this ship. we can control costs. we can take government out of the equation and give patients and consumers more choices. there are a number of ideas out there that would accomplish
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these goals. one of them, of course, is the plan offered by senator burr and myself along with representative fred upton over in the house. our plan is called the patient care act. i've spoken about it at length a number of times here on the floor and elsewhere. and while ours is not the only good plan out there, a number of respective health care experts have analyzed the patient care act and concluded that it would in fact bend the cost curve and make health care more affordable for everybody. once again, the failure to bring down costs is easily the biggest of obamacare's many failures. our plan would ensure that congress does not repeat that failure again. mr. president, i'm well aware that health care policy is a contentious topic around here. i know that there are a myriad of views and no shortage of fierce disagreements on virtually all aspects of our
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failing health care system. but right now it should be clear to everyone that the so-called affordable care act was grossly misnamed. the law has failed to make health care more affordable, and it has failed to correct far too many of the problems that have long plagued our nation's health care system. the sooner more of our colleagues, particularly those on the other side of the aisle, recognize and admit this failure, the sooner we can begin to work together on a plan that will deliver real results to the american people and not continue down this spiraling downward path of moving toward socialized medicine where you have one-size-fits-all medicine for the people in this country, and, frankly, government running it. that has never worked. and it's not going to work in
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this country. we need to revamp this program, and we've needed from the beginning to do so. and i hope people will listen, and i hope citizens out there will start to pour it on and let everybody know that this is a disaster and that there are ways we might be able to not only stop the disaster but even increase health care, good health care, excellent health care through the benefit of our people. with that, mr. chairman, i yield the floor. or, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: mr. president, thank you very much. i want to visit about a piece of legislation that's pending before the senate expected to be considered, as i understand it, tomorrow, and that will be a short-term extension of the transportation bill. and while i'm tired of short-term extensions of
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transportation bills, it's my understanding that in this particular case a short-term extension will lead us to a long-term transportation bill. and i certainly welcome the opportunity to consider something that would meet the needs of our country, its infrastructure needs, our highways, roads, bridges for a number of years to come. we've got to get to the point in which we're dealing with issues over a longer period of time than we do when we do a short-term extension. and it's important for us to make certain that there is certainty so that the kansas department of transportation, other departments across the country as well as highway contractors and those who use our highways can have certainty in what the transportation system, the roads, bridges and highways are going to be. there's another issue of uncertainty that's out there and it has to do with positive train control. and, mr. president, included in the legislation extending the
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time for us to consider a transportation bill is a provision that extends the deadline for the final implementation of positive train control, a safety issue that has long had consideration here in congress, approved and we're well on our way to having positive train control in our rail transportation system both passenger and freight. but we need to have an opportunity for that implementation to occur over a slightly longer period of time than what was originally planned when positive train control became a mandate, a requirement upon our railroads. so i'm pleased that we're going to consider an extension that puts -- of the transportation bill that puts us in a position to deal with a long-term transportation bill, but i'm also pleased and want to spend just a minute or two talking about a provision that is included in that extension.
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and that deals with extending the positive train control implementation. i want to thank my colleague from south dakota, senator thune. he is the chairman of the committee that i'm on, the commerce committee, for his leadership in advancing this effort and allowing us the opportunity to deliver that certainty that we need on this important issue. there's no allegation that those who are implementing positive train control, there's no allegation that they are inattentive, they lack desire. there's another suggestion that it's an undue delay, that they are not doing what needs to be done. every indication we have from all the experts is -- has nothing to do with a lack of commitment to the railroads. it has to do with the fact that we can't get there in the time that we had hoped for originally when we set forth this requirement. so we know there's a pending
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implementation date, a deadline of december 31. we know it is unattainable. it's unattainable despite the fact that billions of dollars have already been spent to get p.t.c. installed as quickly and safely as possible. but the reality is that without an extension of that deadline beyond december 31, railroads and shippers, that deadline to take the necessary precautions to alter their service standards is imminent. in other words, if they have to comply, ner -- they're going to change their schedules and that has tremendous consequences, economic consequences to businesses that depend upon rail transportation. it creates a significant problem in contingency planning required by a shutdown of the supply chain that uses rail transportation. congress needs to act now. there is suggestions, i
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understand, from a number of of my colleagues that either the extension that we're going to presumably be voting on in the next day be -- that vote be delayed or that the extension be shortened. and i want to express my conviction that it's necessary for congress to act now, not later. our nation's economy cannot afford those who work in kansas in agriculture, our farmers and ranchers, those who work in manufacturing, our laborers in the aircraft industry cannot afford a rail disruption that will occur if we don't do this extension immediately. we need to extend the deadline. it could have a devastating impact upon thousands of manufacturers, farmers and rarchlers and certainly -- ranchers and certainly the passengers who utilize rail transportation to move individuals who use amtrak and other passenger service across the country. i would indicate to my colleagues that just a few weeks ago the senator from montana,
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senator tester, and i joined in an effort, a bipartisan effort to ask our colleagues to express the need for this extension, and we were successful in getting 43 senators, 12 who were democrat senators, to sign a letter encouraging our leadership to bring forth this issue. and so in a very bipartisan way broad agreement, this extension needs to occur. incidentally, the house passed this extension by unanimous consent agreement. again apparently little controversy or no controversy, it passed by voice vote. so we have significant bipartisan support, support bicameral. the house has already acted, and it's time for us to do so. so, mr. president, i wanted my colleagues to know that many in this chamber have encouraged this to occur. we're on the praecipe of it happening, and we ought not
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allow it to be delayed or shortened. the extension needs to occur this week. the vote needs to occur this week. and the extension needs to be for a sufficient period of time to send that message of certainty and give the rail industry the opportunity to come into compliance in a time frame that is reasonable and manageable. mr. president, with that, i would yield the floor, and i would also notice and indicate a lack of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. mccain: i ask that the quorum call be suspended and i be ludd to address the senate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: mr. president, i come to the floor for a very unusual reason this afternoon, and it has to do with an attack
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on for-profit colleges by a long-standing campaign by certain groups and individuals who have been opposed to for-profit colleges, and they were able to destroy one out in california, and they are continuing to attempt to make those attacks work in other for-profit colleges. this is a very unusual situation because what we're seeing take place here is conclusions being drawn and action being taken -- in this case by the department of defense -- without due process as a result of pressure
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exerted by members -- member and members of the senate, which then has resulted in action without due process. last week there was a very interesting article -- editorial in "the wall street journal" entitled "obama's for-profit stealth attack. the pentagon punishes phoenix on orderorders from headquarters." earlier this month, the defense department cut off military tuition assistance to students at the for-profit university of feignics, which enrolls about 9,300 service members at its 105 campuses nationwide. the defense department reason for discharging phoenix are vague. a review -- quote -- "in response to allegations published by the center for investigative reporting in a june drive-by on the college
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found minor breaches in decorum." let me emphasize that, i say to my colleagues. there was a story written by an outfit called the center for investigative reporting. i don't know anything about them. and i am sure the department of defense doesn't. but as a result of an investigation by an outfit no one ever heard of, then action was taken by the department of defense. there wasn't a department investigation? there was no scrutiny. this is really a remarkable case of the senate exerting influence in a way which is, i think, almost unprecedented. to wit, phoenix had distributed unauthorized challenge coins which commonly denote tokens of recognition with military
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insignia. many nonmilitary outfits, including the university of miami, bowing, and intel -- and i would point out southern illinois university -- hand out such coins. it is not -- it is not an uncommon practice to hand out coins. phoenix's real offense, according to the center for investigative reporting -- remember, this has nothing to do with the government of the united states. according to that outfit, is using the counsels to -- quote -- "imply military -- coins to -- quote -- "imply military support for the college." my friends, thousands -- well, excuse moo, a me, at least 100 institutions in america give out challenge coins. i wonder if those institutions have committed grievous crime in the visa of the c.i.r.? defense also censored phoenix for failing to obtain approvals from the -- quote -- "responsible education advisor
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to sponsor military events on military bases." first, it's good to sponsor military events on military bases. lots of organizations, lots of companies, lots of corporations sponsor events on military bases, and in this case, although the responsible education advisor was not consulted, the commanding officer of the base was consulted and gave his approval. the c.i.r. article showed military officials have welcomed the university onto their bases. they welcomed them because they were honored those who serve. phoenix didn't navigate all of the correct bureaucratic challenges. in any case, the defense department acknowledged -- quote -- "the university of phoenix has re-sponged to these infractions with appropriate corrective action at this time." so, as minor as these offenses
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may have been and technical in nature, they've taken the corrective action. but still, a senator wants them punished. political -- i quote from the -- i quote from "the wall street journal." "but political general dick durbin, the illinois democrat who is leading the charge against for-profits in the senate, nonetheless commanded the pentagon to -- quote -- "bar the company from further access to its service -- to service members." so the department is putting phoenix on -- quote -- "probation" because it finds -- quote -- "the scope of these previous sieling violations to e disconcerted. what's really disconcerting is the obama administration's politicization of military policy. defense also cite cites inquiriy the federal trade commission and
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the california attorney general, phoenix has not been charchled with any wrongdoing. according to the defense department's 96% of the university's service members successfully completed courses, a higher rate than the public central texas college and nonprofit liberty university. in essence, the obama administration's military tribunal is punishing phoenix for being a target of the political left. yet this is the white house standard of due process. so phoenix should be nervous, and say to my friends and colleagues, they are nervous. last year the education department, consumer financial protection bureau, and ms. harris, mounted a coordinated campaign that drove for-profit corinthian college out of business without ever proving conduct. that's why i say to my colleagues i'm here on the floor is because clearly, without any proof of misconduct, with the
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power of this united states senate and this department of education and the consumer financial protection bureau and ms. harris, they were able to drive a college out of business, and it's obvious of what this is really all about. this is all about the constant attacks that are on for-profit colleges. which is anathema to some. over the last five years, phoenix enrollment has dropped by half, largely to the left's assault on for-profit education, which has kneecapped recruiting. military tuition assistance makes up less than 1% of phoenix revenues. however, many service members who are seeking vocational skills later pursue bachelor's and master's degree at the university under the g.i. bill. veterans make up 20% of the
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university's enrollment. many need the flexibility of phoenix's on-line courses ass they earn a living while going to school. most of our veterans, because of their age, have to earn a living while going to school. the administration's ostensible goal is to discredit phoenix and choke off federal recruitment, but the casualties of its attack will be service members who will now have fewer educational options and opportunities. meantime, general durbin has commanded the education department and department of veterans affairs to -- quote -- "take appropriate action" against the company, bombs away. now, mr. president, i'd like to point out i recently received letters -- we wrote -- senator flake and senator alexander, the chairman of the help committee
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wrote a letter to secretary carter -- and i quote from some of it -- "we believe that these earned benefits and educational opportunities for our service members should not be jeopardized because of political or ideological opinions of some members of congress regarding the types of institutions that provide secondary education to our troops. however, it is our understanding that miss billadoe" -- that is the person who is the d.o.d.'s voluntary education partnership head -- "and threats of termination of participation in the t.a. program rely on technical violations of the memorandum of understanding. what we are saying is, we want due process." and these questions that have been asked, we hope we can get an answer sooner rather than later.
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now, because senator durbin wrote also to other agencies of government, we are also writing to them. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to include the letter to the secretary of defense from myself, senator alexander and senator flake be included in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. from mccain: we sent these letters, we sent them to the veterans administration and to the department of education requesting that they notify us if further action is taken against the university. we sent these letters because we feel that the department of defense's decision and threats of termination of participation by the university of phoenix in this program were done simply because the senator from illinois sent a letter to the d.o.d. highlighting an outside investigative report -- an outside investigative report -- suggesting that wrongdoing on the part of the university of
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phoenix. let's be clear again. there was no due process here. that's what i want is due process. if the university of phoenix is guilty of some wrongdoing, i want to be one of the first to make sure that the proper penalties are enacted. i do not, i repeat, do not believe that on the basis of a single investigative report that action should be taken. with this in mind, i was stunned to hear once again the senator from illinois is insisting that d.o.d. not reverse its decision. given his own involvement in the matter, his suggestion that the d.o.d. not reverse its decision just because members of the bodd concern about the merits of its probationary decision and the fundamentally unfair way that the d.o.d. made it is, in fact, ridiculous. the whole matter arose from the senator from illinois pressuring the d.o.d. to take adverse
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action against the university. his case was based not on an affirmative finding by the department that the university engaged in any newly identified acts of substantial conduct, but a report by an outside investigative group. he then sent letters to the department of education, department of veterans affairs asking for similar action. after further review of the d.o.d.'s decision, it is my opinion that, one, it relies on overly technical violations of a memorandum of understanding that the university signed with the department of defense regarding its participation in the tuition assistance program. it fails to reflect the actions the university has taken to correct identified violations and is based in part on unsubstantiated allegations associated with inquiries for further -- inquiries for information by other agencies, not findings of new violations. in other words, with our letter,
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we asked secretary carter to review a lower level decision to put the university on probation where even the d.o.d. conceded in its very letter to the university announcing its decision that -- quote -- "the university of phoenix has responded to infractions with appropriate corrective action at this time." on the -- with respect to the university's proposed violations of d.o.d. policies on the use of official seals or other trademark insignia with -- quote understand the university has remedied this infection -- infraction. but it's worth noting that traditional public or private nonprofit universities, including southern illinois university, utilize similar challenge coins with impunity. i remain skeptical that the d.o.d. is evenly and uniformly enforcing its policies on all institutions of higher education and appears to be unfairly
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singling out certain institutions of higher education based on a letter from the senator from illinois. with respect to the university's apparent failure to obtain specific approval for conducting partnership activities at several military installations, it's our understanding that the university obtained approval from the respective base leadership to sponsor, sometimes at the base's request, partnership events. the university may have technically violated the m.o.u.'s requirement that the university coordinate with the education services officer. those who have served in the military readily understand and respect the chain of command. approval from the base leadership should be sufficient to meet the requirements of the memorandum of understanding. regardless of the education service officer's involvement. by the way, the education service officer did not turn this down.
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he was just not consulted. in the absence of significant substantiated findings regarding new uncorrected violations, the department of defense decided to suspend the university from participating in the tuition assistance program based on document requests by two government agencies that are not, in fact, the department of defense and does not indicate a violation or admittance of guilt. we call on our servicemen and women to serve and protect our interests often at great cost to themselves and their the senas sthawgz they're not capable of -- suggests that they're not capable of determining their own path in determining their post-secondary educational needs. by the way, the senator from illinois was the one on a technical violation of the budget agreement, was one of the leaders in voting against the -- the defense authorization bill,
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which was the result of many years of work. in all cases, opinions should absolutely not be used to essentially target a valued member of arizona's education community. the university of phoenix has a long history of serving nontraditional students such as active-duty military and others who tend to delay enrollment after high school, work full time, have dependents or are single parents for whom traditional university schooling is unavailable. the university of phoenix has graduated more than 80,000 military and veteran students with post-secondary degrees. a recent "wall street journal" article i've quoted and contrary to the performance of this administration -- preference of this administration and for the sake of our service members who've earned and rely on this educational benefit, i promise i will not let this issue go. the state of arizona's proud to
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have the university of phoenix as a member of its higher education community, and as the questions i posted in the letter show, i will continue to look into this action based on the merits of d.o.d.'s decision not ideological grandstanding. i just recently as a result of this, i have a letter from three students who recently graduated from phoenix college -- university and the university of phoenix and one from andrew workman, who says, "the university of phoenix allowed me to work 50 hours a week and pursue my degree at the same time." ryan solkowski received his master's in nursing information. "i love my experience at the university of phoenix. it's opened so many doors for me." jim wallace from florida, "i'm a university of phoenix graduate. in my opinion, the university of
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phoenix led the way in educatiog working professionals. at the time i started my program, no other institutions offered the ability for me to successfully complete my studies, care for my family and work a demanding job. the bottom line is, it was challenging and i worked hard to complete my degree." mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that this note -- comments by graduates be included in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: and, mr. president, again, i can onlt what the "wall street journal" said. this is obama's for-profit stealth attack. it's being orchestrated and carried out by the senator from illinois, who has a well-known record of not supporting the members of the men and women who are serving in the military.
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by his latest opposing the defense authorization bill on the grounds of o.c.o. and so whether this -- the men and women who are serving in the military and those who have served with honor obviously have a lower priority for him than the -- his vendetta against for-profit universities. i think it's shameful. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: the senate is about to pass a short-term highway extension. this three-week extension will allow the house and senate to go to conference on our bipartisan long-term bill and get that signed into law by november the 20th. so i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of h.r. 3819, that
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the bill be read a third time, the senate proceed to vote on passage of the bill with no intervening action or debate and that upon disposition of h.r. 3819, the senate proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 456, that the senate vote on the nomination without intervening action or debate. that following disposition of the nomination, the motion to reconsider be considered made 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, the president immediately be notified of the senate's action and the senate then resume legislative session. the presiding officer: is there objection? mrs. boxer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: mr. president, i reserve the right to object because i want to make a suggestion. and i ask consent that we can modify this matter so that we
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pass an amendment to extend the p.t.c. deadline -- the deadline for positive train control -- to make it a one-year extension, to december 31, 2016, and that that be agreed to. right now it's a three-year with a two-year possible extension beyond that. i ask that it be changed to a one-year and that following the use or yielding back of time, the senate then proceed to a vote on passage of the bill with my amendment. the presiding officer: does the senator so modify his request? a senator: mr. president? reserving the right to object. i would say to my colleague from california that this is the practice that she and i so often lament when it comes to highway bills and that is kicking the can down the road. we know full well that a year from now we will be right back here doing this again. mr. thune: this language, which is agreed upon, both the house
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and the senate, democrats and republicans on the relevant committees, worked very hard to draft consensus language. that's what we've arrived at today. we believe it addresses the situation, provides a correct solution and it -- i think it would be a big mistake to try and modify something that people have worked so hard to get to knowing full well that we'll never get what the senator from california wants to do passed through either the house or the senate. and the house yesterday acted and acted unanimously. very rarely do you get a voice vote out of the house of representatives. so democrats and republicans in the house came together behind the solution that's incorporated into this base bill, and so with that, i object to the senator from california's request. mrs. boxer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: i just want to say to my friend, i'm not surprised, but i'm still quite disappointed because i just think it's
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horrible precedent to take a provision out of an underlying bill that we've all worked so hard on and attach it -- a three-year provision, a three- to five-year provision, a delay in the safety measure on a three-week extension? why did my friend pull out of the good ning things in in for safety, like the rental bill that says you can't lease a car that's been under recall. and i'm not just blaming him at all. i know it was a process. we didn't pull out the fines on nitznhtsa for car manufacturerso kill people because of their negligence. i feel it is a terrible precedent, but i will not object, and i'm going to explain that later, and i would ask, having withdrawn my objection, that i may have the floor for 15 minutes immediately following the vote. if that's possible.
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and i would give 15 minutes of that to my friend. five minutes -- five minutes of that. the presiding officer: is there objection to the majority leader's original request? without objection, so ordered. is there objection to the request from the senator from california? without objection, so ordered. the clerk will report h.r. 3819. the clerk: h.r. 3819, an act to provide an extension of federal-aid highway and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: the question occurs on passage of the bill. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed, say nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the bill is passed.
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under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to consider the following nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of transportation, sarah elizabeth feinberg of west virginia to be administrator of the federal railroad administration. the presiding officer: question occurs on the nomination all those in favor say aye. all those opposed, say nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table, the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action, and the senate will resume legislative session. mrs. boxer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: mr. president, i know senator collins would like to speak, so the way i would recommend we go is five minutes to senator manchin, 15 minutes for me, and how many minutes for
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you, senator? coloradms. collins: i thank the senator from california. this is not going to work for me, so i'm just going to return to my office. i understand that this was unanticipated, and that's the way it goes sometimes. mrs. boxer: senator, i'm so sorry. this has been a contentious matter. so i would -- i would say, senator manchin, if you want to go first and i will follow and i snow senator thunknow senator te comments. mr. thune: i would ask through the chair that if the senator from maine is not going to speak, i be allowed to speak after the conclusion of the remarks by the senator from california and the senator from west virginia. the presiding officer: is thrkisthere objection? without objection. mr. manchin: i come to the floor to speak on the nomination of
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the sarah feinberg. she has the same pragmatic approach to problem-solving that you see among our congressional delegation every day. in west virginia, when it comes to politics, it really doesn't matter whether you are a he a democrat or republican, but what matter is if you get the job done. during my time in the state legislature, her father and i, lee feinberg, served together and lee at that time was head of the west virginia's ethics commission. he instilled had her the same sense of responsibility to led him into public service also. she sits before the united states senate and she was seeking to continue public service as administrator of the federal railroad administration, which i am so pleased that that has happened. over the past nine months i believe she has proven herself to be an effective and engaged leader with the courage to make tough discussio decisions and to accept criticism. she was baptized by fire, after being appointed to this position on january 9 of this year, leading the agency's repons to
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five major incidents within her first 60 days at the helm. on february 6, six people were killed when a commuter train crashed. a train collided north o in norn iowa. 27 train cars derailed in west virginia. they released gallons of crude oil and ignited a fire that destroyed a nearby house. a commuter train in oxnard, california jumped the tracks and on march 26, 21 cars derailed in illinois near the border with wisconsin. five of the cars caught fire. i am a firm believer that elected officials need to be on the ground in emergency situations supporting first responders and assisting those in need. i was impressed by ms. feinberg's response to the mt. carbon derailment in west virginia which i was there firsthand is watch.
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five weeks into her new job, she executed an efficient and effective federal response that was one of the best i've ever seen in my experience as an elected official in the and a public servant. there are a throt of smart policy people in washington, d.c., but the best policy in the world won't meaning a thing if it doesn't tran light into anything in the real world. care rase response to the mt. carbon accident showed me she understood and gave me faith in her ability not to just lead but to listen to the people that were here that we're here to serve. the increase in domestic energy production has been an engine of economic growth and the energy information agency predicts that growth to continue through 2020. from 2009 until 2014, crude oil production in the united states increased by more than 62%, up from 5.35 million barrels her day in 2009208.68 million in 2014, and the majority of this product is moving by rail.
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imawf in 2008, our railroads moved a meager 295 tank cars carrying crude oil. last year the number grew 500,000 tank characters a 5,000% contrary, unbelievable. unprecedented and new challenges come along with new economic opportunities prpbtsed by the growth in domestic energy production and ms. feinberg's experience makes her uniquely qualified to lead the f.r.a. through this transition. as chief of staff to secretary fox, she helped the department of transportation develop a holistic strategy to improving the safety and security of crude by rail that required coordination between multiple administrations within the department. the tough new tank car safety regulations that were finalized in may were dependent on close collaboration between the f.r.a. and the pipeline and hazard materials administration. sarah's experience in the secretary's office and existing
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relationships throughout the department allowed her to cut through red tape and get the right people in the room to get the job done. while the new rules do not solve every problem, they represent a major step in the right direction. they satisfy all or part of ten outstanding national transportation safety board recommendations, including all four recommendations that were made in april of this year. since taking the helm at the f.r.a. earlier this year, i have been very much impressed with her willingness to tackle difficult issues and engage stakeholders will solutions. in may she convene add positive train control task force to try to identify opportunities for the f.r.a. to help railroads meet their 2015 deadline and become a real party in this process. i think her proactive approach to problem solving will be an asset to the f.r.a. and the expwier dment of -- and the entire department of transportation. i thank chairman thune and ranking member nelson for moving her nomination through the committee yesterday on a strong,
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strong bipartisan vote of 19-1. i want to thank all of my colleagues for nominating not -- not only nominating but confirming her today. i think she will be a great assess to our country and do us all proud. mr. president, i yield the floor. i'm sorry -- i yield the floor. mrs. boxer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: thank you. i will take my time now, and i know my friend wanted to have a little time, so i would yield the floor to senator inhofe. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: first of all, i know that the senator from california was disappointed in a few things that went on procedurally, and i am very much in sympathy. but far more significant than
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that is the bill that we're talking about now, we made a tremendous advance to just a few minutes ago. we did what the house has already done. we are now extended to the 20th of november. it is my understanding that the house is going to be taking up -- and i'm talking about the highway bill. you know, a lot of things we talk about around here are not very important. different ones of us have different ideas of what's important and what isn't. but still we have that constitution. the constitution says what we're supposed to be doing here, and what we're supposed to be doing here is defending america and roads and bridges. that's what we're supposed to be doing. and so senator boxer and i, she is a very proud liberal, i am a very proud conservative, but we recognize what our real duty is when we come. the second-most important bill every year -- not every year because you have the defense authorization bill every year but not the transportation authorization bill. but that's what's important and that's what we're supposed to be dock here.
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-- doing here. so what we did a few moments sag very significant. we are on the same page as the house is. that is to have the bill done and on the president's desk by the 20th of november, which is going to be right before we have a break for thanksgiving. and that's going to -- it looks like we're assured of doing that. and i have to say this, that in working over the years with senator boxer, we've worked in the capacity where she was the chairman of the committee and ii was the ranking member and i was the chairman and she was the ranking member, and we never changed. so i'm anticipating that we're going to be able to have this six-year authorization bill on the floor next week. and we're going to be dealing with it and we're going to be passing it. we already know the number of people who have voted for it in the past. we know where we are.
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on the other hand, i think this is going to have a privileged motion and go straight in for a conference. and i look forwarded to that. and that makes it all possible. you got to keep in mind that the senate isn't doing this, but the house is going 207b on a recesa veterans day reserve. we have to work on their getting the work done before the recess. we can do ours while they're at the recess. it'll have a happy ending. so i do regret some disappointments, i have to say this. when you are talking about a bill like this, it means that the left and the right have to get together, and we did. and i want to applaud my ranking member, senator boxer, for helping us in some of the areas where we are able to shortcut some of the nepa requirements, expedite some things that couldn't be done. otherwise -- let's keep in mind if we went ahead and did what we've been doing since 2009, we wouldn't be doing this. we wouldn't be doing any major
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bills, no bridges, no major bills. and so this is a great day to see the assurance that this is going to take place, and i applaud senator boxer and the joint effort we had on the left and the right in this body. you don't see that very often. mrs. boxer: no, we don't. i want to tank my friend. it is -- i want to thank my friend. it is such a privilege to work with him on these infrastructure issues. i often care we don' often say k together on environmental issues, but right now in this life, we worked really well on infrastructure. so does our staff. i am so proud of them. and i just want to say, you know, came down here to try and change a part of this extension. i'll explain it later -- that had to do with delaying a safety requirement on the railroads. i feel strongly in my heart about it, but at the same token,
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i agree with my friend. we have got to get this bill done. this will be a six-year authorization, as my friend knows. he insisted on t w on it. we have three years of pay-for. maybe we'll find more. but right now senator mcconnell protected our pay-fors. and i think that you know for me it's a strange day. i'm very disappointed in this -- i call it a rider that was put on this bill. but i'm very pleased that the house is moving forward. my friend cited things that he likes. certainly expediting some of the rules so that we don't get these projects dragged out. my sense of it was i like the fact that we kept the equitable share. we didn't change the share between the transit and roads. we certainly added, with my friend's help, a freight title.
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so many good things. so it's a mixed bag for me today, and i agree with my friend, we need to move fast on the underlying bill, and i look forward to going to conference. mr. inhofe: would the senator yield for one observation? mrs. boxer: of course. mr. inhofe: the senator mentioned the fact that we have a six-year bill and three years to pay for it. that doesn't really concern me for a couple of reasons. one is that once you start projects, i can assure you that there's going to be a reshuffling of priorities in this claib down here -- chamber down here where people are going to realize the one thing we don't want to do is start construction on something and then stop. this, i have no question in my mind, is going to take place. secondly, we have the same provision in the house that we do in this body. and that is if for some reason money is not available, nothing else can be done after that three-year period. so we're not going to let that. so i think we're going to be in good shape on that. job well done.
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mrs. boxer: well, thank you. how much time remains of my 15 minutes? the presiding officer: ten minutes. mrs. boxer: since i did yield about 5 minutes to my friend, i'd ask for another 5 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: and then, of course, senator thune will have all the time that he wants to disagree with most of what i'm going to say about positive trade control, and that's part of the debate that goes on here. i do want to thank senator thune and senator nelson, senator inhofe and others who did do something good today, which is to allow us to vote, to make sure that we have the head of the railway administration. finally after eight months sarah feinberg got a vote, and it's very important. and i'm glad all this wrangling that we have back and forth led to that happy situation. because we need her in place. and, frankly, we need her in place to oversee this positive
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train control. i want to quote what she stated. she stated that worries of a train exploding in the middle of a city have cost her sleepless nights. this is an administrator who cares deeply about her role in safety. there was an article that was written by someone today that said, i stood alone in my opposition to moving forward with the three- to five-year extension and taking that extension out of the underlying bill and tacking it on to a three-week highway bill extension. i want to point out that i did not stand alone and i did not stand alone. senator blumenthal is hoping to come here later and make his remarks about the fact that he opposed this. i speak here for senator feinstein, my great colleague, my senior colleague, who actually wrote the original legislation, because these crashes were occurring. and i want to read a little bit
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from senator gillibrand, who asked me -- she is on a train headed to a funeral for a firefighter in new york. and this is her statement -- quote -- "after so many preventable railroad tragedies that have led to loss of life, it is an insult to the families who have lost loved ones to let the rail lobby slip a multiyear positive train control delay into a three-week extension. the rail industry has purposely dragged its feet in meeting safety requirements, and now congress is quietly aiding them further. it is without debate that positive train control saves lives. the railroads must work as quickly as they can to implement this lifesaving technology so that the millions of americans who commute by rail every day can do so safely and congress needs to do its job to hold the rail industry accountable." i ask unanimous consent that her statement be placed in the
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record at this time. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: as i said when senator mcconnell offered the unanimous consent request, i think it is a terrible precedent to place a major safety -- i won't call it a repeal. i would say rollback. a safety rollback on a three-week extension of the highway trust fund. it just -- it isn't right. and i'm very grateful to "the washington post" for writing a very strong statement, i would say article, about what happens when you don't have positive train control on a train. positive train control is technology that allows the train to slowly come to a stop if there's a real problem, such as
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another train crossing or a car. and in 2008, this is when we really moved on positive train control. a horrific accident occurred in chatsworth, california, where a metro link passenger train and a union pacific freight train collided. it was due to a distracted engineer. this preventable accident resulted in the deaths of 25 people and injury to 135 others. friends, we're not talking about some scientific experiment here. we're talking about real life where trains collide. real people die, get hurt. and i've met some of the families. and afterwards, senator feinstein and i got together, and she was great, and it was great to work with her, and we passed the rail safety improvement act of 2008
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mandating the installation of positive train control on major passenger commuter and freight rail lines by the end of this year, 2015. again, i speak for her in my remarks. she is distressed that the 2015 deadline would be extended as much as as it was without a chance to really look at the details in the conference, which we hope to have soon. for more than 45 years -- 45 years -- the national transportation safety board, the ntsb, has advocated p.c.t. technology. this isn't something new, but it wasn't until 2008 that sarah -- that senator feinstein and i got the legislation done. let me say this, ntsb is amazing. they are the ones who show up after horrible crashes of rail, of planes, and they are the ones who make really important safety
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recommendations. well, actually they work with the f.a.a. so they are the ones who come forward after an accident. yes, they do the investigation and they make the recommendations. now, what they said, if we had put p.t.c. in all those years ago, 146 accidents or derailments could have been avoided with implementation of the p.t.c., and at least 300 fatalities and 7,000 injuries could have been prevented. and since the chatworth, california, accident, 14p.t.c. preventible accidents or derailments have occurred. so let's be clear. people are dying, they're being injured because we don't have positive train control. now, the good news, the great news for my state is metro link and cal train already have put p.t.c. on. up know, amtrak has put it on
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certain of their runs. so it is happening. but some of the railroads are dragging their feet, and they have every excuse in the book. some of the reasons, i think, do need our attention. for example, there's problems with spectrum. there's problem with rights of way. we can work on that. but we need, as senator blumenthal said, instead of giving these three-year delay, there need to be what he calls metrics, so that we can ascertain before they get all this time, what are they doing? are we going to be faced here in this body in years to come with more requests for delay? well, if we're not really looking over the shoulder of the railroads, the answer is clearly yes. they don't want to save the money. and, by the way, the cost-benefit ratio on this is overwhelming. is overwhelming.
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i said before rhetorically, you know, it's very interesting that the only piece of free-standing legislation that was pulled out of the bill and placed on this three-week extension was this delay in positive train control safety. and nothing else, nothing else. and this was cherry-picked. nothing else. i mean, i worked with several senators because one of my constituents, mrs. hauk, lost two daughters who rented a car to go on vacation. they were in their 20's. and the car was under recall, but the agency rented it to them anyway. it exploded. they died. and mrs. hauk couldn't believe that we didn't have a law that
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said you can't rent a law that's under recall. and i bet if i ask anybody, any stranger to me, do you think you're allowed to rent a car that's under recall, they'd say of course not. well, you can. and i have fought for years and i've gotten help from senator schumer, senator mccaskill actually got the bill passed -- i'm very grateful to her -- and that's in the underlying bill. why didn't we take that out and put it on immediately so this can go into effect immediately? i think that "the washington post" gave us what they think as they wrote a story, a very important story on the front page -- was it yesterday or the day before? yesterday?
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monday. i want to just say we all know that there are special interests here. by the way, i like to work with the railroads because they do a lot of good things. they are very powerful, they are very strong. they have a very powerful lobby. it is not a republican lobby or a democratic lobby. it's a lobby that covers everybody. and let me tell you what the "washington post" article notes -- quote -- "rail safety has never been a more pressing issue than it is today. so far the people who have died in the u.s. could have -- those deaths could have been prevented, and that could change in dramatic fashion. the number of railcars carrying flammable material in the united states has grown from 9,500 seven years ago to 493,000. let me say that again. the number of railcars carrying
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flammable material in the u.s. has grown from about 9,-- seven years ago, 9,000 tank cars to 493,000 tank cars. now, just imagine what happens when this flammable material is involved in a collision. we know. we've seen the balls of toxic fire. seven trains have derailed this year alone, and their contents are exploding. now i understand the pleas for a delay. that's why i offered a one-year delay to my friend, the chairman of the commerce committee. i offered him a one-year delay. nobody can tell me that a one-year delay wouldn't work for now. we can look at it in the conference if we need to extend it, fine. no. no, we weren't able to get it.
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and to me, the only answer that keeps coming back is special interests earmark provision. special interest earmark provision, because it's the only provision that benefits one special interest that was put on this three-week extension. some people say why do you care so much? the house voted by voice vote. you know what? they were wrong. they shouldn't have. they shouldn't have put it on this bill. this was put on by the house, and it was wrong, wrong, wrong. now, when i spoke with my chairman, my really good friend, senator inhofe, on the floor, i did say i am so pleased at the way we're moving in terms of the underlying bill. and i believe we will have that bill, and i believe we will have that bill next week. then why on earth did we have to
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take this out? we're moving this bill forward, we didn't have to pluck out one of the provisions. i just don't understand it other than what "the washington post" wrote in their story. i -- i mean, i've got to say, there are 60,000-plus bridges that are deficient, structurally deficient, mr. president. they're in your state, they're in my state. why didn't they pull out a couple of the worst bridges and say, fix those bridges? no, all they did was pull out a provision that the railroads wanted, not a provision that commuters want, not a safety provision that will save lives. it's very, very discouraging. now, we all know about the amtrak crash and i'm going to show you a picture of that. it was


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